But For The Grace Of God


But For The Grace Of God

     “Check this out.” Said my friend, reaching out. “This is the bonus essay question I answered in my philosophy class.” See what you would write.”

“Okay.” I took the sheet of Braille paper I could hear him rattling as he extended it toward me. “Let’s see…” Resting it on a near by ledge, I read.


     "But for the grace of God, there go I.” We have all heard this phrase and in spite of the old-fashioned English we all know to what it refers. However, do you know its origin? The story goes like this.

     One night in the 16th century, Mr. John Bradford stepped outdoors into the mists of a tremendous electric storm. Lightening flashed, thunder boomed over head and buckets of rain came down. He was feeling something to the effect, that it wasn’t a night fit for man nor beast. But in a flash of light, what did he see? A shabbily dressed beggar creeping along a wall.


     For the sake of argument, let us say Mr. Bradfred in that brief flash of intense light did not get a good look at that man. Second let us say that this man was blind and well dressed for that day and age.

     Your assignment is to retell this story reversing the perspective. Tell it from the view of the blind man. What was in his head and heart during that same scene? Finally, rewrite the infamous phrase, reshape its meaning.

e-mail responses to newmanrl@cox.net

**1. “He had tried to find employment. But no one was hiring blind people those
days. So he contented himself by spending time in his grandfather's library
being read to by the one who had ensured that he would always have enough
money to live in a proper manner.
Through his grandfather's eyes e read the books of the day, the classics,
the Bible, and poetry.
But even this rich exposure to literature was not enough to unburden him
from the constant subconscious reminder that he was blind, unemployed, and
different than others. But one night he was finally freed from this weight
of shame.

There was a tavern several blocks from his home. It was the hub of
discussion. Men sitting and talking about everything from politics of the
day to the cost of mutton. But he had never gone to the tavern feeling that
no one would want to engage in conversation with a blind man. But one night his grandfather said, "You know boy, I think you need a
change. How about a walk to the tavern?"

Though he protested his grandfather said it would be good for him to be less
sheltered and so soon he and his grandfather were on their way. He entered
the tavern and his grandfather introduced him to some of the others sitting
at the bar. An ale was ordered, and as he sipped it he became more aware of
the conversation around him. It was interesting and before long, without
thinking, he was comfortably involved with the group as though he'd always
been one of their regular participants.

As the conversation would down people began to drift out of the tavern into
the foggy night. Assuming that his grandfather was sitting somewhere in his vicinity he said, "Well, grandfather, maybe we should head home."

There was no answer. Than the tavern owner said, "Oh your grandfather left." He told
me that you could find your way home."

"Oh yeah" said the man, "I know where I live but it sounds like it's really
storming outside and I'll never find my way amid the thunder and street

"Well, I'll walk with you if you like" said the tavern owner.

So they set out. To make conversation he said to his new found friend, "It
must be great to run your own tavern, have a job and be looked up to by

"well..." said the man slowly.

"and" said the blind man "just think of all the intellectual and political
discussions you can involve yourself in every night."

"well.." said the man again.
"You see, I have no one to read to me. I never had any education. I can
barely sign my name." Didn't you notice that I gave people their drink but
never interacted with the group?"

"Yeah," admitted the blind man.
He realized than that he had something more precious than sight or
employment and that was knowledge. He thought to himself, "If it weren't
for my grandfather and the grace of God, I could be like this struggling
tavern owner, without hope of bettering himself, without knowledge and
without much of a future. At least I have hope of change."

Maureen Prangofer (USA)

FROM ME: How about this one? One way I read it is- a man coming to himself, gaining confidence, realizing he had more rather than less and giving thanks to God for it. How do you interpret it?“

**2. “When I received this thought-PROVOKER, it immediately brought to
mind Jacobus tenBroek's banquet address at the 1956 National Federation of
the Blind Convention in San Francisco. (No, I wasn't there. I was only
five at that time. But I have read it more than once.) I would like to
share the end of it with you:

"In the Sixteenth Century, John Bradford made a famous remark which has ever
since been held up to us as a model of Christian humility and correct
charity ... Seeing a beggar in his rags creeping along a wall through a
flash of lightning in a stormy night Bradford said: 'But for the Grace of
God, there go I.' Compassion was shown; pity was shown; charity was shown;
humility was shown; there was even an acknowledgement that the relative
positions of the two could and might have been switched. Yet despite the
compassion, despite the pity, despite the charity, despite the humility, how
insufferably arrogant! There was still an unbridgeable gulf between
Bradford and the beggar. They were not one but two. Whatever might have
been, Bradford thought himself Bradford and the beggar a beggar--one high,
the other low; one wise, the other misguided; one strong, the other weak;
one virtuous, the other depraved.

"We do not and cannot take the Bradford approach. It is not just that
beggary is the badge of our past and is still all too often the present
symbol of social attitudes towards us; although that is at least part of it.
But in the broader sense, we are that beggar and he is each of us. We are
made in the same image and out of the same ingredients. We have the same
weaknesses and strengths, the same feelings, emotions and drives; and we are
the product of the same social, economic, and other environmental forces.
How much more consonant with the facts of individual and social life, how
much more a part of a true humanity, to say instead: 'There, within the
Grace of God, do go I.'"

That's how I would want our well-dressed, and hopefully enlightened blind
person to respond to his situation. I hope also that he would recognize
that the success of any person is in large part due to the hard work and
concerted action of generations before him, and the success of future
generations would depend partly on his participation in such efforts.”

Barbara Walker (Lincoln, Nebraska, USA e-bwalker@inebraska.com)

FROM ME: Within the larger humanity we find examples of some having more and some having less. Working hard is one way to achieve and hold status. Then we have this perspective, attitude and judgement thing based upon status. Where and how is it okay to allow and even use this?”

**3. “Here goes a short stab at this story: : " I heard the storm
build in power as I hurried with my cane along the broken sidewalk.
Perhaps I should have waited one more day to make this meeting but,
knowing full well there would be a challenge, I left early. As the
next clap of thunder came close by and an obvious bolt of lightening, the
rain began to pour heavy. Now for sure I would be a soaked mess by the
time I made my appointment.

As I crossed the next street, I heard close by"
poor soul, look at him trying to make it on his own. Imagine that, blind
as he is, still dressed sharp as a tack."

tom chuckled to himself taking his
mind off the terrible storm.

" Poor soul" ? he thought to himself as the tapping of the blind mans cane stood out in the storm. We could give him a ride
you know but would he except? Some of these blind folks are rather stubborn and full of pride."

