INTRODUCTION

 

Will the world end in the year 2000? Whether it does or does not, how many people believe that it will? How many more will be tempted by such beliefs in the coming years, if things go badly on the global scene? How will such beliefs affect us? Will 2000 (or 2001) mark a fundamental turning point in global history? In other words, it might not be The End, but might it be "the end of the world as we know it"? The answers we will all give to such questions will affect our society in the coming years.

People have been predicting the immanent end of the world (or its radical transformation) constantly for at least 3,000 years now. Despite the failure of every one of these prophecies, to date, the movements that have surrounded them have had a profound impact on their societies; and clearly, the failure of these expected apocalypses has not discouraged new predictions, new calculations, or new enthusiasms and anxieties.

What role do imagined futures have in shaping the present? What role does a "round number" like 1000 play in shaping such imagination? What has happened in the past when Western culture has reached millennial dates? Christian culture has experienced a millennial turning point at least twice in the last millennium: A.D. 1000 and A.D. 1500 (7000 Annus Mundi). Other calendars have reached similar dates, and the Christian calendar has now become the world’s calendar for business, if not culture. As we approach of the end of the second Christian millennium. What can past turning points tell us about our present situation?

Welcome to the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University.

 

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