Final Y2K Reportgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Unk's Troll-free Private Saloon : One Thread
Time for Accountability, Repentance and Forgiveness!
by Steve Hewitt
We are breaking a few of the rules with this issue of CCMag. First of all, my editorial IS the cover story! You will find it a little long, but I do not want to remove a single word. Second, this article has already been posted on our web. For those of you that only get the print version of CCMag, I apologize. We felt it was important to get this article out as soon as possible.
I have now been writing professionally for over 11 years as Editor-in-Chief of Christian Computing Magazine. Yet, I can not think of a single article I have ever written that is more important, or sits more heavily on my heart, than this article. I have prayed, I have walked, I have paced and I have had sleepless nights over what I would write in this issue. I have dedicated the last two years of my life to debunking much of the hype, speculation and sensationalism that surrounded the Y2K story. Now that we are past the rollover, what have we learned, what must we do, and what does the future hold? Note – I am going to be very careful to make my points in this article without naming names. Y2K is over, I think if you read the entire article you will see why I have made this decision.
What have we learned?
Was Y2K a hoax? The answer is no. Y2K has caused computers problems for many years. Particularly in the last two years, tens of thousands of companies have had their computers crash, or data corrupted as a result of poor programming that has been defined as the “Y2K bug”. However, there are several things that are now obvious. Two years ago I predicted that Y2K would be a bump in the road. I said that personal inconvenience would be almost non-existent. I was right. However, there is no victory in being right. As a result of Y2K, there is now much division and pain within the Christian community. And as a result of Y2K some have left the church, and many others are hurt and disillusioned.
While you will hear some claim that we should thank those that sounded such a strong alarm here in America, the facts show otherwise. There was no one shouting for people to prepare and to establish contingency plans in much of the rest of the world. Yet countries, cities, businesses and governments across the world weathered the rollover as well as we did here in the USA. No one in the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, France, Italy, Burma, South Africa, Brazil, (should I go on) was selling books and creating video series’ suggesting Y2K could bring a meltdown, or that it was either God’s judgement on their country, or a sign of the soon return of Christ. Yet, these countries, with their nuclear power plants, their cell phones and their ATM’s did just fine. Don’t let the alarmists in America take credit for solving our problems by spreading fear and misinformation.
What about the money we spent? First of all, remember those who told you the cost of fixing the Y2K bug would run between 600 billion and 1 trillion! We spent somewhere around 100 billion here in the USA. I believe much of that money went for two things. First, untold millions of dollars were spent just looking for the problem, but not really used to fix anything! There are many examples. For instance, Texas Utilities reported throughout 1999 that as they were completing their Y2K evaluation of 52 of America’s largest fossil fuel steam generated power plants, they were not FINDING a Y2K bug to fix.
Second, much of the money that was attributed to fixing the Y2K bug actually was used to upgrade to new equipment. Some of this was needed to avoid Y2K problems, but much of it was not. Y2K became a great reason to sell your boss on the need to upgrade (and much of this was added to the Y2K hype as IT professionals painted a worst case scenario to justify new systems.) And due to the hype and fear of the unknown, many did upgrade. The good news is that this was NOT money wasted.
Third, there was money spent to fix Y2K bugs, however, even much of this was done on a “fix on failure” basis. (Fix on failure is how most of the rest of the world handled Y2K. They waited for something to break, and then fixed it after it failed. By far, the rest of the world has shown us that this is the way Y2K should have been handled.)
Putting Y2K behind us
Where do we go from here? There are several things that must be said and done before I am ready to put Y2K behind us. First of all, we need to restore the division that Y2K has created in the Christian community here in America. There are many who feel disillusioned by some in Christian media that made some pretty outlandish claims, predictions and statements about Y2K. At the beginning of 1998 when Y2K began to become a topic for discussion, I stated that it was NOT a spiritual issue. Yet, over time, many Christian leaders MADE it a spiritual issue. Some implied that Y2K would be God’s judgement on America because we have turned away from Him. Others sought to use it as proof that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ was just around the corner.