“darn right I am proud." said tom to himself ,
but not stupid, only blind. so he spoke up" but for the Grace of God man, If you are to talk about me get that car up here and I will gladly accept your offer of a ride thank you."

"He has heard us, can you imagine."
then with a short pause they spoke back to Tom, the blind attorney in a strange city, in a thunderstorm." My good sir, Hold up there and for sure we would be glad to assist with the ride."

Moments later Tom heard the big car pull up and the door open" my good
sir, we would be proud to have you join us for a ride to your
destination." and a few minutes after they had left the curb they asked, “And you sir, are going where?"

" but for the Grace of God, to a meeting of
the state Bar Association in your local college. I must have wandered
off course. But by the " Grace of God. You did indeed save this" poor

Lee a. stone (Hudson, New York USA)

FROM ME; “In this character I see some responsibility and pride working. Then for the remake of the infamous phrase… how about some thanks?”

**4. “>"But for the grace of God, there go I." We have all heard this phrase and
>in spite of the old-fashioned English we all know to what it refers.
>Finally, rewrite the infamous phrase, reshape its meaning.

Though not Biblical, this phrase is indeed a great truism. Why would you refer
to it as infamous, and why would you want to remove all of its richness by
redefining it? The plain fact, after all, is that "but for the grace of God"
no one would be saved, and everyone would end up in Hell.”

Dave Mielke (856 Grenon Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario Canada)

FROM ME: “With all due respect, do know my issue is not with God.”

**5. “The statement by the Grace of god means
that God is the only supplier of his grace and only pharacies and
sagecies played with this statement, and miss interpreted these
statements. I say this because if you really knew god and loved him as
you should you would not be trying to divide and ridicule such a
personal statement that someone makes from his or her heart. In case you
can't get it study the letters and travels of Paul and you'll discover
that Paul couldn't and didn't want to continue his ministry for god, but
he knew Gods grace would sustain him through what ever was to come even
his death, and he knew Gods grace would get him to heaven. Can you know
for sure that your going to heaven, obviously the PROVOKER who said that
statement believes in Gods grace as a survival method, So I hope you can
put yourself in that persons shoes the next time before you act in such
ignorance. Plus for your info the Blind man relied on gods grace to
heal him and get him through life till the day JESUS healed him.”

Yours truly
Rev. Bernard Oleary

**6. “I am blind, born that way and have been a pastor of a Evangelical Church of Christ for 23 years. Who was this sighted man who was sitting in judgement of the blind man? We were both made in Gods beautiful image. Neither are better than the other. God made the sighted man to go about his way and he gave the other man his blindness to enrich his life.”

Rev R. Williams(USA)

**7. “Well, this PROVOKER is a little intriguing. I was struck by the last
sentence: "Finally, rewrite the infamous phrase...."

Previously, I would have said the phrase "But for the grace of God, there go
I" was a famous phrase. But the more I consider it, it may indeed be

The sighted man looking at the blind man considers the blind man to be
without God's grace. The sighted man is demonstrating his haughtiness,
assuming that God favors him. (Just as many athletes do when they win a

This PROVOKER stirs up questions: What did the blind man do to not have
God's grace? Does grace even come by actions or do some people just have it
and others don't? Maybe the blind man didn't do anything, God just didn't
favor him with grace. But then, that leads to the most specious question of
all: Is blindness a punishment for those who don't have God's grace? (It
seems to me, the sighted man in this example thought so: There but for the
grace of God, go I.)

And this is why the phrase is an "infamous" one. The sighted man thinks he
has God's grace and is boasting about it. In this way, he is disgraceful. It
is a disgraceful statement. And infamous means "disgraceful."

Herbert Morgan (RPlist)

**8. “Interesting subject.
I always thought the proper phrase was,
"There, but for the grace of God, go I."

Rebecca Burrichter Assistant Editor, AFB Press American Foundation for the Blind (New York, New York USA rebeccab@afb.net(

FROM ME: “I have gotten three differently worded phrases/statements on the wording thus far. Does someone have the source document and can shoot us the fact of what and where the document can be found and what exactly the man wrote? I’m going with what I felt was correct.

Question, with the different order of words for the original, do you see that the differing wordage has changed the basic meaning.”

**9. “I read the assignment with some consternation. I put myself into the shoes of an English student who would be trying to answer the question.

My deservedly failing essay would be as follows:

This weather! My suit is going to be ruined. I have no idea why
the good Lord wants me standing up on this wall! Oh ... I get it! Some sightling is coming to save me! just what I needed, to be somebody else's exercise in faith AGAIN! ...

I would take my F as a civil disobedience medal. I really have nothing
more to say to the essay question, and I am a firm believer in writing
what you mean to say and only what you mean to say even if it is 10 pages less than what the teacher expects.”

Chris Weaver Program Coordinator Mathematics Accessible to Visually Impaired Students (MAVIS) New Mexico State University

FROM ME: “Consternation, resicnation. Here he is, out doing his thing, the weather changes, gets nasty and he gets wet. Then he hears someone coming over to give assistance; even though he doesn’t apparently want it. With him not taking this with good grace… I’m wondering what the rewrite of the phrase should read?”

**10. “Feeling his way along the brick wall, the self-assured, but still hesitant blind man felt his toe hit something in the walkway, tripping him and sending him sprawling to the cobblestones. He was frustrated at the pain in his knee and the ripping of his tweed pants. He knew he would have to go to that arrogant tailor again next week. He would rather beg for coins in the street than face this opinionated man with no insight whatsoever.

as he attempted to rise to his feet, he realized that he had lost his
wallet in his fall and on top of that, could not stand for the moment. He smiled to himself at the mental image of him groveling on the pavement. His wife and son would surely be entertained when he sat down for their evening meal. of course, he would also have to regale his bosses at tomorrow’s meeting at the office.

A noise a few steps away made him realize that two men were watching him as he struggled to his feet in the rain and muck of the street. He knew he looked disheveled. Nothing was said to him directly, but he heard the one man say to the other, "But for the Grace of God, there go I!"

His mouth dropped open in shock and surprise as he saw himself through their eyes. A blind man, crawling along in the rain , looking for assistance and a friend. the truth was far from this imagined reality. But how could he show the men this? A wall of stony impassability sprung up again in his mind, effectively blocking his attempts at communication towards the two men, who had moved on by this point. they must have decided that since he was blind, he required simple human kindness.

Saddened once again by the limitations of the public on the person with some sort of disability, he got to his feet , turned to head home, and made up his mind to attempt to educate someone next time something like this occurred.”

