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Topic: I am a Christian mentalist in turmoil.
Message: Posted by: Mike Ince (May 23, 2012 12:23PM)
For over four years I've performed strictly mental shows. I've immersed myself into the world of the mentalist, I've studied hard and created effects for myself. All this after twenty years as a hobbyist magician and magic demonstrator.

Here's a link to the definition of sorcery from Vine's online dictionary of New Testament words http://www2.mf.no/bibelprog/vines.pl?word=sorcery . " In "sorcery," the use of drugs, whether simple or potent, was generally accompanied by incantations and appeals to occult powers, with the provision of various charms, amulets, etc., professedly designed to keep the applicant or patient from the attention and power of demons, but actually to impress the applicant with the mysterious resources and powers of the sorcerer. " Mentalism, regardless of what kind of disclaimer you try to give, feels real; that's why it works. It makes even hard skeptics question reality. To say "this isn't real" and then follow the statement by inexplicable mind reading that feels very real... it can be a confusing message.

The reason I was so attracted to mentalism is because even in performances of non-psychic performers like Derren Brown and maybe Banachek, mentalism is powerful stuff. My disclaimer in my last show went like this: "I use magic, suggestion, psychology, and I lie. I do all these things to create the illusion of though reading. The act you're about to see is exactly as you would have seen it a hundred years ago in vaudeville. This is the act that made people believe that mindreaders were real." I then proceeded to do a Q&A act. Afterwards a lady asked, "how long have you had your gift?" Similarly, in the show before a woman asked, "what should my son do? He's just graduated and has no clear direction." Regardless of what I say, some people believe what they see and hear during the act, not the disclaimer that precedes it. If 75% of what we perceive is non-verbal, a simple verbal disclaimer might not be effective if it's followed by twenty minutes of convincing mindreading. Of course I don't want to encourage people to bring their questions to psychics and other frauds. God, the ultimate authority, answers truthfully and free of charge.

Regarding Q&A I could avoid questions and just feed back information (I usually feed back info. as well as answer questions) but even avoiding questions doesn't set aside the fact that my desire is "to impress the applicant with (my) mysterious resources and powers". I wish I could guarantee that people only allowed themselves to believe those powers for the duration of the show, that they'd recognize I'm an actor.

I have more to say on the subject but must get back to work now. Later.

-Mike
Message: Posted by: jamiedoyle (May 23, 2012 01:06PM)
You might try to connect with Richard Osterlind and see what he has to say about it:
http://www.richardosterlind.com his e-mail and a number are available at his site. If you were to e-mail him your above post, I would be curious as to his repsonse and perhaps it's something that could be re-posted here with his permission.

Although he doesn't perform a Christian or Gospel message during his act, He is a professing Christian.
Message: Posted by: tboehnlein (May 23, 2012 01:11PM)
Mike do not do a disclaimer and if you feel like you must do it at the end of the program. When I do my mentalism act with a message I do no disclaimer. My act is based around the decisions that we make so as I deliver the message and the effect it removes the supernatural aspect of the performance w/o hopefully reducing the impact. Funny though I did a card effect for someone at work yesterday and they called me a witch.WOW!
Message: Posted by: Ed_Millis (May 23, 2012 04:49PM)
You are a Christian, and you are an entertainer performing a mentalist show. They are two separate issues, though they do intersect.

You don't say anything about your Christian experience. There are those who wear that name like a sticky tag handed out at meetings, the kind that always falls off at inconvenient times. Then there are those who hold Jesus and the life they have in Him so dear that without hesitation they would walk away from anything and everything that comes in between their heart and Jesus.

Because that's really where the issue lies - you and Him. We live and move in a world that at best is ambivelant towards Jesus, counting Him as not worthy of any notice, and at worst hates, despises, and actively seeks to tear down anything and anyone associated with Him. And it's into this world we venture every day to earn our keep. The devil is an Accuser, certainly of the brethren, but first and foremost of God. And he has crafted this world's systems and thoughts to assault your faith and honoring of Jesus at every turn.

Do you really love Him? Do you really live your life for Him? Will you misrepresent Him for a mere piece of silver? If He asked you to give up entertaining and go sweep halls in a high school, would you do it? Would you do it on your own if you thought entertaining was going to cause you to drift away from Him? These are at the same time both accusations from the depths of hell, meant to twist your mind and shipwreck your faith, and they are honest questions every lover of God asks himself, because we want our love to be pure.

Because we interact with the world's successful people to exchange chunks of our life for our necessary bread, we will never be entirely free from the incessant pounding of the lies and accusations against Jesus and all He is. (Even in a monastery, no one is free from the devils within!) And so it comes back to you and Him.

We can tell you what we've decided. But only Jesus can tell you how He feels about the path you're on. Your misgivings could be the promptings of the Spirit to take a second and third look at your chosen path. Or they could just be the dogs of hell incessently barking.

So your answer will only be found through long, intense, private talks with Him. If you won't do that, you probably have at least half your answer. And if you will do that, then you probably have almost all your answer. :8>)

Ed
Message: Posted by: Mike Ince (May 24, 2012 06:50PM)
I understand and appreciate the replies here. My disclaimer occurs 3/4 into my show and is worded almost exactly as you read. Not only does it make my position verbally clear but it sets up anticipation for the Q&A effect. "What will he show us that was so convincing 100 years ago? Will it seem convincing to me?"

I'm asking Y'shua about it; who else? But I also value what I learn from others who have trodden the same path - in listening to God I find answers in prayer, Scripture and other believers. If there isn't any enlightening help to be had here, at least you, my friends and acquaintances, know what to pray for. We're not on this planet to confuse people but to love people, to be truthful and when possible, to pass on the most important message ever uttered by human lips. Not that we pass on that message to prove worthiness before the holy God. So you know what my understanding is, before Him we're all hopeless unless we have a perfect offering to pay for the crimes we've committed against Him alone. I know which One made that offering and I come to Him with empty hands. Now that I follow Y'shua ("Jesus") I don't want to knowingly practice something He hates, i.e., something that doesn't point to God and that can hurt people greatly. I think mentalism can inadvertently help people to believe and rely on lies for guidance. I'm not sure right now there's a way to perform it that circumvents the gullible and easily-confused human soul. We're all gullible and blind apart from God's revelation and apart from the faculties He gives us.

Something no one in this thread has commented on yet is whether trying to impress people with power is something all magicians do, and whether that in itself is evidence of our wanting to live without God, to live apart from acknowledging that He is the source of all true power? What sort of ego wants to trick people in order to be perceived as a powerful person? These are questions in my mind and it seems right to face them now.

Revelation chapter 22 makes me question my motives and my practices as a magician, especially verses like, "Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying." I've excused myself from the definition of "sorcerer" a long time without looking in depth at what exactly the word means? It's easy to say, "Oh, that only applies to those who claim they have contact with spirits" or "I just do it for entertainment; that's different" (even though the people being entertained may walk away fully believing you have supernatural power). If it's about entertainment, why not entertain as a singer, an actor, a dancer or a storyteller?

I may walk away from all forms of magic, Ed. Before I do I want to be sure I'm not just deceived. I'd hate to throw away twenty-four years of learning and practice.

Mike
Message: Posted by: MagicBus (May 25, 2012 12:52PM)
Hi Mike: I'm hoping my "answer" is ok- I post all the time on The Magic Café' in a variety of different areas- that simple activity alone is a form of recreation/relaxation/enjoyment for me personally. The majority of my daily office time is spent slaving over a keyboard, so this forum helps me from going insane as here I can "interact" with other interesting folks. So you should be aware of that, I am not an expert in any of the areas where I post my two cents worth here on TMC. I see "conjuring" as no different than being a piano player for Christ.

