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Where God Meets Gatsby

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 8 September 2013

The Autumn Term landed on the Caspari household this week.

How did the Summer pass so quickly?  It is a special new term too as Kate started Secondary School on Wednesday – new bags, new uniform, oyster card and all. 

With new terms, jobs or schools come inevitable anxieties for all of us.  ‘What will people think of me?’  ‘Will I do well enough?’

On holiday in North America I decided to read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.  To my surprise I came across this beautiful passage in which the narrator describes an early encounter with Gatsby:

‘He smiled understandingly – much more than understandingly.  It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four of five times in life.  It faced – or seemed to face – the whole eternal world for an instant, and then  concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour.  It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.’

There is nothing very Godlike about Gatsby but for me, what Fitzgerald (unknowingly) describes is the countenance not of the strange Long Island resident of the 1920’s but the face of God as s/he looks on each of us.  Our sins forgiven, God looks on us with a love that knows the whole of us but seeks to think the best.  It is the way a parent always tries to look on a child.  It is the way we all hope to see people and be seen.  As Christians, at least we know there is one in our lives who will always look on us this way.

Andrew Caspari