The Fifth Millennium Evening at the White House -- The Meaning of the Millennium -- was hosted by the President and the First Lady, and was Monday, January 25, 1999 at 7:30 pm EST. On New Year's Eve, the world saw the calendar flip to 1999. When all those nines lined up, it reminded us that the year 2000 is nearly here. Many Americans, realizing that next year is the millennial year, will begin to ask questions about what the millennium is, what it means and why the world is paying so much attention to this measure of time. The Fifth Millennium Evening at the White House prompted thoughtful discussion on the meaning of the millennium. The program featured two distinguished scholars, Professor Natalie Davis and Professor Martin Marty who examined the millennium from several perspectives. One was historical -- to understand the year 1000 A.D., the last millennium. From the perspective of a renowned historian, how did the Christian world at that time react? Was it a time of fear, of apocalypse, or was it predominantly a time when Europe was emerging from the Dark Ages, beginning new forms of learning and commerce? Another perspective was religious -- what the millennium means to Christians, both in reference to Biblical texts and as a contemporary time of renewal of faith. We will also examine the humanistic perspective: how do people mark time; why are commemorations important to people and societies; and fundamentally, how do we make meaning of our span on earth? Through this discussion with these celebrated scholars, we better understand how humankind makes meaning of life through time, and how we shape our future by the acts and commitments we make today.
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