Pam McVeigh Ruston, Louisiana USA

FROM ME: “Lesson learned and a promis made. Might there be a one liner that he might use which would be based upon our thesis phrase?”

**11. “The blind man in the middle of the storm would not see the
man at the door.......
Hello, I am the blind beggar mentioned in the story. See how rumors get
started? I was really well dressed and not a beggar at all. I am an blind
author and had a bit of writer's block that night, so I started to work on
another small project to distract myself. Well, as things go with folks who
cannot see well, or not at all, we lose/misplace things. I happened to need
the Scotch tape to finish this little project and I could not find it
anywhere. It may seem crazy to sighted folks, but I was so angry at the
inability to find a simple thing like that darn tape that I put my overcoat
and hat on and stomped out the door. As I stepped outside, I was
immediately hit with a terrible gust of wind and was soaked in an instant by
the torrential rain. I was determined to push on and take my 3 block walk
anyway. The weather reflected my mood. Anger welled up inside me as the
thunder crashed all around me. I was feeling sorry for myself. "Why Me
Lord"? "Why must I take this path to blindness"? "Why can't I find what I

The storm grew louder as the wind rushed through the leaves high in the
trees. BANG, another close hit by lightening! I was exhilarated and angry
as I got to the end of the road and turn around. I thought I heard
someone's front door open, or maybe that was just the wind?
I walked back to my place and was drained of anger and excited at the same
time. Something in that storm filled my mind with ideas and thoughts. The
energy of the storm filled my being. I was ready to start my writing again.
I forgot all about that stupid tape, it did not matter any longer. I sat
down at the computer that is adapted for my vision loss and began to fill
the screen with words that flowed from my mind. By the grace of God, I am
back to the drawing board!

>>>rewrite the infamous phrase>..."By the grace of God and a mighty storm, I
found my way" (From the writer's block)”

Joyce Cass Pratt (Gillette, New Jersey USA)

**12. “Wow, what a great way to start the day. Thought provoking doesn't really
describe it, mind blowing.

That was really brill. I am still thinking about it now even after reading it a Couple of hours ago, I am not sure how I would answer the question but it puts a whole new perspective on things.”

Angela (Blindfam, UK)

**13. “It is about nine o'clock in the evening. A terrible storm is raging. A
blind man is on his way home after he has attended a prayer meeting as an
elder of his church. "Lord, please help me to get home safely. The
threatening sound of thunder terrifies me. Lord, I know I should not have
been out tonight - it is too dangerous, but I had to be loyal to you and the
other members of the church council. You know, Lord, I have to prove
myself, because I am blind." So he carries on praying fervently as he feels
his way with the stick in his right hand, while touching a wall with his
left hand to keep walking in the right direction. Thunder strikes again and
he almost lets go of his stick as he gets a fright. Because of the heavy
rain he doesn't hear the coach and horses approaching him. Suddenly he
feels a familiar touch of a beloved friend's hand on his shoulder.
"Hi William, what are you doing outside in this terrible storm? Come let me
help you onto the coach. I'll take you home."

"Oh John, Thank God you saw me. It is terribly cold. You are an answer to
prayer. I have attended a church council meeting and am on my way home.
When we get home I'm sure Susan will have some coffee ready. I'd love you
to come in and join us for some coffee or soup."

"I'd love to. Here we are," says John.”

Janie Fourie (Pretoria South Africa

**14. “The wind howled through the trees as Thomas Walker made his way down the narrow cobblestone walkway. He felt his way along the wall of a familiar route.
A crack of lightning sizzled in the air, he paused to count how far toward ten he would get before the resounding boom of thunder rumbled through the
village. He got to seven, so he figured the storm was seven miles away in intensity. This would give him time to return to his cozy apartment above the
shop he and his brother owned. Briskly he picked up his pace, nearing the corner he heard the muffled noise of the drinkers in the corner pub. Turned
to the right and counted the brick doorway steps until he came to the eleventh. Turned right and proceeded up the stairs while fumbling in his pocket for
his key. Thank Heavens he had wood already stacked neatly to light in his fireplace for a warm cozy evening. Actually he rather enjoyed a good walk in
a storm, his wealthy neighbor down the lane had peeked out in a brandy stupor and shouted to Thomas about walking about in a storm. Thomas replied, "I
am with the grace of God, therefore I go!" He never thought twice about being blind and staying shut in like that rich old fool who was pickled with alcohol.”

Suzanne Lange (Chico, California USA)

**15. “Shouldn’t be anyone else out here.” Thought the blind cat burglar. “The dark of night and with this storm… all the shops should be empty, no one on the streets, not even the law. Bet I’ll find a door unlocked or a window unlatched.”

“BOOM! CRACKLE!” He hesitates half way along a wall, between the comfortable concealment of one alley and the next. “WOW! Bet that lite things up. Better get moving. Don’t want to be seen. I mean, if I am do, not to worry. They’ll only see what they want to see in me.” Giggling to himself. “Yeah, I’ve heard what they say, what they feel, ‘But for the grace, there go I.’ And I say, ‘By your grace, I laugh all the way to the bank.’”

FROM ME: “Well… it takes all kinds. Right?”

**16. “I do not wish to write a story. What I want to see is a THOUGHT PROVOKER, maybe this one, address the religious aspects of blindness. How does each of the various religions around the world impact the view and treatment of persons with a disability? Do they treat one disability different than another? Is blindness singled out more than another disability? Are we not all in God’s image? Are the blind, the disabled abominations? Are we seen as the result of sin? Are we more humble and seen to be closer to God? On and On, I doubt anyone of us can lay out all the positive and negatives? But we all know religion has a big part in how culture views and treats the disabled.”

FROM ME: If you all who write in make this a PROVOKER on religion, then it will be so. If you do not, do expect to see one in the future; I plan on one no matter what.”

**17. “I don’t always play by the rules! I’m changing the assignment to- “Or if not interested in revamping the original basis by seeing it from the view of the blind man, write your personal reaction to someone using the infamous phrase upon you.”

Pretentious, ignorant, revealing. These are my initial reactions to the knowledge of someone looking at me a blind person.

Pretentious because, who do they think they are?!> Do they really believe they are better off?!> I know for a fact, that I am better looking than the average person. I am in better health than the average person. I am better educated than the average person. I make more money and live at a higher standard than the average person. I am also in my interactions with others a more generous and humble individual than the average person (I am writing all these comments for the world to see as a part of this forum, as food for thought for the reader and do not normally talk or act this way).

