Author Topic: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections  (Read 59207 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #150 on: May 12, 2020, 08:26:47 PM »
I am reminded of Psalm 23:4 (ESV) "4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." Doesn't say that His rod and staff removes us from the valley, but that they comfort us as we walk dark roads.


Back in April of 2000 I preached on Numbers 21:4-9; John 3:14-21 (4 Lent B) at my parent's congregation in Yuma. (It was not the one I was called to in Yuma in 2007.) It was a difficult time. My dad had been diagnosed with terminal cancer three months earlier. He was given less than a year to live. This was part of my sermon called, "Life in the Wilderness."


Our First Lesson is about the children of God going through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. They faced the difficulties of living in the wilderness. They didn’t have air-conditioned cars. They didn’t have interstates. They couldn’t move at 75 miles per hour. They had to walk. There was little food and there was little water. What food they did find, they didn’t like. They complained about it. They became impatient with God and with Moses. God seems to say in this passage, “If you want something to complain about, I’ll give you something to complain about.” Perhaps some of you have said the same thing. Besides the lack of food and water, now there were also serpents with poisonous bites. Those bites were killing people. Now they really had something to complain about.

However, it was not God’s purpose to destroy his people in the wilderness with the poisonous serpents. God’s purpose was that the people would recognize their sin. God’s purpose was that the people would repent of their impatience with God and with Moses. God’s purpose was that the people should live. So God provides a way for them to survive the poisonous bites. God has Moses build a bronze serpent and put it on a pole. Everyone, who was bitten, could look at it and live. The poison of the serpents didn’t have the last word. God did. The poison’s word of death could be overcome by God’s word of life.

I think that God could have done a much better job of saving the people than putting a bronze serpent on a pole. God could have solved the whole problem by wiping out those poisonous serpents. God could make sure that no one would ever get bit again. However, I’ve discovered that God doesn’t always listen to my wonderful plans. The serpents didn’t disappear. People still got bit. Some of them could still die from the bite. The bronze serpent on the pole didn’t get rid of the problem of serpents on the ground. It just gave life to those who had suffered the deadly bite. …

The one hanging on the pole of the cross is called, “Son of Man.” In Hebrew the phrase would be “Son of Adam” – a phrase that can simply mean, “a human being.” Our problem is that we are human beings. We are children of Adam and of Eve. We will, like they did, abuse and misuse God’s good gifts to us. We will disobey God’s commands. We will get impatient with God. We will complain to God. We will ignore and turn away from God. Perhaps you can even remember doing such things a time or two in your lives.

As the offspring of Adam and Eve, we are sinful. This is a much deeper problem than just committing sins. We are sinners. Some humans will commit all kinds of terrible sins that hurt themselves and others. Hopefully, the worst of these are locked up in prison. Some humans will spend all their lives trying to avoid committing any sins – and succeeding most of the time – but they will still fail now and then. Both groups are sinners. We all have been bitten by the sin serpent. The whole world is affected by the sin serpent. It brings pain and misery and evil and destruction and sickness and death to the world – to the faithful and to the disobedient alike. We all need to look to Jesus on the cross in order to have eternal life.

Now if God would have just listened to me and taken away all of the problems we experience, wouldn’t it be a much better world? Rather than sending Jesus to be lifted up on the cross, couldn’t God have removed our desires to sin? Couldn’t God have removed all the diseases and sicknesses and troubles and pains that we experience?

God didn’t listen to me. Such troubles still exist in our world. Poisonous snakes still bite people. Terminal diseases still afflict people. People suffer from colds and flues and even hangnails. People still haven’t learned to get along with one another – they get angry, they shout, they fight, they divorce, they kill. Often the life we live now seems like a wilderness experience. It’s difficult. It’s not always pleasant.

There are those who pray to God: “God, why is life so rotten for me? Why am I suffering from cancer or arthritis or dementia or this stupid hangnail? You know that I’ve always tried to do right. You know that I’ve tried to keep your commandments. You know that I’ve always worshiped you. Why am I suffering so? Couldn’t you have protected me from the powers of evil in the world?”

God would answer, “I know all about your faithfulness and your thanksgiving for my grace. I don’t control the evil and the diseases and whom they afflict, but if you will believe in the Son of Man hanging on the cross, you will have eternal life. You will live with me forever.”

