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A NHNE Special Interview:
Friday, March 14, 1997
Interviewed by David Sunfellow & James Gregory
© Copyright 1997 By NewHeavenNewEarth
Published By NewHeavenNewEarth / firstname.lastname@example.org
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Introduction:The concept of long period of peace and prosperity preceded by a time of turmoil and upheaval is theme common to most belief systems, both Eastern and Western. Central to Western thought is the Christian theology which prophesies the return of the Christ who will introduce "a new heaven and new earth" and a thousand years of peace on Earth. In the Bible version, this "Millennium" (which could refer to any span of 1,000 years) will be preceded by the terrible battle of Armageddon as the forces of evil, led by the Antichrist, battle the forces of good, led by the returned Jesus. In the end, good will prevail, and all traces of evil will be swept away in a global cleansing consisting of violent earthquakes, destructive volcanoes, and the fall of flaming bodies from the heavens. While there is not necessarily a connection between the prophesied Christian "Millennium" and the "new millennium" scheduled to begin at the end of this century, many people find the similarity in names irresistible.
Ted Daniels is the Director of the MILLENNIUM WATCH INSTITUTE, an organization devoted to tracking ideas of world renewal and the end of civilization as we know it, triggered in large part by the imminent approach of the new millennium. To gather his information, Daniels draws upon a wide variety of published material of a prophetic nature, as well as the global scope of the Internet. Daniels is also the Editor of MILLENNIAL PROPHECY REPORT, a 20-page quarterly newsletter which provides timely commentaries and news drawn from the publications of Christian churches, Jewish sects, New Age channels, Native American shamans, paramilitiary organizations, environmental groups and scientific prognosticators.
Interview with Ted Daniels:
NHNE: What kind of events in your personal life shaped your interest in tracking millennium groups?
TD: In order to understand the implications of my answer, it may be helpful to know that my religious background is nearly non-existent.
In 1987, while I was in the process of finishing my Ph.D., I had a day job at FOLKWAYS RECORDS in New York City. One day, while I was carrying a box of acetates out of the storage room, it came to me with utter certainty that, as the calendar millennium approached, a lot of people were going to get worked up about the end of the world, and there ought to be a clearing house where people could go to receive factual information on what was happening. I had no sense of any presence telling me these things, but the experience still carried with it the absolute conviction of a real vision, although I suppose it would be more accurate to call it an "inspiration."
The only trouble was that I knew nothing about millenarianism beyond the cartoon of guys in white robes carrying "Repent" signs. So, to teach myself and to give myself a basic credibility as someone who knows something about the subject, I set out to write what turned out to be, as far as I know, the only book-length bibliography of the subject. The finished product, a 600-page book entitled "Millennialism: An International Bibliography" was published by GARLAND PUBLISHING in 1992 and contains reviews of sociological, anthropological, and historical writing on the subject. The printed version of the book sells for $90.00; there'll shortly be an electronic edition available on our Web site for considerably less money. The material I am collecting is now housed in the rare book collection of the UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA.
NHNE: How many millennium groups do you track?
TD: "Groups" is a little misleading -- I track "sources" of published material of a prophetic nature. I lost count when the number of sources reached the neighborhood of 1,200. I began following them in 1992, once the manuscript of the book was ready for publication.
NHNE: What kind of common themes have you noticed among the sources you've tracked?
TD: In every version of the millennium myth there are certain invariant themes. The one that's truly universal is hope -- believers will be sheltered and protected by divine forces and, as the chosen ones, inherit a paradise on Earth. Even in the most drastic and supposedly "realistic" scenarios (nuclear winter, greenhouse effect), there remains the possibility, however faint, that right human action will forestall the fist of God.
Revenge is another prominent example, although it's strangely absent from most New Age accounts. In other belief systems, it's very common to find that some group of powerful and mysterious outsiders is blamed for having made the world corrupt, vicious, unjust, and full of suffering, and they have to be removed in a tribulation before everything can be a paradise again.
And it seems every religious cosmology has some variant of a fall from paradise, because no one would worship a god who couldn't make a better world than this.
