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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Fellowship of Christian Magicians! » » What's in a name? (-rant-) (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Wes Holly
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Baltimore, MD
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(rant coming - this is my own opinion, posted for my own pleasure and not wanting/trying to change anyone's mind or start an argument)
(decided not to post this on another thread - thought it might "de-rail it")

One of my pet peeves - really - is that a local church body will tell me, "no" because I'm a magician, but will say, "yes" to another magic performer who calls themselves an "illusionist", "storyteller", "effects-guy", "surprise show", etc. (I am not complaining about the other performers, they are using a name that they feel is best.)

Does the church actually believe that the audience is going to see it as anything but a magic show, no matter what it's called or how artfully presented? It cracks me up to see a performer make several long winded disclaimers during the show about how they are doing "illusions, tricks, but certainly not magic." Again I ask, do they actually believe that the audience is NOT going to call it a magic show?

I perceive this as hypocrisy, and it really "puts a kink in my knickers!" They obviously haven't thought this through. They are essentially saying, "the Bible is against this, but it's OK if we call it something else." Isn't that a great message for the children? Where else will this practice take us? "I'm not lying, I'm spinning the facts in my favor" "It's not stealing, I'm just going to borrow it for awhile" "It's not adultery, I'm just fantasizing" etc etc etc. None of these statements would find a home in the church.

For myself, I will continue to call my show the "Magical Variety Show - Fun, Laughter and Excitement!". If someone can't hire me because of it, then I've saved them a phone call and me some irritation.

(again, I'm not blasting any church or performer who believes that magic is bad. They have their beliefs and I will respect them.)
Happily Yours,
Wes Holly
www.wesholly.com
Baltimore, MD, USA
tbaer
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Pennsylvania
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To you and me it's no difference, but I can understand why people in the church feel that way. As soon as someone hears the term "magic" in the church, they relate it to some kind of scorcery, which they then relate to the devil. The term "illusion" somehow in their mind justifies everything to be ok. I don't quite understand how they come to this conclusion, but who am I to judge. I personally don't use the term "magic" when I teach lessons in church just for this reason. Just my 2 cents.
Kif Anderson
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1961 - 2012
386 Posts

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I had the same issue when I started doing Gospel magic, and I didn't want to use the word "illusionist" and therefore created what has become the non-profit company FX4 Christ (Effects for Christ). Our tag line is "Sharing the Gospel with Comedy and Illusion." And even the "illusion" part gives us trouble at times.

Now you can be loaded up with everything Bob Hill wrote in his essay, (or from his book CyberTalk...which is the first expanded to show conversations via Email that he has had on the topic) but bottom-line...the word "magic" can keep you from getting gigs. So the question is...do you care more about using the word "magic" or sharing your message? For me it was dropping the word magic.

So...now we are up to 4 cents on the subject...
We are not cisterns made for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing. - Billy Graham
<BR>
<BR>Sharing the gospel with Comedy & Illusion www.ozandwilde.com
Donald Dunphy
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I would say that there are more people in the church that are sensitive to the word "magic." Some think that magic tricks in a magic show are accomplished through occultic means (special powers). However, the general public as a rule, doesn't believe that. They understand that a magician is a person performing magic tricks, not accomplished by supernatural means. The very fact that people try to figure out how the tricks work proves that they don't believe that magic in a magic show is real.

To me, it comes across that the people in the church are more superstitious than people from outside the church, and that seems a shame. It really should be the other way around. As believers, we are to use our reason.

However, I love the body of Christ, and I will work with churches as best I can. That is why I'll do disclaimers. I know some churches that are very picky about using the words illusion instead of magic, but I often use the word magic in my show itself, but just put the disclaimer at the beginning to remind everyone that magic tricks are not real... they are just tricks.

The thing is that I feel no need to give this disclaimer when doing a regular show for a public, non-Christian audience. They already understand that magic tricks are not accomplished with real powers, and I don't need to remind them of it.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Dan Bernier
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It's not always about christians thinking magic is accomplished through occultic means. Some Christians do not believe in Christian entertainment, plain and simple. I've talked with enough Christians to know that I rarely run into a Christian who thinks magic is real or accomplished by occultic means. Actually, I have never met a Christian who thinks magicians use supernatural powers. (I'm not saying there isn't, but it must be rare.)

I would suppose that in some remote places there might be a few people who believe that, but most Christians that I run into that have a problem with magic have a problem with it for other biblical reasons. They don't think that Christian should be practicing an art that decieves people, etc. Some Christian take the same stand as A.W. Tozer's stand on Christian entertainment.