There are others who pray to God: “God, I know why life is so rotten for me. You know that I haven’t always done the right things in my life. You know that I haven’t taken care of myself as well as I should have. You know that some of my actions have led to my own sufferings. You know that I haven’t always obeyed your commandments as I should. You know that I haven’t always worshiped you as I should have. You know that I have often turned against you or just ignored you in my life. I realize I’ve done wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me.

God would answer, “I know all about your sins. I don’t control the evil and the diseases and whom they afflict, but if you will believe in the Son of Man hanging on the cross, you will have eternal life. You will live with me forever.”

People’s suffering doesn’t necessarily depend upon how faithful nor how evil they are. Whether there is a lot of suffering or just a little suffering, everyone needs to believe in Jesus, the Son of Man, lifted up on the cross, in order to have eternal life – to live with God forever. …

In the ancient story, God did not remove the poisonous serpents from the wilderness, but God provided life in the midst of the serpents. In the gospel story, God did not remove sin and evil and their affects from the world, but God provides us eternal life in the midst of such troubles. However, in the future, we have the promise that there will be no more pain or suffering. There will be no more tears of sadness. There will be no more wilderness or desert areas. The image given by Isaiah of this future time is that there will be streams in the deserts. Even Arizona and Wyoming will become lush gardens. Until that event at the end of history, we continue to live in our different wildernesses – knowing that Jesus is there with us – and where Jesus is, there is life.




"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #151 on: May 25, 2020, 07:50:01 AM »
Since it began more than 30 years ago, Lorna and I have watched the National Memorial Day Concert (at the Mall). This year it was not at the Mall and there was no huge crowd. Lorna is gone but John Alex, my 12 year old grandson watched with me. For him the history is vague; he won't remember the dates, 1945, 25 June 1950, etc. (he does know what 9/11 was about). He still has a strong sense that there are those who gave everything for the nation just as there are those who do now whether soldiers, sailor, Marines, airmen, police, firefighters, or health care providers and grocery workers.

He gave a sharp salute at the national anthem and Taps.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
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Dave Benke

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #152 on: May 25, 2020, 10:01:27 AM »
Chapter 11: Church, this time “for real”
The Sunday before Palm Sunday was the last I worshipped inside a church building.
   Since then it has been experiences with online worship services, some good, some not so good. Obviously most clergy and congregations were not prepared to put “worship” online in meaningful, creative or satisfying ways.   
   But I will not offer a critique of those ways. Online services were all I had, so they had to do.
   I visited several local Lutheran churches and found some decent preaching, but a desultory approach to liturgy and inadequate attention to lighting and sound.
   But at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., I found elevated liturgy in the Anglican style, with mostly prayer book language and an approach to the eucharist that seemed right – that “spiritual communion” prayer on the screen just after the consecration. I also found sophisticated use of television, because the cathedral is fully equipped to broadcast state occasions.
   Beloved Spouse and I returned to the National Cathedral on subsequent Sunday mornings, even though it rarely felt like “church.”
   This morning, though, something special happened, and I do not know how or why.
   We have been in social lock-down for more than six weeks now and have only small tastes of anything like “community” activity; and this has taken a toll on our spirits. Maybe I was just down far enough that almost anything would lift me up.
   Cathedral worship began with a somber prelude and then the cantor, Amy Broadbent, sang “My life flows on in endless song” and its wondrous refrain:
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
Now choral singing is one of the things I have missed most the past three months, and apart from the words of the refrain, the music itself reached deep inside.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing.
It finds and echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?
   I was quietly singing along, as I often do, but I had to stop. It’s hard to sing through tears.
   The processional hymn was “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus” with the familiar Hyfrydol tune; and the world around the chair where I watch television and read literally vibrated with something transcendental. I felt more “in church” than I had for weeks.
   Cantor Broadbent sang the Psalm (most of Psalm 68) with one of those psalm tones familiar to anyone who has use the Lutheran Book of Worship. But I hope some seminary professor of worship stumbles across the video, clips it out, and makes every seminarian spend two hours studying it. Here were words, distinctly and elegantly sung, phrased according to the Psalm Tone, but pronounced and delivered according to the meaning of the text. It is a psalm that praises God for deliverance. When she got to:
He rides in the heavens, the ancient heavens;
He sends forth his voice his mighty voice…
How wonderful is God in his holy places!
The God of Israel giving strength and power to his people!
Blessed be God.
   I was again quite properly “in church” and extremely thankful to be there.
   “When peace like a river” was the sequence hymn and I quietly sang along, harmonizing through the refrain – “It is well, it is well with my soul” – and through tears.
   The preacher was Jon Meacham, the Pulitizer prize-winning historian of presidential history, who last year wrote The Hope of Glory: Reflections on the Last Words of Jesus From the Cross. He stuck closely to the John 17, but noted that the followers of Jesus, after the resurrection and ascension, having seen that glory, prayed, waited, and wondered “which is what you and I are doing now.” We pray, we wait, we wonder. He suggested that the history of the faith is a proof of the faith, for the passage for the faith has always been – no matter how dire the circumstances – “from darkness to light.”
   It was a good sermon, both textual and contextual. He’s pretty good with words, too.
   The liturgy continued, creed, announcements, an offertory anthem, then preface, sanctus, benedictus, and eucharistic prayer – we could all join in the “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”
   “Spiritual communion” through that ancient prayer is bittersweet, but there it is. I had been so set up, led and fed with what went before that this morning it was almost enough.
   The cathedral liturgy often uses a jazz piano, clarinet or saxophone and the church-jazz voice of Imani-Grace Cooper to close the service. The music is quiet/reflective, with a bit of a “get out there” beat and a few voice embellishments to make it real jazz.
   We sang “America, The Beautiful” for the closing hymn, as the Memorial Day holiday had been mentioned in the announcements. My favorite verse was included
O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America! America! God mend thine every flaw.
Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law.
   Again, the world around my chair was vibrant and filled with something wonderful, and I sang through tears. Whatever it was, I felt I had been "in church."
   Why was this Sunday this way? I have no idea. But I’m glad it was.
-0-

