By Senior producer
msnbc.com
updated 4/11/2005 11:39:16 AM ET 2005-04-11T15:39:16

5 p.m. ET

Centuries and decades don't end at the stroke of midnight on a mythical New Year's Eve night.  These blocks of time are defined not by minutes and hours but by people, movements and ideologies.  The stuff that makes them eras.

Just as the 1960s implied a changing zeitgeist that did not end in 1969, the twentieth century is only now coming to an end.  It is with the passing of the world's most beloved icons that we finally put that century to bed and look to the future.

I realized the other day that, as a man in my late twenties, I belong to a generation that has no real human icons of our own.  President Reagan and the Pope, even Mick Jagger or Elizabeth Taylor lived in my lifetime but were not of my lifetime.  My experiences are not theirs.  They belong to my parents and grandparents.

Who are the new icons, or rather what?  The closest we have come to the kind of entity that impacts the world is Starbucks and the Internet, I-pod and Prada.

Today at 5 p.m. we are joined by some diverse voices--Pat Buchanan, Morgan Fairchild, Phil Bronstein--for a conversation about icons past and future.

Also, a look at the political impact of a historic handshake today between the presidents of Syria and Israel.

Have a terrific weekend.

Send us your thoughts.  We'll keep you connected:Maciulis@MSNBC.com

12 p.m. ET

Through the course of the week I've had conversations with my friends and my family as well as other journalists and the guests on our show.  Nearly all of these people have confided at one point or another, "I am Poped out" or "I've had enough Pope."  It's true that the coverage from all the networks has been extensive, perhaps even exhaustive, but I'll tell you why I am not "over the Pope."

In all these chats, after the obligatory lament about the Pope being so yesterday, a really thoughtful and meaningful dialogue followed. When is the last time you sat at a bar and had a talk with a total stranger about something as profound as the global mourning over the passing of icons? 

Last night I was at my local watering hole, and the guy next to me actually asked me, "Isn't it amazing how this Pope united the world but divided the Church."

I mean, that beats the hell out of "So what do you for a living," right?

Pope John Paul II's legacy will extend far beyond the doctrines he drafted or the churches he built. The dialogue has been elevated, not only on television but on bar stools and in taxi cabs. The issues of peace, freedom, and human rights are on the table again and it is a refreshing change from Michael Jackson's trial and shark attacks. We are being journalists again. We are being philosophers again.

Today, a look at the man who united the world in his life and his death, and the issues that have bitterly divided the Church he leaves behind.

Send your thoughts to Maciulis@MSNBC.com, or Connected@MSNBC.com

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