Anyway, here's what I came up with (and their may be an entirely different answer for you).

It occured to me some time back that many of my "tricks" involved INCREDIBLE PREDICTIONS -what card were you thinking of, the object selected matched prediction, the chosen "random" numbers all add up to my prior prediction, etc. So I have decided for this summer at least for the programs I do to have this as my "theme"- Incredible Predictions! After going through the various strongest "prediction" effects I have collected over the years, I intend to point out of course that these predictions were made through conjuring or manmade means, not by any special powers.

However, then I use this same "theme" as a springboard to briefly discuss before my closing effect (which is a Gospel magic effect with my personal testimony) of how CHRIST amazingly fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies made about Him hundreds of years before His coming. This not only validates Him as the Messiah, it also validates the incredible Truth of the Bible.

The mathematical probabilities of Christ fulfilling all these OT prophecies boggles the mind- just Google "Professor Peter Stoner" and his "Applying the Science of Probability to the Scriptures"- it is incredible to report through these articles to the listening audience even one of the many amazing mathmatical figures Dr. Stoner worked out.

Then I intend to specifically mention just a few of prophecies fulfilled by Jesus. For a brief, concise review of some of these "incredible predictions fulfilled", go to any Christian bookstore and purchase the little full color pamplet "100 Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus" published by Rose Publishing- sells for about $3.99 http://www.rose-publishing.com

So in my view, it is always wonderful through one's craft to bring Glory to God and His Son through the review of His amazing testimony of His Word. That is what I want to do in every program- bring glory to God while hopefully providing some fun entertainment as well. Search for your own theme (or feel free to use the above idea if you think you can use any part of it)- what we do (conjuring) is not sorcery, etc.. See the http://www.fcm.org web site for more information on topic.
Message: Posted by: MagicBus (May 25, 2012 02:13PM)
FYI: The above pamplet "100 Prophesies Fulfilled By Jesus" is available at http://www.cbd.com for $3.49.
Message: Posted by: Ed_Millis (May 25, 2012 07:49PM)
I fully understand your position and turmoil, Mike. As a goofy kids and family entertainer, I have much less of that. But I do have some mental effects, and I've seen what they can do to people.

The basc gist of my pervious comments is: if you care enough to search your soul this deeply, then you are probably in a good place. I cannot see God letting someone who is really seeking run off the road through the guard rail!

As far as other people - well, I don't know that you can do anything about what they will believe. If they come to a show that is advertised as entertainment, and during that show you make a point of it being only entertainment, but they choose to believe otherwise, I don't know that you should feel the weight of that all on your shoulders.

John 8:43 - "Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My Word." Their hearts are tuned to the world and to hell. If it wasn't your show, it would be the horoscope in the newspaper or the Nostradamos article in the tabloid. That's what they *want* to believe. And they would believe it even if you were a goofy kids birthday party guy.

So -- where do we stand? That's a question that can be answered only between you and Him. You are obviously very aware of your influence on people. Does He have you where you are to incite this in people so they come to you to have the lie judged and the truth proclaimed? Or is He calling you to a more sacred use of your influence?

I do know He is a God of clarity and reasoning, and not of confusion. He's also a God of the individual walk. I have very little experience with magic and Christainity in conflict in performance. I did magic a couple times in our children's ministry almost 20 years ago and my little daughter answered the altar call. Today, though, I do not perform for any church of any kind - it's what He has given me as my path. And I often find explaining why is an annointed conversation for those who are willing to receive it. The rest think I'm nuts and are mad because I told them no.

In my estimation, if you can't resolve this one way or the other with the sweet peace and illumination of the Holy Spirit overriding all uncertainty within a few days at most, then you are simply being harrassed and accused by hell. Jesus corrects us, and has no hesitation asking us to walk away from 24 years of anything. But He is clear. If I'm waffling because I'm fighting against the Spirit, I always know exactly where I am disobedient.

Col 3:15 - Amplified - "Let the peace of Christ act as umpire in your heart deciding and settling with finality all question in your mind."

Ed
Message: Posted by: BenjaminMan (May 27, 2012 12:09AM)
Why would you even want them to believe it for the duration of the show?
Wouldn't that just be flirting with evil, and dangerous?

Shouldn't the idea be that it is not powers, but mysterious secrets that make it work?
And shouldn't that be made clear at the beginning?

I like to think of good magic, or mentalism, as being about a secret, not about even pretending to deceive people into believing that I have powers.
Message: Posted by: Mike Ince (May 27, 2012 02:02AM)
Ed, thank you for your thoughtful response. I'm not ready to comment on it much yet but I'm rereading it.

Benjamin, what I mean by believing for the duration of the show is what others call "suspension of disbelief". Let me make my case for a moment.

I experienced suspension of disbelief as an audience member today when I went to the movies. Using my language, the moviegoers seated around me allowed themselves to believe in the world that "Men In Black III" presented. They believed that aliens walk among us FOR THE DURATION of the movie. They wanted to believe in that world. After they stepped out of the theater, unless they were mentally impaired, they did not expect to see aliens in the lobby. That's because they already understood that movies are usually fictitious. Our culture expects and accepts that. What I've wanted to do is to make the rules just as clear for my mental performances as well.

If you show a family audience Walter Blaney's ladder suspension they'll know the girl isn't really floating (unless they're of that particular group that isn't used to testing for deception, the kind that assumes magic is real, supernatural and demonic). Normal audiences may not be able to piece together the method but they know it isn't real. The closer you get to convincing them it's real the more they'll respond with amazement. Pass a hoop to prove there aren't wires and what are you doing? You're trying to prove under test conditions that what's happening is real. You're trying to kill doubt in their minds so they can experience wonder.

In that case isn't the performer proving his silent claims of power, in this case the power to levitate things? Either that or he's trying to prove silent claims that there might be a mysterious power suspending the girl in midair, even if it's a power that he himself doesn't understand? How acceptable to an audience would it be for the guy who's obviously making the magic happen to claim he doesn't understand how it's happening, that it's a mystery? They know the suspension only happens when the magician's around. They know he's making it happen. His claims to power or secret knowledge are implicit, whether spoken or not, and are designed to impress the audience with the source of power, whatever or whoever he claims that source to be.

Instead of a suspension, if you were to show that same family audience a Tossed-Out-Deck routine and you were to perform it well they'd wonder if it were possible to read someone's body language or to read their mind to discover what they're thinking.

If you watch a mentalist with a psychological subtext perform you'll still find that the strongest stuff makes spectators wonder if it's possible, if it might be real. I had a hard time comprehending at first why the mental items in my magic shows always garnered a stronger and more stunned reaction. It was because those items were believable to intelligent adults. I never claimed psychic ability and I thought made it almost too clear that I didn't believe in psychics. I also made it clear I didn't believe in astrology but had learned a secret to guessing zodiac signs, then I'd immediately tell someone their zodiac sign (another mixed message?). I thought it was cool, I liked how believable it seemed and hoped they'd walk away thinking, "well, that sure felt real but it apparently wasn't. Man, what is real?" I'd hoped they would empty their cup in that way so that God could fill it with His answer. Still I rarely performed the zodiac sign divination because as cool and propless as it was I found it just too strong and I was afraid its strength would overshadow any kind of disclaimer or truth statement I made about astrology.