This is a great reflection, Charles.  "My life flows on in endless song" is a favorite of mine. 

Dave Benke
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James J Eivan

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #153 on: May 25, 2020, 10:17:10 AM »
Haven't darkened the doors of a sanctuary since the single digit days of March ... Still grateful and thankful for pastor who cut short his out of state spring break trip when local officials abruptly prohibited in person worship on Monday of that week.  Returning by car, his first live streamed service went off without a hitch Wednesday evening.

Thank for the faithful labors of pastors who follow this sage advice ....

From: Arthur Carl Piepkorn, The Conduct of the Service, St. Louis, Concordia Seminary Press, 1965, p. 6

"When a ministration takes place outside of church, the effort should be made to reproduce the conditions of church as far as possible, and as much of the ceremonial as conditions permit or warrant should be retained."
Saturday evening we virtually attended a small mid central state congregation served by a friend we met as he began his study for the holy ministry. Despite the fact that his congregations resumed in person worship a few weeks ago, pastor and organist still met a couple days prior to record the service so it was available in a timely manner to his numerous high risk senior saints members.  With no technical assistance, he makes use of three cameras and his self taught editing skills resulting in an almost in person worship experience.  Following the edit process, is a 5 plus hour upload process due to poor internet service ... Text received that within a half hour of completion of the upload, the up load abruptly terminated ... necessitating another 5 plus hour up load process. Thankfully he allows ample production time ... and always has his service available by regular service time.


Sunday morning's service was a pre recorded 'premiere' service so initial viewing is experienced together with fellow congregation members along with national and international fellow Christians joining us ... truly Jerusalem, Judea, and the uttermost parts of the earth. Following this excellent duplication of in person workship, the congregation joins together via Zoom for brief fellowship followed by Bible Class.


Living an a metropolitan area reliable internet is some thing taken for granted in the past ... much more appreciated these days ... especially on Sundays and Bible study days.


Thank God for the sacrifices pastors make to serve their flock ... praying that our pastor's travels this week are safe ... and he and his family's plans are not interrupted again so he can serve the flock God has entrusted him.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #154 on: May 25, 2020, 01:07:11 PM »
This is a great reflection, Charles.  "My life flows on in endless song" is a favorite of mine. 


