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ponchi101

Logbook to the middle ages. XI

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In Albania, I am told, religions know how to get along.
Shqipëri is tiny and it is ancient so it is a place that has been invaded, pillaged, conquered, raided and demoted/promoted from region to country to fiefdom to Kingdom to district to Empire (part of one) to now a republic. So it is not hard to realize that religions here have had to live with each other for a long time. In ancient times, the Apollonians (the beautiful ones) constantly quarreled with the Vulcanians (those that followed the God of the underworld) and had to therefore learn to live with each other. I jest, of course, because everybody knows that the Vulcanians in reality always smashed the skulls of the Apollonians while they preened themselves so that was a lie, which I did again.
The real point is that in such a small country, set in an area where so many religions and deities must have been followed and adored, coming to blows over which God is the real one would have led to severe problems. Specially in Berat, where the houses are clustered too close to each other to start complaining about prayers too early in the morning of Xmas Carrols too late at night.
And indeed, the main church and the main mosque are very close to each other. A pair of athletics priests and mullahs could easily play catch with each other were it not for the fact that baseball is unknown in this part of the world. Throwing a Frisbee from the Mosque’s minaret and hitting the church’s bell would be simply a matter of practice and a little skill.
The Christians in town are easily identifiable because they wear… Dolce and Gabanna shorts and flip flops or whatever they want. So really, they are not. But as always, the Muslim women walk around covered completely. It is true that there is certain mingling as I have seen small groups of three or four girls walking together, one or two with hijabs and the others with the mentioned shorts, so it seems that religion indeed is not a litmus test here.
Add to that the fact that Albania was a Soviet post for many years and that the Ruskies promoted atheism and the mixture is complete. Wiki-knowledge informs me that Albania is about 50% Muslim, 30% Christian and 20% non-denominated but my Albanian assistants tell me that the younger generation really does not believe in any of these things. Atheism is the norm of the land, but I find it hard to believe when I see that although the country is integrated, here in Berat there is a clear Muslim side of town.
The orthodox Greeks lie to the South. The Muslim Turks to the South East. The Montenegrinos and Christian Balkans to the East and North and the Italians, across the waters, lie west. So I really wonder how much longer, in historical time scales, can the Albanians remain heathens to everybody else.
Even amongst themselves.

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Comments

  1. GlennHarman's Avatar
    Thanks again for the blog!! This was very interesting like all the others!! GH