Interestingly, there are some that are still trying to spiritualize Y2K. It is absolutely amazing. Dozens of Christian media and mega-church leaders jumped on the doom-and-gloom bandwagon saying that Y2K was coming and you needed to prepare because it was God’s judgement on America. Now that nothing has happened, some of these same folk are declaring that God performed a miracle and fixed Y2K around the world. Some ministries were established JUST to encourage people to prepare. Now that it appears there was no need for most of the nay-saying and words of apocalyptic judgment, they spiritualize their error at assessing the problem by claiming “the amazing results of this unprecedented rollover defy a technical explanation. So to God be the glory, great things He has done!” So why did God spare us? If Y2K was punishment due to the sins of our nation, what has changed? Is there some new commitment to the Lord that has taken place? Were our churches filled to overflowing just before the rollover signifying national repentance and spiritual renewal?
Some even try to connect what has happened with us with what happened to Jonah. The difference is that God directed Jonah. His message was from the Lord, and predicted destruction with a condition. The condition was that they repent, which they did, and so God held his judgement. If this is what is now being claimed, show me the difference in our nation, in our society, in our churches! Would God tell his leaders that judgement was coming because of our sins, and then withhold it even though as a nation we did not come back to Him? I don’t think so.
Those who sought to make Y2K a significant event for Christianity also claimed that this would be the church’s finest hour. They touted that Y2K would bring us one of the greatest opportunities for evangelism we have ever seen. What do they say now? The facts are just the opposite. I have received countless emails from Christians who have stated that due to the sensational stand many public Christian media personalities have taken, their opportunity for evangelism has been hurt by the ridicule they are now receiving as Christians since we are equated with Y2K panic and sensationalism.
Should these problems be pointed out!
I have sent this article to many Christian leaders. While some have stated that this article is greatly needed, others state that I will only help continue the conflict. Yet, notice that since the rollover, those that had spread alarm and spiritualized Y2K, have continued to make it a spiritual issue and apply poor use of scripture to seek to make their point. While I am in hopes that peace and unity can be accomplished, we need to look at the damage that has been done, and demand accountability.
Y2K was damaging in many ways!
It is also clear to me that tens of billions of dollars were spent by Christian families led to prepare for a Y2K disaster. Well-known Christian leaders perpetuated misinformation that Y2K would cause devastating results to individual households. They spread urban legends that our cars and personal household appliances would be affected, even though there was NEVER any evidence to suggest that this was accurate information. Some tried to convince us that the power, water and food supply would be affected. I believe this was directly related to their attempt to sell preparation and information materials to those they had frightened (water filters, food and generators for a start). I publicly questioned the motives of several who I felt used fear tactics to urge people to prepare.
Throughout 1999, Y2K continued to divide and destroy, and it quickly grew into an emotional issue in many, many churches. Churches split, and in some places pastors were asked to leave their pulpits. While this was rare, I did discover an alarming trend of marriages that were in conflict due to the Y2K hype as different sides of the issue were hotly debated between spouses. This was also evident in many of the “call in” talk radio shows where I was a guest.
Do Christians in America trust their country? Y2K also showed me that there was a small, but vocal minority of Christian in our country who worked hard to instill fear and distrust in our government. Obviously, I do not believe everything a politician tells me. However, I was amazed at the level of distrust toward our government that I saw in many of God’s people. I was also distraught to see that many used Y2K to sow seeds of suspicion toward our government leaders. Rumors of martial law and concentration camps for Christians abounded. One very well known and politically active Christian ministry concentrated on this aspect of Y2K in the last half of 1998. Their ministry sent a spokesman crisscrossing the nation spewing distrust and suspicion with this scenario. As 1999 drew to a close and those in authority were trying to spread the word that things would be all right, many stated these cries for calm were a conspiracy and a lie. Now it is clear that our government, both federal and state were doing their best, and that the information they sought to inform us with was true.
Some of you may recall the two congressmen who made a career of presenting us with contradicting information about Y2K (Horn and Bennett). One week things would be better, but the next they would imply we were still in deep Y2K trouble. Those of us following their constant use of the press were frustrated by the mixed signals they repeatedly sent. However, let me remind you that there were only two of them. Since neither of them are from my state, I will let their voters judge for themselves if they truly were serving their state and this nation.
An interesting side note was obvious in the misuse of information by some to promote their Y2K agenda. When the government would release a positive report, many alarmist would counter that we can not trust anything that anyone in government would tell us. Yet, in the next breath, they defended their alarmist position by quoting Sen. Bennett and Horn. It seemed that belief in what our government officials had to say was directly dependent on if what was said supported the alarmist’s position on Y2K!
