A Restaurant, a Movie and a Very Decent Man

Dr. Ray Pritchard

1) If you ever come to Gulf Shores, be sure to eat at Doc's Seafood Shack in nearby Orange Beach. The sign out front says they have have the World's Best Gumbo. With that kind of confidence, how could you resist? The place doesn't exactly look like a shack; it's more of a rundown, retro-50s kind of look and feel. The waitress called everyone "Baby," as in, "What can I get you, Baby?" I wouldn't recommend Doc's if you are on the Atkins Diet, but if you like your seafood hot and fried and plenty of it, and if you like a place where if you have on a shirt and a sweater, you're probably overdressed, you'll like Doc's. We had a blast there last night. Special thanks to John Thweatt for the recommendation.

2) Go see Charlotte's Web. I confess that I went to the movie with some trepidation because I loved the book when I first read it 45 years ago, and I have always been partial to the animated movie version that came out about twenty years ago. I was actually afraid that I would be disappointed. Nothing to worry about. The movie is a bit of cinematic magic. When it was over, someone asked me if I cried. I didn't, but I stood in the front of the empty theater watching the closing credits and listening to Sarah McLachlan sing the enchanting "Ordinary Miracle." In a time when few movies make you feel good and uplift your spirit, Charlotte's Web does both. The movie's tagline even has Christian overtones--"Help is coming from above."

3) In May 1977, shortly after he left the White House, Gerald Ford gave the commencement address at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. His son Mike was among the graduates that day. Speaking of how his time in the White House had actually strengthened his Christian faith, President Ford shared this story:

When I became president on August 9, 1974, this country was faced with some of its most serious and dangerous problems in its entire history. America had been buffeted about for more than a decade with shocks to its system that would have paralyzed a lesser nation: political assassinations, a long and frustrating war, riots in our streets and on our campuses, economic distress, and scandals at the highest level of government. Underlying these problems was a crisis of confidence, a crisis of the spirit among our people. Above all, I knew in this time of crisis I was about to enter the most powerful office in the world, an office I had never sought, without having an election mandate from the American people. I did not fear the new responsibilities, but neither did I dare to believe that I could carry the load alone by myself.

In the few hours before the presidency was suddenly thrust upon me, one of my aides asked what verse I wanted the Bible opened to when I took the oath of office. I turned to the Bible which Mike had given me when I became vice-president, and opened it to the Book of Proverbs. Ever since I was a little boy I have used a very special verse from Proverbs as a kind of personal prayer. On that August morning nearly three years ago that verse took on a new significance in my life. It says: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding: in all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." That was the verse I placed my hand on when I took the oath of office as president. It was the same verse I would turn to more than two years later on a Wednesday morning in November, the day after the election.

As I read a number of tributes to the late president, one word kept popping up. Gerald Ford was a decent man. That may not seem like much a tribute until you stop and think about it. We could use more decent men in leadership today. President Ford served his nation honorably in a moment of great crisis. Rest in peace.

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