Updated: Aug 31, 2022
Imagine a galactic universe in the future where mankind will have spread across the stars to form a vastly expansive empire. Now imagine that that empire will soon be reduced by erosion of order into thousands of years of turmoil and barbaric ignorance. What is one to do?
That is the premise of one of the most impressive science fiction series I have ever read. So impressive that it won the “Best All Time Series” Hugo Award (for science fiction, albeit years ago). We are talking about Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, along with later books added to form the complete series. Although this sounds like a droll advertisement, I’ve read lots of science fiction and these works are some of the best in the class.
With Azimov’s Foundation story, enter Hari Seldon, a bespoke gentleman professor, creator of “psychohistory,” a science whereby the future of mankind based on accumulated knowledge of mankind over millennia can be predictably plotted. Seldon’s answer to the impending galactic crisis is to establish a world where the best of minds would gather to preserve the accumulated knowledge of the ages, although in secret he also establishes a secondary world across the galaxy in case the first “Foundation” somehow doesn’t survive. The story is riveting, so much so that I not long ago purchased a hardbound copy for a nephew to read and enjoy.
Around the time Azimov penned his great trilogy, another author wrote about not so dissimilar problems of societal collapse, as described in an article posted yesterday by Francis Maier.  Vaclav Benda, a Catholic dissident of totalitarian communism, passionately worked against the Soviet regime of his day, which he described as
“the atomization of society, the mutual isolation of the individuals, and the destruction of all bonds and verities which might enable them to relate to some sort of higher whole and meaning… beyond pure self-preservation and selfishness.”
Mr. Maier goes on in his article to draw parallels between Benda’s world and our own array of social and moral evils. We have only recently witnessed the disbanding of the Biden Administration’s “Disinformation Governance Board," supposedly formed “to counter disinformation deemed a threat to homeland security.” Thank goodness we dodged that bullet! Resounding cries of Orwellian politics and the suppression of religious rights from Americans saw to the swift demise of what many believed was a foolish propaganda machine that would have promoted even worse political prevarication and moral disorder than is already currently eroding our country's safety and sanity. Sort of what Asimov and Benda both railed against.
Benda established a strong defense of Catholic teaching regarding contraception, divorce and abortion, a defense that promoted moral resistance against surmounting socialist evils attacking the integrity of society. Curiously, he too promoted the construction of a “second culture,” a kind of Foundation to protect humanity from the degradation of morals, one that is sustained by the Catholic faith.
Would that Rome take to heart Benda’s advice against an encroaching malaise of ecclesiastical lies and manipulation that currently promotes homosexuality and birth control almost under the nose of Pope Francis! Rather than suppress the traditional Latin mass and opt for progressive social justice issues, our religious leaders would do so much better promoting the essential qualities and values that distinguish Christianity from secularism.
Benda’s program, somewhat like Asimov’s, was to promote and preserve the knowledge and truths holding us together, specifically those values treasured by Catholics around the world.
Mr. Maier’s insight is that we already have that second Foundation—‘’it’s called the Church.”