Revelations on the mall preacher

University alumnus Michael Gould III offers insights on what brings him to evangelize.

Maureen Landsverk

The pause, the over-the-shoulder glance, the avoidance of eye contact; weâÄôve all done it. WeâÄôve all stumbled from Walter Library in a daze of calculus or quantum physics to be greeted by the booming voice of that man âÄî the commonly known unknown. No one has the answers to the questions âÄúwho is he?âÄù or âÄúwhy is he here?âÄù or âÄúwhere did he come from?âÄù though his presence is universally acknowledged across campus. The voice heard by many and listened to by few does indeed have a name, a story and a self-established place on our campus. Michael Negus Gould III leans back on the stone bench in the Northrop Mall area, the early morning sun glints off the binding of his favorite worship tome, âÄúVox Dei,âÄù Latin for âÄúVoice of God.âÄù Sitting is an uncommon event for him, as he can usually be found atop a chair, box or other elevated surface. His stocking cap and humble attire bespeak the modesty and down-to-earth personality he brings to his makeshift ladder podium, not to be mistaken for the ordinary soapbox-talk theme. Unlike the pious, holier-than-thou impression given off by most street preachers, Gould exudes an aura of familiarity and transparent affability. Although he considers himself to be affiliated with Stadium Village Church, Gould preaches on campus out of freewill. He identifies his mission as âÄúpreaching the gospel of JesusâÄù to anyone who will listen. His campus sermons have been going on for five years âĦ âÄúgive or take a decade.âÄù When asked what motivates him to speak publicly about his cause, Gould shakes his head, seeming to contemplate a concept too complex for words. âÄúFor pleasure. IâÄôve met some interesting people out here,âÄù he begins. âÄúJesus is not a myth. He is real. His message must be spread to the four corners of the Earth.âÄù Gould believes his speeches play an integral role in GodâÄôs divine plan to broaden the scope of His message. Despite the ostensible nonchalance of passing students and faculty, Mike believes in the validity and efficacy of his work. Gould has his roots in Minneapolis. Here, he has been part of various musical ensembles over the past two decades. The 1980s marked the advent of his first stint as a professional guitarist in Rendered Useless. This first probe into the music industry brought about his sole performance at First Avenue in downtown Minneapolis on May 24, 1986. His next musical endeavor, a band called Burn the House, lived and died during the 1990s. Currently, Gould is organizing a new band, Quadrafoil, with his wife of 20 years. He encourages students of his alma mater to look for a potential debut performance at LeeâÄôs Liquor Lounge in December. During his on-again, off-again career as a professional guitarist, Gould played at an impressive number of other venues, among them the Uptown Bar and Cafe and Fine Line Music Cafe in downtown Minneapolis. A 2000 graduate of the University of Minnesota, Gould cannot seem to get enough of the campus. The man we all know by sight and resonant sound has had his share of problems. Gould cites his diagnosis and sufferings with schizoaffective disorder, which he says led to his being committed to Anoka-Metro Regional Treatment Center. Mayo Clinic defines the condition as a combination of manic-depressive symptoms and schizophrenia. The disorder causes myriad problems in the lives of its victims âÄî problems that can best be described as intermediary in relation to the severity of schizophrenic patients and the relatively mild difficulties endured by sufferers of mood disorders. According to Gould, he has undergone a good number of treatment methods in his effort to overcome his illness, including the use of Clozapine, a drug prescribed to counter depression, and electroconvulsive therapy, used mainly to treat schizophrenia. He smiles as he adamantly denies any pain involved with such remedies. In closing, Gould strives to convey a globally appealing initiative âÄî a transcendental meaning undefined by race, social status or fiscal standing. âÄúPeople today, people in this world are living in misery. The Bible is the guide for how to lead a successful life.âÄù No matter how you feel about Michael GouldâÄôs message or his tactics, it is impossible not to admire such commitment to a cause. Every weekday, regardless of the weather, Mike can be found atop some structure, belting out quotations from one of his numerous Scriptures. Gould is, in many cases, more dedicated to his self-appointed volunteer position than many of us are to the education we pay so dearly for. Next time you stagger from the library, mind adrift in abstract equations or themes in post-impressionism, take a moment to listen and be inspired by this manâÄôs determination. We can learn a lot from the most unexpected sources, and Gould is an untapped resource in both resolve and inspiration. Maureen Landsverk welcomes comments at [email protected]