Let's Talk 2000

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

April 1, 1997, Volume 3, Issue 6, 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."

Our lead features look at two efforts underway to commemorate the April 6th, "1,000 Days to 2000" milestone. It is surprising to see how this grassroots idea has spread over the past six months.

Given the global mood, don't expect a deluge of feel good stories on Sunday, April 6th. But the discerning year 2000 watcher will likely see a number of TV or newspaper clips devoted to the 1,000 Day phenomena.

There is a lot of movement lately over this. I just got word from Times Square BID that they are getting into the act on April 6th. Congregations in England are distributing special "1,000 Days to the Millennium" liturgy. And my local paper just announced a "1,000 Days till a 1,000 Years of Peace" event in our downtown park for April 6th. I called up the organizers and they were totally unaware that anyone, anywhere else on the planet, was holding a similar millennial event. They put the G in grassroots.

Our "Talk from the Forum" section features "Heaven's Gate: Millennial Theater" discussions. After four days of silence, Talk 2000 burst forth with a flurry of posts on this mass cult suicide. Read how Applewhite's millennial drama in San Diego qualifies as a genuine "theater of the absurd." And feel free to join in on our discussions by posting to 2000ad-l@usc.edu.

Our next issue will feature any Earth Day news which carries a prominent year 2000 spin. Please forward April 22nd millennium news to: 2000ad-l@usc.edu.

While almost 1,000 folks get "Let's Talk 2000" by email, statistically speaking most of our audience reads it off the web. If you would like to link your own web site to the current issue, we have rearranged things so you can always point to the latest issue. Set up your html link to http://humnet.humberc.on.ca/current.htm.

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

(BP)--If you were to walk into the Vancouver Public Library this Saturday, you would likely witness some 150 Canadian school kids and sponsors sitting in teams of 10, charged with designing a creative community project that could be carried out over the next 1,000 days to 2000.

Before and after this youth workshop, the Vancouver based International Foundation of Learning will host two evenings of celebration, April 4th and 5th, which will celebrate the 1,000 Day milestone. Friday evening greetings from the Mayor of Vancouver will be followed by local High School Choirs. A Saturday evening program will kick off with a "Festival of Lights" procession, complete with hand-held flashlights. After the ethnic dancing and theatrics, the "Global Citizenship 2000" Youth Congress will celebrate midnight, April 6th, with a rousing first time ever sung chorus of "This world is your world," an adaptation of "This Land is Your Land."

The conductor of this "1,000 Days till 2000" youth spectacular is Dr. Desmond Berghofer, a 58-year old "visioneer" and futurist. Up until 1988, Berghofer served in the Alberta Department of Advanced Education. Reflecting on two decades of service, Berghofer said, "We were good at creating knowledge and teaching it, but those lessons kept piling up, with no sense of what it was all adding up to." In 1988, Berghofer, pulled out of this track, and teamed up in Vancouver with Dr. Geraldine Schwartz, clinical psychologist. Together they launched Creative Learning Int'l, which specializes in leadership and the creative management of change.

By the early '90s, Berghofer and Schwartz unveiled their "Countdown 2000" program, in anticipation of the July 1994, "2,000 Day till 2,000" milestone. Reflecting on the milestone they serve, Berghofer said, "We've already been at this for 2,000 days, and it has been lonely for the last 1,990 days!"

Lonely is the latest thing which the Creative Learning Int'l web site will probably be this Saturday morning when they plan to broadcast live a Congress address using CUSeeMe Broadcast. Check out before Saturday for how you can view this plenary, as CUSeeMe software must be downloaded beforehand. http://griffin.multimedia.edu/~gc2000/

Berghofer set forth his "strategic visioning" concept in his 1992 "Celestine Prophecy" type novel entitled, "The Visioneers." As he tells it, "the story is about a group of ordinary people who changed the world." It is set in Israel. The lead characters are peacemakers, and the New Jerusalem becomes a metaphor for the human future. http://www.waking.com/titles_v/visioneers.html

Since the futures movement came on the scene in 1967, Berghofer, who based his doctorate dissertation on trend analysis, has shifted his focus from forecasting the future to helping people enter into "the creative aspects of the future." Because, as he puts it, the "future we get is an outgrow of the values we hold and the action we take."

