In early 21st century London, two priests, the white-haired Father Percy Franklin and the younger Father John Francis, are visiting the subterranean lodgings of the elderly Mr. Templeton. A Catholic and former Tory who witnessed the marginalization of his religion and the destruction of his Party, Mr. Templeton describes to the two priests the last century of British and world history. Since the Labour Party took control of the British Government in 1917, the House of Lords has been abolished, the British Royal Family has been deposed, Oxford and Cambridge have been closed down and all their professors exiled to Ireland. Marxism and Secular Humanism, which are described as the instruments of Freemasonry, dominate both culture and government. The Anglican Communion has been disestablished since 1929 and, like all forms of Protestantism, is almost extinct. The world now has only three main religious forces: Catholicism, Secular Humanism, and "the Eastern religions."
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Can a timeless book become timely 100 years after its first appearance?
In this profound and prescient novel, Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson gives us an imaginative foretelling of the end of the world. All stories, Aristotle said, have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but most ends are relative, the terminus of this chain of acts or that. But what of the end that terminates all human action as we know it, the end of time itself, the Second Coming? Since this novel appeared in 1906, many others have been devoted to nuclear disaster, destructive comets, and other hair-raising possibilities. What sets Benson’s story apart and makes it as readable today as when it was written is the Catholic and biblical context that provides the ultimate meaning.
Robert Hugh Benson (1871–1914) was the son of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and his conversion to Catholicism caused a stir. He became a great apologist for the faith, in spiritual works as well as in works of the imagination. Lord of the World is first of all a tremendous “read,” but it is also spiritual food for thought.
The late Ralph McInerny contributed a fine preface to the work, and recently Fr. C. John McCloskey III, a specialist on the work of Robert Hugh Benson, added a fascinating introduction.
LORD OF THE WORLD is a bitingly satiric science fiction novel of a secularized world state. As Rosa Mulholland, Lady Gilbert, declared, "It is a brilliant, beautiful, and terrible book," a judgment in which the public has fully concurred for nearly a century. LORD OF THE WORLD is the only one of Benson’s novels to remain continually in print from its first publication in 1907 down to the present day. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen declared, "The three great apocalyptic pieces of literature dealing with the advent of the satanic are Father Hugh Benson’s LORD OF THE WORLD, Dostoyevsky’s THE BROTHERS KARAMOZOV, and Soloviev’s THREE CONVERSATIONS ON WAR."
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