Ignorance it the second major characteristic and this is based upon what that person who makes the comments obvious does not know. The ability of all of us to still be strong and capable of making our way in life even though we are blind.

Revealing, because it shows all of the above. I would not do this to another person. Not in this way. I do not count my blessings based upon luck, not by the grace of God.”

Sherri (Wyoming USA)

FROM ME: “This changing of the perceived question in the THOUGHT PROVOKER is okay/great! Look at what you had just read, a discussion centered around the perception and acceptance of blindness. I hope that others of you will, if you wish, do as this lady did.)

**18. “My answer is this to your question. “But for the grace of God, there go I.” Why is it that some people need to see some one “less better off than they” to feel good about their own status? It is as though they need to stand on a stack of bodies in order to feel good. What is the psychology of that?”

Marvin Foster (Washington DC USA)

FROM ME: “I’ve always wondered if anyone else thought along these lines as I have. What is this psychology?)

**19. “This is interesting, a pecking order which gives a person a feeling of being superior or at least safe in the knowledge of there is someone who does not have it as good as you, that it could be worse and this gives you something to feel good about. What is more interesting about this action, follow this pecking order out. You could have a sighted man to judges he is better off than the blind man. The blind man feels better off than the man in a wheel chair. The man in the wheel chair feels better off than the blind man, who feels better off than the Deaf man, who feels better off than the blind man, who both feel better than the poor man, who feels better than the rich man and the man of one culture feeling better off than the man of a different culture or the man of one religion feeling better off than the man of a different religion and on and on… TRULY, where might this end? Does it end? What does this tell us?”

Julie Smart (USA)

**20. “I can't think how to reverse the roles, but I hope these comments will be
useful anyway.

I have agreed with Jacobus tenBroek's comments on this phrase of
Bradford's since first hearing it in the summer of 1977. Now, I wonder:
was he a little hard on old John? Was Bradford really judging himself
superior to the blind man, or was he simply commenting on the
circumstances? I think the difference is fundamental.

Was Bradford arrogant when he uttered those infamous words, or was he
saying he knew that the only difference between himself and the blind man
he thought worse off was a difference over which he had no control--a
chasm, perhaps, but not one of his making? He did not say (as far as we
know), "but for my hard work, there go I." Did he really believe that the
beggar was not within God's grace, as tenBroek and others have suggested,
or only that, for reasons known only to that alleged divinity who has been
said to work in mysterious ways, he seemed to be getting a bigger shower
of grace--at least at the moment? Thinking you've received an extra
measure of divine favor certainly can and often does lead to insufferable
arrogance, indeed, to appallingly inhumane behavior towards others. Was
Bradferd's attitude headed that way? Maybe, but I'm not as sure of that
as I was before.

Sometimes, when I berated the idiots who tried to keep apartheid alive in
South Africa or white supremacist garbage notions alive in this country, I
paused long enough to realize that, had my luck been different, I could
have been one of them and believed myself right as sweet rain. So it
is--sometimes--when I think of those in Kosovo who believe that ethnicity
is a reason for love or hate, the nurse passing by who became amazed
because I could climb a low snowbank, and countless others that might come
to my mind if it were working well. During those pauses after blasts of
righteous or self-righteous rage, I note that I'm no better than those I
have been railing against, just different, and many of those differences,
good and bad, were not of my choosing. I sense at those times that, even
if we can blame ourselves or others for not trying to do better (whatever
we think that means), we can't blame ourselves or others for the cards we
or they were given. When I think such things, am I doing more or less
what Bradford did or something very different? (Either way, does it
promote or does it hinder development of equality among us, and the right
combination of togetherness and individuality?)”

Al Sten-Clanton

**21. “Evening is drawing near and I must soon leave work for home. Periods of heavy rain have been occurring intermittently throughout the day. Since I have no more appointments for the day, I am going to leave for home. I must walk to the stop where the coach will pick me up and take me to the area to catch the coach to my home. I wonder if sighted people ever thank God that they can saddle their horse and ride off to care for their needs any time they want to do so? Blindness does make life difficult for us most of the time, but thank God that he has endowed us with coping mechanisms.

As I hurry from the shop and down the wet stairway I realize that my steps must be taken with extreme caution. Pools of water are everywhere making walking extremely difficult. Normal sounds are distorted when the thunder rolls and the water on the street hisses as carriages pass through it. Hence, I must move very slowly utilizing all of my other senses to move safely to my point of destination.

My cane keeps getting stuck in drainage holes near the edge of the road, but I can't chance moving out away from the curb. I'd get hopelessly disoriented if I did this. Even though I can walk this route in seven minutes on a nice day, tonight it is going to take me much longer to do it. I sure do dread the
point just ahead where the side road merges into this main one. The area where they meet slopes down into a grid that feels like a stock gap. This is even hard to negotiate in perfect weather. I wonder what it will be like in this rain?

I'm not sure, but I think I am here at the spot now. I don't hear a carriage coming out on my right, therefore, I'm going to cross this entrance and head on to the carriage stop.

Oh no! Something is in front of my cane. My foot is trying to turn over into those terrible little openings in the grid under my feet. I must put my hand out to see what is in front of me. It is a stalling carriage. Why in the world didn't I hear it?

Oh well, I'll just feel my way around it and hope it doesn't start moving before I get around it.

Thank God! I made it! Now, there are only a few more yards until I can get off this road onto a pathway leading to the carriage stop. Here it is. I have it made now. Hopefully the carriage will be early or at least on time.

While I stand here near the highway waiting for my carriage, I meditate. Carriages pass by continuously, and thunder rolls around heavily. This is no time for man or beast to be out in the elements, but the power of our creator is definitely being displayed out here now.

Isn't it simply wonderful and awesome to know that our creator has endowed us with the ability to appreciate his marvelous works. Thank goodness he has given us the ability to compensate for our missing senses by utilizing the others to pinch hit for them. Too, we can be thankful knowing that he didn't bring these hardships upon us. He made our first parents perfect, and they chose to disobey his simple protective command which stranded us on the island of imperfection where we live today.

Even though I am standing here in the rain getting soaked, a long way from home, I am so thankful that I do have a job and am able to get myself to it safely.
I also feel privileged to know that our Creator is not the one who put the plague of blindness and other maladies upon us, and that he someday soon, will restore perfection to appreciative humans, and restore the entire earth to a beautiful paradise condition.

