Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Goodbye to Summer

I don't guess Summer is the favorite time of year for very many of us who live in southeast Texas. It's just too hot and muggy during summers here. By far Spring is my favorite time of year. Everything is being reborn and refreshed, the days are pleasantly warm and the nights are cool. I love the Spring.

For many years I became mildly seasonally depressed each Fall as the days grew shorter and leafs began to fall leaving the trees bare and bleak looking. That doesn't happen so much anymore because most of the trees here in the Houston area are either Live Oaks or Pines which stay green year around. I've come to appreciate the shorter days because life becomes a little bit less of a rush for those of us who are retired. We can't cram as much into short Fall and Winter days as we try to do in the seemingly endless days of summer.

Nevertheless, I enjoy summers, especially the couple few weeks leading to the end of summer. My
Stunning Shot of Northern European Village
wife and I have taken to traveling frequently in the latter days of August and in September when kids are back in school and their parents are back at work. It's an especially nice time to visit Europe. Everything is still open, the weather is mild and crowds are small or even non-existent. This year we took a few days to visit Northern Europe. It is a place I had wanted to visit since my childhood. I was not disappointed. It is a magnificent part of the world and I enjoyed it immensely. My only disappointment was that I have, with my cancer, become simply unable to hike the rugged areas as I once would have done.

I enjoy the people of northern Europe. They live their lives well. Like Switzerland, the countries of
northwestern Europe are sparkling clean. Everywhere one looks, the eye sees a picture post card. Rarely is anything out of place. Houses are well maintained and neat as they can be. Maybe there are some slum areas, but if there are, I've never seen them. European Socialism seems to have, in the decades since WWII, brought everyone firmly into the middle class, and there are, as well, those who are just as firmly in the upper 10% or 1%.

One thing I like a great deal about the northern Europeans is they take a more sensible approach to religion than do Americans. In some parts of northwestern Europe, almost 30% of the population are atheists, compared to only 10% in the United States. More importantly, of the 70% who remain believers, almost none worship in churches that are involved in anything even close to the fundamentalism that attracts more than 30% of all U.S. Christians. The lack of fundamentalism means that northwestern European cultures are significantly different than U.S. culture. They see religion beliefs as a personal thing not open to active proselytizing. Fundamentalist in the U.S. are extremely active in proselytizing and see it as their duty to save everyone who does not believe as they do from Hell by converting them not just to Christianity, but to fundamental Christianity. We should be so lucky here in the U.S.

Norwegian Stave Church
Because religion is seen as a private thing in Europe, the way one leads his life, even his sexual life, is considered private as well. All the countries of northwestern Europe allow gay marriage and it is not allowed because high courts have demanded it. It is allowed because the majority of people support it. How different from what we have to put up with here in the U.S. where fundamentalists are not content to have their own beliefs but insist that everyone else share their beliefs as well.

We could certainly learn a thing or two from the Europeans. Of course, to be fair, I have to point out that not all is rosy there. In a conversation with one man, I told him within two weeks of being diagnosed with cancer I was undergoing treatment by an oncologists. He readily admitted such a thing rarely if every happened in the socialized medical systems in Europe.

In some northwestern European countries women who give birth are give one year off with their babies and retain their full pay. Such a thing is bound to be a boon to childhood development, but we'll never see it here in the U.S. And, of course, it must be pointed out that everything in northwestern Europe is expensive for Americans. Social benefits are not free. There is a definite cost, and high prices and even higher taxes are required to support the cradle to grave welfare systems.

I think America and Americans suffer from an all too often parochial outlook because they are too isolated from the rest of the world. We won't and we shouldn't adopt everything that is European, but it would be nice to consider where they seem to have made better decisions that we.

Jack Scott


  1. Jack Scott it is so good to see a post from you and to know you have the stamina to travel to Europe. I love reading your post. Thank you for taking the time to share your insights and thoughts. My friend I pray God blesses you with strength to continue sharing your wisdom. You are a true blessing of hope to the bi and LGBT community at large

  2. As a dual US/Scandinavian national, it’s unusual to read such a balanced overview of the differences between the US and Scandinavia. The only thing I take issue with is the term that the majority of the population is atheist. I don’t know your source, but would argue that they are “non-believers” rather than atheist, which is more of a vehement view of God, the other end of the spectrum of fundamentalism.
    Without the religion, the Puritanism and double standards fall to the wayside in Scandinavia. With a cradle to grave social security, the spouse or partner can be changed with no bearing on retirement accounts or the children’s future education. That means there is less infidelity and elaborate mating ritual. In the same way, the high level of equality (in the home if not the corporate boardroom) also means less gender prancing.
    From a Scandinavian perspective, I venture to guess that bisexuality is seen as a convoluted outcome of our weird mind distorting Puritan repression. The Swedish expression would be one must be either a fish or bird. The good thing is that the need to define oneself is also much looser as culture and nature already do that. Like a good Viking, you can have your home and family, but also manage to stay warm with the bros on those cold open longships. And that’s good enough to leave it as just being a man.

    1. I very much enjoyed your comment. Thanks for posting it. You raise interesting points.

      Jack Scott


I deeply regret that I must reinstate the verification process for those who want to leave comments on my blog. This is due to the intolerable amount of spam that spammers are attempting to leave on the blog.

At the same time I am changing settings so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will not have to have your comments moderated. My hope is this will encourage more readers to take the time to comment. The fact is I want to read comments with those of you who disagree with me as well as those of you who agree with me. All I ask is that you keep your comments clean and non-threatening.

The only reason I take the time to write this blog is to spur your thoughts and comments. Please do not let the spammers cause you not to comment. I know entering the verification words and numbers is a pain in the ass, but I hope you will not let the spammers cause you not to comment.

I still very much look forward to hearing from you.

Jack Scott

Anyone can comment on what I write in this blog. Regretfully, the recent amount of spam in my email account as required that I reinstate the word verification process for comments which I personally hate.

But at the same time I have loosened the comment moderation process so that those of you who have a Google Blogger ID or other recognized blogger ID will no longer need to wait for your comment to be moderated. I'm hoping this will tempt you to take the trouble to comment.

The truth is I want respectful comments both from those who agree with me and those who do not. All I as is that you keep comments to the point, clean and non-threatenting.

I look forward to hearing from each of you.

Jack Scott