WMU News

Lecture series to focus on impact of the millennium

Aug. 31, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- Contrary to popular belief, the millennium is not the same as Y2K, nor will it signal the end of the world.

The millennium is actually a prophetic event of religious origin that has shaped religions and culture for centuries and is the focus of a new lecture series offered this fall at Western Michigan University.

The "March to the Millennium" lecture series will offer free presentations by a variety of scholars who will examine the impact millennialism has had on religious theory and practice throughout history in contexts ranging from Mormon beliefs to contemporary Jewish messianism.

"The millennium is outlined in the last book of the New Testament to mean the 1,000 years of peace and prosperity that follow the second coming of Jesus and his battle to subdue evil," explains Dr. Brian C. Wilson, assistant professor of comparative religion and coordinator of the series. "For believers, it's not the end of the world because there's actually going to be a 1,000-year reprieve."

The series is sponsored by the WMU Department of Comparative Religion and the Office of the Provost and will include six presentations that are open to the public. Wilson says that the while the millennium is rooted in Christian religious history, it has permeated all aspects of Western society and culture and has even "gone global."

"It is a very Western notion, yet we are finding it being discussed in places like East Asia and India, " he says. "Everyone knows about it because it has been fueled through media hype. As a result we've managed to export some of our core religious beliefs to other countries and cultures just like we've done with jeans."

Well-known religious scholar Dr. Thomas A. Idinopulos will kick off the lecture series at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9 in 3512 Knauss Hall with his presentation "British Millennialists and the Rediscovery of the Holy Land." Idinopulos, a professor of religious studies at Miami University of Ohio, is an expert on religion in the state of Israel and has authored eight books, including his latest, "Weathered by Miracles: A History of Palestine from Bonaparte and Muhammad Ali to Ben Gurion and the Mufti." Idinopulos will discuss how European support for the founding of the state of Israel was partially motivated by millennial beliefs since some believed that the return of the Jews to their homeland would be a catalyst for the millennium.

With the exception of the address on Sept. 24, all presentations will be presented on Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. in 3512 Knauss. Other speakers in the series and their topics will be:

For more information about the lecture series, contact Wilson at (616) 387-4361.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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