Meantime, I must do my utmost to become the best person that is possible for me to be, and to continue to grow in knowledge and understanding of God, others, and myself. While doing this I must never allow myself to become bitter, unthankful, arrogant, self-assuming or haughty. But for the grace of GOD, we would have no hope.*”

Freda Trusty (Dallas, Texas USA
USA) jazzitup4us@mindspring.com)

**22. “I could see the lightning and within a few seconds, I heard the loud
crash of thunder. I had heard that if the lightning strike and the
sound of thunder are close together, the lightning is closer to where
you are. I walked faster, furiously sliding the ball tip of my cane
ahead of me.

Earlier, I had been in the pool at the YMCA, participating in a water
exercise class. At that time, a light rain was falling and the
instructor expressed concern about me walking home in the rain. With
a smile, I told him, "If I didn't like the water, I wouldn't be here,
would I?"

Then, we heard a loud crack of thunder. The instructor told us that
the thunder and the preceding lightning were within five seconds of
one another and for safety sake, we were ordered out of the pool. I
quickly showered and dressed, and since I had heard no thunder while
I was in the locker room, I assumed it was safe. I really had no
choice, anyway. I had brought no money for a cab and no one had
offered me a ride home.

Now, the rain was coming down in sheets. It occurred to me that I
shouldn't have bothered to shower after my class, since the rain was
doing a pretty thorough job of that. I saw another flash of
lightning, followed almost immediately by another crack of thunder.
Since I was only about half a block away from home, I figured the
best thing to do would be to keep walking, which I did. Finally,
after what seemed to be an eternity, my apartment building was in
sight. I hurried up the walkway and sighed with relief as I entered
the front hall. As I fumbled for my keys, I thought of my mother,
who had passed away several months earlier. But for the grace of
God, I might have joined her.”

Abbie Johnson (Sheridan, Wyoming, U.S.A.

**23. “[quoted lines by Robert Newman on May 21, 2000, at 13:34]

The following question was asked within this week's responses:

>does each of the various religions around the world impact the view and
>treatment of persons with a disability?

May I answer this question from a Biblical perspective?

All people, with no exceptions whatsoever, are created in the image of God.
Genesis 1:27, a passage right near the end of the account of creation, says,
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male
and female created he them.".

At that time, of course, since sin had not yet entered the creation, there were
no disabilities. It was only when Adam, the covenant head of the entire human
race, chose to disobey God that the creation in general, and man in particular,
became subject to a devastating divine curse.

While disabilities like blindness indeed are part of this curse, so are colds,
flus, traffic accidents, animal bites, the pains of childbirth, and all other
such common ailments. The most significant element of the curse, one which
absolutely no one escapes from, is death. Romans 5:12 says, "Wherefore, as by
one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon
all men, for that all have sinned:".

None of the various ailments which any of us suffers may be interpreted as a
sign that the bearer of the ailment is somehow being additionally penalized by
God, although God indeed does take personal responsibility for having allowed
it to happen. When, for example, God commanded Moses to boldly walk right up to
the Egyptian Pharaoh and inform him that he was to let the Israelites go, one
of Moses's big excuses (which can be found in Exodus 4:10) was that he was
"slow of speech". God's answer, in Exodus 4:11, is very striking. It says, "And
the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or
deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?".

One relatively minor reason, which, for completeness, must be mentioned, that
God allows a person to suffer a disability is that He doesn't always choose to
protect him from his own foolishness. If, for example, someone foolishly plays
with firecrackers to near his face, he'll likely blind himself. This, rather
than being an evidence of God's displeasure, is merely an evidence of the
person's own stupidity.

Disabilities like blindness, of course, can be caused by all kinds of reasons
(heredity, disease, the cruelty or carelessness of others) which are beyond our
control. The greater reason that God allows them is to weaken us so that His
glory can be made more evident. The apostle Paul, who truly was very greatly
blessed by God, Prayed over and over that a particular ailment of his would be
removed. God's answer, in 2 Corinthians 12:9, could be summarized as "no". It
says, "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is
made perfect in weakness.". Paul, the great servant of God which he was, then
gave an answer which it would behoove all of us to humbly emulate. He said (at
the end of this same verse), "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my
infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.".

There is a passage within the Bible which deals very specifically with
blindness, and it is one in which all blind people should rejoice. When Jesus
came upon a blind man, His disciples asked Him whether or not that man's
blindness was an additional punishment for sin. The passage, including Jesus's
answer, can be found in John 9:1-3. It says, "And as Jesus passed by, he saw a
man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying,
Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus
answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of
God should be made manifest in him.".

I urge you to read the entire chapter, i.e. John 9. Jesus went on to work a
great miracle in that man's life, bring great glory to God, severely prick the
consciences of the self-righteous pharisees, further train His disciples, etc.
Nothing but good came out of the fact that God, for His own purposes, allowed
that man to be blind from birth.

It must also be noted that another great man of faith, the great patriarch
Isaac, was blind for at least the last sixty years of his life. God even
allowed him, because of his blindness, to be the victim of a great deception
which was perpetrated by one of his selfish children. Through all of this,
however, God brought about a situation which enabled Isaac to demonstrate far
greater faith than he likely ever would have were he not blind. The events
about which I speak can be found in Genesis 27. God's statement on them can be
found in that great chapter on faith, Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11:20 says, "By faith
Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.".

God does do one great thing with physical disabilities which must be mentioned.
He uses them themselves as pictures so that unsaved people can better
understand their spiritual plight, and His healing of them as pictures so that
unsaved people can better understand the only spiritual cure. Physically deaf
or blind people portray the fact that unsaved people are entirely incapable of
truly hearing or seeing the truth unless God Himself gives them "ears to hear"
or "eyes to see". What a glory it is that we, ones whom the world tends to look
down upon, have been given, by God Himself, the great privilege of being able
to personally portray to the world what it's only true hope is!”

Dave Mielke (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

**24. “The blind man moved swiftly along the wall, as he knew the neighborhood
well. He was almost to his good friend's home, but hadn't beaten the rain.
Lightning crashed, and the pouring rain had soaked him to the skin several
blocks earlier.

Despite the cold and drenching rain, his thoughts were far away. He was
anticipating an evening of music with his friends. He clutched his violin
case in one hand as he followed the wall with the other, hoping that the
rain would not soak through to his precious instrument before he reached his

One, two, three, four, five doorways he counted, and stopped at the sixth.
He knocked, and the sounds of people singing and playing music ceased as
footsteps approached from within. The door opened.

"John!" exclaimed his friend Geoffrey as he opened the door. "You are
soaked through to the skin! Come in and warm yourself by the fire."

"Thank goodness I made it without being drowned," said John, "it isn't a fit
night for man nor beast out there! I was about halfway here when it began
to pour, so I decided to come on over instead of going back for my cloak!"