We need accountability, repentance and forgiveness I realize that I should be happy as the proverbial clam about the outcome of Y2K. My email has been filled with notes of thanks and congratulations. Yet I still carry a burden. I have also had an increase in the emails from those that have been severely hurt by Y2K. On one Y2K discussion board on the Internet, the day after we rolled over, this comment was made by a woman who had been led by fear to prepare beyond her financial ability. She stated, “I don’t know what to think of Y2K or myself right now. I’d just like to put the whole thing behind me. It has been a strain on my marriage, my finances and my mental health.” These are the ones who felt urged by men and women of God to prepare. They were told to prepare for the worst. And they made a decision to follow these Christian leaders to the extent that they made real sacrifices. Now that Y2K has turned into a bust, they are hurt. They want, and they deserve an apology. Some are even crying for vengeance, and a “pound of flesh” from those who they believe deceived them. I have looked into the faces, seen the tears and felt the pain of these people as I traveled to churches across the land. While I can understand their feelings, I can not join them in their desire for vengeance. Because while I grieve for them, my heart is also heavy for many of these great Christian leaders who have damaged their credibility. Many have announced that they are receiving a fair share of angry mail from people who want revenge on those they believe were the “doom and gloomers”. The fact of the matter is that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, and there is no joy in such behavior. The Bible tells us in I Corinthians that love does not hold a grudge. Jesus commands us to forgive, and it is by our love that the world will know we are his children.
At the same time, the Bible gives Christian leaders stern warnings about abuse of power (see James 3:1 as an example). While discussion over the Y2K computer bug should never have become a spiritual issue, there were many that made it so. And, many others, as Christian leaders, issued some dire warnings and implied that they felt “moved by God” to do so. While people who follow bad advice need to take some responsibility for their own actions, those that stood in places of leadership need to own up to their mistakes. This article is a call for some accountability from those who painted Y2K to be much more than it ever was.
Don’t forget what was said and done! Should we forget those who told us that their “fictional scenarios” were based on concrete evidence? What about those who said they had stacks of letters from CEO’s and IT professionals stating beyond a doubt that they were giving the SEC false information and were secretly planning for a major crash? (This was almost impossible to counter, and swayed many into the “doom and gloom” camp.) Are they willing NOW to tell us who these people were?
What about those who pulled “secret” navy reports from off of the Internet and said that this was PROOF that our government was lying to us about Y2K? What about all those that gave investment advice concluding that a world-shaking financial disaster loomed on the horizon? For those who followed this advise, much has been lost and may never be recovered. What about the PAX Y2K television specials? Producers flew optimists like Dave Hunt and myself in for the taping of their special Y2K program. They heard and taped our evidence that Y2K would not be a problem. Yet, they presented only the most alarming of information on their show, and made some of the most outlandish claims about the potential damage!
What does the author of the book “Y2K=666” have to say to his followers now? Will he retract this absurd speculation in his monthly newsletter? Or will he hope his followers and those that donate to his ministry simply forget?
What about those that sold people on the idea that embedded chips would shut down our society? They predicted that bank vaults and prison doors would fling open. Neither of these things took place, and neither had to be FIXED due to Y2K. What about those who stated we had embedded chips in the bottom of oil wells? One Christian speaker, who works for one of the leading Christian radio shows in America, said that there were 75 million chips in the Alaska Pipeline. He stated that if even ONE of them crashed due to Y2K, and it took over one hour to find and fix, the pipe line would freeze up until August! The same person said we had embedded chips in each and every transformer on our utility poles everywhere in America. He implied that each one would have to be tested and/or replaced. This information was given to help paint a picture that we could never solve Y2K, and we were headed for destruction.
I have a videotape from an evangelist in the Northwest. He said that you needed to purchase his Y2K tape in order to, “Learn why it [Y2K] is inescapable.” and to, “Begin to prepare for a radical alteration in your lifestyle.” What is he going to say now? Or will he say anything at all? We need to demand accountability. We need for these leaders to admit they were wrong. If they do, I’ll be the first to forgive and move forward together. However, while I am working hard toward peace and forgiveness, I want to go on record as being appalled that some of these alarmists are now trying to take credit for helping to bring about the calm rollover we had on January 1, 2000. Others are trying to slip quietly into the night. I will not allow them to do so. I will remember, and encourage you to do the same! While some are doing the right thing, others are trying to distance themselves from their earlier statements, and are trying to take credit for encouraging others to fix the problem. Yet, let me remind you that many other countries had NO alarmists, and depended on “fix on failure” and they came through Y2K just fine!
