[This story is dedicated to Christian film critics who actually critique films made by their fellow Christians – just as they would any film – and don’t just give free passes because the films are made “in the family”.]
I want to tell you about my friend, Dr. Bill Story. Dr. Bill is a great guy; he coaches his son’s little league baseball team, teaches a couple’s Sunday School class with his wife every weekend, volunteers with his daughter’s Scout troop at an animal shelter as often as he can, and more. With Dr. Bill, what you see is what you get. He’s the real deal.
Dr. Bill loves his family, and he loves his work as a cardiologist. He became a doctor because he dreamt of using his gifts as a cardiologist to help share his Christian faith. He says that he wants to heal people’s spiritual hearts as well as their physical ones. He shares that vision regularly with men’s groups and church groups whenever he can.
Dr. Bill is an amazing guy.
Dr. Bill’s patients love him. They come mainly from the churches he visits, because they want to encourage and support Dr. Bill’s dream, and Dr. Bill works really hard to help them with their heart issues. He prescribes meds, diagnoses medical problems, and has even started working on surgery over the past few years, all within the confines of the churches who support him.
When you consider that Dr. Bill didn’t go the traditional route to become a cardiologist, it’s even more inspiring. You see, Dr. Bill trained himself. He read books, talked with others interested in cardiology, moonlighted in a surgery ward, used trial and error, and prayer. And the result? He has accomplished the amazing. He is probably the most dedicated doctor I know.
I really, really admire Dr. Bill.
Recently, Dr. Bill performed major open heart surgery in the main operating theater at the big university hospital in our city. It was huge, because it meant that Dr. Bill was finally going to be able to make an impact outside of his supporting churches. It was covered by all the big secular and Christian media companies, and – maybe you heard about it? If you didn’t watch the live streaming, you really should go back and watch the videos. There were some real harrowing moments when Dr. Bill nearly lost the patient because of some small mistakes (Dr. Bill is only human, after all), and there’s some talk that the patient will have lost some motor functions after he recovers, but he is alive.
Here are some reviews of that surgery, from some of the people who watched the live stream:
“Dr. Bill is a great man of God, and his surgery was an amazing testimony to the power of prayer. Just think about it – he was touching that man’s heart, and that man is still alive today!” Pastor Dale Srudge, Rural Heights, Alabama.
“If my heart stopped, I would want Dr. Bill to be the one to restart it. He has annointed, healing hands.” Mrs. Emma-Lou Johnson, 75. Johnson City, Tennessee.
“That was the best heart surgery I’ve ever seen IN MY LIFE! Dr. Bill is AWESOME!” Heather, 12. Chicago, Illinois.
“When I try to picture a great American Christian man of God, who is promoting American and Christian values from surgery to the sanctuary, from the pulpit to the prep ward, I think of Dr. Bill.” Dr. Ted Bear, DoctorGuide Magazine.
And best of all, because of the support of his church communities, Dr. Bill’s surgery was one of the biggest live-streamed surgeries of the year, receiving an A+ at SurgeryScore. The medical establishment had to pay attention, because the numbers of views were so impressive. There were even folks watching from as far away as China!
Dr. Bill’s life is just one big miracle after the other.
Unfortunately, this high-profile surgery brought out the critics. Biased secular critics said that Dr. Bill’s work was “sloppy”, “amateurish”, and “barely proficient.” Further, the secular critics had the nerve to compare Dr. Bill’s work to the surgeons out in Los Angeles who have been performing heart surgery for years. Given, those surgeons have lost fewer patients then Dr. Bill, and their patients who survived have had fewer complications as a result of their work. But when they look at Dr. Bill, all these critics can do is focus on his mistakes.
This shouldn’t be a surprise, because these critics are secular, and of course they would hold Dr. Bill to a different standard, because he is an outspoken Christian cardiologist.
But what I can’t understand is the Christian critics who do the same thing. The critic over at Christian Medical Today said that Dr. Bill’s lack of training made his operation “irresponsible”, and they suggested that he might want to reexamine how he’s going about reaching his dream. The critic at Relevant Surgery went further, expressing that Dr. Bill should just go back to administering basic healthcare clinics out of his church, but leave the heart surgery to the “professionals.”
I have this response to these so-called “Christian” critics who would attack their so-called “brother”:
Dr. Bill is a committed Christian, he really loves God, and he is doing everything he can to honor God through his surgery. His surgeries may not be as effective as those of his secular colleagues, and he might lose a patient from time to time, but is that really what matters here? After all, he’s only treating other Christians so why would we judge his medical practices by the “standards” of the world?
And don’t forget – surgery is really, really hard. It takes a long time, and lots of practice, and people to practice on, and lots of extra blood, and the scrubs and doctor’s gloves and such. It’s not cheap and it’s not easy, and not just anyone can do it.
Which brings up the big question: if these critics are such experts on doing open heart surgery, why don’t they go out and do some open heart surgery themselves? If they think being a cardiologist is so easy, why don’t they go out and unclog some poor fat bastard’s arteries and see what happens?
They don’t, because they can’t.