Berghofer hopes his "Global Citizenship 2000" congress for youth will produce a vision of "what we wish to create in the future, and steps needed to do it, personal and collective." And in 2000, Berghofer claims Vancouver youth will "assemble again at the birth of the new millennium to celebrate the fruit of the efforts begun 1,000 days earlier." Source: talk2000@rmii.com

(BP)--He talks in an unassuming manner. He and his family live in a modest New Jersey flat. But 37-year old Robert Silverstein, author of some 40-published children science books, has been on a six-month personal campaign to script a shared dream he and others will unveil this Sunday, April 6th, "1000 Days to the Year 2000." And with five days to go, Silverstein is still writing the drama.

The idea of creating one magical moment, in anticipation of a millennium of days till 2000, gripped Silverstein this past September at the World Peace 2000 confab in New York.

"I took the idea, the thought of 1,000 day count-up, instead of just a passive countdown as an opportunity to create a better world one day at a time between now and 2000."

By October, Silverstein had erected a well-linked web site on the concept, which today features over 30 events and organizations hosting 1,000 Day events www.worldpeace2000.com. They range from "World Action Millennium 2000" Barcelona Congress this weekend, http://www.wam2000.org/guest/comeng.html to Greenwich's Royal Observatory's auction of each of the next 1,000 days to worthy causes wishing to toot their own horn. It is kind of a "Queen for a Day" campaign, this time for British charities http://www.greenwich2000.com.

Apparently, some folks are taking notice. As a "pied piper" of peace, Silverstein claims he recently visited the Governor's Mansion in New Jersey with a flock of kid-lobbyists. Also last week he took research calls from ABC's Good Morning America, Fox and NBC TV. In addition, through the leadership of a friend, "Peace Pilgrim II," they have secured proclamations from governors of some 12 states for next week to be "Peace Week" in honor of the 1,000 Day to 2000 passage. Still, Silverstein is holding out for the big kahuna--a Presidential proclamation this Sunday on the 1,000 days.

Asked what this might mean to America if Clinton where to jump on the 1,000 Day bandwagon, Silverstein imagines, "Just think if each morning's presidential press conference between now and 2000 began with a positive story on what real people are doing to help others." Lifted by child-like inspiration, he continues, "NBC could have their own campaign of hope, or USA Today. This is the opportunity to turn this country around."

"It's time to stop the millennial madness, the O.J. Trial, the replays of the Oklahoma bombing, and resolve our anxieties about the turn of the millennium. Why feed the fear that the end of the world is coming?"

"We have 60 million hours of volunteer work given each week. The amount of care people give of themselves is astronomical. It is worthy of recognition."

Hey, "1,000 Points of Light," shine a bit brighter. How about it "Random Acts of Kindness?" Get with the millennial calendar!

Silverstein's next project is to put together a 365-day "Peace on Earth" calendar, which highlights a group promoting a special day each year set on making a better world.

In that way, Silverstein claims, "Every single day will be consecrated, or dedicated to celebrating all the victories humanity has achieved so far, every single act of compassion."

Will the world wake-up Monday, April 7th to ask what happened the day before? Silverstein admits even he doesn't know "how large this is going to be," but he promises one thing, "it is going to be much bigger than we all think." Source: talk2000@rmii.com

Editorial note: With five days left till 1,000 Days to 2000, Silverstein is happy to post any "April 6" event on the World Peace 2000 web. Contact him ASAP at countup@aol.com.

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

At first the shock of it overwhelmed a nation. Thirty-nine people dead, found in a San Diego rented mansion. Members were apparently killed through self-administered suicide, in the hope of a UFO rescue. Curiously, the Talk 2000 forum was silent over this tragedy.

Then Monday, March 31st, John Morse broke the ice:
> Is it just me, or is this list oddly silent on the Heaven's Gate suicides?
> It would seem this venue is a proper one to talk about it, since it does
> have a whiff of a certain brand of Millennialism about it. Do you think
> we'll be seeing more of this in the next thousand-odd days, as we count
> out the old?

I immediately responded to Morse's query. "I've been wondering the same thing. To me Heaven's Gate suicide represents millennial delusion and negation of life, big time. It is cultic UFO, mentally deranged.

I was pleased to see Leslie Stall on 60-minutes politely challenging a member who had dropped out of Heaven's Gate with how out-of-touch Applewhite was. This chap was even romantic about the whole New Age "beam-up" notion, and his wife died in the mass suicide. He needs help.

It was mass suicide. Yes, informed, as far as we know, not like the Jim Jones massacre. But any talk about this as a means of "human transformation" in relation to the millennium is insane.

