There was a world before 1914, a world gone by. A few of us have seen it through history books or the testimony of those who lived before the Great War, the war that changed the world forever. In my imagination that was the world where my great-grandparents lived and thrived. Victoria was the Empress of a vast empire where the sun never set, steam locomotives where the highest achievement of human technology, and most scientists sneered at Christianity and the Bible while affirming that the Universe had no beginning and will have no end. One by one those foundations of the ancient order were being undermined. From the depths of time a wave of uncertainty was working its way through history at least since the days of the German Reformation. In the recesses of our western cultureun parfum de fin du monde invaded the senses and even as the Victorians shouted, “There’ll always be an England” others could sense the subtle changes coming upon the world just like some animals can hear the rumbles of an earthquake hours before humans can. Kipling’sRecessional is a good example of that ominous feeling:
Far-called our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!
1914 arrived and changed the world. The Great War altered the board of the Great Game played by the crowned heads of Christendom, Islam, India, China, and Japan. The abolition of man progressed as the great Leviathan rose from the depths announcing the death of the nation-states to be followed by the crushing elimination of all individuality.
A whole century has passed. We are now in 2014 moving deeper and deeper into the new world order with dark forebodings filling the hearts of mankind. About that time, Robert Hugh Benson finished Lord of the World, a mystical view of our time disguised as an apocalyptic novel that shows clearly the apprehensions some had as the 20th century emerged. Benson was a Catholic convert but he was also the son of the Archbishop of Canterbury. One can safely guess that C. S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and J.R.R. Tolkien read Benson’s work and were to some extent influenced by it. I find the climate of certain stories by Lewis i.e. The Dark Tower vaguely reminiscent of Benson’s style but then again all apocalyptic tales are by definition similar in one way or another. In any case it is surprising how clearly Benson saw through the intentions of the budding new secular order and its temptations. The basic aim of the secular order is to satisfy all the longings of the human heart. That could almost be understood as the pinnacle of charity if it was not for the fact that, to be satisfied, the soul has to satisfy first the system’s appetite for total control. The contradiction then becomes clear between the religious and the secular worlds proposed to man. The first world proposes an abolition of the individual in order to satisfy his material needs. It does not want to go any further, and it won’t accept anything but a total surrender of the human soul. In the second option man has to learn that he was prepared to live with God and cannot succeed or be happy away from Him.
The secularist model requires enormous amounts of energy to work effectively and a larger amount of violence to be imposed. When 1+1 is not equal to 3 the secularist won’t revise his math, he looks for a traitor and so, eventually the new order will end up just like the old disorder.
In the end everything is reduced to a metaphysical and religious struggle. Those who are convinced that we are left to our own devices in a material world are by definition only seeing a portion of the battlefield. Those who believe we inhabit a Universe where miracles happen are paradoxically more aware of reality than those who call themselves realists.
“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour…” 1John, 2:18-21
Published 31 December 2013.