LORD OF THE WORLD
Author ROBERT HUGH BENSON
Publisher Available in reprint
Both the author and this book are pretty much neglected and forgotten. The writer died when he was forty-three and wrote at least thirteen novels in the early years of the twentieth century. These were received with great acclaim in their day by the reading public. He himself was one of the sons of the Archbishop of Canterbury E.W.Benson. It caused a furore when this son converted to Roman Catholicism and became a priest. This particular book can be described as dystopian (the opposite of Utopian) fantasy. It can be put alongside books like Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984 but is clearly superior to them both as possessing a clear prophetic Biblical element.
Although the novel opens rather slowly it should be persevered with as it deals with things pertinent to our day, the growing secularism, increasing humanism that makes man God is carrying all before it. All this is taking place in the late 20th century and although certain details are plainly out of date the message comes through loud and clear. Religious truth is increasingly disregarded, mocked and in the end persecuted. In the world specified in these pages only a remnant small and mean is left. For this author the church that remains is headed by the Pope. It is the Roman Church that bears its testimony in these dark days and from its number there are numerous martyrdoms exacted as a benign looking politician emerges bringing a temporary peace to the troubled world that by this time had been divided into three main sections, the East, Europe and North America. It is clear that this master politician is able to subjugate the minds of men and women to himself. He fascinates them, both in his personality and achievements. At first his machinations are somewhat innocuous and yet greatly significant. He brings peace to a warring world.
Gradually however he leads the host of humanity to the inevitable and necessary subjugation of the individual conscience and the belief in a Transcendent and Incarnate God to the idea of the idolatry of himself as the epitome of what it means to be man. There are so many allusions to past events contained in this story. For example, when, during the French Revolution worship of the goddess of reason was enacted in a religious building in Paris. This kind of event is parodied in these pages and occurs throughout the world in the worship of the goddess of maternity. This demonic “Lord of the World” becomes President and in the name of justice decrees the destruction of all who will not bow the knee.
A few Moslems do not but the object of attack is the Christian church. All moves to its climax which is clothed in poetic language and takes place in Palestine and the sensitive reader can see the battle of Armageddon portrayed in a few subtle and short sentences. It would be appropriate to say that this is a kind of science fiction novel replete with Christian prophetic overtones and should be read with thoughtfulness as yet another witness to what is taking place in our world today. Because some readers regarded Lord of the World a thoroughly negative view of history to come the author penned another novel with the title Dawn of All. In this the world becomes Christian! The gospel and master of the Roman Catholic wing of the church reigns over all. But, though things appear rosy, the way this is accomplished carries with it the use of the sword subtly employed.