You might recall that Talk 2000 had a long running thread on "Bo & Peep" (Applewhite) in the fall of 1995, led by an Argentine academic. It got so long, the author got spammed. Maybe we should have listened! Others also talked about the mythology of Hale Bopp from time to time this last quarter, and labeled the NASA Jupiter 1999 nuclear explosion as conspiracy and fundamentalism folklore.

Could it happen again? Yes. But this is not mainstream religion, nor civilization at the advent of the third millennium. It is an aberration. It is the lunatic fringe.

And it is a tragedy which cannot be lightly dismissed. "Apocalyptic" spirituality, even organized traditional religion, needs to reflect seriously on what seeds it has sown or watered which led to a cultural climate that could even support this millennial delusion.

Also new religious movements should take this as a reality check. I am waiting to read what new age transformation leaders have to say about this publicly.

Yes, Applewhite was sincere, but he was sincerely wrong. This reminds me of the book, My Father's Guru, where a British youth grew up with his father's guru in their house at times, only to learn later after an apprenticeship, that his father's guru was delusional. His secretive monastic lifestyle only reinforced myths among his small circle. One of the myths he created through silence and deception was physical tele-portation. I recommend the book to anyone who finds themselves at the place where they need to separate folklore from faith.

As a Talk 2000 participant, I am interested in how the millennium movement at large will react to this. Right now, the Heaven's Gate story is preempting coverage of the 1,000 Days to 2000 story.

Will the folks saying "that life count-ups" navigate these troubled millennial waters the next five days? Or will they loose a hearing by ignoring the obvious and then complain the media is just focused on Oklahoma bombing or Heaven's Gate.

We need to step out of our own John Lennon "imagine" cocoon this week long enough to help people process their shock and make the connection to creating the future.

The message I am dishing out to the media this week is this: "We must say no to make-believe delusions in order to make room for the moral choices which affirm life. If we do this, the next 1,000 days to the millennium will 'count-up' for time and eternity."

IN HIS ICEBREAKING POST, Morse also asked:
> Finally, a question from me, a generic agnostic, to those of you who
> believe in afterlives (and polls claim that a vast majority of Americans
> do): How can I be sure that you guys aren't planning a similar stunt?

... as a person of faith, I am saddened that this made-in-America millennial cult appropriated so much Christian symbolism for its own narcissistic aims. Even the timing during the holy week of Easter was deliberate.

At the end of the second millennium, we need to reject the "culture of death" which promotes personal transcendence or cultic spirituality at the expense of life. Abortion, euthanasia, or suicide are not metaphors for human advancement. Human service, selflessness and compassion are.

Sunday, April 6th, is right around the corner. "Expect a miracle" they say. I would settle for a *human* miracle of shouldering greater responsibility for our own millennial dreams and actions. [End of post]

EXPECT A MIRACLE is the byline of the positive-thinking "World Peace 2000" network. USC's rhetoric professor Stephen O'Leary, soleary@almaak.usc.edu picked on this yearning for hope. He offers a more sober view of our collective capacity to contain the millennial virus which has infected a generation of "X-file" viewers. O'Leary writes:

I applaud Jay Gary's thoughtful words on the subject of the recent mass suicide in light of the upcoming millennium. And I share in his hope for a "human miracle of shouldering greater responsibility for our own millennial dreams and actions." However, my own view is somewhat less optimistic than Jay's about the possibility for such a miracle, given what we have seen in the last week and what we know about the wider contexts in which this occurred....

I attended a "Prophecy Conference" here in Los Angeles a few weeks ago (March 7-9), where there were many groups and presenters similar to the Heaven's Gate group in both content and style. Two of the most common themes of the weekend were UFOs and Comet Hale-Bopp; presenters included Whitley Strieber, author of numerous popular and supposedly non-fictional accounts of alien abduction and related phenomena; John Hogue, probably the best-selling author of books on Nostradamus (over 800,000 copies in print of Nostradamus and the Millennium and The Millennium Book of Prophecy and other similar works; various speakers on aliens, crop circles, and Native American prophecies.....

I am convinced that the Heaven's Gate folks would have been quite at home in that environment. Virtually everyone was convinced that the comet was in some way associated with an impending alien visitation or was a fulfillment of the Hopi Prophecy of the "Blue Star Kachina," or what have you.

