Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
December 6, 1999
Whose millennium is this?
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
Diehards continue to remind anyone who will listen that the new millennium won't really start until Jan. 1, 2001. An unscientific poll on Millennium 321, the self-proclaimed Web site of the "real" new millennium, drew an 80 per cent vote affirming that the millennium shift is still 13 months away.
My advice to these sticklers for mathematical accuracy is: you're right, but chill, because there's no way you're going to win this one. The party will begin on New Year's Eve, 1999, regardless.
For me, much more vexatious than the matter of whether the new millennium starts in the year 2000 or 2001 is the almost total public non-cognizance of what the millennium dates from.
I mean, if the anniversary has any significance other than as just another milestone in the passage of time and a headache for computer programmers, then would it not be appropriate to pay a bit of attention to what happened 2,000 years ago that the date commemorates?
Actually, if recent scholarship is correct, we are already four years into the third millennium since the birth of a humble carpenter's son in a no-account small town in Palestine, but I digress.
An Angus Reid poll commissioned last summer by Don Posterski of World Vision Canada found that only six out of 1,493 Canadians surveyed mentioned the birth of Jesus Christ when asked what first popped into their head when the year 2000 was mentioned.
OK - perhaps that's not so shocking. I try to make my Christian faith the central focus of my life, but if asked that question, I would probably have said the Y2K computer issue myself.
Nevertheless, general lack of recognition and acknowledgment that Y2K marks the beginning of the third Christian millennium signalizes once again the anti-religious, and especially anti-Christian, sentiment that characterizes our distempered era - although it is a confused and self-contradictory sort of prejudice.
For instance, while 69 per cent of respondents in Posterski's poll said they thought organized religion will be less and less influential in the future, 59 per cent also said that Jesus' teachings will be as valid and applicable in the next millennium as they are in this one.
This attitude bespeaks the received conventional wisdom that "organized religion" is bad, oppressive and sexist, but do-it-yourself freelance "spirituality," including whatever private interpretations of Jesus' teachings one selectively decides to throw into the mix, is the ticket to - if not heaven, at least self-fulfillment. Disregarding of course that Jesus himself was the founder of the Church that organized around his teachings.
Getting back to Y2K, the fact that 2,000 years later we still date our calendars and program our computers on the basis of the approximate birth date of a guy who spent most of his life quietly labouring in a carpenter shop in a backwater of the Roman Empire, who was a public figure for only about three years, who left no book of his own writing, and who was executed as a common criminal - leaving his tiny ragtag band of followers demoralized and on the run from the authorities, is so remarkable that it constitutes one of the most compelling non-theological arguments for the truth of the Christian religion.
Following Jesus' execution, some of his followers were rounded up and tried before the Jewish religious authorities for continuing to claim that Jesus was God incarnate and risen from the dead.
A general consensus among members of the council was to execute them as heretics, until one wise councillor, a man named Gamaliel, took the floor and pointed out that a succession of renegade sects had recently sprung up in Judea, but soon withered away after the respective deaths of their leaders.
"And now I say to you," Gamaliel warned, "keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it - lest you even be found to fight against God."
Less than 400 years later, the Christian Church was essentially in control of the Roman Empire, and on its way to building the greatest civilization the world has ever seen. Gamaliel was right - something to think about in the context of a popular culture that has declared war on God's Church.
One can only lament the wretchedly poor job the Christian Church has generally done in capitalizing on the hoopla and hype leading up to the millennium shift, which is nothing if not a Christian commemoration.
It is only to be hoped that Christendom can pull out of its timorous retreat in the face of aggressive political correctness, post-modern nihilism and liberal humanism, and lay rightful claim to the third Christian millennium.
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