More commonly I might ask you to think of a word and to say it in your mind. As you silently say it I look at your face as if I'm reading your face to discover your thought. People often think they moved their mouths or gave it away somehow. They believe in that non-psychic process. Some still believe it's psychic regardless of how I play it. Every once in a while when I perform something simple like a peek to tell someone the name of their favorite pet or first crush, a Christian friend will look worried and say, "are you sure there isn't anything spiritual going on there?" (i.e., am I sure demons aren't whispering the name in my ear the name?, etc.). I always say something like, "yes, I'm sure... I'm not psychic and I don't have supernatural gifts. I'm a kind of a magician, a deceiver but I'm an honest deceiver because I'm telling you up front. I know exactly how I'm doing it and if you also knew I promise you'd be disappointed."

It's late. Now I'm just rambling. Time for bed. Thanks.
Message: Posted by: JohnWells (May 27, 2012 04:55AM)
I have learned something over many years in counseling type situations and the psychic side of the table: people will listen to a reader who will not listen to a pastor. As a psychic, I have no agenda. Personal crises are not opportunities to peddle the Gospel, nor are my clients prospects for "soul winnin'". Why do your audiences come to you for answers rather than a pastor? I'd try to figure that out. And, to answer your question: No one wants to see a fake psychic. If you do a q and a act, people will want readings. If you don't want them to want readings, don't do a q and a act.
Message: Posted by: Mike Ince (May 27, 2012 09:35AM)
John, even if the Q&A act doesn't involve Q's? I.e., feeding back information without answering any questions?
Message: Posted by: JohnWells (May 27, 2012 10:45AM)
A qualified yes.I suppose if you do it so badly thaty it's obviously a "how did he see what I wrote" game, maybe not, but any display of apparent, even openly fraudulent, mindreading will be accepted as real by some, and they will want answers that they think you can provide.
Message: Posted by: BenjaminMan (May 27, 2012 12:11PM)
Mike,
my problem is not with suspension of disbelief in body language/mysetry/ intuition,
my problem is with suspension of disbelief which involves suggesting the ideas of supernatural powers.

For example, even though I think Thurston's audience probably knew that he wasn't using demonic powers in his act,
I still don't like that he had posters flirting with the concept of demonic behavior, (given the "appearance of evil" issue.)
As long as,
A.) It is suspension of disbelief
and
B.) The suspension of disbelief isn't even pointing to demonic powers,
it wouldn't bother me that much.

Still, I think we should even watch out what the suspension of disbelief is about.

Does that make sense?
Message: Posted by: GaryLee (May 27, 2012 03:03PM)
My opinion shouldn`t matter much, but I think anytime one needs to make a disclaimer about their Gospel magic show they might want to re-evaluate what their main purpose of their show is. I'm a firm believer that our show should be formulated and presented to entertain our audience, but since we are witnessing for Christ, shouldn't our show also reflect our faith and obedience in God? Jesus never needed to give a disclaimer because He never needed to fool people first before they would listen to His message. Although He never needed to entertain them either, (He was concerned about more important issues such as the need for them to eat), there is nothing wrong with using our talents and skills to lift up the name of Jesus Christ, for His glory, and for His honour.

Witnessing for Christ is 24/7, even when we are being disobedient towards God's Word. What kind of witness are we though? I know for myself, I have not always been a very good witness. I can remember more times being disobedient than obedient, and I can honestly say that sometimes in my past I have hidden my faith in God so other wouldn't see how bad of a christian I was, or how much of a hyprocrite I was. Then, I finally understood justification by sanctification, and realized that God will never be able to love me more than He already does. Nothing I can do will ever increase the love He has for me. It's not that I was trying to earn His favour, but felt guilty of not being more obedient towards my loving God I professed to worship, who saved a wretch like me. I professed to love God, but my actions sometimes proved otherwise. If I really love God, I will do my best to please Him. Not to earn favour, because I have already earned that. But, because if I profess to love God then I need to show it through my actions. Not just towards others, but towards God. Behind every action is a motive. I try to ask myself when I can, what would be the motive behind my action. This usually makes clear to me what I am doing, and whom I am doing it for.
Message: Posted by: REV BILL (May 27, 2012 03:20PM)
Hi Mike, If it is any help, here is what I do. During the welcome and warm up I tell all that I have no supernatural powers. Everything you see tonight is an illusion. I have learned how to use my 5 senses to create the illusion of having a 6th. I do a lot of comedy mentalism (good "how did he do that" effects)but still light hearted. My last 2 effects are hard hitting WOW closers done straight.Before I have done anything there is a disclaimer in the program with a short word of being in the Christian ministry and do not associate with any "darkness" and that the evening is for your entertainment. If I am ministering at a church, I elaborate that I do not have any powers. But if I can fool you with parlor tricks and no power, how much MORE can Satan deceive you that does have supernatural power. I am doing it to entertain you,he is doing it to destroy you.I cannot read your mind, but God can...(I give quote scripture here)and go as the Lord leads or give an invitation.
Message: Posted by: KENNYRB (May 28, 2012 05:46PM)
Hey Mike. I would love to sit down and talk through this with you. It's been too long since we hung out anyway. PM me and lets get together. Kenneth
Message: Posted by: Terry Holley (Jun 1, 2012 09:35PM)
Although many mentalists do not feel disclaimers are needed or appropriate, I have used one for over 40 years. I simply feel more comfortable giving one and have not felt as if it detracts from the entertainment value of my show. I am looking to entertain, not convince. It is shared prior to my show and basically goes like this:

Although I claim no supernatural powers or help from any supernatural agencies, and although I want to make it clear from the beginning that everything I perform on stage is done by purely natural means, once I begin my performance I will assume the role of a psychic and attempt to convince you that I do in fact have an unusual power.

Works for me!

Terry
Message: Posted by: Terry Holley (Jun 2, 2012 01:25PM)
[quote]
On 2012-05-24 19:50, Mike Ince wrote:

I've excused myself from the definition of "sorcerer" a long time without looking in depth at what exactly the word means?

Mike
[/quote]

Check this link out: http://www.andrekoleministry.com/Magic_and_the_Bible.pdf

Terry
Message: Posted by: mralincoln (Jun 4, 2012 01:47AM)
Great link, Terry! I had the opportunity to see Andre Kole perform a few years ago on a local college campus! What a memorable experience!

I also appreciated your insight, as a performer, on the disclaimer issue. I, too, believe a disclaimer is appropriate. In fact, for a Christian entertainer, I think it's important, especiially when it comes to mentalism.

I am looking at this from the perspective of a Christian, a pastor, and a Bible college professor, and a Gospel magician who loves the art of mentalism! Biblically, IMHO, I believe it is unethical for mentalists to present their entertainment as anything but entertainment, even if it is by their silence. A disclaimer is simply a way to be upright and honest with your spectators. (Isn't that what Christians are supposed to be?)
Message: Posted by: Preacherman (Jun 4, 2012 08:29AM)
Thanks for the link, Terry.

I don't think that we can seperate our "faith" from our pastime or our profession. Too many are of the mindset that faith and life are to be seperated. Scripture says whatever you do, do it for the Lord.

I sometimes use illusions as object lessons during sermons, they are very good for getting across Biblical truths.

I think we are living in a world that is very spiritually aware. Whether these are the end times or not is a discussion that I don't want to start here, but there are lots of people looking for lots of spiritual answers - and not necessarily from the Bible or from God.

JD
Message: Posted by: CarlEJones (Jun 18, 2012 05:39PM)
Wow -- a lot of good but long responses. Didn't have time to read all of them since I am at a series of traffic stops. But -- it seems to me, simply put, that we have very little to fret over if we, as I do, assume the role of an actor playing the part of a mentalist or magician.

My father-in-law, a CONSERVATIVE pastor of 55 years and 2 brother-in-laws who are pastors, see me as using theatrics to make a point after I have gotten their attention with my show and tricks.

