A month after the Columbine tragedy in Littleton, Colorado, I was invited to address 300 civic leaders in Denver on how they could mark the millennium. Here is the speech I gave, a good illustration of the kind of work I did with cities from 1998 to 2000 as a millennial consultant. Continue reading
In 1994 I wrote “The Star of 2000” that called the church to celebrate the millennium as Jesus’ 2,000th jubilee. Here was a website I used to promote Holy Land 2000. Continue reading
Introduction to the Year 2000
Welcome to the year 2000 on the information super highway! This is where the past ends and the future begins! So pull over for a while and tune your dial to the Talk 2000 forum. The view of the horizon from cyberspace is great!
It is Almost the Year Two Thousand
by Robert Frost
To start the world of old
We had one age of gold
Not labored out of mines,
And some say there are signs,
The second such has come,
The true Millennium,
The final golden glow
To end it. And if so
(and science ought to know)
We may well raise our heads
From weeding garden beds
And annotating books
To watch this end de luxe.
[from the Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem.
Copyright 1942 by Robert Frost.]
The year 2000 is clearly the most compelling symbol of the future in our lifetime. TIME magazine felt so in 1992. They released a special issue on the new millennium, hyping the year 2000 as if it were, well, the Second Advent.
The years 1999-2001 will certainly be unique. During this historic era we will celebrate the biggest New Year’s Eve in 500 years, commemorate the most memorable Christmas in 2,000 years and mark our entry in the third millennium.
Granted, the year 2000 will likely be no more or less extraordinary than any other calendar year. In view of geologic time the year 2000 is not the first millennium we have known. But in terms of human history, A.D. 2000 carries immense symbolism and psychological power. Since the world is now synchronized in view of C.E. 2000, this ordinary year will likely be experienced in an extraordinary way.
After all, the whole world has never celebrated together a centennial or millennial year, much less a bimillennium (a 2,000 year anniversary).
Like a magnet hung in time, the year 2000 is attracting us, just as it did previous generations. In 1892, long before cyberspace was filled with bimillennial ideas, a columnist for the London Spectator acknowledged the turn of the millennium would far out pull all other previous celebrations:
The fact that we are approaching the end of another century of our era, strongly affects the popular imagination. It is supposed that, in some undefined way, we must be better or worse merely because of this chronological fact. Were it the end, not of the nineteenth, but of the twentieth, we should be still more excited. Even now, the idea of that Annus Mirabilis, the Year of Grace 2000, begins to affect us. We feel that if we could live to witness its advent, we should witness an immense event. We should almost expect something to happen in the Cosmos, so that we might read the great date written on the skies. [quoted in Century’s End, p. 275.]
Corporate guru and forecaster, John Naisbitt, acknowledged this mysterious drawing power of the year 2000 in his best-selling book, Megatrends 2000:
Already we have fallen under its dominion. The year 2000 is operating like a powerful magnet on humanity, reaching down into the 1990’s and intensifying the decade. It is amplifying emotions, accelerating change, heightening awareness, and compelling us to reexamine ourselves, our values, and our institutions. [Megatrends 2000, p. 11.]
While the year 2000 has been absolutized, trivialized and commercialized, the emotional power of this year lies largely internalized. For some, the millennial year evokes excitement, for others anxieties. It would seem our biggest problem in this postmodern age is not empty shelves, but empty souls. We search for meaning and community. We talk about the year 2000 because it fills our soul with hope. Despite the anxieties of our age, we believe that tomorrow can be a better day for us and our children.
Indeed, the world is ruled by little else.
–John Meynard Keynes
You have a valid point. Many countries have local or religious calendars which operate parallel to their civil calendar. In Tel Aviv the year 2000 will also be 5760/5761 on the Jewish calendar, in Mecca the year 2000 will be 1420/1421 on the Islamic calendar and in China it will the year 4698.
In this century, however, the Gregorian calendar has received universal acceptance the world over as a common calendar for communications, science, trade, travel and intergovernmental affairs.
Although technically the common calendar counts from the birth of Christ, the annotations C.E. following a date technically refer to the “Common Era,” rather than “Christian era.” The common civil calendar is a secular abstraction meant to function without reference to a single culture or starting point.
