Let's Talk 2000

"The heartbeat of 2000 A.D. from cyberspace"

May 1, 1997, Volume 3, Issue 7, a bi-weekly bulletin

Topics covered in this issue:

The Millennium Doctor Speaks
News from the Field: Talk from the Forum: New Millennial Sites: Contact Information

The Millennium Doctor Speaks:
"Taking the pulse of 2000 A.D."

I happen to live in one of the most beautiful and striking places on earth, under the awe inspiring Pikes Peak. On Monday I was downtown with fellow civic leaders discussing what the year 2000 ought to mean to our city. The proposal came forth that our city should use the turn of the millennium to reinforce our identity. Now Colorado Springs doesn't have one of those big city identities reinforced by entertainment, finance or sports.

Most folks who live here would be hard pressed to identify even one of our redemptive gifts. Our hidden greatness, beauty and creativity as a people is there, just unrecognized. Rather than reinforce our identity, we will likely need to discover our identity as a city during 2000 as we step into the future. As Colorado Springs entered the 20th century, our city leaders sealed a time capsule to be opened as we enter the 21st century. I wonder what that box will reveal about who we are?

Isn't that what the millennium is all about? Our unique human ability to shed light on our lost identity? In this vein, this issue of "Let's Talk 2000™" celebrates our ability to recover who we are.

Our first piece introduces a secular sage from Canada who walks the road of life each day as The Millennium Pilgrim. Drop into his web site and discover how a professor, reborn late-in-life as a pilgrim, is spinning a millennial fable for the future.

Our second feature is an interview with an East Texas transplant to the publishing world of New York. Teresa Kennedy's latest title, Welcome to the End of the World has just been released. We talk to her about "prophecy, rage and the New Age," the sub-title of her book.

Our Forum section offers stimulating recaps on Heaven's Gate. My travels took me to Los Angeles two week ago. The co-founder of Talk 2000, Dr. Stephen O'Leary and I, shared a lunch at the California Kitchen. We both were pleased at how Talk 2000 was meeting a genuine need out there. Yet like any good millennialists, we would wish for more. If you enjoy writing and would like to contribute to "Let's Talk 2000™" on a regular basis, get in touch with me at talk2000@rmii.com. We are looking for a crack web site reviewer, and a feature writer. Who knows, maybe there is a Siskel and Elbert out there yet to be discovered for the millennium!

News from the Field:
"Here is the latest news on year 2000 efforts."

ON THE PATH WITH THE MILLENNIUM PILGRIM
(BP)--At 62 years old, The Millennium Pilgrim is on a journey. Some days Austin Repath just sits along the road with an overwhelming sense of the pointlessness of the whole pursuit. Other days the morning dawns and he is filled with gratitude to be alive. Repath is to 21st century travelers what CBS's Charles Keralt is to America's Sunday mornings. But unlike Christian in The Pilgrim's Progress, Repath is a postmodern, rather than a traditional pilgrim. Rather than to reach the celestial city, his quest is to reconcile the inner angelic and shadow sides of his life.

Repath's millennial journey began in ernest in 1995 when he retired as humanities professor from Humber College. "On July 8th I happened to pick up a little book about an ancient Medieval pilgrimage through northern Spain known today as 'The Road to Santiago.'" Within three months Repath found himself on a 500 mile journey on foot. He came back to Canada different, no longer a professor, in his heart he was The Millennial Pilgrim.

Repath now spends his days mapping the inner terrain toward the millennium. He recently opened up a Millennium Vigil web site at Humber College where the world can "walk a ways with me and talk to me" towards the Millennium.

Besides "Postcards," Repath's site contains The Journal of The Millennium Pilgrim, which he is adding to each day he can. The Journal will end come "Day One-Thousand," December 31, 1999, when he plans to gather some 75 friends and people of goodwill in Toronto to spend 24 hours together in a Millennium Vigil http://hcol.humberc.on.ca/html/milvigil/.