Geoffrey handed him a glass of fragrant brandy. "As soon as you dry out,
we'll get started," he said.

John moved through the familiar house and stopped beside the roaring
fireplace. The others in the group greeted him heartily, some fiddling with
their instruments, tuning and tweaking them as musicians often do. John
thought to himself that he was a very lucky man. They were all paid well
for their music, and he was lucky to be doing something he loved with such a
fine group of friends.

"I'll wager you won't leave your cloak behind next time," piped up one of
his friends. "What rotten luck to be caught in such an awful storm!"

"Well, man proposes and God disposes, I suppose," replied John. "One never
can predict what may happen in life, no matter what one's plans might be.
Luckily, the Good Lord has seen fit to preserve my violin from the rain, so
let's get to it!"”

David L. Thurmond (Duluth, Georgia

**26: “There but for the grace of God go I ?

As the blind person in this story, I have so much to be happy about compared to the sighted man.
I use all my senses and enjoy a rich sensory experience while the sighted depend almost completely on sight. He misses so much by not being aware of sound,
smell, textures. I have a wonderful memory for phone numbers, amounts to pay, account numbers, Bible verses all of which the sighted have to look up. My
memories of places visited and little incidents, which personalize experiences, are always with me while the sighted have to look at their photographs
in order to remember things. I have the ability to form a mental picture and conceptualize things, which are described to me while the sighted need to
see them on paper. I have a vivid imagination and enjoy what I imagine I have seen. On a light note, my husband bought us tickets at a circus near the
front hoping I might see a little. After the show, I expressed my delight at the act where the ostriches swallowed sword blades. He said I had obviously
been to a different circus because there was no such act. He added that he would in future not waste his money on taking me as I could just as well stay
home and exercise my imagination! I have an ability to sense atmosphere and a sensitivity to people's needs and an insight into what they are thinking.

I have learned patience, perseverance, resourcefulness and adaptability which sighted people rarely have.
I am not fussed when the power is off. I can find my way in the dark to switch it on at the board, I can put my key in the lock and dial a telephone number
or make a cup of tea or take a bath while the power is off at night, while my sighted husband is completely lost. I can even read my book! Indeed, seeing
may be believing, but feeling is Gospel truth!”

Lorna (South Africa)

**27. “We were both made in Gods beautiful image.
Neither are better than the other. God made the sighted man to go about his
way and he gave the other man his blindness to enrich his life."

Rev R. Williams(USA)

It is clap-trap like the above that made me the atheist I am today.
If it is indeed a supreme deity that gave me my blindness, I do not want
anything to do with him/her.

To say that God gave me my blindness to make me a better person blows my
mind. Whilst my blindness may have enabled me to utilize other faculties
and senses I would much rather have my sight. I realize this is not going
to happen, so am prepared to get on the best way I can. I do manage to
live a relatively rich and fulfilling life but do not feel in any way
advantaged by being blind. Au Contraire.

This subject came at a most opportune time for me. the very morning before
I read the email I was walking through Spencer St station, Melbourne's main
rail station for interstate and country trains, on my way to work. It
occurred to me that a lot of people around me would be feeling sorry for
the poor blind fellow winding through (sorry thru) the crowd with the
help of his guide dog. I thought ... don't feel sorry for me. I've got a
good job a wife who all would envy and a loving family and a lot of close
and dear friends. It is you lot who may not be as well off that should
worry about yourselves. Regards”

Col W.
Colin Watson (Barwon heads, Victoria Australia

FROM ME: “Values or spiritual convictions or gut suspicions are our own. Recall, this forum isn’t TO purposefully take one stand over another. But do know that I will allow some flexibility in expression, if it is in reasonably good taste and is recognizably needed to make the authors point. Of course, that is my call and I am big on respect.”

**28. “Of Grace, Glory, and Image:

I am often struck by the notions of the alleged divinity whose grace John
Bradford (and presumable the target of his pity) was glad to have. One is
of a supposedly just Creator who responded to the supposed sin of the only
two humans on the planet at the time by inflicting a "devastating divine curse" on them and everybody supposedly descended from them for some
number of millennia (the number apparently is in dispute). And what was
that great sin? Why, the heinous crime of munching on an apple from a
tree they were told not to get apples from! And why was that fruit
forbidden? As far as I know, we've never been told. Maybe it was to see
whether these two happy garden-dwellers would break the rule--which, being
all-knowing, this alleged divine entity knew they would. It suggests to
me arbitrariness at best and sadism at worst. Even taken strictly as
metaphor, the story seems to make obedience, not a logical application of
rules to facts, the ultimate moral point. If we disobey an order, we get
our cans kicked: it is the simple fact of disobedience, not the logical,
inherent consequences of doing something that happens to violate
an order, that causes a global affliction that is passed on like genetic
defects to innocent descendants. In other words, might makes right.
Flawed though it often is, I'll take
human justice over that any eternity!

Then, that same alleged divinity is said to allow or cause us to have
various particular problem so he (or she or it) can fix it in public to
get a praying ovation and a big write-up. Suppose a researcher wanted to
show that he'd found a cure for AIDS. Suppose he decided to prove it by
giving AIDS to some unsuspecting Homo sapiens, then waited until said Homo
sapiens was in agonizing death throes before finally breaking out the cure
and bathing in the superlative praise of onlookers observing a quick, full
recovery. How would most of us treat the researcher if we found out how
the victim got sick in the first place?

Of course, the universe may indeed have been created: I'm an agnostic,
not an atheist. And it well may be that the Creator would swat a fly with
a nuclear arsenal or crave more strokes for its ego than all the
superstars you could crowd into a square light year. If so, I hope I find
out soon enough to change my attitude, become a brown-nose, and scarf up
every bit of unpredictable grace I can. I'm inclined to doubt that's how
it is, though. Limited though we humans certainly are, if there is a god
and we are ultimately made in that god's image, then I suspect our sense
of justice is not radically different from the divine one. Even a god
only as good as some of the people I know would never be proud of glorying
in the suffering of humans because he can get praise for his magic tricks.
There is more true grace in a godless, unloving but also unhating
evolution. Or, as some suggest, maybe this god is a "fellow traveler,"
evolving along with its creation, powerful but not all-powerful, able at
times to help alleviate suffering but unable to eradicate it, and certainly
incapable of giving us a clear enough signal that we will know, "This
god's for real!" (Some may think that lack of a clear signal is a good
thing, but I doubt it.) There's a line from a play that goes something
like this: "If God is God, he is not good; if God is good, he is not
God." Given the world we share, this sad line makes a lot more sense to me
than the notion of an infinite and perfect divinity who watches this
stormy show and sticks a finger in from time to time, especially one who
in certain respects gets some bennies from the suffering for which this
god must, in the end, take complete responsibility. I hope for better,
but hope is as far as I can go.