I think we not only should make ourselves available to understanding their concerns rather than settle on an assumption which can very well be so far from the mark that we end up putting ourselves in a position we think we deserve to be, when in fact we have no right to be in that position at all.

We should not look down at them, or assume that they are the ones with the problem. Some of those whom I have met that do not agree with Gospel magic disagree with it because they believe that Church has become a social club filled with live entertainment and feel good sermons. I tend to agree with people who believe this.

Some of our churches have become polluted with entertainment and watered down scripture. Church leaders who can't spiritually lead because they were never annointed by God find themselves the leader of church entertainment. "Let's teach our children to be proper christians using entertainment otherwise our children will get bored and not want to come anymore. Entertainment will help them understand and learn better." It's all rubish and poor excuses for our lack of spiritual ability to present the Word of God in it's true form.

I personally have no issue with Christian entertainers, but they have a place, just not inside a church watering down scriptures, getting kids fired up emotionally, and then leading them down a wrong way path.
"If you're going to walk in the rain, don't complain about getting wet!"
Ken Northridge
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This problem is complicated by magicians who present their magic as ‘real’ magic, or worse, actually believe it themselves.

I personally have no problem with labels or disclaimers. Call my show what you want, it only take a few minutes of watching my show (and observing my character) to realize I’m not going to sway my audience into thinking there’s a dark magical world out there and I have the ability to contact it.

No kink in my knickers. Smile
"Love is the real magic." -Doug Henning
www.KenNorthridge.com
Donald Dunphy
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From my experience, choice of words is also about the pastor just being cautious. A pastor gets feedback on a weekly basis from something he said in a sermon, or did in church or outside of church, that upset someone in the congregation. They didn't agree with him, and felt that scripture teaches otherwise. They chew him out, or try to raise support for their opinion, or threaten to leave, or just leave, etc.

Often their opinion is so strong, that they don't want a discussion. They just want the pastor to hear their opinion, and go along with it.

In regards to a gospel magic show, I've spoken with many pastors who are totally comfortable with the idea, but they also know that there will be some in the congregation that will cause trouble when they announce that the show is coming.

Unlike Dan, I have met people in the church who think that it is real. I have had people sincerely ask me if Criss Angel or David Copperfield or David Blaine has real powers. It's not about them objecting to entertainment, or to (potentially) watered down messages.

I have heard stories from many pastors, of people who sent letters (or emails, or made calls), or threatened to leave the church, or boycotted the event, or asked for the event to be changed in special ways, etc.

In some cases, I have seen people who came to a show with some pre-conceived negative opinions that were changed after seeing the show. They told me so, or told the pastor.

On the other hand, there are some with opinions so strong, that they don't come out at all.

Pastors deal with feedback from their congregation continually, and have to walk a fine line to keep the peace.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Dan Bernier
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Right on Donald!

I'm just saying that the concerns are not just limited to Christians who are superstitous. Some are against it for other reasons as well.

I am fortunate to have met several great men of God who are both entertainers and great witnesses for Christ. They are an inspiration, and some of them are members right here on the Café.

I feel blessed and honoured that I get to do what I do. God has given me the freedom to present His message in unlimited ways. I can witness in my work life, during family times, personal life, etc. I can even be a witness when I am entertaining people.

I met many that believe that we have too much entertainment in Church. Like I said, I tend to agee with them. I have seen with my own eyes churches going into the direction of making church fun and entertaining so they can increase members. They think people are not coming to church anymore because they find church boring. They think they need to liven up the place, modernize, lure people in with modern technologies and entertainment. They will tell you that it doesn't matter what brings them in, as long as you get them in. They believe that once they got them in they will be able to intice them with music and entertainment to respond to the alter call of asking Jesus into their hearts.

What I am referring to here, for clarification, are those who do what they do carelessly. They are going through the motions but no real presence of the Holy Spirit. Not all those who do alter calls do so carelessly.