When asked what the Millennium Vigil will entail, Repath points to his "Millennium Fable," a story set in 2099 of the last living witness to that first Vigil in 1999. Not just Earth, but Mars has been transformed through the inspiration which the first Vigil had brought http://hcol.humberc.on.ca/html/milvigil/fable

"Is humanity going to evolve into something better? I would like to think so, but I don't see any evidence of that. Most of the time I just feel full of contraditions. Because of this I feel compassion for my fellow human beings... a poor, flawed, driven species. I am not much of a do-gooder. I find myself selfish, cocooned within a CNN world."

"The Millennnium? It could be one of those special moments in history. I am kind of willing to enter into the illusion. My cynical side says it won't happen. But in the illusion, I imagine we might be able as a species to draw on the energy of that magnetic moment and enter the next millennium in a better way."

"I try to keep open to the mystery that is around me, without trying to delude myself into other things. Yes, there are times when I am overwhelmed by the limits of life and I curse my existence, but when the darkness departs, I am more at peace . . . and able to meet the divine side of myself." The postmodern pilgrim stops there and apologizes for his vagueness. At this rest stop, he feels undefiled by life's sorrows, untainted by hope. Source: talk2000@rmii.com

TERESA KENNEDY ON "PROPHECY, RAGE AND THE NEW AGE"
(BP)--What does an editor do when she gets tired of telling her writers how to write? She writes her own book. Now 30 titles later, Teresa Kennedy has reached a point in her career where she can do what she wants. Her latest offering is her tongue in cheek title, Welcome to the End of the World (M. Evans & Co., New York, 1997), $19.95 hardcover). "Let's Talk 2000™" rang up Teresa earlier this week to find out why a woman with a love for forensic psychology and a knack for literary fiction would write a book about popular culture and the millennium.

TALK 2000: In between writing your latest psychological thriller, are you keeping an eye on the Republic of Texas, the latest float in the millennial parade?

KENNEDY: Yes, I just read they released their hostages. That has done alot to difuse the situation. What I find interesting is that they are not what you might call "a camera ready cult." Anyone who saw the early TV footage of their headquarters would realize these aren't just nice civilized human beings looking for a place to be alone. Rather, they're going to great extremes. We are see a lot of that in cult behavior. I talk about this in Welcome the End of the World. Combined with this, however, we are seeing such a level of tolerance for non-mainstream beliefs, whether new age, militant movements, crystals, whatever. The odd combination of these extremes and mainstream tolerance is now driving some millennialists further outside the norm to get noticed.

Only the coming millennium makes groups like the Republic of Texas get any press at all. It is more about how we perceive things. My prediction in this case is that they are going to go away. There will be no confrontation, like the Freeman in Montana. After Waco, society appears to have learned a valuable lesson in how to deal with people who have gone extreme. The establishment is not going to create an apocalypse through reaction.

TALK 2000: When these militant millennialist talk, are we actually hearing ourselves at some level?

KENNEDY: They are echos of what everybody feels at some fundamental level--that we have lost control over our lives. The banks and government are now pulling our strings. The militants are protesting that. To what extent does that makes you crazy? I say it is a question of degree.

Some might see it as a person's choice. I don't think people choose to be crazy. But when a specific set of beliefs isolates you from the mainstream to the extent you are backed into a corner pyschologically, you shoot or "killer be killed." It is a crazy place to put yourself in. Fortunately, as a society, we are less reticient to punish people for being crazy. We are more tolerant than we used to be. There is actually less division between "us and them." We recognize that valid things are being said.

TALK 2000: In your book you talk about the prophetic tradition, with its "greatest hits and misses," and the "prophetic personality." What do people like this have to offer us?

KENNEDY: It is a new week now, I have a new theory! Alot of what is going on in my book, is a sense of play with the world as idea. What prophecy really has to offer, in terms of human experience, is a spiritual version of survival information. When you dissect the prophetic personality you get a mini-description of what it means to be human. We all have a sense of child-like wonder as we look around, and we filter the information that comes to us. But as we age, certain gifts fall by the wayside. Through critical life experiences or tragedy, the prophetic personality has returned to one of its core personalities, and in a way re-established a link with larger universe.

TALK 2000: So you consider these modern day seers, whether Edgar Cayce or Jose Argulles as prophets? Do they see or feel part of the elephant, part of the universe?

