Saturday, June 30, 2012


My dad is a design and engineering prodigy. He is one of those naturals who never completed school, knows nothing of theory and equation, yet instinctively understands the properties of the materials he works with. Not only that, but the things he builds are beautiful in themselves. When I was a teenager he took an old stingray bicycle and rebuilt it "chopper" style. He did this simply to showcase the fiberglass seats, tanks and fenders he'd created as bolt-on accessories for bicycles. Below is a photo of that Chopper-Style bike.

Yep, my dad was and is the epitome of cool.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is an annual competition for the worst opening sentence of a novel. The award was inspired by Nineteenth Century novelist Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, from the notorious opening line of his novel PAUL CLIFFORD.

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.” — Edward George Bulwer-Lytton (1830)

2011's winning line was: "Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories." — Sue Fondrie, Oshkosh, WI

However, I also liked this line in my personally-favorite category of Adventure Fiction: "From the limbs of ancient live oaks moccasins hung like fat black sausages – which are sometimes called boudin noir, black pudding or blood pudding, though why anyone would refer to a sausage as pudding is hard to understand and it is even more difficult to divine why a person would knowingly eat something made from dried blood in the first place – but be that as it may, our tale is of voodoo and foul murder, not disgusting food." — Jack Barry, Shelby, NC 

My all-time favorite, from Mystery Fiction remains: "Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor."

What about you? Think you have the right stuff to be a contender? Here's mine: "Agent Nick Tempus cringed as a high-powered bullet punched through the rear window of his speeding Dodge Charger, whizzed past his head and shattered the windshield, wishing he'd signed up for a lower insurance deductible."

Friday, June 22, 2012


I'm officially a Pirate: and I have the sunken chest to prove it.

I came home from the hospital yesterday. The surgery went well. Doc says he got everything, no surprises. Waiting on the pathological report of the lymph nodes. Surprisingly, I have had very little pain. Sometimes when I move I can feel the sutures pull, but I quickly stop any such movement. I have almost full use of my right arm. I do not put any weight on it, but I can hold a coffee cup, which is a great comfort.

I'll see my doctor on the 28th for a Post-Operation review. He expects to remove one of my two drains that day. Chemo-therapy begins in about three weeks. It will be intravenous, so I expect to lose my hair. I've decided to simply get a buzz cut at my next appointment. Good thing for me I like to wear hats.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012


People all all over the world have told me they are praying for my up-coming cancer surgery on Wednesday. Thank you all for the humbling blessings. My friend Rabbi Ben-Zion (pronounced Bent-Zeeown) Kravitz even had a friend in Jerusalem place a prayer in the Wailing Wall on my behalf. For those who don't know, the "wall" is actually all that's left of the foundation of the third Temple, rebuilt in a grand scale by Herod the Great during the time of Jesus. Following is a video from last summer when he personally placed my prayer for the peace of Jerusalem in the recesses of the ancient wall.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Happy Day, Bros!


Met my Oncologist yesterday; a very compassionate man. His opinion is that my tumor is at stage Stage IIB: that means it is less than 5centemeters and at least one lymph node has been affected. They will know for sure only during the surgery. However, this is the third diagnosis and they all agree. I find that encouraging.

The expected course of chemo-therapy follows:
1. therapy to begin three to four weeks post-operation
2. chemo-therapy will be administered via a jazzy, robotic-type plug implant, every two weeks
3. Chemo-therapy will continue for eight weeks
4. Re-evaluation

Had blood work done for the Oncologist yesterday as well. Got the results already--I SO love the internet. All the results are well within the ordinary range. Thank you, Lord.

I'm expecting Mom, Dad and two Aunts to arrive on Tuesday.

NEXT: Round Two, surgery on Wednesday the 20th.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Had a treadmill stress test today. Walked for about ten minutes at increasing grades and speeds. Kept my breathing steady the whole time and walked until they said they were done. I think I surprised them.


* Following the biopsy the nurse said; "Since you didn't wear a bra today, Mr. Patterson, we'll use an ace bandage to hold the ice packs in place."

* Everyone tells me, "men get breast cancer, too." I thought of that last night as I studied my assigned reading, "Women's Guide to Breast Cancer." Why isn't it simply, "Guide to Breast Cancer"?

* "I want to know how you're doing; be sure to keep me abreast."

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Fight’s On! is a powerful lesson I've learned as a Sheriff’s Chaplain. Not mere belligerence, or false bravado; Fight’s On! embodies the warrior's creed. Life is hard and sometimes harsh. You’ll never see victory if you fold and run at the first sign of trouble. You have to be willing to stand up, to fight back, to overcome against insurmountable odds.

In Defensive Tactics instructors say that the first hard hit is not the end of the fight, but the beginning. When you get slammed hard that is the ring-side bell; Fight's ON! That is when you gird up your loins, tuck in your chin, and wade in swinging. Many enemies—even the cheerful brawlers—do not expect that. Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 is a case in point. The High Command's strategy was to hit America so hard that we could not recover. They expected us to capitulate rather than fight back against that blow. They were mightily surprised when the USA immediately declared war and soon after struck the heart of Tokyo itself. Fight's ON!

