Convert John 2000.
(Sent to several newspapers on March 22, 1999. Printed in the Sayre Evening Times, March 25, 1999; and the Towanda Daily Review, March 30. )
When the millennium finally arrives, all "hell" is supposed to break loose according to some religious beliefs, with "hell" being one or more of the various cataclysmic biblical prophecies including the second coming, the rapture, the apocalypse, and the last judgment. Based on an exhaustive chronology of the Bible by James Ussher in 1650, the seventh millennium was supposed to have begun (along with the beginning of the end of the world) on October 23, 1997 at noon. Other "inspired" predictions for doomsday have included 1844, 1874, 1914, and 1954. Yet as the event again nears, many will prepare for or have been preparing for it – just in case.
Based on a completely arbitrary starting point, the approaching millennium begins on January 1, 2000 if you prefer a transition to a nice round number and if you assume that the first century had only 99 years. Otherwise it starts on January 1, 2001. I'm celebrating on December 31, 1999 with the majority of people on the planet.
What will happen when the new millennium arrives? Not much, assuming two things: major corporations and governments do their homework to resolve a computer programming design flaw known as the Y2K bug, and fundamentalists don't go stark raving mad and trash the planet.
Just in case though, Mission America, a Christian evangelism coalition based in Minneapolis, wants to be certain that everyone has a chance to know about Jesus with "Celebrate Jesus 2000", also know as CJ2K. Started around 1994 and currently supported by almost 180,000 churches nationwide, CJ2K has as its goal for its members to pray for everyone in the country before the end of the year 2000. Leaders of CJ2K estimate that the undertaking will cost $100 million, with a portion of that for thousands of copies of a $250 CD-ROM allowing churches to better target their prayers (AP, 10/16/98).
One hundred million dollars may sound expensive, but it is only about $0.37 per person. For Christ's sake, we're talking about peoples immortal souls here. To better use the limited resources of an omnipotent deity, Mission America should concentrate on the 40 million non-Christians in the U.S., thus increasing the per capita to $2.50. Better yet, apply $100 to each of the approximately one million atheists in the country.
Mission America insists that their goal is not to convert or solicit money, but to evangelize. Historically, however, Christianity's goal has been to convert, whether conversion is wanted or not (Matt. 18:6, I Cor. 5:5, the Crusades, the Inquisition, Giordano Bruno, Galileo, Salem). Even Aquinas wrote that heretics should be "exterminated thereby from the world by death" if they can't be converted after three attempts (Summa, Pt. II, Q.11, A.3). Fortunately, secular law in our country prevents involuntary conversions.
As a heretical atheistic evolutionist liberal secular humanist, if anyone should be targeted for conversion, it would be me. Your mission, if you decide to accept it, is to "Convert John by 2000" or CJ2K. You are invited into my home to attempt to save this infidel. Gang conversion, whereby multiple denominations decide which actually has the one true God prior to evangelization, is acceptable. Pray over me; lay hands on; try to convince me with reason and evidence. True believers should be able to drive the demons right out of me (Mark 16:17).
Refreshments will be served; bring your own deadly poison; no snakes allowed. For an appointment, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
John L. Ferri