KENNEDY: Yes, to a degree. It is not the veracity, accuracy or provability of their prophecies. Any prophecy is important not for what it says, but for what it means to people who hear it. The real story is how people use it to reintegrate their lives.

For example, when eco-prophets say we will plunder our natural resources, the world will end, it doesn't really matter if it is a comet's tail or nuclear bomb that will blow us to kingdom come. The important part of that kind of prophecy is that it causes people to look around and say, "Hey, we can clean up and save the rainforest!"

Millennial movements are important to the degree they establish or help re-establish people's perceived control over their lives. One thing we do know is that people want to survive, they want to work to make the world better place. What religious and spiritual traditions offer us is the same reminder, "we do have a stake in the future, we can do something about it."

TALK 2000: In chapter 12 of your book you write about how the millennium is multiplying "monster doubles" in our personal and collective culture. What are "monster doubles" and which kind are the most insidious?

KENNEDY: The monster counterpart to the traditional symbol of the angel is, of course, the fallen angel, i.e. Satan. The modern day counterpart of those who watch over us on high are aliens, essentially benign "greys" of contemporary UFO literature.

But the newest, most insidious breed of the monster double is the whole neo-narcicism, or the darker side of the inner child movement. I call this social phenomena the Me-monster or Me-ness which is anti-social. People are obsessed today with the perfection of their image, how they look, how they fit.

Many in quasi-spiritual movements incorporate this Me-ness as an excuse not to participate in the present. Couples bear children later in life, or singles refuse to make comittments. They are unable to bond or join with others because "the others" are "not enlightened." This new age of believers are so smug, so preoccupied with the world to come they can't participate in decisions about the present.

An extreme example of monster double Me-ness was Heaven's Gate. They selectively drew upon beliefs in things like alien spaceships coming to "rescue" them as a means of justifying their inability to function in society. Such selective belief systems further allow them to live in the future while remaining dissociated from the present.

TALK 2000: That's tough talk from someone who dishes out millennial psychology!

KENNEDY: Actually, I'm quite fond of the "ascended master" types, and don't consider them monsters. It guess it all depends on their degree of commercialization, and the agenda of people running their salvation show.

TALK 2000: You conclude your book with a call for a "New Age of our dreams"? Where do you draw the line between your role as a millennial psychologist and that of a millennial practicioner?

KENNEDY: I don't find these two roles mutually exclusive, that of being a keen social observer of social movements and a person who feels that hope has already won. In terms of widespread millennial anxiety of the '90s, I consider that pretty much crested.

The millennium legend-making we see today is an extremely constructive aspect of human nature. It is part of our DNA to tell ourselves stories about what it means to be more human. I see the level of myth-making surrounding the millenium as constructive as religion or art, or any other number of higher arts. We do aspire to more, we do dream bigger, all as a means of transcendence. I think that is just lovely, very exciting.

TALK 2000: Your book is about the millennium's affect on popular culture. Where is intellectual culture with respect to the turn of the millennium?

KENNEDY: Intellectual culture is thriving despite itself. It is out there, it just has a bad press agent! Most of those in intellectual culture have come out of the '60s. Traditionally they have been very liberal, into social action, intellectual pursuits, not just making money. But liberals in my experience are quite lazy. They don't make much noise. They are people who dwell in the world of ideas.

Despite the commercialism which has stiffled contempory American culture, with category movies, books, etc, I feel a new sense of exploration has emerged in terms of the intellectual frontier. This is only two or three years in the making. It is a sign, maybe an omen! I think we have passed through the worst of paranoia, the worst of survival. At least people are now willing to talk about ideas.

TALK 2000: When your two-year old daughter comes of age in 2022, what larger field of dreams will she find?

KENNEDY: The world won't change so radically as people expect it to by then. There will be ups and downs, and cycles till 2022, but my daughter will still find the world here! There is always a great temptation for a parent to predict what the life of their children will be. I think I should resist that.