No, I didn't forget about you, Mr. Bradford and Mr. beggar, but I don't
think I've been too far off topic--which was, at least partly, grace.

Also, I hope that nobody of strong faith who has read this will take
offense, however much he or she may disagree with what I've said. I know
some solid, passionate Christians who continue to consider the same
questions I've noted here, who have very mixed experiences of the god they
worship. If God there is, the harshest polemics of the most rabid
atheists won't change that; if not, the most fervent praying and zealous
evangelizing won't change that, either. And I do have this mustard seed
of faith--well, hope, at least--that, if God there is, He or She or It is
very glad that we micro images use such talents as we have to seek the
Truth, whatever it is.”

Al Sten-Clanton (Boston, Massachusetts USA)

**29. “I've never been the sort of person who feels that others are less
fortunate than I because of some handicap. But what I do notice is that
whenever I start moaning that we don't have much money (much being a
subjective word!), I get together with some of my friends, who subsist on SSI
or Social Security because their handicap means few are willing to hire them,
and find myself realizing how much I really do have.

I suppose this is the same sort of thing, and it isn't a thought I've had,
but just a realization. Like that old saw "I cried because I had no shoes
till I met a man who had no feet." It isn't even on the conscious level.

For those who get angry that someone might have these thoughts or feelings, I
suggest that they think about their own unconscious prejudices!”

Lori Stayer (Merrick, New York USA)

**31. “I have heard this expression often while growing up, and the way it was
phrased was "There, but for the grace of God, go I". I took it to mean that,
if it were not for the favor of God, I would be suffering from whatever
disability or hard luck or misfortune has stricken the target of this phrase.
I took it to mean, "That could have been me", which explains the expression
in words that I can understand. I heard it often because my parents wanted
me to know that, but for the grace of God, I could have wound up living in
that house that was just demolished by fire, or I could have been in that car
accident that crippled someone, or I could have been born blind, deaf or
French. Whenever we saw something or someone less advantaged than us, one
of my parents would point out how I have to appreciate what God has given me.
It was a good lesson, and taught self-pride, confidence, compassion and
caring of those less fortunate. It also, however, inferred that less
fortunate meant less worthy, or less dignified, than those of us who "had it
all". I got the feeling that no one, no matter what their lot in life, would
want to hear that expression directed at them, and so I do not use those
words that way anymore. Last month, I was walking with a friend and we
passed a homeless man who seemed a little "disturbed", and she surprised me
by saying "there, but for God's grace go I", and I responded with "Here,
within the Graces of God, are we", and I meant for that to include the
homeless guy. We are all blessed by God in so many ways, that is obvious to
everyone, I should hope. After all, everyone has at least one thing that is
so much better than others, and also has at least one thing that is not. I
think its all about being proud of yourself and all those wonderful qualities
that make you the special person that you are, and recognizing and
celebrating the differences between us. Remember that the grace of God is in
every one of us, even atheists (they just don't know it), and we are all
blessed with whatever he has chosen for us in this lifetime.

Now, as to rewriting the story and the expression, in my version of the story
the person in the warm house is a very pretty woman. Unfortunately, her
personality did not match her good looks, and she was impatiently waiting by
the door for her new boyfriend and hopefully her fourth husband to arrive.
He was late, and she was starting to really seethe with anger. There was a
big storm approaching, and she did not want to be caught in it. Her
impatience was beginning to show as she kept checking out front every time
she heard a noise. Oh, great, the rain has started coming down. She reached
for the telephone before she remembered that they have not been invented yet.

She went to the mirror to check her image again. The fabric of her dress was so delicate and her hair was perfectly coifed ....this rain was going to
ruin both. Well, maybe they could stay here until the rain let up a little.
She went to the front door again, and this time when she opened it to look
out, she saw a man making his way toward her house.
"You, there, have you seen anyone else walking about out there?", she called
to the man.

"No, sir, not man nor beast have I run into.", the man replied.

"Sir? Sir?" she almost cackled, she was screaming so loudly. "How dare you
mock me so. Are you blind or something? Come over here, you impudent man!",
she ordered him, and then watched as he made his way up her front walk. She
was muttering her irritation at the weather, her late beau, and this man's
ineptitude the whole time he was approaching. She saw that he was walking
very slowly, with some trepidation, and when he got close he put his hands
out to feel his way.

"Get your hands away from me, you moron. What do you want?", she demanded.

"I'm sorry, madam, but I must ask if I could please come inside until the
rain lets up a little. I've lost my umbrella and....". She cut him off in
the middle of his sentence.

"Are you insane? Can't you see that I am all dressed up and ready to go

He took another step towards her, and almost tripped on the step upon
which she was standing. "No, Ma'am, I cannot see how you are dressed or what
you look like. I am blind. I've lost my umbrella and the cane I have been
learning to get around with, and I simply must rest and warm up a little.
Please let me in, and I promise I will not be in your way or ask for anything
else. When the rain stops, I will be on my way and you will be on your way.
Please." He smiled, and tried to do his best imitation of a sweet, lost
puppy, even though he was losing patience with this shrewish woman.

"Oh, all right, you may come in and sit by the fire, but don't expect me to
fetch for you or keep you amused. You are on your own. And don't touch
anything. Everything in this house is valuable. If you break anything,
you'll have to pay me for it. Now, go sit down and be quiet!", she said, and
at that she stepped back inside, instructing him to follow her.

He stood for
a moment, expecting a little guidance, but when he heard her footsteps from
within, he realized that he really was on his own. He reached out with one
foot and found a step, and he groped ahead until he was inside the home.
"Ma'am?", he called out. He started moving in the direction that he had
heard her footsteps, and although his arms were extended, he bumped his thigh
on something. He started to grope to identify the object, when suddenly he
was grabbed by both hands and pulled to the left. Then he felt her hands on
his forearms as she pointed him in the right direction.

"There", she said,
giving him a little push, "Just walk straight ahead and you will find the
salon. Go in and sit down by the fireplace, and I'll be in shortly."

