The Sceptic Tank, (slang for Yank, as in a person who hails from North America) told me that on a recent taxi journey her driver asked her about her blindness.  Her philosophy is to always engage as she’s educating the world about living with sight loss, one taxi driver at a time. 

She set out the situation of the genetic time bomb, programmed to go off and trigger blindness just when you’ve bought a new car, and then tied it all up neatly in the richness of her life which is why she is not complaining.  The taxi driver suggested to her that if she put her faith in God, she would be cured.

Sceptic Tank suddenly felt the need to pick up her emails and this would necessitate earphones. She excused herself from the conversation. The awkwardness was palpable. They both knew it. No doubt in an effort to relieve the tension, the taxi driver asked if she would mind if he put on the radio. She didn’t, so he did.

Christian rock was not a genre Sceptic Tank was familiar with so when the tune of something that sounded a bit like The Sex Pistols “God Save The Queen” came on she was a surprised to hear different words. Jesus loved her and he was letting her know Punk style. Jesus and the Sex Pistols seemed an unlikely union. This was turning into a surreal cab ride.

As she was telling me this story, including a full throated rendition of how alarming Christian rock had appeared to be, I was coughing with laughter. Once I’d got over the amusement of my amazement, it reminded me of just how outrageous some people’s behavior, in the name of Jesus, can be.

My chum Radiator (known as such because he is big and warm) was minding his own business sitting on a sofa in a shop, in the way that spare husbands do, while his wife was trying on clothes, when he felt hands on his head. Blindness prevented him from taking a swipe at the person to whom they belonged. “I’m a Christian,” said the owner of the wandering hands. “Let me pray for you.” Feeling trapped, Radiator felt the best things to do was not to make a scene and hope it would be quick. “Oh Lord…heal this miserable sinner of his affliction…” and so on and so forth, delivered with all the gusto of Billy Graham but in Fat Face, got rave comedy reviews by shoppers. 

My uncle, the Monk, wrote to me twice last year to say he was putting me on the prayer list. I’m not in the least bit put out by this. It won’t do any good but it won’t do any harm either. So what’s the difference between going on the prayer list to be prayed for by monks, and the laying on of hands in Fat Face?

The prayer list seems to me to be a gift, an act of generosity, in which one person applies their energies so that others may benefit, and it happens far away where I don’t have to witness it.  The taxi driver and the Fat Face assailant both support a view that it’s lack of faith, not being good enough that have brought blindness to our doors.  In other words, “it’s our fault”. And there was I thinking my parents played Russian roulette with their genes.

In the bad old days of my youth, when people felt free to express their prejudices about blindness in public, my Mother would whisper in my ear, “It could be worse. You could be stupid. You see, there are always people worse off than you.”