But I hope she is grounded more in her education, more in her sense of history than many people of this present generation. They have lost sense of the context, a factor I believe which will become more and more important in educating the generations to come. Source: talk2000@rmii.com

Talk from the Forum:
"Here is a recap of recent conversations"

HEAVEN'S GATE: SORTING FANTASY FROM REALITY
Much of the recent traffic on Talk 2000 has examined Heaven's Gate tendency to confuse fantasy with faith. This century has witnessed a burgeoning science fiction industry, and various attempts to project religion as an E.T. affair rather than just terrestial. This first post by Charles Cameron hipbone@earthlink.net asks how society should sort fantasy from reality:

. . . I'd like to note the following remarks about Aum Shinrikyo, made by David Kaplan, co-author with Andrew Marshall of The Cult at the End of the World, in his interview in "Wired Arena" on Tuesday, 6 August 1996.

:: Aum is like mixing Charles Manson with Star Trek. Aum
:: preached that they were creating a race of superhumans that
:: would inherit the earth. Aum's bible was, believe it or not, the
:: Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. Asimov didn't start Aum,
:: but its scientists were attracted by his vision of a galactic empire
:: in peril and a race of scientist-priests who would take over.

I think that we should consider science fiction--and in fact various other popular culture genres including comics and computer games--as intimately involved in the generation / propagation of new "religious" ideas. This shouldn't surprise us. The western world has been on an extended program of "secularization" these last few centuries, and the cosmological imagination has had to find "alternative" outlets for many of its products.

Scientology, after all, was the brain child of science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard... just as much as the communications sattelite was the brain child of science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke. And Clarke himself contributed a number of stories to the medium with overt religious content -- one posing the question of a supernova which destroys whole civilizations and is also the Star of Bethlehem, another dealing with the recitation of the Names of God on a computer...

Let us consider the words "heaven" for a moment. In popular understanding, "the heavens" have always meant "the skies". A Soviet cosmonaut, for instance, a decade or two back, took advantage of his sky-journey to remark that he hadn't seen God -- ie that "the heavens" were empty of metaphysical entities and significance....

I don't however consider it likely that the "Visio Dei" of Catholic mystical theology should be located "in outer space"... Jesus in the New Testament claims that the "Kingdom of Heaven" is "among" or "within" us . . . .

If heaven is within us, within us is where it should be sought (ie meditation and introspection might be valid methods for its discovery).... and if it is spread on the earth and men do not see it, then on the earth is where it should be sought...

But in none of these cases would we expect a space probe to be the appropriate vehicle to explore it. And in none of these cases would the appropriate way to get there be to hitch a ride on Hale-Bopp.

On the one hand, we have speculative [science] fictional genres exploring a cosmological realm which was previously the arena of the religions, and on the other we have a religious "genre" -- I would like to call it "speculative religion" by analogy with "speculative fiction" -- exploring the fictional realm, previously the arena of writers.

And what tends to get mixed and muddied here is the distinction between fantasy and reality....

What I am suggesting is that we need to establish the distinction between imagination (fantasy and metaphor, poetry and fiction, the realm of soul) and reality (taken here to mean physical reality, the realm addressed by science, rational mind and the senses) throughout our civilization -- and at an early age in our education of our children -- if we are ever to come to grips with spirit (which I take to mean the highest flowering of a human understanding of that which transcends and informs both).

Otherwise for some our "heaven" will be no more than sky, while for others our sky will be no less than "heaven" -- and either way, we will lose the spiritual possibilities of human existence.

PENELOPE BOSTON pjb@columbine.cgd.ucar.edu threw her wit and bio-chemical wisdom into our collective retro on Heaven's Gate. One Talk 2000 colleague said she sounded like "Ted Turner in a lab coat." From Boulder, Colorado, she writes on April 18th:

I have been pondering the question of why the Heaven's Gate incident is so stupefyingly uninteresting to me. Beyond, of course, my general interest in cataloguing peri-millennial wackiness. I have concluded that it is because they have no impact on anything. They are self-limiting. Much as the Shakers have virtually died out by failing to reproduce and failing also to recruit a constant stream of new converts, so those who transform themselves by snuffing it are equally dead in both the corporeal, genetic, and idealogical senses of the word.

Collections of ideas that result in the termination of the group that espouses them are analogous to lethal mutations in organisms. They don't make it and are weeded out. If nothing else, evolution teaches us that there is much wastage in biology. It is not surprising that this is also true of ideas. After all, information is information no matter how it is coded and transmitted, by DNA, word of mouth or the Internet.

