Millenium

Globalization Must Mean Justice

2005 is a crucial,

2005 is a crucial, defining year; a year of challenge but also a year of opportunity. Five years before, in an historic declaration, every world leader, every major international body, almost every single country signed up to the historic shared task of meeting over 15 years eight Millennium Development Goals—an extraordinary plan to definitively right some of the great wrongs of our time. At the heart of which is a clear commitment to ensuring education for every child, the elimination of avoidable infant and maternal deaths, and the halving of poverty.

Next year is the date that the first target comes due. We know already that the 2005 target that ensures for girls the same opportunities in primary and secondary education as boys is going to be missed. Not only are the vast majority—60 percent of developing countries—unlikely to meet the target but most of these are, on present trends, unlikely to achieve this gender equality for girls even by 2015. This is not good enough; this is not the promise that we made.

At the current rate of progress more than 70 countries will fail to achieve universal primary education by our target date, and in sub-Saharan Africa we will not achieve what we committed to by 2015 until at the earliest 2129. This is not good enough; the promise we made was for 2015, not 2129.

Because inexpensive cures are not funded, 2 million die unnecessarily each year from tuberculosis, 1 million die painfully from malaria—curable diseases—40 million are suffering from HIV/AIDS, and, tragically, on current forecasts sub-Saharan Africa will achieve our target for reducing child mortality not by 2015 but by 2165. This is not good enough; the promise we made was for 2015, not 2165.

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Sojourners Magazine July 2004
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45 Predictions for the New Millennium

Everyone says, Don’t make predictions, so I couldn’t resist. Of course, America has missed any real chance to celebrate the coming of the new millennium in a significant way as other people are doing around the world. We’ve been too busy worrying about Y2K, stocking up on cans of Spam, or booking ourselves into expensive Las Vegas parties awash with celebrities.

In England, every community received a grant to improve or create something new in their public common space to mark the millennium. We didn’t do anything like that in America.

We could have done so much more. The nation could have used the historic occasion to candidly acknowledge the deep injustices that attended the founding and formation of our country—Native American displacement and genocide, slavery, racial and gender discrimination, and labor exploitation—then gratefully celebrate progress made in civil rights and women’s enfranchisement and commit ourselves to fulfilling the promise of our democracy. We could have celebrated the richness of American literary, musical, and artistic expression by teaching young people to value books and culture over mindless materialism. Churches could have marked the 2000th birthday of Jesus by asking their members to examine seriously how his teachings might really be applied to our lives and society. Another missed American opportunity. Well, let’s at least make some predictions:

1. Faith in the new millennium will be defined much more by action than by doctrine.

2. At the same time, religious fundamentalism will continue to rise in the face of moral decline.

3. Bible study will continue to grow in popularity among a wide variety of people.

4. Prayer will be even more important than it is now.

5. The Religious Right will pass from the scene.

6. The secular Left will give up its hostility to religion and spirituality or die.

7. The Spice Girls won’t be remembered, and Martin Luther King Jr. will.

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Sojourners Magazine January-February 2000
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Once a Millennium

Within the Christian tradition, rarely is a concept more misunderstood than prophecy. Unfortunately, this misinterpretation wreaks havoc on our society in the form of doomsday soothsayers, apocalyptic dreamers, and militant revolutionaries.

The crux of the misunderstanding is this: Prophecy is not the result of seeing into the future. Instead, prophecy is the faithful declaration of the implications of current actions on the future, with the hope of having an impact on both.

For instance, one need not be a rocket scientist to figure out that increasing economic inequities lead to social dissolution and fragmentation. So someone with the courage to say that wealth accumulation leads to the destruction of community, and that the result will be a future awash in violence, isn’t looking into a crystal ball. They’re simply sensitive to inevitabilities.

For many within the Christian tradition, the Bible has been starved into a mere blueprint of unavoidable dystopia. Interestingly, many advocates of this interpretation allow common cultural mythology to syncretize with this biblical view, creating a very simple yet dangerous theology. Several new books offer a tour of the Christian Identity and millennial movement landscape.

Baker Books has made available an interesting, though not exhaustive, contribution to its evangelical audience with Gregory S. Camp’s Selling Fear: Conspiracy Theories and End-times Paranoia (1997). A professor of history at Minot State University in North Dakota, Camp provides an introductory primer on the religious dimension of the conspiracy tendencies so popular in the American perspective.

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Sojourners Magazine July-August 1998
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