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Mike Ince
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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
The secret of deception is in making the truth seem ridiculous.
jamiedoyle
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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.
Jamie Doyle

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tboehnlein
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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!
Ed_Millis
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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
Mike Ince
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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
The secret of deception is in making the truth seem ridiculous.
MagicBus
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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.
MagicBus
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FYI: The above pamplet "100 Prophesies Fulfilled By Jesus" is available at http://www.cbd.com for $3.49.
Ed_Millis
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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
BenjaminMan
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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.
Mike Ince
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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.
The secret of deception is in making the truth seem ridiculous.
JohnWells
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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.
Mike Ince
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John, even if the Q&A act doesn't involve Q's? I.e., feeding back information without answering any questions?
The secret of deception is in making the truth seem ridiculous.
JohnWells
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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.
BenjaminMan
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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?
GaryLee
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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.
REV BILL
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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.
Specializing in Family Entertainment,Gospel,Comedy and Educational programs for over 30 years.(Order of Merlin)
KENNYRB
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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
Terry Holley
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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
Co-author with illusionist Andre' Kole of "Astrology and Psychic Phenomena."
Terry Holley
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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


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

Terry
Co-author with illusionist Andre' Kole of "Astrology and Psychic Phenomena."
mralincoln
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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?)
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