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

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.


Things went on pretty much the same for a while. Dr. Doctrine saw fewer and fewer patients while his chief competitors grew larger and more prosperous. Then one day, as he sipped his coffee and flipped through the local paper, he saw an article that captured his imagination.

“Music Is the Best Medicine,” read the headline. A photograph sat alongside the text, a picture of a man playing a flute in a hospital, while sick children danced around him. The article wrote in glowing terms about this “exciting new model” of medical care, referring to the doctor as “a Pied Piper” whose “personal approach” was making patients excited about having their illnesses treated. This Pied Piper would be visiting the town in a week to elaborate on his approach. “A measure of music,” the article concluded, “makes the medicine go down.”

Dr. Doctrine leaned back in his chair. Is this just another flavor of the month? he wondered. Or does this “Pied Piper” truly care about his patients’ health? Just then, Dr. Doctrine’s phone rang. He reached over and picked up the receiver. “Dr. Doctrine’s office,” he said cheerfully. “Dr. Doctrine speaking.”

“Dr. Doctrine, it’s a great pleasure to speak with you,” the voice on the other line spoke. “I don’t know if you’ve read today’s paper, but I’m the ‘Pied Piper of Medicine’ visiting your town next week. I’ve looked into your practice and feel a real affinity with your approach to patient care. I was wondering if you’d be willing to join me on the stage at my presentation next week.”

Dr. Doctrine readily accepted the invitation, if for no other reason than to be available to push back against bad medical advice. But the Pied Piper wanted more. “I’d love to come visit you before the event, to compare notes about patient care, to make sure we’re in agreement. When I visit towns like this, I like to be able to refer my audience to a doctor who knows what real medicine looks like, and I think you might be that doctor for your town.”


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