I was 7 years old, and painfully shy, in 1971 when my father took me to an Exchange Club Christmas party that changed my life.

Normally, this is when Santa Claus would make his annual appearance to entertain and delight the kids. But Ol’ Saint Nick had called in sick and was replaced by …a magician! I only remember two things about that show — some colorful rabbit cutouts called the “Hippity Hop Rabbits” (which I would find out much later), and the feeling of being completely mesmerized by a magic show — thinking, “Wow! …

“O say, does that star spangled banner still wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”

We are all familiar with The Star Spangled Banner, but we typically only sing the first stanza. There are actually four.

The first ends on the question above, and this is the burning question for our time, isn’t it?

Our country was founded on principles that were radical in their day and still radical in much of the world now: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their…

(Note: The following was an overly long Facebook post I made prior to the midterms, coming out as an ex-Republican. It was by far my most popular online post, so even though the midterms are in the books, I’m republishing it here on Medium, where it will be easier to find in the future. I’m afraid it will continue to be relevant in the days and months ahead. -Gary)


I am an Old-school Republican. I believe in fiscal restraint, free and fair trade, protection of the commons, freedom of religion, freedom of the press (including the Internet)…

An atheist stood

in the outstretched arms of God

staring past the glory of the starry skies

and into the depths of a Heaven

he would never see.

The parables and prophets of the past,

with all their power still intact,

steadied the legs of his subconscious mind

as Truth washed over him in waves

of Knowledge — not revealed, but obvious,

like an old friend,

patiently waiting

and hoping for that one thing

most desired

but completely out of her control.

As if a movie had started playing

at the beginning of time itself,

telling the story of all…

Gary Patterson

Consultant / Magician / Learner / Optimist

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