We’re back in the U.S.A. after spending August in Australia, doing some speaking and visiting our daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren in Adelaide.
Those family ties means that we have gone to Australia quite a few times, a country that is exceedingly interesting, beautiful, and different from anywhere else on earth. And the people are among the most likable on the planet. The government has lots of money, due not only to taxes but also the mining industries, making for an unusually generous welfare state–meaning that everybody in the state gets welfare: free health care, money even for private religious schools, subsidies for every child (so that mums are with their pre-schoolers in the parks, zoos, and “play cafes” instead of in the workplace). But that comes at the price of a government that is much too strong, regulating and policing everything.
The country is facing some big decisions: Soon the public will vote on gay marriage in a non-compulsory plebiscite (meaning an election by mail in which citizens will not have to vote if they don’t want to, unlike other elections in which voting is required by law). At least one state is close to legalizing euthanasia.
Secularism is rampant, but I’ve met lots of dedicated Christians, as I have also in my recent trips to Denmark and Finland. I mean really dedicated, as these folks are living out their faith in the face of many challenges, more than we face in the states. Churches are torn between their liberal and their conservative factions. This seems true of the dominant Anglican Church, as well as the small Lutheran Church of Australia. But we attended some wonderful church services, in packed sanctuaries, with excellent preaching by truly confessional pastors.
It was weird to miss a whole month of summer. (August is winter in Australia.) We come back and the new school year–which had always structured our lives before we retired–has already started. Waiting for the last leg of our journey in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, I was surprised to see that college football has already started. (One of my alma maters, the University of Oklahoma, was playing the University of Texas El Paso. The Sooners’ next non-conference pushover tune-up game will be Ohio State!) And it was hard to be so far away when the U.S. was hit so hard by the hurricane. (My family members in the Houston area are fine, by the way.)
Now I am soaking up normalcy. We had some great food in Australia, but I treasured the Whataburger we had in Oklahoma City (a hamburger that was all-meat, instead of the meatloaf style augmentation common down under, with mustard and pickles instead of a fried egg and beets). I am watching baseball instead of Aussie-rules football.
The good news is that our Australia family will be visiting us in November, so I’m already looking forward to that.
So God bless America! Also Australia.
Photo: “The Lands of Oklahoma” by Holly Chaffin, CC0 license, Public Domain, via PublicDomainPictures.net