The year 2000, then, can be thought of as just plain 2000, or it can carry sacred and/or secular connotations. It can be A.D. 2000 or C.E. 2000, Anno Domini(the Year of Our Lord) or Common Era.
The trend in modern society has been to secularize, rather than jettison the Gregorian calendar, by replacing Christian anniversaries with cultural, ethnic or civic ones. Instead of holy days, we now have holidays. Instead of the Sabbath, we now have T.G.I.F.!
–Max Lucado, in God Came Near
According to Hillel Schwartz, our experience of the turn of the century has been fashioned over the past 700 years into “a cooperative, ecumenical, increasing international venture.” Beyond just a century’s end, the year 2000 will also be a millennium’s end and on top of that–a bimillennium.
Here are three reasons why the year 2000 will be uniquely celebrated.
The year 2000 will be significant as a milestone of human achievement. Some have compared this to climbing a mountain together. If we passed the “2,000 feet” sign, we would likely pause and reflect for a moment. We would look back at the trail we just came up, look out at the vista before us and look ahead at the path before us. In the same way, the year 2000 offers a unique opportunity to measure the road covered over the past 2,000, 1,000 or 100 years. The millennial milestone offers us a chance to take stock of how far we have come and reflect on where we must go to achieve a more human and just world.
The year 2000 will be significant (actually 2001) because it marks our entry into the third millennium. For at least a season, the world may breath a bit easier, knowing it has survived the 20th century. Much like birthdays, wedding anniversaries or national holidays, the year 2000 is a threshold to pass across. If we were moving, we would probably spend some time at the old house, sorting through what is of value to take to the new home. In the same way, crossing over the threshold into the third millennium offers us an opportunity to repack our cultural and historical cargo before we inhabit our new psychological home.
The year 2000 will be significant as a memorial to the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Christ. For many, the coming of Christ into the world ranks as the most significant event in human history. If it were time to commemorate the 2,500th anniversary of Aristotle, or 100th birthday of Einstein, we would likely reflect on the impact that that philosophy or physics has had on our lives. Now at the year 2000, we are at a unique position to weigh the life and impact of Jesus of Nazareth. It will be appropriate for anyone, not just Christians to ask, “What is unique and universal about the life of Christ?” and “Why have the ethics of this poor man from Nazareth so deeply affected the cultures who followed him over the past twenty centuries?”
The question can start with why we should celebrate the year 2000, as a milestone, threshold or tribute, but it should soon graduate to a more important one: “How can these bimillennial commemorations truly leave a legacy for future civilization that will endure the test of time?”
I don’t think we will reach 2000. It would be miraculous!
“Yeah, they meant to count from the birth of Christ, but they messed up!” Some people might discount the symbolic nature of the year 2000 since they assume, as most historians do, that Jesus was born at the latest by 4 B.C. They maintain the year 2000 is not the two thousandth birthday of Jesus Christ.
Technically, the purists are right. But let’s go a step further. It is not uncommon for major anniversaries to be celebrated on days other than their actual dates. Face it, we don’t even celebrate George Washington’s birthday on the *actual* anniversary, but rather on the *established* anniversary date. The same will hold true for Christ’ anniversary and the advent of the third millennium.
Charles E. Lang of Greensboro, N.C., has gone to considerable length to document the fact that the third millennium begins on January 1, 2001. For sources, he cites the U.S. Naval Observatory, the Greenwich Observatory, Encyclopedia Britannica, Webster’s New Third International Dictionary, and the World Almanac. All affirm that the century ends on Dec. 31, 2000. According to Lang, “Our calendar started with the year one (1) and therefore every decade and century must start with a one, i.e. 1981, 1991, 2001.”
This little quirk in our calendar seems to have stemmed from the math of Dionysius Exiguus, the sixth century abbot of a Roman monastery. To settle the longstanding discussions on the proper day for Easter, he worked for months in Roman numerals to calculate a new basis for the church’s calendar. He arbitrarily named Anno Domini, the birth “Year of Our Lord,” as 1 A.D. rather than A.D. 0. Remember there was no zero in Roman numerals.