So he
began walking, wondering why she didn't just lead him to the chair. He felt
a little humiliated and was very afraid of bumping into and breaking
something, so his self-confidence was beginning to dwindle. This caused him
to grope in wide circles, and he knew he looked rather pathetic. What he
didn't know was that she was standing there in the corner of the room, just
standing there watching him. After she told him to enter the salon, he heard
a door open and then close at the other end of the room, and assumed, as she
wished him to, that she had left the room. She was being entertained by his
fumbling, she really enjoyed the fact that he did not know she was observing
him. She was also thinking about how cute he was. His face was similar to
those of chiseled stone statues of gods that one would find in Italy. She
didn't know much of Roman art or Greek mythology, but that was what she was
experiencing when she looked at his face. She decided to try to be nice to
him, and made pretend that she was re-entering the room by opening and
closing the door again. This time, however, he realized that he had heard no
noises at all before the sound of the opening of the door. There were also
no footsteps to accompany the person through the door and to a point of
closing it, but rather the reverberations came after the door was slammed
shut, as if someone were waiting for a cue to move. He realized that she had
probably been there the whole time, and immediately decided that he could
either play this out or not, and he opted for not. This woman was a little
too, um, nuts, for his taste, and he decided that he would exit this house as
soon as possible. Finally, he happened upon a chair, and he sat down
gratefully, glad to be off his feet for just a few minutes and relishing the
warmth of the fire. He heard her coming near him, heard the rustle of her
skirts, not her footsteps. Had she removed her shoes, or was she
deliberately tip-toeing ? The smell of her, which was lovely, was all
around, and he was tempted to reach out but decided not to. Then he felt a
hand, her hand, on his chin, turning his face upwards. Oh, no, was she going
to kiss him? Slap him? He was very uncomfortable, but was afraid to stand,
to try to leave. "What do you want?", he asked her in a soft voice that he
was sure showed none of the fear he was trying to conceal.

"What I want, is
a glass of sherry. There is a decanter there, on the table next to you, and
two glasses. Please pour", she ordered.

"No, madam, I would rather not.
Should you desire a glass and wish to pour one and then be so inclined to
pour another, I would be pleased to partake a bit of sherry myself, but I'll
not take the responsibility of pouring. I'm sure you understand.", he

"Why, you insolent, ungrateful man! How dare you refuse anything I
have to offer! Do you not know that men always obey my orders? Men do my
bidding in hopes of being rewarded with my dazzling smile, or a kiss on the
cheek. Men want to be near me, to possibly touch me. What kind of a man
are you, anyway?" She took his hands and pulled him to his feet, and then
placed his hands on her hips. "Does being blind mean that you cannot long
for a beautiful woman? I suppose you have no use for my beauty, can not
appreciate the wonder of myself. You probably don't even know what the word
pretty means!", she said, getting louder with each word.

He simply stood
there for a moment, not saying anything, not moving or attempting to remove
his hands from her formidable hips. Then, slowly and softly, he replied, "I
suppose your beauty is wasted on me, although I have not always been blind
and I do know and appreciate the lovely things in this world. I am betrothed
to a very beautiful woman, my sighted friends are quite envious. I suppose I
appreciate beauty differently than you would, actually I appreciate
everything differently than you. Lately, though, I find that I am attracted
to the inner beauty people possess. That's something I truly can see. When

"What are you saying?", she squawked. "You can find no inner beauty here?
I'll show you how not to treat a lady!", and with that she raised her hand
and slapped him across his face. At exactly the same moment, the front door
opened and a homely though well dressed gentleman entered the room.

"Charles!" she exclaimed.

"Veronica!", the man said, then, "David! What are you doing here? What the
hell is going on around here?” he bellowed.

"Oh, Charles, you are just in
time to rescue me from this, this,

David? Did you just call him David?", she
was getting confused.

"Well, yes, young David here is my esquire. He
handles my business affairs. How do you know him?", he asked.

David spoke up. "Charles, I became lost out in the rain and was making my way
home when I was so graciously invited inside to wait for the rain to stop.
We were just getting around to introductions when you walked in. I really
must be going now, and if you would be so kind as to help me into your taxi,
I will accept a ride home and then send the taxi back here for you."

course, of course", said the older man, feeling a little ashamed of the
jealousy he felt when he first entered the room and saw his girlfriend with
such an attractive younger man. Thank God it was only David, poor David, he
thought as he led the blind man down the walk towards the waiting taxi. I
guess I'm a very lucky man, now that I think about it. A man like David
could never have a woman like Veronica.

Ironically, David was just thinking the same thing. "Thanks for the help,
Charles," David said as he settled in the back seat, "I'll see you next
Tuesday, as usual.". He waved as the taxi pulled away. He thought, "In
another time, and another place, I might have been the man in that woman's
life", and he shuddered. As the cab was taking him safely home, he leaned
back and counted all his blessings and smiled.”

K (naples, Florida USA)

**32. “I am one of those who have used this phrase for all of my life. It makes sense to me. There are many conditions in life that I would not want to experience. I also believe God has a hand in deciding what rocks and turns we will have on our long road of life. I do count my blessings.

If I was to rewrite the phrase, I might say “Here by the grace of God stand I.”

Mary W. (England)

**33. "When I read all the responses stating that God is the one who directs what happens in our lives, even whether we are blind or sighted, I can understand
why there are so many atheists and agnostics. If I believed, even for a moment, that God actually directed these things, I would be an atheist too, or
even worse. Only a cruel deity could single out certain individuals and shackle them with unnecessary and cruel circumstances. By looking at the creation
it is obvious that our Creator is not a cruel and an unkind person. He is loving, kind, just and Almighty.
The plagues with which we are confronted are of human origin and we have received them because of making poor choices ourselves, unforeseen mishaps, or
by inheriting some genetic defect through our family tree. Imperfection itself is an inherited genetic defect with which our mutual forefather, Adam,
saddled all of us. We cannot blame a perfect, just, kind, powerful and loving creator for something that his creation did. True, he is all knowing as
some have written in, but just because he has the ability to know all things does not mean that he chooses to know them. He does allow us humans dignity,
and if he nosed into all of our decisions, he would strip us of all dignity. He is not that way.
He does, however, have a plan by which he will bail the human race out of this imperfect state. He makes it available to all who are appreciative enough
to give his purpose the consideration that it deserves. He does not force this on anyone, but wants us to come to him willingly, motivated by love and
appreciation. He does not torment or torture his creatures either now or for an eternity. That is not our God and creator who does that, but his evil
adversary. Those who portray our creator as this vengeful deity do not know him. I hope that many of those who profess to believe in Christianity will
think about these deeper aspects of Love and Justice, and pray to the Almighty God for insight."

Freda Trusty (Dallas Texas USA