Could a detached retina actually help someone see more clearly?
That may be the case for Patrick Greene of San Antonio, an outspoken atheist whose most recent notoriety came from his threat to sue Henderson County, Texas, for its courthouse nativity scene.
According to a report in The Athens (Texas) Review, Greene had always thought of Christians as narrow-minded and unkind, but that all changed when the 63-year-old discovered he had a detached retina.
Greene, who had decided to drop the nativity suit to focus on his health, told the newspaper that the surgery would cost $20,000, a distressing amount made even worse by the fact he had to quit his job as a taxi driver because of his deteriorating eyesight-and the bills from everyday life were stacking up.
That's where Jessica Crye, a member of Sand Springs Baptist Church in Athens, came in. She heard of Greene's troubles on the internet and knew she needed to help. She asked her pastor, the Rev. Eric Graham, what to do, and he contacted Greene to find out more about his needs.
"I said, first of all, I don't want $20,000," said Greene in an interview with the newspaper. "That would be ridiculous, because there's a chance the surgery would fail. On top of that, there's a chance it could become detached again."
His more immediate need, Greene shared with the pastor, was groceries.
At first, Greene said he was "flabbergasted" that a group of Christians would want to help him out, and he thought he might receive $50, or maybe $100.
But a few days later he received a check for $400 to help with his rent and groceries. "I thought I was in the Twilight Zone," Greene said.
And the giving didn't end at $400, according to Crye. She said money continues to come in from church members wanting to help Greene in his time of need.
Amazed by the compassion displayed by this group of believers, Greene said he might write a book about his experience: "I'm going to call it The Real Christians of Henderson County, Texas. These people are acting like what the Bible says a Christian does."
And as far as the Henderson County nativity scene goes, well, Greene said he plans to light it instead of fight it.
"I have decided to show my appreciation to the Christian community for all their help, and I am going to buy a star for the top of the nativity scene," Greene said. "You people can figure out how to plug it in."