In the year 2000, “religion will be more vital and dynamic than it has ever been in all of its history.”
In 1970, as futurists predicted what life would be like in the year 2000, Rabbi Olan considered the question of what religion would be like then. We are now in a position to judge his answer (substituting 2023 for 2000).
This is a hard introduction to write, because – although I’m no expert in how religion has changed in the past 50 years – I think he got it wrong.
This sermon found Olan in an uncharacteristically sunny mood about the state of religion. He saw positive trends in 1970 – religion becoming less dogmatic and more unified around questions of the meaning of human existence and social justice – and he imagined a positive future on the assumption that these trends would continue.
But I think religion has actually reversed course and become more dogmatic – with fundamentalist Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Hindus becoming increasingly intolerant and violent toward one another.
“Despite the differences of theology and practice among the religions of the world, there is one basic factor inherent in each of these. All religions affirm that the universe is the outflow of one universal spirit which binds all that is into one unity.”
Let’s hope we can get back on that course.
*Written by Joshua F. Hirsch*
Editorial note from Tim Binkley: This sermon, Religion in the Year 2000, may have been inspired in part by sociologist Andrew M. Greeley’s 1969 book of the same title. You may access a copy of Greeley’s publication through this Internet Archive link: https://archive.org/details/religion-in-the-year-2000/mode/2up.