A bit off topic: I was at a workshop with Marty Haugen, he wondered about the difference between "How can I keep from singing?" in that hymn and the oft stated complaint in congregations, "How can we get them to sing?"
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Dave Benke

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #155 on: May 26, 2020, 09:14:49 PM »
A brief non-religious reflection.  I take a walk in the neighborhood of our home every day.  The only Mountain Bike Trails in New York City are about two blocks from our house, 60 feet above sea level in a forested area angled between two big highways.  So walking on the bike path at the edge of the street can get dicey.  But - these last two months I spend most of the time listening to ............birds.  Birds actually make sounds.  Who knew?  The traffic always drowned any sounds out.  Now they're chirping away up there in the trees, audible to human ears.  Quite amazing - there's apparently a lot going on in bird-world.

So today I was walking and listening to the bird sounds, and all of a sudden there's this low booming thrumming noise coming out of the woods.  It was startling.  I couldn't place it at all.  Then it struck me.  It was an airplane, a jet taking off from LaGuardia on its way out of the city, hidden from view up against the woods. 

Which happened every two minutes from 6 AM until 10 PM until two months ago.  And then it stopped completely.  There are now five daily flights out of La Guardia.  5 in total.  And the same out of Kennedy or something close. 

In this incredible unsustainable transformation in New York City, we no longer recognize the sound of a jet airplane.  But we can hear the birds.

Dave Benke
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mariemeyer

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #156 on: May 28, 2020, 03:55:49 PM »
Since it began more than 30 years ago, Lorna and I have watched the National Memorial Day Concert (at the Mall). This year it was not at the Mall and there was no huge crowd. Lorna is gone but John Alex, my 12 year old grandson watched with me. For him the history is vague; he won't remember the dates, 1945, 25 June 1950, etc. (he does know what 9/11 was about). He still has a strong sense that there are those who gave everything for the nation just as there are those who do now whether soldiers, sailor, Marines, airmen, police, firefighters, or health care providers and grocery workers.

He gave a sharp salute at the national anthem and Taps.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN

Bill and I have also regularly watched the Memorial Day concert.  For some reason the event this year, though limited, was more moving, intimate and patriotic than I experienced it in the past. 

I did not give a salute at the national anthem or Taps as John Alex did, but I did get up from the couch to stand at attention.

Marie Meyer

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #157 on: May 28, 2020, 04:27:53 PM »
Since it began more than 30 years ago, Lorna and I have watched the National Memorial Day Concert (at the Mall). This year it was not at the Mall and there was no huge crowd. Lorna is gone but John Alex, my 12 year old grandson watched with me. For him the history is vague; he won't remember the dates, 1945, 25 June 1950, etc. (he does know what 9/11 was about). He still has a strong sense that there are those who gave everything for the nation just as there are those who do now whether soldiers, sailor, Marines, airmen, police, firefighters, or health care providers and grocery workers.

He gave a sharp salute at the national anthem and Taps.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
Bill and I have also regularly watched the Memorial Day concert.  For some reason the event this year, though limited, was more moving, intimate and patriotic than I experienced it in the past. 

I did not give a salute at the national anthem or Taps as John Alex did, but I did get up from the couch to stand at attention.

Marie Meyer

 :)  He wants to be a soldier (or Marine). He's actually a member of Sea Cadets (as a Marine cadet), so his salute is quite correct; unusually for someone his age.  I too enjoyed more the "toned down" version this year.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN

Pr. JOHN HANNAH, STS

Rob Morris

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #158 on: May 28, 2020, 06:55:54 PM »
Since it began more than 30 years ago, Lorna and I have watched the National Memorial Day Concert (at the Mall). This year it was not at the Mall and there was no huge crowd. Lorna is gone but John Alex, my 12 year old grandson watched with me. For him the history is vague; he won't remember the dates, 1945, 25 June 1950, etc. (he does know what 9/11 was about). He still has a strong sense that there are those who gave everything for the nation just as there are those who do now whether soldiers, sailor, Marines, airmen, police, firefighters, or health care providers and grocery workers.

He gave a sharp salute at the national anthem and Taps.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
Bill and I have also regularly watched the Memorial Day concert.  For some reason the event this year, though limited, was more moving, intimate and patriotic than I experienced it in the past. 

I did not give a salute at the national anthem or Taps as John Alex did, but I did get up from the couch to stand at attention.