Remember the words of Teddy Roosevelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds
All the critics can do is complain and make Dr. Bill’s life difficult, not to mention all of the other Dr. Bills out there in the world who could be inspired by his success. Are they jealous? Is their criticism a sign of spiritual immaturity? Maybe they’re just failed medical students who can’t stand seeing someone else become what they were not able to become. I don’t know.
But it’s sad. And it’s especially sad when you remember how great Dr. Bill is, and how wonderful and inspiring his life dreams are. Why can’t the critics just realize that, and get on board the Dr. Bill train, where the destination is Peace, Joy, and Happiness?
Dr. Bill has a big open heart surgery scheduled for the middle of summer, and rumor has it that he’ll be operating on his first atheist. I’m sure it will be publicized in all the big Christian podcasts, magazines, websites, and so on. When it comes, you can help Dr. Bill by making sure you support it. Gather your youth group, your Sunday school class, your small group Bible study, and buy the group licence to watch that live stream. Buy the Dr. Bill Study Guide and Prayer Journal and give a copy to your friends! Convince your pastor to use the four week preaching series, “Give Us A New Heart, the Dr. Bill Story Story” and don’t forget to invite seekers!
Most especially, go onto Healthy Tomatoes, the surgery review aggregator, comment, and give Dr. Bill a high rating. Remember, by doing all this, you will be helping to send a message to the Big Medical Establishment that we want more cardiologists, doctors, and surgeons just like Dr. Bill!
5 thoughts on “The Ballad of Dr. Bill Story, Christian Cardiologist”
Neatly framed but as my old brit of a dad would say, “You’re beating a dead horse.” For two reasons… (1)The art forms are historically mingled with the self-taught successes ( and obvious failures) so there are many who would say formal education is not as critical as it would be for a cardiologist. Reason 2? The consumer- audience subjectivity. UNLIKE your heart ticker candidate whose heart organ viability is controlled via existing design and requires exacting care & concern for success, a moviegoer or art patron or ANYONE is not constrained in the same way, and therefor can call bad art “good” and good art “bad.” I”liked it” or “didn’t like it” is a subjective call by the audience who is not required to know before “consuming” art whether it qualifies for “good” or “bad.” Sure, a person educated in the art form should know better but if enough audience shows up and consumes the “art food” and likes it, and success is measured financially………..
I don’t disagree with you, Ann. The story actually grew out of a tweet I thought of writing, because I was so tired of reading people respond to good and honest criticism of faith-based films with “Well, if you know so much, why don’t YOU make a film and do better!”
Well, no. It’s not a critic’s job to make a film. Just like it’s not a critic’s job to do heart surgery, or design a bridge, or [fill in the blank]. And yet you’d never respond to someone’s critique of a doctor with “Well, why don’t you go and be a doctor!” or a structural engineer with, “Well, if you think it’s so easy to build a bridge, go and do it!”
It’s a tired response, and it’s a bit nonsensical, and I just wanted to call attention to it. And my 140 characters turned into a big long blog post. I can be verbose that way.
Here’s more verbose…Could it also be you are bemoaning something that is evolving and not yet fully realized? Like a child who grows disproportionally- I know this one, I’ve had 5!- one grew his arms by 4 inches in one summer, but the rest of his body stayed the same! Is it possible that Christians, who are also artists, have finally seen a green light from the bigger body of Christ? Then, out of the thrill of this corporate shift, are these Christian ‘artists” jumping ahead of their artistic training/capacity? I say “YES” to the eagerness and “No” to poor quality, but still…ruthless quashing and sarcasm I caution. NATE, I commend you for alerting artists to present quality work, but for God’s sake, don’t inadvertently become party to the extreme pendulum swing against artistic expression that existed in the era I came from! Decades ago, I was born a “creative,” but my aspirations where stomped on because of the “big bad world out there.” Don’t drink, dance, play cards or go to movies- end of story.” Ironically I went into medicine! Now I’m trying to hurry up to create before I die because I have woken up to a severe case of “artistic starvation.” For so long in conservative protestant churches where I frequent ART is/was nixed in ANY FORM for fear of idolism or the community from which art came from. Now the artist in me has been shut out for so long that if “art food” is in front of me and it is also labeled “Christian” then I feel safe consuming it. I will gulp it down! I’ve had a little training, ( I read your blog faithfully haha) and I know that half of what I see is “bad” from a critic’s view but still…. You are arguing with some people who are starved!! Perhaps we are like a people who have been lost in the woods without food and we emerge in a clearing and grab a bag of Cheetos before reaching for the healthy sustaining meal because its been so long since we’ve had any food… I think we are witnessing TRANSITION and art forms are finally returning more fully to the church. With time, the “art child” will grow strong and well…WE NEED accurate criticism AND the right ENCOURAGEMENT! Between you and Barbara Nicolosi, I’m scared to death to attempt a screenplay! BUT I WILL
Ann, I fear that a more accurate use of your metaphor would be the child who hasn’t grown at all, anywhere, for years and we’re all hoping s/he will someday.
Them: “If you know so much, why don’t you make one yourself.”
Me: “Cause it costs money to make a film. Care to help fund one for me?”
Oddly enough, they don’t respond back.