I have run into churches who are rather loose in what they believe. They are very open minded, easily persueded, and are always talking about thinking outside the box. I find this to be disturbing, more disturbing than those who may be so superstitious that it might make them cling even tighter to the Cross.
"If you're going to walk in the rain, don't complain about getting wet!"
Clara Pratt
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It's an American thing. Americans change names in the hopes to change perception. American Christians are even more prolific examples of it than other Americans.
Let me give you just one example not related to magic. Americans changed the name of Leprosy to "Hansen's Disease" in the hope that it would conjure up the same ideas of leprosy. However, they didn't change any of the misconceptions about it. In India, they kept the name leprosy but educated people on the misconceptions and now those formerly banned from busses and employment are welcome in society.
It is nothing short of hypocrisy. American christians seem to want to appear very spiritual. "Illusionist" seems more spiritual than magician. Unfortunately, American churches are either too dumb or too lazy to educate members on word usage, word meaning, etc. It's so much easier to change a word to appear more spiritual than it is to educate people. No two ways about it, an illusionist is a magician.
The very reason the FCM changed the name of the magazine from Conjurer to Voice is to appear more spiritual. Note they haven't changed a thing in the magazine content or in educating those who raise eyebrows what the word really means.
Hey, I was raised baptist. Everyone knows baptists don't do "worldly" things like watch movies. We're much too spiritual for that! We view films. <g>
Kif Anderson
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I like "The Voice" because it is inclusive of the way organization has grown. They won't change the name of the fellowship from FCM. And hey, if people have trouble with the word magic, they have trouble with the word magic. If one has a problem with them having a problem with it...I think we are taking our eyes of the goal...and that is to share the gospel. And that is bigger than what anyone thinks about the word magic.

><> J
We are not cisterns made for hoarding, we are channels made for sharing. - Billy Graham
<BR>
<BR>Sharing the gospel with Comedy & Illusion www.ozandwilde.com
REV BILL
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Everyone knows baptists don't do "worldly" things like watch movies. We're much too spiritual for that! We view films.
And my car never breaks down. It only "malfunctions". It all in the perception isn't it. Who are we trying to kid?
Specializing in Family Entertainment,Gospel,Comedy and Educational programs for over 30 years.(Order of Merlin)
Mike Maturen
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AMEN, Rev. Bill!

The majority of the folks I have run across who are against Christians Magicians tend to be fundamentalists. Now, no offense against these folks...but they tend to take a very literal view of Scripture...including in places where the Scripture was clearly NOT meant to be taken literally. Don't mean to start a theological war...this is not the place for that.

It is clear that the passages banning followers of Christ from "magic" were speaking of sorcery, NOT the performance of magical effects. I know very few performers any more that still try to present themselves as doing "real" magic...but these folks do themselves, and our art, a diservice.

Just my two cents (now worth less, thanks to inflation).
Mike Maturen
World of Wonder Entertainment
The Magic and Mayhem of Mike Maturen
989-335-1661
mikematuren@gmail.com

AUTHOR OF "A NEW DAWN--Weekly Wisdom From Everyday Life"

member: International Magician's Society
REV BILL
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No need to Amen what I wrote.I was quoting Clara Pratt.
Everyone knows baptists don't do "worldly" things like watch movies. We're much too spiritual for that! We view films." Since I am one of those fundamentalists,I thought the statement was funny and I wanted to add to it.If I say "magic" and it "offends, sometimes it is better to use the term illusion,experiment,object lesson and after you have established yourself in front of the audience that you are a likable,friendly person that is not demon posessed,go ahead and explain what the word "magic" means to us. Use it as a time to educate. So I would give more of my 2 cents worth but I need every penny to buy gas.
Specializing in Family Entertainment,Gospel,Comedy and Educational programs for over 30 years.(Order of Merlin)
Steven True
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I was away from the church, and God, for way to long. When I did finally surrender to God I came back to a very changed church. I saw a lot of Christian entertainment. And also saw a lot of great preaching but I did have a little trouble with the cost of the entertainment. A very well known Christian singer, of whom will remain nameless, came to a town close to me and the local Christian radio station was promoting it like crazy. I thought I would enjoy seeing this person so I checked online and found tickets for upwards of $50. That was a very big shock to me as I thought this person was coming to minister to the area. It really started eating at me until I asked God to take it from me. When He did that I felt disdain leave me and a window opened up. I now look differently at Christian entertainers. Wow I said all of that to say, no matter what you call yourself if God is for you....end of it. I say that in a nice way and in no anger. Some people, church members, pastors and whole denominations are going to be against magic no matter what name is used to describe what we do. I guess we should use whatever name God tells us to use. Well I say "we" because I have been praying that God will use me in His service. I say all of this in love. I guess I still have that old problem of doubt in me so I still apologize for some things I say. Anyway my 2 cents here. I can give my 2 cents because I filled up my gas tank before it hit 4 bucks.

Steven True
paulmagic
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Been a very long time since I browsed the Magic Café and posted/ Here's my 2cents (NZ so it's probably worth a lot less than the rest Smile).

I am a pastor. When I took on my current pastorate just over 4 years ago, some of the church leaders were very against my performing magic (gospel or otherwise). Some were neutral and a few open.

Even my personal business card which I had the term "Gospel Entertainer" made a few upset.