In the logic of today, many people wish the calendar makers “had been consistent,” and made Christ’s birthday year zero and started from there. Since they didn’t, we have to wait till 2001 before we mark two thousand years.
Despite this clear case of millennial math, millions will relish the magical moment on New Year’s 1999 when the cosmic odometer flips up the “big triple zero.” As Los Angeles Times columnist, Jack Smith, says, “Count me in, why poop a party just because its one year early!”
For centuries seers and sages, pundits and prophets have been transfixed by the year 2000. Even in modern times, trend watchers, global planners and futurists have hooked their sights to this guiding star. No other year in all of human history, before or beyond, has gathered such incredible prophetic bets as A.D. 2000.
It has been a powerful archetypal symbol for the “millennium,” the end of history and the beginning of a global civilization of peace and prosperity. Luminaries such as Newton to Nostradmus, Margaret Mead to Ronald Reagan, have all gone on record with their projections for the year 2000.
In the popular press, many have looked to the year 1000 for clues as to what 2000 might bring. Rather than festivity, the year 1000 called forth fear-or so we are led to believe. But the “legend of the year 1000” is just that-a legend. According to the last hundred years of scholarship, the “panic terror” across Europe in 999 never happened. The legend of the year 1000 was largely a creation by 18th century writers who wished to portray the medieval society as superstitious. Ironically, modern society, not medieval believers, seem to be infected with “millennial madness.” [Century’s End, p. 3-10].
One of the latest additions to the often muddled cultural history of the year 2000 is the best selling book, The Celestine Prophecy. Author James Redfield spins a millennial tale of a search for an ancient manuscript written in 600 B.C. that predicts a massive transformation in human society in the last decades of the twentieth century.
In religious terms, the cultural history of the year 2000 includes the notion of Anno Domini, as proposed in the mid-sixth century. In civic terms, the cultural history of the year 2000 includes the great ideas and great events since the birth of Christ, or of the last 100, 500, or 1,000 years. So in addition to the turn of the millennium being an anniversary of the Advent, it is also an anniversary of human aspirations.
Speaking of this cultural history of the bimillennium, Hillel Schwartz writes in Century’s End, “We have the obligation, and perhaps the privilege, to take advantage of the cultural richness and historical weight of Anno Domini 2000.”
It all began with a fir tree! In 1963, within months of the Cuban missile crisis, a self-employed printer by the name of John Goodman (1928-1994) felt something other than missiles should act as markers of mankind’s future. Rather than focus on instant disaster, which could come at the touch of a button, Goodman felt we should cultivate symbols of “undisaster.”
To demonstrate his faith that the world would make it to the year 2000, he planted a fir tree on Blanchard Moor in Durham County. Then in a letter to the London Times, he proposed that we focus on worldwide celebrations for the year 2000. Subsequently, he wrote letters to world leaders such as Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Macmillan, and then founded the “The World Association for Celebrating Year 2000” in London, England.
Since that time, thousands have followed Goodman’s example of planting a “celebration” tree as a symbol of hope “towards a happier, greener world by the year 2000.” In 1993 WAYSEE 2000 celebrated their 30th Jubilee anniversary by placing a World Time Capsule under Hastings Pier, on the south coast of England. See “Subject 2.7” for more information on WAYSEE 2000.
Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime; therefore, we must be saved by hope. Nothing true or beautiful or good makes sense in any immediate context of history, therefore, we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore, we are saved by love.
Early calls for celebrating the year 2000 began to appear in the mid ’70s. Here are reflections on two calls, one civic, the other religious, which have generated their own respective momentum.
Dr. Robert Muller
In 1991, the former assistant Secretary General of the United Nations said:
“This idea of the bimillennial occurred to me on the occasion of the American Bicentennial, as I was in charge of the relations for the United Nations with the city of Philadelphia. Before 1976, I made several trips there to help plan the ceremonies.
“Once out of curiosity, I asked some prominent citizens of Philadelphia of the Council of World Affairs, when did you begin to plan the Bicentennial? They said, ‘Immediately after World War II!’ I said, ‘My God! You thought of this so many years ahead of time. This is fantastic.’ That never left my mind, and I thought that the United Nations should plan celebrations for the year 2000 well ahead of time.