Hope this is of use....got a green light, gotta gooooooo.
Message: Posted by: Magicus (Aug 2, 2012 08:41PM)
Reiterate your disclaimer at the very end... you can add something to the effect that the audience experienced "carefully crafted illusions of the mind that may have appeared to be exceptionally real. Like stage magic, this mentalism show relied on the art and science of theatrical performance and prestidigitation for your entertainment."
Message: Posted by: Mike Ince (Dec 11, 2012 09:48PM)
Though it's been several months since I made the original post, I still have uneasiness when it comes to performing. I am tired of wondering about this. Since the original temptation was to be like God, whether or not I should stand on stage and pretend to have godlike powers (regardless of whether a disclaimer is made) is still an important question. We say we only do it to entertain, but... why do people find it entertaining? What part of them does magic tickle? Doesn't the performance of magic arouse in them a desire, a fantasy to actually do what we pretend to do, i.e., to do impossible things, to pass through walls, to vanish and reappear elsewhere, or in my case to know things about others by reading their thoughts as only the Spirit of God can? Of course they know it isn't real. But is it sinful of them to wish it were?
I believe God's chosen will all have new bodies like Christ now has, likely able to do things currently impossible. I'd hate to miss out on those abilities because I was content instead to fake them for insignificant applause.
Are people entertained because we help them believe it might be possible to have God's powers for ourselves apart from His will?
I ask myself if I'm compelled to perform magic/mentalism to gain admiration for something only God can rightfully be admired for? When people have a real ability, singing for example, I think it's good to have admiration for both God's handiwork and their self-discipline.
The Bible condemns strongly any practice that consults an oracle or system for gaining knowledge beyond that which God chooses to disclose. What about those who pretend to have such knowledge by supernatural means? So what if they scream beforehand, THIS AIN'T REAL? Why is it entertaining?
Sorry I have difficulty being succinct. The passage in Revelation about sorcerers being d@mn3d makes me want to be sure what sorcery means and what its root sin is. I'm not hanging my hat on this whole article yet, but it needs to be examined: http://intothelight.org/witchcraft-sorcery.asp Any comments as to how it applies to our hearts and motives?
Message: Posted by: Ed_Millis (Dec 11, 2012 11:21PM)
I think it's all entertaining, at least in part, because most lives are boring and our entertainment gives them a way to believe - just for a moment - that life is other than what it seems.

I'm speaking strictly about the entertainment, not about "reading" or any other such thing. To stand in front of others and reiterate that you are showing them things that are not and can not be real - but if they were, they'd look like this - is to give them a momentary escape. It's no different than a good book or a movie, except that it is more personal and involving. But in the end, it is only entertainment.

How you as a Christian deal with being on the receiving end of the applause is up to you. Whehter we're doing straight magic tricks or deep mentalism, we're going to evoke the same reactions in others - "That's impossible!" I even get that during a kid's birthday party! But that's what we do - we make the impossible come to life in front of them. "No, ma'am - it's not real magic - it is a trick. If you'd like to know how it's done, I'll order you one of your own and it will come with the secret instructions. It's only $789.95 - plus shipping and handling."

Ed
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Dec 12, 2012 07:17AM)
Mike,

I believe that as long as you give the disclaimer that you, and others, have described here, you are just fine.

Let's face it...no matter what you do, there will ALWAYS be people who believe the stories in the National Enquirer.

Just sayin'!
Message: Posted by: tboehnlein (Dec 12, 2012 12:10PM)
"Any comments as to how it applies to our hearts and motives"

I think this is the key God knows your heart and he knows your motive move forward from there. As I have said before I use no disclaimer , my message is clear and I do not state at any time that I have supernatural powers, I have never been questioned.
Message: Posted by: Terry Holley (Dec 13, 2012 05:30PM)
Well, Mike, I still feel the following article should answer your questions:

http://www.andrekoleministry.com/Magic_and_the_Bible.pdf

For me it's only entertainment, but you can only do what you feel the Lord wants you to do! The tenor of the article you shared the link to would make me think that the writers would encourage you to burn all your effects. Should you decide to trash them, please realize that I will take them off your hands and use them in my presentations in very positive ways.

Terry
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Dec 13, 2012 07:01PM)
[quote]
On 2012-12-13 18:30, Terry Holley wrote:
Well, Mike, I still feel the following article should answer your questions:

http://www.andrekoleministry.com/Magic_and_the_Bible.pdf

For me it's only entertainment, but you can only do what you feel the Lord wants you to do! The tenor of the article you shared the link to would make me think that the writers would encourage you to burn all your effects. Should you decide to trash them, please realize that I will take them off your hands and use them in my presentations in very positive ways.

Terry
[/quote]


Terry and I will split 'em! ;)
Message: Posted by: Mike Ince (Dec 14, 2012 02:36PM)
If I decide that my books are evil, Acts 19:19 has set a precedent I should follow. It would hurt to burn some of those rare books, but if they're eventually going to burn anyway...

So, is it wrong to want powers in this life that currently only God has? Does that betray a deeply-help desire we have to be God or at least to attempt to be, instead of trusting Him to exercise his power and will for us as He sees fit? If so, it may also be sinful to watch Superman movies.

Or do desires for power reveal something else about us, something good? I watched the new Superman trailer with a friend earlier and had a short discussion with him about what's been on my mind. Power, I thought to myself as I watched, isn't bad or good; it's what you choose to do with it that matters. I'm not sure that applies to my performance conundrum, though, since I don't have any power or senses past what God allows. "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God." 1 Corinthians 2:11 (NAS)
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Dec 14, 2012 03:09PM)
Mike,

It seems that you might be suffering from what we in the Catholic Church call SCRUPULOSITY, or a deep, almost unnatural, focus on the minutiae of what is sinful.

While it is good to be aware of what is sin, it is not good to focus so deeply on it that virtually EVERYTHING becomes sin.

This, in itself, can become sin if it veers in to extreme lack of trust in God.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Put your deep trust in the Lord, and He will lead you into righteousness.
Message: Posted by: Terry Holley (Dec 14, 2012 04:31PM)
[quote]
On 2012-12-14 15:36, Mike Ince wrote:
If I decide that my books are evil, Acts 19:19 has set a precedent I should follow. It would hurt to burn some of those rare books, but if they're eventually going to burn anyway...

So, is it wrong to want powers in this life that currently only God has? Does that betray a deeply-help desire we have to be God or at least to attempt to be, instead of trusting Him to exercise his power and will for us as He sees fit? If so, it may also be sinful to watch Superman movies.

Or do desires for power reveal something else about us, something good? I watched the new Superman trailer with a friend earlier and had a short discussion with him about what's been on my mind. Power, I thought to myself as I watched, isn't bad or good; it's what you choose to do with it that matters. I'm not sure that applies to my performance conundrum, though, since I don't have any power or senses past what God allows. "For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God." 1 Corinthians 2:11 (NAS)
[/quote]

Hi Mike:

Did you ever read the link I posted here to Andre' Kole's article on "Magic and the Bible"? I ask this because I was Andre's Director of Research and did quite a bit of research on the topics of the supernatural, the paranormal, psychic phenomena, etc, etc as we worked on our book titled "Astrology and Psychic Phenomena".

Not to be rude, but I'm pretty confident that the books that were burned in Acts 19:19 were not first century Tarbell courses. although I do beleive all the magicians mentioned in the Bible used purely human methods to accomplich their so-called wonders. I deal with this in the aforementioned book.

It's all about how you perform. If you use your magic tricks in an attempt to convince others that you have psychic abilities that every body possesses, demonic powers OR God-given supernatural gifts of the Spirit, I concur that you are dishonoring God. To me it's all about what you are trying to portray.

