chapter  10
14 Pages

Chasing the Horizon: Prophecy in Secular Contexts

ByWendy M. Grossman

Remember when The World As We Know It ended? It wasn’t that long ago. Over the course of 1999, as financial years began turning over to 2000 and the computers failed, banks crashed, stocks plunged in value, there were food riots, power outages and transportation failures. Water treatment plants were crippled and then, finally, as the clock ticked over to midnight on 1 January 2000, 4 million (or 4 billion, depending who’s counting) computer chips went ‘phut’. In the five to ten years of anarchy that followed, four-fifths of the world’s population died. Only our careful planning allowed us to be among the lucky survivors …

This was a sample of the predictions posted in all seriousness in 1998 to the Usenet newsgroup,1 set up originally to discuss how to fix the Year 2000 computer problem. The group quickly attracted survivalists and discussion about how to build, where to site and how to protect bunkers, what kinds of food and fuel to hoard, and how many guns it was advisable to stockpile.