“I have observed during my lifetime that it is difficult to hold together any human group for long if there is not a vision, an ideal, an objective, a dream. To bind the human family together, to foster its further ascent, to prevent it from losing ground and falling into the abyss of despair, we must have a constant vision, a dream for the human family. We will not swim forever in the present sea of complexity if we are not shown a shore…
“This is why, on the occasion of Earth Day 1977, I proposed that humanity should hold in the year 2000 a world-wide Bimillennium Celebration of Life preceded by unparalleled thinking, perception, inspiration, elevation, planning and love for the achievement of a peaceful, happy and godly human society on earth. Except for a few people, the immediate reaction to this proposal was nil. The year 2000 was still to far away.
Pope John Paul II
On October 16th, a replacement, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland, was elected as the first non-Italian pope since 1522. As he opened his inaugural address the following day, Pope John Paul II acknowledged his sovereign placement in the chair of St. Peter in Rome and declared that the year 2000 ‘will be the year of a great Jubilee.’
He spoke of how the year 2000, in itself, would surely reawaken in people their special awareness of how God dwelt among humanity through Jesus Christ. And he called for the remaining years of the second millennium to be a new advent season for the church and the world at large.
As the 1980s began, many watched with amazement as this new pope, with his magnetic personality, sought to lift the hopes and dreams of millions through his world travels. Yet few observers took the year 2000 call seriously. But quietly some within the church began to pray that this “new advent” in light of the new millennium would bear fruit.
Since that time, the Pope’s thoughts and addresses have continued to orbit with special intensity around the year 2000. In a November 1994 letter announcing plans for the Jubilee in 2000, the Pope said, “preparing for the year 2000 has become as it were a hermeneutical key of my pontificate.” It would appear to the faithful, that despite rumors of his health, here is a man, who like Moses of old, is determined to “cross the threshold of hope” and lead the church into the third millennium.
Someday, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. Then for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.
Here is a civic perspective by a former assistant Secretary General to the United Nations.
That on 1 January 2000
The whole world will stand still
In prayer, awe and gratitude
For our beautiful, heavenly Earth
And for the miracle of human life.
That young and old, rich and poor,
Black and white,
Peoples from North and South,
From East and West,
From all beliefs and cultures
Will join their hands, minds and hearts
In an unprecedented, universal
Bimillennium Celebration of Life.
That the year 2000
Will be declared World Year of Thanksgiving
by the United Nations.
That during the year 2000
Innumerable celebrations and events
Will take place all over the globe
To gauge the long road covered by humanity
To study our mistakes
And to plan the feats
Still to be accomplished
For the full flowering of the human race
In peace, justice and happiness.
That the few remaining years
To the Bimillennium
Be devoted by all humans, nations and institutions
To unparalleled thinking, action,
Determination and love
To solve our remaining problems
And to achieve
A peaceful, united human family on Earth.
That the third millennium
Will be declared
Humanity’s First Millennium of Peace.
“My Dream 2000” was written in the early ’80s by Dr. Robert Muller, Chancellor of the University for Peace and former assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations. To obtain a catalogue of Dr. Muller’s writings, write: WHC, P.O. Box 1153, Anacortes, WA, 98221.
For the past five, ten, fifteen years, hundreds of groups have focused on year 2000. In thought and action they have been preparing to mark our entry into the third millennium. From 1999 to 2001, however, numerous global events will specifically celebrate the year 2000, some of which are already announced. Many other mega-events are in the planning stages, and will be listed here in future versions of this FAQ. If you would like to nominate a congress or mega-celebration to be listed here, e-mail the information to:
HOLY LAND 2000(r)
A total of 4 million visitors are expected to stream into Palestine and Israel during the year 2000, to commemorate the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Christ. Special events are being hosted in Bethlehem, Nazareth and Jerusalem from 1999 to 2001. Contact your nearest Palestinian or Israeli Government Tourist Office for details or contact:
Holy Land 2000
P.O. Box 1428
HOLY YEAR 2000
December 24, 1999
From Christmas 1999 to 2000, the Vatican expects more than 20 million tourists to visit the various basilicas of Rome in order to celebrate the advent of the third millennium and the Great Jubilee of the Incarnation of Christ as declared by Pope John Paul II. For more information, contact your nearest Italian Government Travel Office for information on Rome in 2000, or write:
Great Jubilee 2000
Plazza della Citta Leonina, 9
00193 Roma, ITALY
Rome Tourist Board
Via Parigi, 11
LONDON’S MILLENNIUM EXHIBITION
Some 15 million people are expected to celebrate time and space at the $700 million National Millennium Exhibition at historic, Maritime Greenwich just outside London. In addition, festivities are planned in London on the Thames, as the world’s largest ferris wheel will be constructed in time to celebrate the arrival of the year 2000.
