Did I tell you I was given a new wallet for my birthday? I should start by saying that I have used the very same style and brand of wallet for close to 20 years. It has sometimes been quite a search to find a new one when the old one seemed to be on its last legs. By the way, you know your wallet is getting old when almost anything you carry in it, from cash to cards, fall out into your pocket – it kind of defeats the purpose for having a wallet, when instead you could just use a Ziploc sandwich bag and throw everything in it. The wallet I have used for so long is a tri-fold, with plenty of room for all my necessities, including license, ATM card, credit cards, Hallmark platinum user card and medical cards – and money. A couple of months back, however, as I opened my wallet to show my ID to some banker or clerk, they responded with, “I’m sorry, Sir, but the plastic cover over your ID is too cloudy to identify you -- please take the card out…” I was so insulted that I almost didn’t take their money. Almost.
So, I realized I was going to have to start the epic trek to find a replacement wallet. I mentioned it to my family, as a possible gift, when Adam responded, “Well, for certain you need an RFID blocking wallet.” I know it is difficult to artificially create the look of a deer in the headlights, but it’s very easy when you have no idea what the other person is talking about. Apparently, this is what an RFID blocking wallet does:
“RFID blocking wallets block RFID signals using electromagnetic enclosure technology called a Faraday cage. This technology is said to make credit cards electromagnetically opaque by distributing electrostatic charges or radiation around the cage’s exterior, thus protecting its contents from electric charges.”
I didn’t even know I had been walking around with a bunch of RFIDs in my pocket. Apparently those little gold chips in all your credit and debit cards have magical powers, but cruel criminals can take a special gold chip reader, and walk by you on the sidewalk or in an airport and steal all your information, and in a day or so, you will be maxed out on your credit cards and end up on the streets, destitute.
So, I wasn’t aware that for all those years, with hundreds of thousands of miles of driving, stopping at truck stops, checking into hotels, eating at restaurants, and flying all over the US and part of the world, it was the electronic equivalent of walking around with my pants around my knees. I immediately looked at what was once my faithful tri-fold, and all I could see was deceit and disdain for its inability to save me from all attacks of cyber-thievery. I looked at Adam, and said, “Find the RFID blocker that works for me!”
Fast forward to my birthday a number of weeks later, as I open my presents. The first one, on top of the pile, was a small square wrapped box. I opened it, then opened the box, then opened the little cloth bag, then opened the tissue paper that had been taped around the item, and sure enough, I had in my possession a new billfold. Let me say from the beginning that it was not a tri-fold. Still, in my retirement, I had been able to discard a number of cards and ids that I used in my superintending. My other wallet actually was pretty empty, and that loosey-goosey situation was starting to make them all ready to fall out.
I opened the BI-fold, and studied it. Right up front there was a non-foggy place to put my driver’s license. I had five different areas where I could stow the important cards I carry, and still have room for cash. Plus, Adam assured me, “This one is also a top-of-the-line RFID protector.” I felt a little bit like Superman in my Fortress of Solitude. My cards were safe, my electronic pants pulled up and belted, and I was ready to do battle with the deadly forces of evil, protected by my shield of … what was that again? Oh yeah – Faraday cage.
Do I really feel protected? I don’t know – I never really felt unprotected, until it was pointed out to me that I risked our family’s entire financial standing with my silly old tri-fold. The new wallet is pretty nice, actually – a bit fancier than the other one, and I’m getting used to flipping it open like an FBI badge to show my id, and the pockets are loosening up a bit so I could actually remove cards as I need them.
What a strange and different world we are living in. First, credit cards put chips in so they can be read with different readers. Then, criminals find ways to steal the information on the chips that didn’t exist before then, and now we have cages to put our cards in so we once again can roam this earth safely.
I wish I had a Faraday cage for CoVid. I wish I had one for hurt feelings, and mean people. I wish I had one for other physical aches and ailments as I have gotten older. I wish I had a cage to protect me from waking up different times a night. I wish I had a giant one to put around all the people I love to protect them from evil, and tragedy, and pain.
When we realize, at some age, just how powerless we happen to be in the face of dangerous and destructive things, it can be paralyzing and keep us from truly living with courage and hope. So I say, the best “cage” to keep us secure is God’s love. It may not stop all the bad things from entering our lives, because all of that is also part of living a true and full existence. There is bad stuff, and sometimes it tries to steal who we are. But God’s love for me at least saves me from other than an abundant life – it saves me from hopelessness, or despair, or even negative signals I tend to send out.
Instead of a “cage” we have a Defender, and One who can guide our path beyond and away from a loveless and meaningless life. Certainly put an RFID blocker around your wallet – but let God, through Christ, place that holy and sacred protection around you, and around all that you cherish on this earth. Have a blessed day.
Word for the day: jargonaut. Pronounced JAR-gun-ought. It comes from the French, jargon, which means “unintelligent talk, gibberish,” from the Latin, garrire, meaning “to chatter” (like squirrels…). The last part of the word is a steal from Greek mythology, of Jason and his ship, the Argo, and the ones who sailed with him, known as “argonauts.” They were fully committed and adventuring in their quest for the Golden Fleece.
So, when we put it all together, we have someone, or someones who are fully committed to talking gibberish or chattering like squirrels. Nowadays, we use the word “jargon” as code words for a particular area of life. The Church has a ton of jargon, and bureaucrats and superintendents and bishops fall into the trap of using special words, when normal ones will do. Instead of saying, for instance, that we failed to do something, it’s much fancier – and more gibberish – to say we “moved into failure mode,” or we “learned a lot by not quite making reality real…” When words become either weapons or toys, look out. Jargon is headed your way, normally steered by world-class jargonauts…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.