Open arms of forgiveness
If any leader makes a mistake, they need to admit it. When they do, we need to be ready to forgive. Some have already admitted their mistake, and have offered an apology. While I have spent the last two years trying to counter the disaster claims of Gary North, he has recently had several articles published that declared he was wrong about Y2K. He recently stated in an article from Discovery Truth on January 10, 2000, “Clearly, as of this week, I was wrong in my predictions. No man wants to be wrong for all the world to see. Had it not been for the magnitude of the threat, as I perceived it, I knew the risk of making a major error when I began. I will now pay a price. I do apologize if I have embarrassed you or made your life worse.” I was ready to forgive Dr. North and had already made some public statements applauding his statement. However, on the very next day after making the statement above, he read this statement he posted on his web site, “I have no regrets. Faced with the same situation, I would choose the path we walked with the same dogged determination.” (http://www.garynorth.com/y2k/detail_.cfm/7145)
There is a difference between offering an apology and true Biblical repentance. After Paul rebuked the Christians in Corinth, he pointed out that he was glad that they did much more than offer an apology, but had experienced true Biblical repentance. (See 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 for further study.) What do we do with Gary North? If you feel he has repented, you must forgive.
As I traveled the nation, seeking to debunk Y2K, it seemed that those in disagreement with me constantly referred to Michael Hyatt, author of several Y2K books. I have been in contact with Michael since the rollover. I have sent him a letter, and he has responded. He has also apologized and we are working to make our peace and will work together to encourage other Christian leaders in media to do the same. Our combined letters are too long to publish here in print, but you can read them in their entirety on our web site at www.ccmag.com.
What has it cost CCMag?
Fighting the Y2K misinformation cost us dearly. While there are those who have tried to accuse us of making money from our fight against Y2K hype, the exact opposite is true. I traveled to churches across this land, small and great. While at times I spoke before thousands, I also traveled and spoke before dozens. Most churches did a valiant job of trying to take care of my needs, but the fact is, every day I was on the road, cost the magazine plenty. Our staff is now half of what it was in the summer of 1998. We have had to reduce the number of pages in the magazine this year. And to the regret of many, we have been unable to host any of our CCMAG conventions the last two years while concentrating on the Y2K problem. (The first one in three years will be in May, 7-9, 2000 in Kansas City).
Yes, we produced a video of my presentation after January 1999, but we did not make any measurable profit from the sales. While debunking Y2K was important, the fact is that it really hurt us financially. I believe we will still be around for many years to come, however, it will take a while to recover.
What has it cost you? A CCMag reader called our offices just a few days before the rollover. He shared that in a recent social setting he was attempting to share the message of Christ with another man. A third man overheard part of his conversation and interrupted. He asked, “Are you a Christian?” When the man (our reader) stated that he was indeed a Christian, the third man began a sales pitch to offer a great discount on dehydrated food. Our reader noticed something sad. It was BECAUSE he had ide
-- Cherri (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 22, 2002
It was BECAUSE he had identified himself as a Christian that this salesmen felt he was a great â€śmarkâ€ť for these unneeded items. For some time to come, each of us will be labeled as alarmists and sensationalists as a result of the publicâ€™s perception of how the church and Christians handled Y2K. However, that is not all that important. The secular public has never been very good at understanding us. However, letâ€™s hope that what they wonâ€™t be able to understand this next year, is how we can forgive, forget and unify around the things that really matter to us as Christians.
Conclusions and my charge! I charge Christian leaders, who made public statements, wrote books, produced videos or hosted Christian radio or television to be accountable for their statements and actions concerning Y2K. You cannot just claim that things â€śgot betterâ€ť. Many made substantial claims about what we could expect that simply did not come true. Many spiritualized Y2K when it never should have been in the first place. You need to acknowledge that there are those that have been hurt. You need to show some sort of remorse for what has happened. You must not try to sweep this under the rug and hope that it will go away. It will not. The Christian community needs to hear some apologies and needs to see some repentance. Trust the Christians of America to do the right thing. Trust them to forgive. James 5:16 says, â€śConfess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.â€ť
-- Cherri (email@example.com), April 22, 2002.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.â€ť
So true, so true.
-- (firstname.lastname@example.org), April 22, 2002.