Web site: http://greenwich2000.com/
TIMES SQUARE 2000
December 31, 1999
More than 1 million people are expected to join Dick Clark in New York for the New Year’s Eve 1999 Celebration in Times Square. Up to 250 million via TV are projected to watch the ball drop and to kick-off the year 2000. A similar annual celebration is planned for New Millennium’s Eve on December 31, 2000. For more information, contact:
Times Square/Special Events
1560 Broadway, Ste. 800
New York, NY 10036
Web site: http://www.mediabridge.com/nyc/bids/tsbid/index.html
EARTH DAY 2000
April 22, 2000
More than 300 million people in 150 nations are expected to participate in the largest Earth Day ever in the year 2000. It will also be the 30th anniversary of Earth Day. For more information contact,
Earth Day Network
P.O. Box 9827
San Diego CA 92169
Web site: http://www.cfe.cornell.edu/
MARCH OF THE MILLENNIUM
June 10, 2000
In honor of the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of Christ, more than 30 million people will participate in a global “March for Jesus” festival. People in more than 2,000 cities are expected to participate in this procession of prayer and worship. Annual countdown marches towards 2000 are held each year on Pentecost weekend in anticipation of the bimillennial.
March for Jesus
P.O. Box 3216
Austin, TX 78764
June 1-October 31, 2000
More than 40 million people are expected to visit the Expo 2000 exposition grounds in Hannover, Germany. The millennial world’s fair is expected to vigorously explore the state of the world through the theme “Mankind, Nature and Technology.” For more information contact your nearest German Tourist Bureau, or write:
Expo 2000 Hannover
D-30510 Hannover GERMANY
FAX 49-(511) 84 04-100
September 16- October 1, 2000
More than five million people will witness 10,000 athletes from 190 nations compete in the Games of the XXVIIth Olympiad held in Sydney, Australia. For more information contact your nearest Australian Tourist Commission, or write:
Games of the XXVIIth Olympiad
Sydney, NSW 2001 AUSTRALIA
Web site: http://www.sydney.olympic.org
More so than usual, the years 1999 – 2001 are becoming banner years for special events, including one-of-a-kind conventions, congresses, and meetings. In addition, many annual or periodic events are preparing for the turn of the millennium. See Chase’s Annual Events in your library for a full list of periodic annual events.
JOURNEY OF THE MAGI
January 6, 1999
To open the bimillennial era, a 5-month epic pilgrimage of peace is scheduled to retrace on horses and camels the original journey of the Magi through the Middle East. Festivals will be held in cities along the journey route, and culminate with a 4-day cultural festival in Bethlehem for 20,000 participants. The Journey of the Magi is expected to kick-off a 36-month “Holy Land 2000(tm)” exposition in Israel.
The Magi Project
P.O. Box 1037
Pinecrest, CA 95634
Fax: (209) 965-4575
I HUMAN 2000
A global millennium project using sculpture, enriched with live performance art. It will reflect upon the achievements and failings of the past–create a monumental artistic expression to commemorate our common future.
i human 2000
Edmonton, Alberta T6G 0M8, Canada
Fax: (403) 433-4755
MILLENNIUM CELEBRATIONS, INC.