And the first thing I will say about this conference is that on the surface, it appears that Jay Gary is right to relegate this sort of thing to the "lunatic fringe." There were actually very few people attending, though the conference organizers had devoted a considerable budget for ads in local media... Just judging from low attendance alone [200 estimate], it would seem that this particular strand of millennial fever has not struck large numbers of folks yet, even here in Los Angeles, known as the "fruit, nut, and flake" capital of the world.

However, there are other sorts of indications than attendance alone. The speakers at the conference included some major authors of popular books (Whitley Strieber must be pretty rich by now), and one has to look beyond the conference itself to see the impact and reach of these ideas. I also looked over the book tables, and what I saw in the literature as well as in the panel sessions confirmed some intuitions I have been developing for some time.

One thing for certain is that the alien abduction movement and the whole UFO community is growing increasingly and more explicitly apocalyptic in its outlook. This theme has been present in these works from the beginning, but it is getting more and more noticeable. Strieber's new book features a long section on prophecy and revelations of the future (hint: don't live near any volcanos), and other speakers as well associated the aliens with a major catastrophic global transformation in the next decade.

What interested me the most was the way both panelists and audience members linked their beliefs and expectations to the products of popular culture and media. They are clearly all watching X-Files regularly; they watch shows like "Strange Universe" and "Sightings" and find these shows to offer credible evidence that some major revelation and/or catastrophe is about to occur.

One can very easily say that the popularity of these shows means nothing, that people view them as entertainment and don't understand them literally; but I think we should be cautious about dismissing these phenomena too quickly. For many fans, the line between fiction and reality is blurring or even disappearing. In this regard, I find it fascinating and disturbing to read these words from the Heaven's Gate web page (this is from the document called "Overview of Present Mission"):
> To help you understand who we are, we have taken the liberty to express
> a brief synopsis in the vernacular of a popular "science fiction"
> entertainment series. Most readers in the late 20th Century will
> certainly recognize the intended parallels. It is really quite
> interesting to see how the context of fiction can often open the mind to
> advanced possibilities which are, in reality, quite close to fact.

I suspect that the Heaven's Gate members are not alone in their endorsement of this last sentence. Other facts bear out the impact of popular-culture fictions on this group's beliefs and practices: in the video testimonies left behind to explain their suicide, the leader, "Do"/Applewhite explicitly compared the group to the "Body-Snatchers" of the 1956 sci-fi classic, and other members spoke of watching lots of "Star Trek" and "Star Wars," explaining that they were "on the holodeck" and preparing to beam up "out of the holodeck into reality."

Well. I am sure that most viewers of X-Files and Stark Trek will not go out and join suicide cults, but we all need to be concerned when we see the quasi-religious content of pop-culture narratives coming back at us in this way.

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

THE HOLY SEE: The Vatican Site for Jubilee 2000
It was 18-months in the making, and as of Easter Sunday it came out of the tomb, so to speak. Not only does the Vatican now have its own domain, www.vatican.va, but it has its own "Jubilee 2000" section. This artful site features church documents, excerpts from its "Tertium Millennium" magazine and the pope's influential "Tertio Millennio Adveniente" letter. Unfortunately, it is "picture" poor, and has no links yet to the numerous online national Holy Year efforts launched by Catholic bishops around the world.

THE BILLENNIUM™The Official Celebration of the Year 2000™
Tune your browsers on Sunday, April 6th to the Billennium™ band-width, as the Mitten Group plans to relaunch their high graphic web site. Billed in advance to the media as "the definitive on-line destination for celebrating the Year 2000" this new-born site allows a global audience to cast their vote in the Billennium™ Hall of Fame, discover how we celebrated the last millennium and learn about ways schools and communities can become involved in The Billennium™. There's even the opportunity to register your ultimate Millennium's Eve™ Resolution, which will be downloaded onto an optical disk and launched onboard a satellite to become an orbiting Billennium™ Time Capsule! All this on April 6th, and more.

Contact Information:
"Your link to the third millennium"

Talk 2000 Forum Home Page: http://hcol.humberc.on.ca/talk2000.htm
Talk 2000 Newsgroup: bit.listserv.2000ad-l

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Submissions of newsworthy items: 2000ad-l@usc.edu
Publisher: Robin Wainwright
Editor: talk2000@rmii.com
Jay Gary, aka The Millennium Doctor
author, The Star of 2000
(719) 636-2000 Phone
Publication keywords: media, millennium, groups, society, events
This issue of "Let's Talk 2000" is copyright © 1997 by Bimillennial Press, Inc.
All rights reserved. LET'S TALK 2000 is a trademark of the Magi group.