HEAVEN'S GATE AND GNOSTICISM
Charles Cameron hipbone@earthlink.net also launched another good thread on Heaven's Gate, this time, on April 21st, dealing with their "demonization" by the press through the label of "gnostics". His opener and a response from another Talk 2000 colleague follow:

In all the talk and press about Heaven's Gate -- and for that matter the Solar Temple suicides -- I have found myself more and more irked by the dismissive and derogatory way in which the term "gnosticism" is often used.

The historical gnostics (Valentinians, etc) were labeled heretics in patristic times, but journalists who I presume have no other investment in patristic theology now seem to be picking up on the negative slant given this word by the early church... and bandying it about in ways which I believe to be intensely counterproductive -- especially now that we have the wealth of the Nag Hammadi codices to explore for information about the early Christian church and the enviroment in which it developed, and more importantly, a serious and intelligent attempt to restore a "theophanic" aspect to an otherwise largely "doctrinal" and "dogmatic" Church by recourse to the psychology of Carl Jung, and thus to those gnostic scriptures which he held in high regard....

We should, I think, be rejoicing in historical gnosticism for its poetry and interiority, while no doubt questioning the negativism towards body and world of *both* the gnostics and the early church. All opinions personal...

RICHARD KIRBY DrRSKirby@aol.com, who heads up the World Network of Religious Futurists responds:

I trained in Christian theology (doctrine and history) for my Master's and my PhD, so I offer a few words from that background on the value of Gnosticism, and its dangers. Historically, the Church has warned against Gnosticism as sub-Christian because it proclaims salvation by knowledge not love. I ran a "Find: Love" on Charles's text, and could only find the word once, and then in a quote. Would Charles tell us where the 'love' went?

Theology is the science of God, i.e. love. The Trinity doctrine tells us that being is communion, being is relational love. The Godhead is not individual bliss or knowledge but the perfection of mutuality. This is not Gnostic doctrine: the latter seems to emphasize initiatic and hermetic knowing. I could not find anything about the Trinity in Charles's letter either. The same seems to be true of the Holy Spirit.

Not that I'm 'against' gnosticism, but I wanted to speak for the mainstream theology profession. We're not the bad guys here - I even had a Jungian analysis myself! - but we do believe in correct theological scholarship. Gnosticism may speak for itself - theology must do likewise.

The second point on which the Church has been 'anti' gnosticism is that it de-emphasizes matter, materiality, the reality of incarnation, and hence the reality of pain, history and society. The full Gospel (and no, I am no neither fundamentalist nor Catholic) is about that Trinitarian love impinging on the real world and changing history, matter, bodies, flesh and blood.

Yes, I am aware of New Age thought and its Christian content, and of Theosophy and its derivatives such as Anthroposophy, but here I am writing of the traditions of mainstream (university/seminary) Christian trinitarian theology. That theology is a Trinitarian theology which lets the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ, work and speak and live and move in us, changing the world and divinizing it. It is about real people suffering and growing. It is about being really real.

New Millennial Sites:
"Here are new sites in cyberspace"

MILLENNIUM VIGIL: The Journal of the Millennium Pilgrim
This site defines a millennium pilgrim as "one who is on a pilgrimage to a moment in time made sacred by what s/he and others bring to it." Read postcards and "refugios".
http://hcol.humberc.on.ca/html/milvigil/

YEAR ZERO CAMPAIGNA new millennium, a new era
Here is the headquarters of the New Era calendar campaign. Includes news, links, petitions, responses and campaign chronology.
http://members.aol.com/go2zero/index.htm

ALL THE WORLD SING PRAISE™:The global day of praise and worship
An around the world sing-fest organized out of the UK for January 1, 2000. Web includes endorsements by heads of state and religious leaders. "How appropriate that we should mark this long-awaited milestone in history by celebrating the Lord whose love embraces all peoples, all nations." --Archbishop Tutu.
http://www2.tilehill.ac.uk/~stu1

Contact Information:
"Your link to the third millennium"

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Editor: talk2000@rmii.com
Jay Gary, aka The Millennium Doctor
author, The Star of 2000
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Publication keywords: media, millennium, groups, society, events
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