Y2K Away

by Rev. Raymond K. Petrucci

The gates of a new century and a new era have been flung open and we stand before it. Fate has dictated that we are the people who must lay the foundation of the next millennium. So much of God's grace and humanity's toil has been expended thus far in human history that it benefits us to use this experience and wisdom in constructing the future. The new millennium will unleash inventions that will change society and refashion relationships.

Futurists will be busy formulating their predictions for the century ahead. One hundred years ago people engaged in similar speculations. Many marvels such as the telegraph and the telephone were already in place, but most people still traveled by horseback and the Wright Brothers were still in their bicycle shop pondering the mysteries of flight. In 1900, a story of interest appeared in the Ladies Home Journal. It made a number of predictions that proved to be accurate including the advent of television: "Persons and things of all kind will be brought within focus of cameras connected electronically with screens at opposite ends of circuits. Americans will view the coronation of kings in Europe and the progress of battles in the Orient."

What wonders (and horrors) will the twenty-first century hold? One may gain insight from the perceivable predicaments that present themselves at the doorstep of this new century. Solutions must be found or accommodations made for issues such as the management and protection of natural resources, the direction and goals of biotechnology, the impact of the computer age on society, and the ever present questions concerning moral deportment.

The human race will have to face new challenges and to develop new answers, but not in a vacuum. Hoping that all may listen to their better angels, I offer faith in Christ. Christianity is based on the revealed love, will, truth, and salvation of God. The Christian does not have to search for or to intuit moral law and the demands of God's love. All of these are revealed in Scripture and in the guidance of the Church through the Holy Spirit. These truths are ancient yet always new. One way of appreciating this reality may be fittingly articulated by the following technological problem. A recent publication of the software maker, Adobe, disclosed a major issue concerning the retention of information. In the past, paper documents composed before the use of pulp treated with acid would last for centuries. Information on a typical digital file on a CD-ROM may maintain its integrity for only thirty years and the hardware and the software may become obsolete well before then. Massive amounts of knowledge recorded in the last part of the twentieth century exists only in digital form. These files need to be transferred to new discs. Some experts fear that the excessive time and expense would make preserving such overwhelming amounts of information prohibitive. They propose that the best way to save these files is to print them on acid free paper.

I pray that we may take the best of what we have been into what we shall become and that we look toward this dawning era with the eyes of our timeless God.

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