I'm not sure that I can offer any more thoughts on the subject.

Terry
Message: Posted by: Mike Ince (Dec 14, 2012 10:05PM)
I did read the article you linked to, Terry. I've just read it again. As a magician I'd feel reassured. As a mentalist/mental magician I'm not completely comforted. You wrote of Nebuchadnezzar's sorcerers:

"These men were using natural means to promote the belief that they truly had supernatural powers..." This is something I've long worried about in my own shows.

One strong effect I really like (but have rarely done out of worry) is to tell three strangers in the audience their zodiac signs. Just flat out telling them without using a PA like "What's Your Sign?" and without information gathering ahead of time. It feels real because there's no visible compromise. I thought it was so cool when I learned it! When I saw one professing Christian do a similar effect he said, "Some people read their horoscopes every day. I don't really believe in all that..." then he proceeded to tell several participants their zodiac signs. Their mouths hung open. Gobsmacked! It came across, at least to me, as if he was saying, "I don't believe you can tell people's zodiac signs by their behavior, that is, I don't believe our zodiac signs define us, I think that's a bunch of garbage... but let me show you some convincing evidence to the contrary." The message seems contradictory. It seemed he was just saying he didn't believe in it to feel better about doing the demonstration. Without any visible compromise, seemingly with no way of gaining the information, the audience was left with their answer: telling those three people their signs might have been real; there may be something to astrology. It would be too easy for the uninformed to believe that.

When I did the trick, I framed it as telepathy. "Repeat the sign over and over again in your mind... Taurus... Taurus... Taurus... is that it? Taurus? Thank you." I acted as if I could hear them saying it in their mind. That's my usual process I show while reading simple thoughts.

Let's say I revealed a non-mystical piece of information like the name of a first crush. Now, although earlier in the show or later I might disclaim it, the mindreading appears so genuine and straightforward that some people believe the mindreading instead of the disclaimer. Most guys tell me, "if they believe despite your disclaimer, that's on them, not you." Is it? I'm the one that did such a convincing illusion. Should I blame them for falling for it? Who can blame them? It was supposed to be believable. When choosing a piece that's how I know it makes the grade.

I even read about magicians who wondered when they first saw Derren Brown if what he was doing was real. Remember that a smart guy like Arthur Conan Doyle never should have believed that Houdini could de-materialize, but that's exactly how he thought Houdini passed through walls and escaped chains. Modern audiences are full of educated people who are gullible enough to believe in psychics as well as in Richard Dawkins' arguments.

Imagine if Elijah had said, "Baal is an idol; he doesn't exist. But let me show you something," before proceeding to throw his voice like a ventriloquist to make it appear that an idol was speaking. "Now, I won't tell you how that happened," he could continue, "but none of that was real. See, you shouldn't believe in Baal." What a weird thing to do. What a mixed message to send. (Of course that's NOT AT ALL what Elijah did. He watched God perform a miracle then led the slaughter of the false priests of Baal. Don't worry - I'm not assuming to follow that example.)

(Guys who do sleight-of-hand magic have less to worry about in regard to mixed messages. I don't like sleight-of-hand anymore, though. After 20 years I'm tired of traditional magic and don't plan on ever using it outside conversations with magicians.)

I love the 'Whitestar" effect that uses photographs of people as a living/dead OOTW effect. The spectator unknowingly separates the piles of living and dead pictures. Now that I think about it, that smacks of necromancy. What if the audience knows it's only PRETEND necromancy. So what? If God detests necromancy then isn't it an ugly thing to entertain with? But I didn't find it ugly when Derren Brown started the craze with his similar effect. I loved it. I loved how believable and strong it was and I admired the creativity using photos instead of cards.

A seminary student here in Fort Worth, on her first day of class, introduced herself by stating her name and saying, "I will not be entertained by the things that nailed my Savior to the cross." I assume she was speaking about sex, violence, cursing, etc. I wonder if some of the effects we do for "entertainment" are detestable to God in concept.

I tried to find a way to perform the zodiac effect in my shows while somehow giving glory to God. But simply saying, "this isn't real" before non-verbally claiming, "this is very real" by performance... this doesn't work for me. Likewise, doing a strong show (the only kind worth doing) and following it with "none of this was real, only God has the power to know your thoughts"... if the show (the non-verbal claim) is strong, it's a conflicting message.

Thank you for your thoughts. Please pray for me. I can be hard-headed but I do want to honor God and perform with confidence, if at all. I have to work this out soon. I have a gig scheduled in one week.

-Mike
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Dec 14, 2012 10:33PM)
You will be added to my prayers, Mike.

Please think about what I said about scrupulosity, though. The more I read your posts, the more I think this is where you are at.

I tend to think that you are over-thinking things. It is a rare person who TRULY believes that what we as magical entertainers do is real. As long as you don't present it as "I am a real psychic with real powers", I think you are okay.

If you continue to over-think this, one of several things will happen:

1. You will end up quitting all things magical out of extreme fear and guilt
2. You will so over-emphasize your disclaimer that your performances will become dull and boring.
3. You will continue performing, but drive yourself mad with worry and guilt...thus ruining your performances.
4. You will seek a confessor, work through the issues of scrupulosity, and become an even better entertainer than you are now.

I personally, hope you end up at number 4!

God's blessing on you, my friend. Seek a trusted Christian as a mentor and confessor. Realize that what we do is simply entertainment. Then go out and knock their socks off!
Message: Posted by: Vlad_77 (Dec 15, 2012 07:04AM)
Hi Mike,

There are many wonderful responses that are advising you that what you are doing is not evil. I believe that God is speaking to you through these people.

Mike Maturen's responses are the closest to mine given that his church and mine were once one and the same. St. John Chrysostom, considered by both Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians as being one of the most important figures of the early of the Church. St. John and other contemporary Christians had warned against ALL forms of entertainment and this included secular music, any theatrical productions, juggling, you name it - but it was not expressly forbidden. But the Christian church - which at the time was the Catholic Church (not to be confused with Roman Catholic) studied Scripture closely and concluded that there is a difference between sorcery and magic as entertainment. Sorcery was and still is considered an evil practice for evil gains and to portray essentially the powers of a false god. Performance magic on the other hand is a means of entertainment. When I converted to Orthodoxy, my priest and the Archbishop of the diocese consulted canon law which based FIRMLY on Scripture and Holy Tradition handed down directly fron Christ to His Apostles and so on. During my period as a catechumen, I was not allowed to perform magic until the Archbishop and my priest had thoroughly researched. My priest had told me that if canon law had in fact forbidden performing magic, I would have to give it up. I am human as are you Mike, and I felt that same struggle. But, I knew within my heart that of course I would choose God over magic for we are to love God above all things. Canon law clearly states that one's INTENT is what is important. If you are performing for the reason to offer entertainment and you assure your audiences that what you do is done my natural means then you are not committing an evil act.

Your disclaimer clearly states that Mike. Moreover, it is not your fault if despite your clearly worded disclaimer some people still choose to believe that your magic and mentalism is accomplished by supernatural means. Rather Mike, these people need to seriously pray to our loving God for guidance. There is NO correlation between what we do and how people CHOOSE to believe what they see. You are taking on a cross that is not your to bear Mike. This is so very important to remember.