Marie Meyer

 :)  He wants to be a soldier (or Marine). He's actually a member of Sea Cadets (as a Marine cadet), so his salute is quite correct; unusually for someone his age.  I too enjoyed more the "toned down" version this year.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
The Morris family does the same every year as well. This year, while I appreciated the first hand accounts from previous years, I really missed having more of those. Otherwise, we thought they did a great job despite the limitations in format.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #159 on: May 29, 2020, 03:26:10 AM »
Since it began more than 30 years ago, Lorna and I have watched the National Memorial Day Concert (at the Mall). This year it was not at the Mall and there was no huge crowd. Lorna is gone but John Alex, my 12 year old grandson watched with me. For him the history is vague; he won't remember the dates, 1945, 25 June 1950, etc. (he does know what 9/11 was about). He still has a strong sense that there are those who gave everything for the nation just as there are those who do now whether soldiers, sailor, Marines, airmen, police, firefighters, or health care providers and grocery workers.

He gave a sharp salute at the national anthem and Taps.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
Bill and I have also regularly watched the Memorial Day concert.  For some reason the event this year, though limited, was more moving, intimate and patriotic than I experienced it in the past. 

I did not give a salute at the national anthem or Taps as John Alex did, but I did get up from the couch to stand at attention.

Marie Meyer

 :)  He wants to be a soldier (or Marine). He's actually a member of Sea Cadets (as a Marine cadet), so his salute is quite correct; unusually for someone his age.  I too enjoyed more the "toned down" version this year.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN


The rules for saluting the flag from military.com.

Traditionally, members of the nation's veterans service organizations have rendered the hand-salute during the national anthem and at events involving the national flag only while wearing their organization’s official head-gear.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2008 contained an amendment to allow un-uniformed servicemembers, military retirees, and veterans to render a hand salute during the hoisting, lowering, or passing of the U.S. flag.

A later amendment further authorized hand-salutes during the national anthem by veterans and out-of-uniform military personnel. This was included in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009, which President Bush signed on Oct. 14, 2008.

Here is the actual text from the law:

SEC. 595. MILITARY SALUTE FOR THE FLAG DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM BY MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES NOT IN UNIFORM AND BY VETERANS.

Section 301(b)(1) of title 36, United States Code, is amended by striking subparagraphs (A) through (C) and inserting the following new subparagraphs:
(A) individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note;
(B) members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute in the manner provided for individuals in uniform; and
(C) all other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over theheart, and men not in uniform, if applicable, should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart;

Note: Part (C) applies to those not in the military and non-veterans. The phrase "men not in uniform" refers to civil service uniforms like police, fire fighters, and letter carriers -  non-veteran civil servants who might normally render a salute while in uniform.
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Dave Benke

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #160 on: June 04, 2020, 10:31:12 AM »
We just got our Card this week as well, Charles.  I think the gimmick was that with a card you'd go out and spend, spend, spend to stimulate the economy, maybe buy some box seats at the Twins game next week, binge at the mall, buy a new tux for dancing with the stars, stuff like that.  Our non-check is also now housed safely (?) in the bank.

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James J Eivan

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #161 on: June 04, 2020, 10:56:57 AM »
And to think my 91 year old father simply and thankfully received his card, took it to his bank and deposited it ... no TDS, no snark, no attempted political statement. 


Oh by the way, the fact that the card was on the way had been carefully reported in the local media. The fact that "we almost threw away" is no one's fault and responsibly but yours ... your wife's, and definitely NOT Sally's.😶

Dave Benke

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #162 on: June 04, 2020, 11:43:12 AM »
In our case, Charles, the banking aspect was complicated by the rule in the letter was that the amount was more than could be withdrawn and deposited at a time, so several transactions were required, not all of which were without the transaction fee.

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RandyBosch

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #163 on: June 04, 2020, 12:25:33 PM »
I avoided the fees but I am not surprised to find out that someone, somewhere, is making money out of these transactions. That can’t happen if someone else just sent a check. So I wonder whose friend runs the financial institution that’s making money from these debit card. And will make money in the future if people choose to refill these cards and keep using them.

Check the financial institution name on the card via Google to find their site; check the site to see who is in leadership there and the major institutional investors. 

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Re: Life in Quarantine: One man's reflections
« Reply #164 on: June 04, 2020, 01:16:33 PM »
I avoided the fees but I am not surprised to find out that someone, somewhere, is making money out of these transactions. That can’t happen if someone else just sent a check. So I wonder whose friend runs the financial institution that’s making money from these debit card. And will make money in the future if people choose to refill these cards and keep using them.
I think if someone somewhere is making money off it, that's the point. It isn't like you earned it. Never was gift horse given such a dental screening.