|Vol. 1, No. 6||Page 2||June 1999|
The end of the world!?! Y2K insanity! Apocalypse Now! Will computers melt down? Will society? A guide to MILLENNIUM MADNESS.These words appear on a sandwich board worn by a barefoot figure clad in a white flowing gown. People cower on a city street as the prophetic or angelic caricature stands in traffic with up-stretched hands, one clasping a cross. Only time will tell how much "madness" prevails preceding and at the turn of the official millennium. As the magazine intimates, and aware of the nature of the human creature and some of his history, doubtless there will be ample "millennium madness" demonstrated. We look for it to affect society, religion, economics and probably politics. Only cultures devoid of 20th century consciousness and oblivious to the contemporary calendar are likely to escape the effect of the birth of the new millennium. Strangely, besides some unaccountable souls, there are still some peoples in the world who qualify for this innocence. For the rest of us, we will have to hold on the best we can, even should the ride turn turbulent.
The word millennium is rapidly becoming a hot new flag in, at least, the English language for both selling old products with new flare and engendering great alarm. As such it is being used in the utmost positive way while at the same time representing some of the most violent fears of modern man. It will be curious to follow that saga and discern which connotation triumphs. The word millennium is popping up everywhere, and we have barely begun to see it rise to view and replenish itself. For instance, in the north end of Glen Dale, West Virginia, a new mobile home lot has dubbed itself Millennium Homes. More distant from little town America, one cruise line has christened its newest cruise ships as millennium class. The NASA Deep Space probes are dedicated to New Millennium missions.
With as much disparity between mobile homes and state-of-the-art modern cruise ships or spaceships, all bearing the distinction millennium, I am reminded of a cartoon show of some popularity a few years ago -- The Smurfs. If you recall, they used the made-up word "smurf" as some sort of word with an extremely indefinite meaning. There was hardly a sentence in which its use was not suitable for employment at least once. The speaker and the hearer simply inserted their personal thoughts and interpretation respecting the word "smurf." That is about as much distinction -- none -- that currently inheres in the new flag word "millennium."
Survivalists are swelling largely because of the anticipated world computer failure in the year 2,000. For some, this carries with it religious overtones regarding the end of the world. Others simply realize the potential for disaster since everything computerized is a candidate for malfunction because of the six digit date limitation thoughtlessly written into computer code in the 20th century. Doubt is widespread whether the nerds who created this mess are up to the task of unraveling it before the proverbial doomsday.
Unaddressed or unsuccessfully countered, the Y2K bug, as its called, could seriously derail world banking systems, flight transportation, communication systems, military machinery and weaponry, appliances and home entertainment systems. The list of potentially affected technology that relies on computers is nearly endless. Even if adequately addressed in essential services of the western world, inconveniences are certain to pronounce themselves. The likelihood of greater and widespread problems in emerging technologies of poorer and smaller nations is highly predictable.
For an excellent and abbreviated overview of the prospect of millennium madness, be sure to read the Time article. (Richard Lacayo, "The End of the World As We Know It?" Time, New York, Time, Vol. 153, No. 2, January 18, 1999, pp. 60-70.) Since our religious life does not exist in a social, economic and political vacuum, Christians can not help but be affected, at least indirectly, by millennium madness.
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand" (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).