A boy is playing quietely on the living room floor, his parents watch the evening news. While he finishes up his lego firedepartment, a voice from the television set sounds: "Yugoslavia has fallen and will be divided in several countries." The boy glances up, then regains his play. Nothing changes for him.
Years later this same Serbian boy meets a group of students that dedicated their studies to theology, just like him. He gets into a conversation with one of them about the differences between church communities. Small differences, as well as big differences. Collaboration is indispensable, especially in a country like Serbia where problems like drugs, alcohol abuse and racism are paramount. But when the Roman Catholic Church is mentioned, he scoffs: "That Church I don't trust at all: it is totally corrupted." Slightly shocked the other asks about the underlying reasons for this statement. The Serbian student points to the role of the Roman-Catholic Church in the disintegration of Yugoslavia: "The Vatican, together with the US, intended our country to fall apart. That Church is ruined and corrupted through and through. It is all about power."
On the walk back to the Guesthouse, the Dutch student reflects on the conversation of that evening. Your background and history unavoidably affects your theology and how you handle diversity. The disintegration of Yugoslavia had an enormous influence on his peer's theology. Immediately the question arises: "How does my own environment affect my theology? What influence does my biography have on my encounters with people adhering to a different faith?