I will draw from a similar situation in classic rock music from The Beatles and The Moody Blues. Both bands had run into situations where some people believed that each band had some supernatural powers to heal and perform other miracles. In fact, the reason keyboardist Mike Pinder quit the Moody Blues was because he said that he was tired of people proclaiming them as some sort of messiahs. He noted that indeed they were just a rock and roll band. All four of The Beatles had commented that many times handicapped people were placed close by the stage such that The Beatles could touch them. All four had said that people would ask them to cure their loved ones! The Beatles remarked that it was heartbreaking to see these people and they tried to explain that they possessed no pwer to heal these folks. Now I ask you mike as a rational individual: were The Beatles and The Moody Blues responsible for the erroneous beliefs some of their audiences held? Mike, need I remind you that The Who actually wrote a timeless rock opera "Tommy" that dealt with this EXACT issue?

Another point to consider Mike: what do these people have in common beside the fact that they are males and magicians: Cyprian Murray, John Hamman, Roger Crosthwaite, Photius (Cafe member)? ALL are clergy! Father Roger is an Anglican priest, Cyprian Murray was a Roman Catholic priest, Brother John Hamman was a Roman Catholic monk in the Order of Saint Mary. Father Phoius is an Eastern Orthodox priest. In addition, on the Café, there are at least two other Roman Catholic priests and one other Eastern Orthodox priest. Now, ALL of these men went through seminary which is THOROUGH instruction. How many Protestant ministers are regular contributors here on The Café Mike? Do you think that all of these priests and ministers who have dedicated their lives to serving God would be doing magic and mentalism if it was against God's teachings? I am a Chanter in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Mike Maturen is very active in lay Roman Catholic ministry. There are Rabbis who are also magicians!

Mike, I cannot reiterate this enough: you are in no way responsible for people who CHOOSE to believe in sorcery. Remember my friend that one of the greatest gifts that God gave His children is the gift of FREE WILL. It is our CHOICE to accept God or to reject Him; God does not force Himself on us and you know this my friend. This applies as well to the people who despite your rational, logical disclaimer, CHOOSE to believe that you are something other than you are. God calls upon us to spread the Good News Mike, BUT, He does NOT expect us to have the capacity to change beliefs and certainly He does not want us to convert or change beliefs by force. Again, you know this intellectually, but you need to internalize it.

Do you have a gift? YES. You are an entertainer!! In my faith we believe that NOT using our gifts is an affront to God.

The turmoil you are feeling is because of your deep love for God and as such this turmoil strengthens yoir faith. Do not throw away the gifts that our loving God gave you. Do we toss away gifts and praise given to us by our Earthly parents? Of course we don't! We treasure them by friend.

Pray quietly and know that you are no sorcerer and you are not spreading any false messages and finally, while we are called to make disciples of all peoples, we are NOT responsible for the beliefs and actions of others.

+In Christ,
Vlad

PS: Joseph Gabriel is Eastern Orthodox Christian BTW as is Joe Stevens of Steven's Magic Emporium who is a personal CLOSE friend of an Orthodox priest with whom I was close and this man LOVES magic! Also, the priest of the parish where I converted is very old school HARDCORE Orthodox Christian and believe me Mike, this man would NOT allow magic or mentalism anywhere near him if he felt it was against God.
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Dec 15, 2012 09:03AM)
Amen, Vlad. You have said it all.

In addition to being active in lay Roman Catholic ministries, I was an ordained Anglican Priest, and before that a conservative/charismatic preacher.

Mike Ince, please join all of us in prayer as we lift you up to the Throne of Heaven that Almighty God would grant you peace.

Through the intercession of St. Don Bosco, patron Saint of magicians, may you be guided in your decision making by the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
Message: Posted by: Vlad_77 (Dec 15, 2012 03:50PM)
[quote]
On 2012-12-15 10:03, Mike Maturen wrote:
Amen, Vlad. You have said it all.

In addition to being active in lay Roman Catholic ministries, I was an ordained Anglican Priest, and before that a conservative/charismatic preacher.

Mike Ince, please join all of us in prayer as we lift you up to the Throne of Heaven that Almighty God would grant you peace.

Through the intercession of St. Don Bosco, patron Saint of magicians, may you be guided in your decision making by the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
[/quote]

Mike M,

Wow I hadn't known your were an Anglican priest! I knew you were a convert to Roman Catholicism from a PM discussion we had over a year ago. I'm curious, and please answer in PM if it makes you more comfortable. In the Orthodox Church, former Anglican and Roman Catholic priests can become Orthodox priests by investiture since Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism are viewed by the Orthodox church as having valid Holy Orders. I seem to recall that the Roman church has allowed married former Anglican priests to become priests in the Roman church. Have you considered it? You are already a priest sans collar. but I sense a priest in you :)

Mike I., I wanted to reassure you that my citing Orthodoxy was in no way an attempt to spread a message about Orthodoxy; we don't roll that way. :) It's just that my Christian experience has been in the two ancient churches. I cannot presume to speak from a Protestant perspectibve because I am not and never was a Protestant. My comment to Mike and our PM had to do with a post I made over a year ago asking if any Catholics, Orthodox, i.e, non-Protestant Christians are active here. The point is I have read many many posts by Protestant ministers here and I admire that you have shared your stories to all of your Christian sisters and brothers. Sorry to lecture (not really ;) ) but I rememeber something a priest once told me. I told him that I was frustrated that God sometimes just doesn't seem to "hear." Father John answered "when God seems the most silent is when He is listening VERY closely." God hears us all and at all times, but sometimes His silence speaks louder than St. Gabriel's trumpet.

You are in my prayers Mike I. (and everyone here as always).

+In Christ,
Vlad
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Dec 15, 2012 08:54PM)
Vlad: There is ONE exception to the "Pastoral Privilege" (the canon law that allows Anglican or Orthodox Priests to become Catholic and remain in the Priesthood), and that is that they cannot have previously been Catholic. This was done to avoid having Priests quit to get married, then be ordaine in an Anglican or Orthodox capacity, then try to return.

Plus, I was Catholic, then left the Church for Protestantism, which put me in schism with the Church. Schism is an impediment to Holy Orders.

Currently, my Bishop is in communication with the Holy Father to have me received as a Deacon (which is also a state of Holy Orders). Our Bishop has spent his previous 12 years in Rome as an interpreter of Canon Law for the Pope...so if anyone can get it done, he can.
Message: Posted by: Mike Ince (Dec 16, 2012 12:08AM)
Thanks Vlad, and to all whose prayers are offered. I wish you could see my performances. Look at a Q&A act online, Derren's "Oracle Act" from Evening of Wonders is a popular example, and you'll know more about my concerns. On my phone so must be brief. Lucky you. :)
Message: Posted by: Danny Kazam (Dec 17, 2012 10:10AM)
I can relate my friend. There are times when God speaks to our heart and to our conscience. Sometimes when we have to search for answers it's because God has already given us the answer, but we either haven't stopped to listen to Him, or we struggle to believe if it is from him. You don't need theology, you need to know and understand that regardless of all the excuses people may give you, they all come short to what God is telling you.

Let me give you an example. As A christian I turned down perfoming in a play because of the character I was to portray. The character used vulgar language and such that I could not consiencely play the role. Even though it was just entertainment, and everyone knew what I was doing was just acting, I did not feel comfortable acting like that. I didn't think it reflected God'd testimony in my life.

Some will say, that's just me, but God does say that we are not of this world. If we don't act or present ourselves any different than the next person, then what are we saying about our relationship with God? God gives me the freedom to do anything I want, so I shall, just as long as I can get rid of the guilty feeling first?

The excuses I hear here, as good as the intentions are, can also be used for a christian in the porn industry, or in the sex trade. They are just acting after all, so it must be okay, right?

I have a rule that I try to follow. If I am just acting like everybody else, then I am no different than anyone else, in my magic, entertainment, etc.

