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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Good News! » » I am a Christian mentalist in turmoil. (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Preacherman
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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
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CarlEJones
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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.
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Magicus
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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."
Mike Ince
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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?
The secret of deception is in making the truth seem ridiculous.
Ed_Millis
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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
Mike Maturen
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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'!
Mike Maturen
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tboehnlein
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"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.
Terry Holley
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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
Co-author with illusionist Andre' Kole of "Astrology and Psychic Phenomena."
Mike Maturen
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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



Terry and I will split 'em! Smile
Mike Maturen
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Mike Ince
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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)
The secret of deception is in making the truth seem ridiculous.
Mike Maturen
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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.
Mike Maturen
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Terry Holley
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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)


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
Co-author with illusionist Andre' Kole of "Astrology and Psychic Phenomena."
Mike Ince
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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
The secret of deception is in making the truth seem ridiculous.
Mike Maturen
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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!
Mike Maturen
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Vlad_77
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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.
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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.
Mike Maturen
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Vlad_77
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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.


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 Smile

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. Smile 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 Smile ) 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
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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.
Mike Maturen
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Mike Ince
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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. Smile
The secret of deception is in making the truth seem ridiculous.
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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
Keep your dreams alive. Understand to achieve anything requires faith and belief in yourself, vision, hard work, determination, and dedication. Remember all things are possible for those who believe.
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