People slowly got more comfortable when I showed them simple tricks and even revealed to a select few (sorry but it is to a couple of older people who could not care less about revealing secrets) the workings behind the trick so they know there is no black magic.

Took a while - a year I think to be comfortable to do my first show in church. And the compromise was to drop the word "magic" - some other creative term was used ("Illusion encounter"?) or something along those lines which made no sense LOL

But the show was a success (as I also had fun doing balloons). Over time, I was not only allowed to use the word "magic" but it is now a good term as it brings in the crowd for special outreach meetings.

Key lessons (hope it can be creatively applied to some of your situations)

1. It takes time and even though I was the pastor, I did not push it as that would only upset people. Not worth fighting over as I want my church members and people on my side!
2. Once relationships become stronger and people trust me, it is easier to "relent" even if there are misgivings.
3. I also explain clearly that the magic I do is clean entertainment and an illusion etc and when I do a "gospel magic" presentation at the end, it is to illustrate a truth I want to share. (I do not necessarily do it this way all the time). I like to use a phrase from an old Scott Wesley Brown song - "Magic is just illusion, Jesus is reality)

The advantage I have as a pastor / preacher is that my focus is sermon proper not the magic, unless it is more for building up relationships so I earn the right to preach to them Smile

For e.g. the last show I did (in church with non Christian guests), I asked them if they enjoyed the show - yes. So I said that if they enjoyed the show, would they show me some appreciation ... of course Yes - and applause etc BUT then I asked, what I wanted was 10 to 15 minutes to share a message with them and get the help of 9 volunteers on stage to do a magic trick with a story... would that be fair? etc. The answer of course was yes.

And for a Christmas show at a retirement village I told them my condition for doing a free show was to be allowed to share the Christmas message (for after all I was a pastor). And they happily agreed.

There are so many wonderful ways that magic can be used to bring in the gospel and even being known as the pastor who is a magician creates opportunities (without even my needing to do any magic). It's something interesting that can become a topic of discussion.

BTW, (extra 2 cents here - Malaysian "sen") - I now even dare do "mental magic" (I dare not perform a more strictly mentalism act) which can be very disturbing for some but it is now acceptable to my church. I make it very clear that I have no magic powers and again, it opens up natural opportunities for more conversations on the occult, spiritism etc.
Many Blessings!!

Paul
MagicBus
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I think I mentioned this before, I really like Duane Laflin's term that he does "Surprises for the Eyes-es". The problem being I still am not sure how to properly spell "Eye-es"- Is it Eyes's? Eye-is? Eyes-es? Any suggestions?- pretty neat though.
Sam Sandler
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I can only hope I upset a few people with my name and my show! That means I am getting some where.

I think we "Christian" entertainers are missing something here and it was touched on in Steven true's post
we need to go to God and ask him what we are to do what the name of the show is and how we are to promote the show. its not a matter of what others perceive but will we be obedient to what God wants us to do.

whether we use the term magic or illusionist or surprises for the eye's it still comes down to did we ask God what we were to call the show and our stage name.

I remember back in the day as christian rock and roll was coming around (dang I'm old) any way I remember how so many churches were agaist it. NO white cross or Larry Norman allowed! but I also remember some one telling me just because the enemy uses something for evil does not mean God can't use it for His glory,

so what ever you call yourself or promote yourself CHECK with God first and see what HE has to say about it, then don't worry about it any more just pray that the Holy Spirit will go before you to prepare the hearts of those about to witness your show or those whom you are presenting the idea for the show.

Psalm 16:11
you have made know to me the path of life.
sam
sam sandler- America's only full-time DEAF Illusionist
http://www.samsandler.com
http://www.deafinitelymagic.com
Mike Maturen
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Great post, Sam!
Mike Maturen
World of Wonder Entertainment
The Magic and Mayhem of Mike Maturen
989-335-1661
mikematuren@gmail.com

AUTHOR OF "A NEW DAWN--Weekly Wisdom From Everyday Life"

member: International Magician's Society
MagicBus
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Congrats also to Sam Sandler- First Place Winner of the Annual Stage Contest for the Philadelphia SAM Assembly #4- see page 12 of the May 2011 issue of M-U-M Magazine. Sounds like Sam's Gypsy Thread presentation was a good one for sure.
Sam Sandler
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Thanks Magicbus!
it was a fun night and amazed I won. now I get to perform the same act at the annual banquet in june for the Philly assembly #4.

as for my version of the gypsy thread which I renamed thread of life I hope to have a video of it on my youtube channel some time inthe next month or so.

sam
sam sandler- America's only full-time DEAF Illusionist
http://www.samsandler.com
http://www.deafinitelymagic.com
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