Fighting is a taboo in our modern, urban, sophisticated world. Only bullies fight, and that's a bad thing. So we frown on teaching our children to defend themselves. Many reach adulthood without ever getting into a real fist-fight. Passivity is hailed as a sign of modern sophistication, but it’s a cruel illusion. Money, easy escape from the "bad" parts of town, alarm systems and stout door locks allow  people to forget that peace is voluntary. When the bully decides to cut you out of the herd it’s too late to decide whether or not you should fight back.

My dad instilled this ethos in me when I was a boy. "Don't start fights, son. Walk away when you can. But if you have no choice, you better be ready to finish them." That teaching kept the chip off my shoulder and allowed me to stand my ground when bullies thought my lunch money would be easy pickings. Sure, I took some lickings as a kid, but I never had to fight any of those bullies a second time.

Now in my fifties, I must call upon this same warrior creed—this ethos—In the face of an ultimate threat: death itself, from cancer. Not a natural death, everybody must face that one day. I’m prepared for that. But cancer—Un-natural death—is a mortal insult; a bully trying to take my life for no good reason.

That is unacceptable. `

The revelation that I have death growing in my chest came as an unwelcome surprise. But I've spent my life preparing for this. As a boy I faced down playground bullies. As a Pastor I've prayed and wept with people facing this same ultimate fear.

This is not a fight I can wade into and defeat with my fists. This fight will be fought by medical professionals. All I can do is harden my resolve, wait on their expertise and trust in my God. I will not surrender to fear. I am willing to take some hard hits, but I will not simply lie down and give up. As far as I’m concerned, Faith is the embodiment of the phrase, Fight's ON!

“…we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Monday, June 11, 2012


Yesterday, at the end of worship services, I made the official announcement to my congregation that I have cancer. After sharing the details I asked the Deacons to anoint me with oil and pray for healing according to the Scriptures ("Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up."James 5:13-15)

We placed two chairs for Karen and I at the front and the Deacons did a wonderful thing. "Because the Body is One," Sherman said, "We should all come and pray for our pastor." the entire church body surrounded us and prayed for my bride and I. We were overwhelmed. People whom I'd never heard pray before lifted heart-felt prayers for us both.

Over the years I have not been impressed with my pastoral skills. I can preach, but I hate administrative chores. I am not a Sanguine, glad-handing, people-person. I am a timid, cold-call witness. I've often wondered if I would be missed. Yesterday, my church family humbled me to my core.

Afterward, I regretted the fact that we had no photograph of the event. But that is often how life is. When you are in the midst of the wonderful, who thinks to stop it all for something as mundane as a photo opportunity?

"Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free —and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many... If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."
1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 26

Friday, June 8, 2012


Most of my friends already know. I suppose I ought to announce it on my Blog as well. I found out this week I have cancer.  ...Breast cancer. When I look in the mirror I don't say, "why me?" I say, "Only You."

It's like the Bogeyman out of nightmares, jumping up and down shouting "Booga, Booga, Booga! Scared you, huh?" With a stroke, my summer is GONE. Two weeks more of waiting, Three weeks of surgical recovery, weeks of chemo-therapy (FINALLY I'll be able to use my Tonto, "What we do next, Chemo Therapy?" line without guilt.) And I'll need a lot of physical therapy to restore the surgically removed muscle mass from under my arm. I'm not sure if we're talking three months, six months or a year. Funny thing is, I'm not scared. I fully expect to ride it out and emerge victorious.  

It is operable. In fact its a completely normal "ductile" type breast cancer. I am scheduled for surgery on June 20th. The one scary thing is, though we caught it early, it is already in one of my lymph nodes. Apparently with men, who have less breast tissue, cancer makes its way quickly into the lymphatic system. The surgery will include a "dissection" of all the lymph nodes under my right arm.  Hopefully that will stop the cancer from spreading.

I am facing this with optimism and hope, trusting in the Lord to carry me through. I have confidence in my surgeon and, as always with Kaiser, they move quick with the BIG things.

Karen is afraid I'll lose all my hair. She thinks I might look cool and tough as a cueball. I'm afraid my head is too lumpy to look cool. I'm old, fat, and diabetic: my hair is all I've got.

I've already had several opportunities to share my faith in Christ. When the doctor made the announcement--which he did with great gentleness--he was obviously prepared for fireworks because he had "backup" in the room with him, just in case. But Karen and I simply exchanged a glance, as if we both expected it, and began to ask questions... rational questions. I think this was a good testimony.

Yesterday, I Had lab work done. When I sat down I saw the young lab tech reading a phone text and crying. Wisely, I waited until AFTER she had drawn blood before speaking. I stood and said, "it does get better."
           "What does?" she asked.
           ..."if you say so." she sniffed.
          I opened the door, turned back and said-- gently, I hope -- "I have cancer, I say so."

