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Joe Gould’s Secret

Last weekend, Kelly and I watched Joe Gould’s Secret. The film bares witness to a unique relationship between Joe Mitchell, a writer for the New Yorker and Joe Gould, a homeless, eccentric intellectual. Gould can be funny, fascinating, irritating, and even overpowering. He’s a needy person who makes many people feel obligated to help him. As we watched, we realized that we have known several Joe Gould’s in our life: needy people who pull everyone around them into the vortex of their problems.

How should I respond? I’m not always sure. So many times I’ve felt helpless in the face of their struggles. And yet, maybe I’m not supposed to solve anything at all but to simply witness the mystery and glory.

Joe Gould reminds me of the wonder revealed in each person. He also reminds me of my own eccentricities. Like Luther, I realize my own hopeless condition, my own depravity. My only hope is the mercy and grace of God. Realizing my own desperate need reminds me to show mercy and grace to the Joe Gould’s of this world. And to bask in the wonder that surrounds me.

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