Mentalism is not magic per say. And, I do know several who make a carrer at it. You have to get them to suspend the belief for your show to be very good. If you present mentalism just as a magic trick, then it's just a magic trick. But, I don't know of a mentalist who would be willing to present it all as just magic tricks.

I'm not here to give you any advice, because I have my own struggles in life, but this quote has spoken to me on many occassions.

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:2
Message: Posted by: BenjaminMan (Dec 18, 2012 03:20AM)
Interesting. I have not really looked over the forums here in months, yet I come back just a
week or so after this conversation started back up.
My point is that even suspension of disbelief should not be with supernatural,
it could be with something mysterious, stunt-like,or science fiction.

I mean, we might watch a movie about aliens with powers that aren't real, but that isn't really "supernatural" in the spiritual sense.
But I wouldn't watch a fictional movie glorifying demonic activities, even if I know that the movie is fictional.
As I've said, it is about the "appearance of evil."
This is getting down to the issue of coveting, of flirting with the idea of sinning.

It is one thing to suspend disbelief to the idea that there is a very complex explanation,something unknown to many others, when in fact the explanation is simple,
and another to "pretend" to be working with demons, to put it rather bluntly. Do you ever enjoy pretending to be an atheist in order to show how interesting and exciting it would be to be an atheist? I hope not. I honestly think you should use a scientific suspension of disbelief, (and YES I know it is "only" SUSPENSION of disbelief, still,) a science-fiction/mysterious suspension of disbelief, or just leave the stuff altogether.

You know what Paul wrote, about being uncertain and not eating fruit if you think it might be bad.

Pray. Pray clearly. You are a servant of God. Be specific, if you should. Pray that He gives you exactly what you need. Ask Him to give you an unmistakably clear answer if He will, even if it is not the answer you want. Perhaps you are pushing against something He is telling you. Pray that He helps you to listen to Him.
Message: Posted by: Mike Ince (Dec 18, 2012 08:48PM)
I responded briefly through my phone earlier and lost the whole message. Basically, I spoke to a trusted friend who encouraged me to give a clear disclaimer and that should be enough. Sure, magicians have given me the same counsel but it's easier to accept from a non-magician. Magicians, no matter how well-meaning, are more likely to have opinions about performance that are tainted by their own desires. I know there are good ministers who perform magic, including great saints who have now passed on, but it's important to remember that they are my brothers. We have the same Father who bought us and we will each give an account to Him. I pray through no mediator, dead or alive, except the one mediator between God and Man (I've always preferred to dial direct). Likewise, no one's word holds weight like His do; yet it's imperative to listen to other believers, both within and without the magic community.

My character uses trickery, suggestion, a little body language reading, psychological mind games and of course sometimes I lie (but I tell them that up front so it's honest deception like any actor applies). Never, ever are psychic powers claimed, though some have misunderstood. As an afterthought, my older friend and mentor also reminded me that when the Lord performed miracles and cast out demons, some Pharisees claimed he accomplished his miracles by demons. Despite their misunderstanding, Christ continued to do his works. There may be something to that thought regarding our responsibility for the misunderstandings of others.

I might be even more careful about what I say - guys who tell me "don't use a disclaimer" mean well, but we'll all stand before God by ourselves and I'll choose what my conscience agrees with. At the moment, I feel okay about performing. I don't feel good about the sheer amount of time I've been devoting to what amounts to a self-supporting hobby but that's a discussion for another thread.

Mike
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Dec 18, 2012 09:10PM)
Sounds like maybe you have finally worked it out, Mike. Praise be to God!

St. Don Bosco, pray for him that Jesus would continue to guide and bless his entertainment ministry!
Message: Posted by: Terry Holley (Dec 18, 2012 11:17PM)
[quote]
On 2012-12-18 21:48, Mike Ince wrote:
I responded briefly through my phone earlier and lost the whole message. Basically, I spoke to a trusted friend who encouraged me to give a clear disclaimer and that should be enough. Sure, magicians have given me the same counsel but it's easier to accept from a non-magician.
Mike
[/quote]

Here's my post on this thread dated June 1!

"Although many mentalists do not feel disclaimers are needed or appropriate, I have used one for over 40 years. I simply feel more comfortable giving one and have not felt as if it detracts from the entertainment value of my show. I am looking to entertain, not convince. It is shared prior to my show and basically goes like this:

Although I claim no supernatural powers or help from any supernatural agencies, and although I want to make it clear from the beginning that everything I perform on stage is done by purely natural means, once I begin my performance I will assume the role of a psychic and attempt to convince you that I do in fact have an unusual power.

Works for me!"

Terry
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Dec 21, 2012 04:56PM)
Mike, I am impressed and blessed by your crossroads experience (Jeremiah 16:6) and by your thoughtful, prayerful search for wisdom and guidance from God.
Message: Posted by: DelMagic (Dec 21, 2012 09:45PM)
The example of Christ's works being misunderstood is a certainly apropos. The lives of the disciples in the book of Acts also report misunderstandings:
9 This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed,
10 said with a loud voice, "Stand up straight on your feet!" And he leaped and walked.
11 Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!"
12 And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker.
13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes.

3 But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.
4 So when the natives saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, "No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he has escaped the sea, yet justice does not allow to live."
5 But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.
6 However, they were expecting that he would swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But after they had looked for a long time and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god.

One thing I might suggest having nearby would be a magic dealer's catalog or book that teaches magic. Then you could explain how anyone with $19.95 + shipping and handling can learn to apparently read minds, predict the future, etc. Offering to the worried spectator a "giveaway" type effect of the kind found in cereal boxes or Cracker Jack may help them see the "trickery" behind the presentation.

And, I think we would all be driving nicer cars and living more stress-free if we could actually read minds, predict the future, bend people to our wills, etc.
Message: Posted by: Stephon Johnson (Feb 19, 2013 12:09PM)
I have read most responses. I have reasoned through most all of the thoughts presented at various times. However, I have never been able to get past the thought that first convicted me:
Why do we enjoy constructing and performing counterfeit miracles as entertainment? I started as a teen because it made me feel more powerful, I knew things the average person didn't know, and people were Amazed and impressed by what I could do...perhaps the only time that had ever happened. So doing magic has been more about how it makes ME feel about myself and the desire to be known and appreciated.
I have tried to justified of doing it for God's glory, and to witness to others. But all efforts have amounted tome "helping" God's magnificent word do its job, which isn't needed. And not just that, but I claim to be a follower of an ALL powerful God, and yet I represent Him with literally "Entertainment designed to mimic supernatural alteration of physical laws".
When I try to justify this as acting or playing a part, I think: "I serve a mighty God, who's Word when spoken does not return void! WHY would I want to waste time trying to construct'pretend miracles' when there are real miracles to be a part of in simply witnessing faithfully and being used to bring His elect into the Kingdom...literally seeing the dead brought to life?"
It reduces all my"tricks" to what they really are...tricks. that perspective makes them go back in the box in the closet, as I continue to wrestle with this in my own conscience.
May God bless all your own struggles and resolution with this. I do not claim to have the answer, and present my personal thoughts merely as input. Thanks for all your thoughts too! I am praying for you all and this thread.
Message: Posted by: Vlad_77 (Feb 19, 2013 04:28PM)
[quote]
On 2013-02-19 13:09, Stephon Johnson wrote:
I have read most responses. I have reasoned through most all of the thoughts presented at various times. However, I have never been able to get past the thought that first convicted me:
Why do we enjoy constructing and performing counterfeit miracles as entertainment? I started as a teen because it made me feel more powerful, I knew things the average person didn't know, and people were Amazed and impressed by what I could do...perhaps the only time that had ever happened. So doing magic has been more about how it makes ME feel about myself and the desire to be known and appreciated.
I have tried to justified of doing it for God's glory, and to witness to others. But all efforts have amounted tome "helping" God's magnificent word do its job, which isn't needed. And not just that, but I claim to be a follower of an ALL powerful God, and yet I represent Him with literally "Entertainment designed to mimic supernatural alteration of physical laws".
When I try to justify this as acting or playing a part, I think: "I serve a mighty God, who's Word when spoken does not return void! WHY would I want to waste time trying to construct'pretend miracles' when there are real miracles to be a part of in simply witnessing faithfully and being used to bring His elect into the Kingdom...literally seeing the dead brought to life?"
It reduces all my"tricks" to what they really are...tricks. that perspective makes them go back in the box in the closet, as I continue to wrestle with this in my own conscience.
May God bless all your own struggles and resolution with this. I do not claim to have the answer, and present my personal thoughts merely as input. Thanks for all your thoughts too! I am praying for you all and this thread.
[/quote]