NHNE: What are the things you find most appealing and interesting about the groups you have studied and what are the things you find most suspicious and potentially harmful?
TD: To both parts of the question I say, their extraordinary imagination and their vision of perfection. The millennium is a myth about change, and the nature of change is that it is both good and bad. What the millennium imagines is that the "Big One," when it finally comes, will polarize the change so that all the bad people will get punished, and the good will live forever in paradise. This a dangerous belief because its narcissistic appeal can lead people to sacrifice literally everything in pursuit of the final perfection of Earth.
NHNE: Are there any current millennium groups or leaders that you think are particularly dangerous or particularly inspired?
TD: Hitler was the most powerful millenarian of this age. I don't see anybody coming along who's his equal in any respect, though Pat Robertson is probably as powerful and secretive as any leader around. These days a climate of feverish change seems to be overwhelming every aspect of life. And in a nation with as millenarian a view as the U.S., somebody is almost certain to hit the "sweet spot" (in Stephen O'Leary's phrase) and send the prophetic ball out of the park, with everyone in the country trailing after it.
NHNE: Why do you think that, so far, many millennium prophecies have failed to occur as predicted?
TD: Not "many" -- ALL OF THEM! They can't occur as predicted because the millennium is an impossible dream that people continue to pursue, regardless. All the stuff about titanic earth changes is a symbol of the cosmic struggle for our souls. That's what's going to end, not the world itself.
Ebola is the one potential disaster that scares me. In one outbreak, the Zaire strain of the virus killed 80% of the people it infected. There is no defense against it, no vaccine, no cure. When you get it, you decompose while still alive. Fortunately, it's pretty hard to get -- you have to handle body fluids from a victim. But viruses mutate quickly, and this one could just as easily become an aerosol-transmitted version that you could get simply by being breathed on. In that case it would become a global pandemic in two months, ending everything.
World War III? Doubt it. With only one superpower, and that one fading fast, future wars will be conducted for the most part like we saw in Rwanda -- interethnic, nationalistic, populist genocides fought with AK47s and machetes.
Pole shifts, in my opinion, are nonsense. I am aware that the magnetic poles jump around all the time, and have even reversed, but there is no way that such activity would result in the slipping of the Earth's crust.
Earth changes? In a cosmic collision perhaps, but otherwise I don't see a cause for the kind of all-at-once collapse we hear about.
Greenhouse effect? It almost certainly already has started, but I don't perplex myself much about the titanic consequences that some people predict.
ET contact? I think that it's inevitable sooner or later. Why should life flourish in every imaginable environment here on Earth, and nowhere else in the universe? Besides, I'm all in favor of whatever decreases human arrogance.
NHNE: Are there any guidelines you can offer that can help people evaluate today's millennium groups and their ideas?
TD: Take them seriously, but not literally.
NHNE: What personal lessons have you learned from the work you've done?
TD: I like to think I'm more tolerant and easier to get along with than I used to be, and I think I trust people more, though I find it very difficult to talk to people wrapped up in the millennium. I have found that when someone becomes a true believer, it narrows their mind and makes them unbelievably boring, which is odd, when you consider how exciting the idea of a new millennium is.
NHNE: Why is the globe in your logo upside down?
TD: Because it's a universal symbol of what people hope for at the "end of the world" -- a reversal of the social order. Remember Jesus's "the meek shall inherit the earth"? It's never the planet that's going to end in these predictions, but rather its order.
NHNE: Do you have any plans for a new book?
TD: I'm about two thirds through a third draft of a new book with the working title "Tales of Apocalypse at the Turn of the Millennium." It summarizes the most important and interesting predictions I've encountered, and attempts to make sense of them for thel reader who may not necessarily be aware of these trends and what they mean. No publisher yet.
NHNE: What do you plan to do once the new millennium has arrived?
TD: I'll keep on with my career, which is investigating the ways people deal with the world. I feel confident that interest in changing the world won't go away, just because the date "2000" does.
For more information, you can contact Ted Daniels at the following addresses:
© Copyright 1996 by NewHeavenNewEarth
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