Religion is a big topic in humanity- it has been so in the past and it is now. Although religion takes the back seat for many of us whilst we progress into the future and engulf our-self in ever more personalized life philosophy, we cannot deny religion’s resilient cultural, political and social influence. Defining oneself nationally and spiritually is commonplace for all of us despite the fact that it is questionable how well we fit into these categories. While in the past religion was black and white, today it is a HD multi-tone flat screen.
The preceding was easy for me to accept since a young age. I am born into a structure-less, system-less and identity-less society. Or, on a positive note, I am born into a multi structure, multi system and multi identity society. Macedonia, dubbed as the crossroads between Rome and the Middle East in ancient time and the crossroads within the Balkans and between Northern and Southern Europe today represents its function literally: crossroad. First the Byzantines brought Christianity, then the Ottomans brought Islam and finally Tito brought Socialism. Churches were converted into mosques, new churches were built old ones demolished, new mosques were built and finally religion was forgotten about for half a century.
Today the church and the mosque live together like the sun and the moon, opposites yet unable to survive without one another. The five hundred year Ottoman rule cannot be downplayed in Macedonia and neither can its rich Byzantine origin- both of them complement each other in a way that is harmonious and desirable. Istanbul shares the same charm, only its ratios are different- a Muslim majority with a Christian minority compared to a Christian Majority with a Muslim minority.
Of course, religion has always been and still is a powerful political weapon- some of us can vividly recall the Kosovo conflict and how a nationalistic power struggle leverages all means, be they religious or secular, to reach their goals. Again the former is no surprise to most of us; religion, when mass, acts as a platform that easily connects with other interests. What I would like to believe in the wake of the 21st century is that religion is transforming itself from a mass system into a private philosophy, whose teachings purpose is to guide us and provide us with wisdom that we then absorb and apply in a way that is most beneficial to us privately.