Remember that God gave you the gifts that allow you to ne a magician. Yes of course what we do is not real magic and true miracles are all around us. As long as you look at your gift to do magic as a gift from God, you are fine. And Christianity teaches us to use those gifts; by using them we thank Him for them. Rather than feeling empowerment by magic, feel humility and thanks for the gift of being able to allow people to forget their troubles for a short time. In that sense you are giving a gift as well. Thank God for your talents and make some people smile and laugh and gasp inamazement. Let that joy into your heart and mind. :)

+In Christ,
Vlad
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Feb 20, 2013 11:20AM)
Stephon:

We could also apply your logic to preachers. God's all-powerful Word doesn't need our help, so why preach?

The answer is easy: God made us to be His hands and His feet here on earth to do His work amongst our fellow man.

Therefore, whether it is preaching, teaching or entertaining, WE are doing the work that God has set before us, gifted us and asked us to do.

As long as we don't present OURSELVES as God (I fear there are more preachers that do that than magicians), we are fine.

Mike
Message: Posted by: Stephon Johnson (Feb 20, 2013 01:13PM)
Mike,
Other than scripture instructs to preach, and states that God has chosen the "foolishness of preaching" as the primary means of spreading the Good News. Being gifted with certain abilities that magicians need (public speaking, personality, poise, dexterity, etc..) doesn't necessarily justify using them for magic. You could just as easily do open air preaching, or approach people with tracts, or one-on-one witnessing. Being good at something doesn't automatically qualify it as a God glorifying gift.
You can be awesome at something, and it be a totally perverse abomination to God. Even if you are convinced you are serving Him. History is replete with efforts in God's name which had little or nothing to do with Him at all. You can be sincere, and still be sincerely wrong. Thanks for your input and also Glad!
Message: Posted by: Stephon Johnson (Feb 20, 2013 02:01PM)
Sorry, that last line should have said "thanks for the input and also to Vlad"...not "Glad"...autocorrect strikes again.
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Feb 20, 2013 04:02PM)
[quote]
On 2013-02-20 15:01, Stephon Johnson wrote:
Sorry, that last line should have said "thanks for the input and also to Vlad"...not "Glad"...autocorrect strikes again.
[/quote]

We agree in that things that are an abomination unto God should NOT be used to promote God. But the art of magic is NOT an abomination unto God...unless you portray yourself as a "real" magician, or somehow receiving powers from spirits, etc.

It's really no different than a Christian comedian, singer, artist, etc.
Message: Posted by: Stephon Johnson (Feb 20, 2013 05:24PM)
Thanks Mike,
I will keep wrestling through and praying on this. I also plan to take counsel from my Pastor and Elders (who are also my close friends and brothers in Christ) and since they know nothing of my past interest; I will illustrate with an example trick or two.
Message: Posted by: Mike Maturen (Feb 20, 2013 09:11PM)
Always good to have pastoral counsel. May the Holy Spirit guide you, my friend.
Message: Posted by: J-L Sparrow (Mar 11, 2013 07:01PM)
Mike, I applaud you for using a disclaimer in your shows, and I encourage you to keep using it.

Lots of people have already voiced their opinions on the matter, and I must say that they're all very good. However, let me add my own views, as well:

The way I see it, there are three types of people who watch your shows:

1. Those who are convinced that your powers of mentalism are real.
2. Those who are convinced that your supposed powers are just a trick.
3. Those who don't know what to believe.

Take the spectators who fall in the third type. They're not quite sure what to believe. I'm sure this has happened to you, but I've met some spectators who are so astonished at a trick I do that they ask me if I'm doing real magic. (Which in turn surprises me because I know what I'm doing is just a trick.) I get the impression that these spectators would truly believe me if I told them a convincing, yet fabricated, tale.

But the important part is that they're willing to believe whatever I say on the matter. I could choose to lie and have some fun with them, but I feel I'm morally obligated to give a short explanation that's it's just a trick; they don't know what, when, or where I pull off my trick, and because they're not aware of it I'm able to demonstrate something that looks like pure magic. But in the end, it's just a trick.

In other words, they're willing to believe you. Take this time to educate them.

As for the second type, these are the people who suspect you are using trickery, but you're so good at what you do that doubt begins to creep in. This will cause them a bit of distress -- UNTIL you tell them your disclaimer. Then they'll say to themselves, "I KNEW it!" and then be able to relax a bit, and enjoy themselves more during your performance. They still won't know how you do your tricks, but they'll be more entertained, secure in the knowledge that their world-view is still intact.

With this type of spectator, you'll no longer be their opponent; instead, you'll be an intelligent, masterful performer who shares their belief.

As for the first type, you may never reach them, but if you keep being honest that what you're doing are just tricks, you may eventually get to them.

So, in conclusion, I say to keep doing your disclaimer. It will immediately benefit those of the second and third types, and hopefully eventually benefit those of the first type.

You never know, it could be that your disclaimer is what prevents one of your spectators from being swindled by a con-man in the future!
Message: Posted by: Vlad_77 (Mar 12, 2013 07:00AM)
Great post J-L! The thing about mentalism as opposed to magic is that its impact can be profound and I can understand Mike Ince's turmoil which I hope he has resolved. The disclaimer really is a good thing. In my estimation, part of what makes mentalism seem so much more "real" is that is doesn't look like what people expect it to be, i.e, "magic." Yet, and sorry mentalists for the following but it IS true: magicians AND mentalists both use natural, covert methods to achieve effects. But, while it is rare that people encounter professional caliber magic, it is even more rare to encounter professional caliber mentalism. Also, magic and mentalism are firmly based in psychology - if one were to argue what is THE secret of magic or mentalism it is simply psychology. BUT, mentalism gets a lot more personal and as such its effect can adversely affect some people.

Mentalists like Mike Ince - and really the vast majority of mentalists - treat their art AS art. Unfortunately, people like Uri Geller, John Edwards, Derek Ogilvie, and similar people are TRULY what Holy Scripture would label sorcerers; Geller has claimed repeatedly that what he does is real, and Edwards and Ogilvie prey upon the vulnerabilities of people. I do not believe that any person of good morals would do such a thing. As a Christian, I have a healthy dose of respect for our resident atheist Master Payne. True, he may believe as he says in "one less God than I do" but, I do not perceive Payne as a Geller type. In fact, I just watched a presentation that he gave that would be very helpful to anyone wrestling with the sorcery versus magic/mentalism question. Perhaps if he reads this - and I know he posts here from time to time - he might be kind enough to share this splendid, informative, and really funny presentation. It really is germane to this topic.

+In Christ,
Vlad