Friday, October 26, 2012

The Late, Great, New & Improved Dr. Doctrine: Chapter Two

I recently wrote a little story as a favor to a friend. He went another way, so I thought I'd post it here.

It's worth noting that the theme of this piece is not something I'm totally comfortable with. I've lately been feeling the need to put myself in more direct conversation with the people who disagree with me. It helps that the person who got me started on telling this story is a friend; the prominence given to God's wrath among people preoccupied with doctrine notwithstanding, in this case as in most cases, love starts, surrounds and sustains the story.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little parable. And I hope you don't take it any more seriously than I do. It is, after all, only a story.

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As frustrating as Dee Constructionist’s editorial was, it wasn’t Dr. Doctrine’s only problem. She had, it was true, been siphoning off a good number of his patients—patients he’d known from birth—but she wasn’t the only one. Also new to town was another competitor, this one appearing to be more in line with Dr. Doctrine’s philosophy but in actuality being just as dangerous as Dee Constructionist.

Dr. Phil N. DeBlanc had set up shop a couple of months ago. He had advertised heavily, targeting not Dr. Doctrine but Dee Constructionist with attack ads and making a strong, sometimes provocative case for a medical approach to health care. Dr. Doctrine had appreciated this re-assertion of medical care (although he found the tone sometimes abrasive), but as he observed the new medical practice he realized a shocking truth: DeBlanc wasn’t so much treating people as he was medicating people. Want to lose weight? Take this pill. Want to improve your sex life? Take that pill. Want to get rid of your cancer? Try this one or that one. For DeBlanc, every pill was the same hammer, and every malady was the same nail.

Dr. Doctrine had lost some patients to DeBlanc too. They had grown impatient with his slow, deliberate approach to treatment; they had grown tired of his seemingly intrusive questions about their diet and other personal habits. Mostly they were just looking for something new—either the exotic and empowering “self-care” promoted by Dee Constructionist or the formulaic approach on offer from Phil N. DeBlanc. In a world where the new and novel is king, the tried and true often gets sent into exile.

Dr. Doctrine was saddened by his town’s fickle and misguided thinking about its health, and he was of course worried about the sustainability of his practice. But he was resolute in his philosophy: patient care is inherently personal, it has an undeniable objectivity, and it is absolutely essential for patient well being. So he soldiered on, hoping for the cultural tide to turn in his favor, to his town’s benefit.

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