I used to see it only on rare occasions, but the more time I spend watching and interacting with the community, the more a patern sticks out that kind of has me at least somewhat scratching my head. There are an aweful lot of blind folks out there who’ve decided to fall into religion. Of the religions out there, the most common one for folks to fall into, at least in my experience, has been Christianity–and not just the absent belief in God, but often times some of the strictest definitions of Christianity.
Some were very likely raised on it, and would have very likely fallen into it whether they were blind or not as a result–there’s an entire sub-entry on that subject I’ll get into when I’ve got a little more brain power. But a surprising number seem to fall into it later in life, and usually fall hard as a result. I sometimes wonder what prompts people to suddenly flip that switch on in their brain that throws them into ultraconservative mode. I’m not sure it’s a particular type of personality or what have you that does it, per say. The more level-headed usually end up being for some reason or another nudged in that general direction by someone/something either known or not to them, whereas folks with less balanced personalities tend to make the decision to do so at the drop of a hat–there are several dozen examples of folks well-known for doing things that most Christians would be convinced they’d be on a fast track to hell for doing, who have suddenly had a change of heart, and overnight seemed to switch off that other lifestyle/persona, and switched on the lifestyle/persona who would have probably sat in a room with their previous one and been more than happy to spend 20 minutes on exactly how many levels of wrong and in exactly how many ways that lifestyle was. And there are still some who, quite probably out of not knowing exactly what they’re trying to accomplish, seem to float somewhere between the two–one minute they’re a Christian, and the next they’re into the whole bondage thing or what have you that, once again, their Christian side would probably want to slap out of them. Twice.
It probably doesn’t help a whole lot when you consider that Christianity in particular, though I suspect other religions as well, regularly refer to blindness as just a part of the evil that God will wash away if you’d just let him–the phrase “Was blind, but now I see” comes to mind. In my view, no one reinforces the viewpoint of blindness being somehow bad/wrong/evil/whatever better than a large portion of Christianity. I can see folks who are uncomfortable/unhappy/disenchanted/whatever about being blind gravitating to it for that, possibly–the thought that if they try hard enough to believe/pray/do all the things a good Christian’s supposed to do, they might possibly regain–or, in some cases, gain–their sight. According to the bible that’s how it’s supposed to work, right?
Is being blind, even having been born so, such a life-altering experience that your only option in most cases is to cling to the first thing that offers to “cure” you, or is there more to it than that? And what about the people who, while they say they’re perfectly comfortable being blind, still cling to a faith who escentially dictates that by virtue of not having a working pair of eyes, they are somehow less equal at best, sick at worst, and the ideal beneficiary of some other honest Christian’s cherrity in either case? What draws them to the church? What keeps them there?
A conversation was had among friends a few weeks ago that really started me thinking about that aspect of this entry. A girl who lives a ways out of the city for her own reasons has to rely on people in her church group to help her with doing her grocery shopping. These people don’t necessarily approve of the way she eats and/or in general keeps herself, and make no bones about trying to change her mind–forcefully, where possible. This includes things like offering to take her for groceries, on the condition that said groceries do not include dog food in the hopes that she’ll get rid of her dogs and move into the city, or the purchase of supposedly healthier products because they don’t approve of her usual choices, in spite of the fact the offending healthier products just so happen to be products she’s apparently alergic to. Yet she stays there, and still goes to that church, and still goes with that group for her groceries in spite of that.
On a more personal level, and one that seems to back up the perception that at worst you’re viewed as sick, on one of my very first few trips down here, Jessica and I were coming back to her apartment from somewhere and we were stopped on the street. A nice, apparently young lady asked us if we knew where a particular church was–the name escapes me at the moment. Not being Christian or having had any other reason to be in or near that church, we didn’t, and told her as much. Then, without missing a beat, she responds, “Well, our service is at 9. You should come–God will heal you.”. When she left, Jess and I stood there and just looked at each other for a minute or two with that “Bwuh?” expression on both our faces, before continuing home. I think the exact words that came out of my mouth when we’d cleared earshot were “Do we need healing?”. Someone clearly thought we did–and that’s probably far less surprising than it should be.
It’s things like that, among several others–but this entry’s already a mile long, that make me wonder just what it is blind people in particular see in it, and why so many, even if they were never really brought up around it, seem to be drawn–or, if you’d prefer, run screaming–towards it. Is there something mixed in with all this other crap that I’m just not seeing? Do people actually like a lot of this other crap? Is it something else entirely that I just plain won’t understand on account of not being one with the collective? I’ve spent years trying to wrap my head around it and only succeed in wrapping it around a headache. Is there some connection here between blindness and faith, or is it just blind faith? Inquiring minds want to know.