Absence of Evil by Benjamin V. Beier

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Absence of Evil

Benjamin V. Beier on the Surprising Augustinian Grammar of The Great Gatsby

Baz Luhrmann's 2013 film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby brought with it renewed interest in the book and fresh commentaries on both the book and the film. For example, Fr. Robert Barron, an astute reader of popular culture, called the book a "sermon" demonstrating that a life of "conspicuous consumption" cannot satisfy. The boredom and listlessness of most of the characters—especially of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, who lack nothing in terms of privilege, wealth, and physical pleasure—bear out Barron's point.

This principle is keyed in the negative because it is drawn from a story filled with characters who exemplify how not to live. But the story may hint at a positive alternative, if one reads the book as an eloquent narrative restatement of the scriptural principle that God alone satisfies the human heart.

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Benjamin V. Beier , Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of English at Washburn University. He and his family live in Topeka, Kansas, where they attend Most Pure Heart of Mary Catholic Church.

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