December 27-31, 1999
Millennium Celebrations(tm) is licensing corporations millennial logos, facilitating partnerships, and marketing opportunities. For the turn of the century, this commerical advertising network promises a simultaneous five-day orchestrated global gala of unprecedented proportions, involving sports, culture and music. This attempt to “give the millennium to the consumer” has already attracted some notable ommercial sponsors, including a voice communications giant to a worldwide resort chain.
1 Tower Lane, Ste 1700
Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
Fax: (708) 654-2308
Web site: http://www.2000celebration.com/
December 31, 1999
Billed as “The Official Celebration of the Year 2000(tm),” the Billennium(r) is planned as a multi-year extravangza marking the accomplishments of the past 2,000 years. Culminating on New Year’s Eve 1999, the Billennium Celebration aims to generate brand loyalty among various international markets for exclusive events and products.
The Mitten Group, Inc.
1335 W. Altgeld St.
Chicago, IL 60614
Fax: (312) 327-1999
Web Site: http://www.billennium.com/
December 31, 1999
As the year 2000 is rung in, a chain of “beacon signal lights” will be lit over one million cities to salute the start of the new millennium. A 24-hour global festival and telethon intends to raise $1 billion for the future of children and the environment around the world.
21 Coverdale, Carlton Colville,
Lowestoft, Suffolk, NR33 8TD, England
WORLD MILLENNIUM BALLS
December 31, 1999
Guests will embark from New York on the Queen Elizabeth II for a 10-day “Symposium at Sea” and arrive at the Great Pyramid of Cheops, Egypt for a World Millennium Charity Ball, December 31, 1999. In addition, celebrations will be held at 23 select locations around the world, including the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, the Acropolis and the Eiffel Tower. Each of these “celebrations of civilization” will be linked via satellite to create a “round-the-globe,” “round-the-clock” welcome to the year 2000. For information on the annual “Ten Most Inspiring” list, the Millennium Scholarship program, or the World Millennium Charity Ball in 1999, contact:
The Millennium Society
21 S. Wirt Street
Leesburg, VA 22075
Web Site: http://www.alaskanet.com/party1999
January 1, 2000–January 1, 2001
Odyssey 2000(r) is a year-long “around-the-world” cycling trek through 54 countries on 6 continents. Departing from Los Angeles on January 1, 2000, some 250 cyclists will set out on a 366 trip to prove “that ordinary people can still do extraordinary things” at the dawn of the third millennium.
Tim Kneeland and Associates, Inc.
200 Lake Washington Blvd., Ste 101
Seattle, WA 98122-8540
Web Site: http://www.kneeland.com/timtka/
LEAP YEAR 2000
February 29, 2000
The millennial year will be a leap year, adding an additional day to the month of February. While normally occuring every four years, century years (like 1900 and 2000) are only considered leap years if they are evenly divisible by 400. Therefore, 1800 and 1900 were not leap years, but the year 2000 will be. The year 2001 is the designated inauguration date for numerous proposals calling for calendrical reform, or improvement. For information on time, calendars, and clocks, check these web sites:
Universal Calendar: http://www.ncook.k12.il.us/cgi-bin/calendar
Time Information: http://jdb.psu.edu/time.html
Master Clock: http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/time.html
August 2-4, 2000
United Societies in Space is a citizen initiative devoted to the establishment of a meta-nation in space where human society can live and work in the new millennium. For that purpose, a Constitutional Convention of 80,000 is planned in Denver’s Mile High Stadium in August 2000 to form a space governance entity which can legally pave the way for massive private investment on the order of 10 trillion dollars a year over the next century.
United Societies in Space
6841 S. Yosemite, #3-C
Englewood, CO 80112
Web Site: http://www.tagonline.com/Ads/USIS/
This is the first in a series of three postings of Frequently Asked Questions for the Talk 2000 forum, which incorporates both the “bit.listserv.2000ad-l” newsgroup and the “firstname.lastname@example.org” mailing list. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON THE YEAR 2000: An introduction to the Talk 2000 Forum, Version 2.0 – 1 December 1995. Copyright 1995 by Jay E. Gary. All rights reserved.
Web Weaver: Chris Coleman
Here is an early essay on what the turn of the millennium would bring by by Don Toppin, Canadian composer, educator and philosopher. Continue reading