Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Lord of the World

by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson

I 1st heard of this book after Papa Francesco  mentioned this book in 18 November 2013 homily at his daily Mass. The Pope says that Benson speaks in the book of the spirit of the world that leads to apostasy “almost as though it were a prophecy, as though he envisioned what would happen”.
Soon many others began talking about it as well. My curiousity was peeked. So I went to Amazon & found it was available on Kindle for free. Naturally I downloaded it & recently finished reading it. I was not disappointed.
Lord of the World was written in 1907 by Monsignor Benson. Benson was the son of Edward Benson (Archbishop of Canterbury). Benson was ordained an Anglican priest by his father in 1895. Sfter Archbisop Benson died suddenly in 1896, Fr. Benson traveled to the Middle East to recover his health. While there he began considering the claims of the Catholic Church as well as the status of the Church of England. Finally on 11 September 1903 he was received into the Catholic Church & ordained as a Catholic priest in 1904. He died in 1914.
Lord of the World is an apocalyptic novel set in the 1st part of the 21st Century. However, unlike most modern novels, it is written from a Catholic viewpoint. So I will warn you in advance, there is no rapture as many modern evangelicals describe it.
The story itself takes place in 3 locations, London, Rome & the Holy Land. 
In the early part of the 20th Century a form of Marxism called Herveism came into power in England. It was tied into a form of humanism & behind it all was Freemasonry. By the start of the 21st Century,except for those who were still faithful Catholics, a spirit of hopelessness has fallen over England as well as most of the rest of the world. Euthenasia has become an accepted way to end your life. But not only for physical illness. It is also allowed for those who just do not want to go on living.
Rome has been ceded to the Vatican in return for their surrender of all other Church buildings in Italy. The Catholic Church, headed by Pope John XXVIV. (This numbering was based on the fact that the last John was antipope John XXIII, something that was ignored when the Blessed John XXIII took his name in 1958. Only Ireland & Rome have remained faithfully Catholic. Throughout the rest of the world there is only a small percentage who are still Catholic. For the most part, people have become freemasons. There are some strongholds of Eastern religions, but there are no longer any protestant churches in existance. The only Christian Church is the Catholic Church. & all the Eastern rites have been surpressed. The only rite celebrated is the Tridentine rite. 
I found that last fact a bit unbelievable. Even if the reason was unity. But this was, I suspect based on a bit of prejudice on the part of the author. Back then most Roman Catholics knew little about the Eastern Catholics & there was much prejudice against the differences in their rites, etc. 
As far as the political landscape, there existed 3 basic powers, the Eastern Empire, the American Republic & the European Union. At the opening of the book the Eastern Empire is threatening Europe. Additionally, all royal houses have been deposed. The royal families have all moved to Rome, including the Chinese emperor. & all those that weren't Catholic have converted to Catholicism.
It is probably the technological part where this book is the most dated. Long distance travel is done via a form of air ship, volor, that is like the zeppelin. There are no computers. Communication is done mainly by letter & telegraph.
There are 3 main characters in the book. Fr. Perry Franklin, a priest living in London. Part of his responsibilities are to observe what is going on & report it to the Pope. He is a devout Catholic who is troubled by the huge falling away, apostasy, of Catholics, lay & ordained. 
Next there is Julian Felsenburgh. He is a mystery man who seems to have come from nowhere & rises ultimately to control the world. While I am not saying Obama is the antiChrist, it struck me that there are many similarities between Obama & Felsenburgh. Felsenburgh & Fr. Franklin are virtually identical in their looks.
Then ast of the 3 is Oliver Brand. He starts out as the new member from Croydon. He hooks his wagon to Felsenburgh & rises in power as a result. 
The main supporting characters, besides the Pope include Brand's wife Mabel & his dying mother. Another is Mr. Francis. He starts the book as a priest. Later he leaves the faith & ends up being the main liturgest for the new world religion being set up.
With the obvious exception of Felsenburgh, the main characters & many of the supporting characters are well developed.  We get to know what they are thinking, what motivates them, there hopes & even their dreams.
The novel is divided into 4 parts, the Prologue, Book I The Advent, Book II The Encounter, & Book III The Victory.
The Prologue serves to set the scene for what will develop in the main body of the novel. At times it drags, but despite what the author said, it should not be skipped, even by those who dislike prologues.
The 1st part of the book looks at the rise of Felsenburgh from obscurity as an unknown from America to, although the term is never used, the AntiChrist ruling the world. The 2nd part focuses on the development of the World religion as well as the attempts to wipe out the Pope & the Catholic Church. Without giving anything away, the last part focuses on the final attack on the Catholic Church & the end of the World. The way Benson describes it has a very strong Eucharistic foundation, something I found very satisfying as I thought about it afterwords.
I will say I found what Papa Francesco said, that the book is prophetic in its way. It does capture the spirit of the world we find growing in this day & age, the time the book is set in.  We see many Catholics giving up the tenets of the faith. People are denying the faith. Euthenasia is becoming acceptable. The recent UN Committee attack on the Church's teachings on abortion, contraception & sexuality could be seen as the 1st major shot across the bow by that spirit of the world. Again, I am not saying we are seeing the rise of the actual AntiChrist. But the book does give us insight into where we could be heading. & why it is all the more important for us faithful Catholics to defend the faith as well as boldly proclaim the truths that God has handed on to us through the Church.
I have tried not to give away too much of the plot. Part of what makes the book so good is how he develops the story to bring us to the end of the world. Benson has interwoven the stories of the main characters in a way that is anything but contrived. Yes there are coincidences that bring about the meeting of Brand & Fr. Franklin. But they are anything but contrived. In fact, they help add to the believability of the story.
So if you are looking for a solid read, with a story that holds your interest, Lord of the World is well worth it.


  • At 10/2/14 10:57 PM , Blogger Patrick Button said...

    I will have to add it to my reading list.

  • At 14/2/14 4:59 PM , Blogger Tom said...

    Well worth it, indeed. It is not a book that I don’t believe most progressive Catholics would enjoy (which is why I was so surprised by Pope Francis’ seeming endorsement), as it strongly suggests that it is the liberal policies supported by that is leading to the downfall. Still, maybe it might be an eye-opener for them as well.

    But while it is rarely mentioned in the same breath as Lord of the World, a second, equally compelling short dystopian novel with a very similar them (and also written over 100 years ago), is “A Story of Antichrist” by the Russian author, Vladimir Soloviev. What is really eerie about this book is that, if you think Julian Felsenburgh suggested Barrack Obama, the described antichrist in this book will shake you to the core.

    Both are great reads and should really be required reading for anyone that has serious problems with the direction of the catholic Church today.


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