Saturday, June 2, 2012


This is a book trailer my Brother Ron Patterson created for the second book in his fantasy series.


*You make $250,000 a year and you still can't afford to buy a house.

*The high school quarterback calls a time-out to answer his cellphone.

*The fastest part of your commute is going down your driveway.

*You know how to eat an artichoke.

*You drive to your neighborhood block party.

*When someone asks you how far something is, you tell them how long it will take to get there rather than how many miles away it is.

*You say "the city" and expect everyone to know you mean Manhattan.

*You have never been to the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building.

*You can get into a four-hour argument about how to get from Columbus Circle to Battery Park, but can't find Wisconsin on a map.

*You think Central Park is "nature".

*You believe that being able to swear at people in their own language makes you multi-lingual.

*You've worn out a car horn.

*You think eye contact is an act of aggression.

*You get a movie and bait in the same store.

*"y'all" is singular and "all y'all" is plural.

*After a year of living in the same place you still hear,"You ain't from 'round here, are ya?"

*"He needed killin' " is a valid defense.

*Everyone has 2 first names: Billy Bob, Jimmy Bob, MarySue, Fay Nell

*You carry your $3,000 mountain bike atop your $500 car.

*You tell your husband to pick up Granola on his way home and he stops at the daycare center.

*A pass does not involve a football or dating.

*The top of your head is bald, but you still have a ponytail.

*You've never met any celebrities, but the mayor knows your name.

*Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor.

*You have had to switch from "heat" to "A/C" on the same day.

*You end sentences with a preposition: "Where's my coat at?"

*When asked how your trip was to any exotic place, you say, "It was different."

*You only have four spices: salt, pepper, ketchup and Tabasco.

*Halloween costumes fit over parkas.

*You have more than one recipe for moose.

*Sexy lingerie is anything flannel with less than eight buttons.

*The four seasons are: winter, still winter, not-quite-winter, and almost winter

Friday, June 1, 2012


The Fundamentalist/Modernist Controversy of the mid-twentieth century was an artificial split in the Church's mission to the world. The church's primary mandate--our Great Commission--is to take the gospel to all the world, making disciples of Jesus Christ and baptizing them in his name. Our secondary mission is to be salt and light to the world at large.

Like the American Civil War, the Fundamentalist/Modernist Controversy ripped the church apart with passion, violence, and an utter disregard for grace. Neither side gave ground, each insisting that their interpretation of the mission was not just the primary, but the only tenable vision. "Modernists" argued that the divine inspiration of scripture, the substitutionary atonement on the cross, and the second coming of Christ were all based in old-fashioned religious ignorance. They said advances in science had made that thinking irrelevant in a modern world. Therefore, the church's only job must be to usher in the new millennium of the social gospel of "Saving Society."  "Fundamentalists" responded that the preaching of the gospel for the salvation of the soul was the only legitimate calling of the church.

Really?  Does it have to be either/or?    ...Actually, no, it doesn't. Like the proverbial athlete, the Church of Jesus Christ is capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time.

Yes, the world is lost and in need of eternal salvation. Christians are to proclaim Jesus the Christ as God in human flesh who gave his life in ransom for ours. Believe in him and trust that his blood covers our transgressions and you will have eternal life because of him. At the same time, throughout scripture, God has called his people to do justly, love mercy and walk humbly. This is about how we live in the world. We are supposed to help the poor, the widow and the orphan, regardless of what the government does. The greatest commandments are to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. That love is manifested in actions, not feelings. There is no getting away from the fact that God calls us to do BOTH missions: either/or is ungodly, sub-christian partisanship.

But, some will say, doing good to those in need is something manifestly evident in this world. All that salvation-blood of Jesus-Heaven or Hell nonsense is old fashioned and out of date: but definitely.

Harry Emerson Fosdick was pastor of First Presbyterian and Riverside Churches in New York City in the 1920's. His was a powerful voice in the Modernist movement. He had an illustration comparing the differences between the two schools. (my paraphrase) Fosdick said; imagine a bad curve in a road near a cliff. People often drive off that road and crash at the bottom. Fundamentalists have kindly placed ambulances there to pick up the wreckage and transport them to a hospital. Modernists, on the other hand, take steps to improve the road. They put up barriers and lighted signs warning of the danger ahead.

I take exception to this illustration. Fundamential-Evangelical-Bible believing Christians do not accept the premise. We say, if you stood at the bottom of that chasm, you would not need to simply rescue the occasional wayward motorist. The picture we see is that of standing at the bottom of Niagara Falls for all the people going over the cliff. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

The church has pretty much absorbed the Fundamentalist/Modernist movement. Mainstream churches, noted for a social conscience and a strident unbelief in all things supernatural, are shrinking every year. Evangelical churches are booming and have embraced the need to live their faith. The vast majority of Christian social works these days are evangelical in nature.

The division is still with us, however; only the names and venues have changed. The division is now along social and political lines. The names are Liberal and Conservative.