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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Good News! » » Howard Thurston and D.L. Moody (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

MagicBus
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Kalamazoo, Michigan
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Released earlier this month (and Barnes and Noble already has it on its shelves in the biography section- hardbound for $26.95, less at Amazon.com) is Jim Steinmeyer's excellent new book "The Last Greatest Magician In The World: Howard Thurston versus Houdini & The Battles of the American Wizards". Today concludes "Founders Week" at Moody Bible Institute- listen live from The Moody Church in Chicago (or purchase back broadcasts) at http://www.moodyradio.org Although I have barely begun reading this brand new book, I did read Chapter Two last night "Creation." Wow. It details the very, very tough life of a teen Howard Thurston who was personally accepted into Mount Hermon Academy school for boys by Dwight Moody himself (after his admission was rejected). This was after Thurston was at the Mission Home homeless shelter by himself after basically living on the streets and on cargo trains. It appears Thurston heard Moody preach many times later on and Thurston himself began to preach on street corners through the Broome Street Tabernacle. "He lost no opportunity to lead his old comrades to Christ" was reported by the secretary of the New York Prison Association. Although Thurston obviously did not become a pastor (and did not study for the ministry), he always took every opportunity he had to perform in orphan homes, etc. Thurston wrote a very touching thank you note to Moody's Mount Hermon professor including the words "Prof the chief desires of my life is to prove to Herman that all I have received here has not been without effect." Very engaging and well written story so far- Steinmeyer really knows how to write- and in the back of the book the biography is completely historically sourced out from multiple magic collections and including from Mount Hermon student records.
Kif Anderson
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1961 - 2012
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I too got my copy of Steinmyer's latest book and am hoping to sit and read it this weekend. One name I was surprised not to find in the index was CH Woolston. Thurston wrote the following prelude to Seeing Truth, the first book on either gospel magic or performing magic for children.

PRELUDE
Howard Thurston, the Scholarly and Refined Magician
Successor to Keller the Great

I believe in this unique method of teaching great and important religious truths.
In the early history of the church false teachers used the art of magic to disturb the peace and confuse the thoughts of the faithful. This they did by the performance of false miracles and a sham display of supposed supernatural powers. In this book the author who is a famous illustrator has employed the art of magic to illuminate and illustrate the holy truths of our faith and so in this day of light and grace magic has become a teacher and defender of Christianity.
I have personally known Rev. C.H. Wolston, D.D. for a number of years. He was a close student of the art of magic under my own personal instructor and we consulted together as to the mechanical and magical effects described in the chapters of this book.
I take great pleasure in saying that these mechanical and magical effects are both dignified and in accord with the highest branches of both ancient and modern magic. It is my candid opinion that they can all be reproduced by intelligent and painstaking practice. I am most happy to welcome to the literary world this volume of demonstrated truth. I believe that "seeing truth" will be used throughout the world.
HOWARD THURSTON
Successor to Keller
Coscob, Conn., Aug. 23, 1910.


So while he is not known for being a "gospel magician," Thurston was very interested in this branch of things...and suspect he did use it to share himself.
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
Kif Anderson
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1961 - 2012
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The function of the magician has characteristics common with those of the criminal, of the actor, and of the priest…and he enjoys certain special advantages impossible for these professions. Unlike the criminal, he has nothing to fear from the police; unlike the actor, he can always have the stage to himself; unlike the priest, he need not trouble about questions of faith in connection with the mysteries at which he presides. – Edward Wilson

A quote taken from "The Last Greatest Magician In The World: Howard Thurston versus Houdini & The Battles of the American Wizards."

I found this quote something to think about, that magicians are compared with a criminal, actor and priest. As I pondered it, I suppose to describe a magician in terms of other professions, that is perhaps a good balance of thought. We do get away with things...but are not criminals...we do at times command the whole stage, and it has been often said that magicians are just actors playing the part of a person with magical powers...but the priest concept was an angle I'd never considered before, but I suppose it is an explanation as to why Gospel magic is so effective.
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
MagicBus
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I really like this latest Steinmyer book so far. Thurston certainly had very well thought out patter- you probably paused when reading that Thurston stated apparently in most of his stage shows: "Whatever I may say or do on the stage this evening, please remember... I wouldn't ... deceive you... for the world!" He's like pulling everyone's leg but at the same time the audience must know that their leg is being pulled. Kinda like when a magician will state "I don't know how that worked?" or "I wonder where it went?" (when he obviously does). Just wish so many of the magicians of that era including Thurston did not those goofy little red imp devils on their posters.
DWRackley
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Quote:
On 2011-02-04 11:38, Kif Anderson wrote:
The function of the magician has characteristics common with those of the criminal, of the actor, and of the priest...and he enjoys certain special advantages impossible for these professions. Unlike the criminal, he has nothing to fear from the police; unlike the actor, he can always have the stage to himself; unlike the priest, he need not trouble about questions of faith in connection with the mysteries at which he presides. – Edward Wilson


That is a wonderful quote. Thank you for reprinting it.

This ties it all together so perfectly...
...what if I could read your mind?

Chattanooga's Premier Mentalist

Donatelli and Company at ChattanoogaPerformers.com

also on FaceBook
MagicBus
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Well Kif, I have been plowing through the Steinmeyer book at a great pace today while waiting around- just a really good read. The disappointing part is other than Thurston always having a very positive attitude (including donating to) toward Mount Hermon, not much else mentioned regarding his faith continuing or growing other than Thurston's mentioning several times of having ongoing prayers of thanksgiving. His sad family life is not sugar coated at all as his story unfolds, nor is how some of the other touring magicians freely borrowed one another's ideas without permission. Blackstone would steal a Thurston idea- Thurston would in return threaten to take one of Blackstone's tricks and put it directly in his own show, back and forth it went. Great tribute to the longevity of magic and its universal appeal in spite of constant societal changes- this book kinda reminds me of a Field of Dreams salute story to Thurston's performance magic continued on by Henning, Copperfield, Burton, FCM's Andre' Kole and many others. The chapter on how hard it was for Thurston and his first wife Grace simply to survive while touring the West in a horse drawn wagon was incredible, howbeit often sustained through ongoing cons and hustles.
MagicBus
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I finished reading the Thurston/Steinmeyer book today completely- probably the best biographical magic book I have ever read. A definite pathos/sadness at the end. A must read for those interested in the modern history of American performance magic. I know I wish I could have seen Thurston's show- sounds specatcular. I would encourage folks to see Copperfield's touring show (he still does go out from time to time)- I had the similar reaction sitting there at his recent 2010 show in Kalamazoo- I knew I was witnessing a very rare big time illusion show- probably the most similar thing we have to the old Thurston shows today. Sorry to say, Thurston seems to incorporate reincarnation and semi-spiritualism (e.g. ghosts) in his set of undefined beliefs as given in his later interviews, that was sad for me to read after Thurston's exposure to D.L. Moody's preaching years earlier.
MagicBus
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Well, just as after I posted the above, I see that The Magic Newswire is now reporting Copperfield may not be touring again any time soon- you would have to see his show in Vegas. Maybe Mr. Burton will go out on the road soon- he has not announced anything either.
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