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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Good News! » » Use of playing cards in church performances (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Terry Holley
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I don't know if this has been discussed previously (although I suspect it has), but a recent post got me wondering about 4 things.

1) Do you or do you not use playing cards in your routines when performing in a church building or for a church group?

2) Does the venue itself (a show for a church group in the church building or a show for a church group outside of a church building) make a difference in regard to using cards?

3) If you do use cards, what effect(s) do you perform?

4) Do you ask the "spiritual leader" of the church whether or not using cards will be appropriate or not, or do you just use them?

Feel free to add your thoughts on this beyond what is asked in the 4 questions.

If you are familiar with a previous thread that discussed this, please post the link.

Thank you!

Terry
Co-author with illusionist Andre' Kole of "Astrology and Psychic Phenomena."
REV BILL
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This can be a sticky situation. I always ask the "spiritual leader" of the church. If it is a problem, I do the effect with alphabet cards if possible.
Specializing in Family Entertainment,Gospel,Comedy and Educational programs for over 30 years.(Order of Merlin)
Andrew
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I only use one routine with cards when doing my Gospel presentation and in doing so, I mention the concerns some believers have with playing cards. However, the routine itself does not highlight the cards, but demonstrates the point of making choices in life. (The routine uses three giant cards from which an audience member must select the "King of Hearts".)

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daffydoug
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Sounds like a great routine! Myself, I've been thinking about putting together an "anti-gambling" routine for churches. I could use the cards to teach that gambling doesn't pay. In the end, you always lose, etc. It could be lessons against greed, covetesnouss, etc.

Also I think I could fit in Sankey's "Greed" effect. That would fit in nicely. I bet there are many effects that would go along with the theme, if you give it a little thought.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Vlad_77
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I never perform any magic ever in the sanctuary/main worship area of a church - cards or not. The sanctuary is a place that is/should be devoted entirely to worship. As far as the church basement, grounds, parish hall, etc., Like Rev Bill, I always check with the clergy person concerning their comfort level with cards. While I would never presume to offer a hard and fast rule of thumb concerning where and for whom card magic is acceptable, I have found the following to be pretty accurate in terms of the ability to perform card magic for church groups. I hasten again to add that even with this experience, I ALWAYS ask the clergy person whether oor not card magic is acceptable.

Roman Catholic Churches: Card magic is fine and we know that quite a few priests and monks are/were magicians. The Roman Catholic Church's condition however is that card magic - like ANY magic - should have no trappings of what could appear to be "black" magic, an that no card magic (or indeed any magic_ should be performed that demeans the spectator and used for ill-gotten gain.

Eastern Orthodox Catholic Churches: Much the same as Roman Catholic Churches but one must be VERY communicative due to the different jurisdictions. GENERALLY speaking, the OCA and the Antiochians tend to be the most accepting while the more insular Romanian and Bulgarian jurisdictions will often grill you on not on the secrets themselves, but what your intentions are. This is because Orthodox Catholics do not permit the teaching of the Gospel by anyone othe than a priest of a bishop. Magic is for entertainment and while a Christian message is fine, it is wise to leave Gospel interpretation to the clergy. (The same holds true for the 27 rites of Catholicism under Rome, the Coptic Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox).

Anglicans/Episcopalians: The Anglican/Episcopal Church unfortunately is experiencing schism threatening issues and the approach of any given church can run from Anglicans who identify themselves as Anglo-Catholics because of the Oxford Movement of the 1890s which sought and seeks to bring the Anglican Church back to its Catholics roots. Further along the spectrum, there are so called "low church" Anglicans - think "Puritans" who are for all intents and purposes fundamentalists. Then there is the Protestant Episcopal Church which is the American branch of Anglicanism which tends to fall closer to the Anglicans/Anglo-Catholics and are also more liberal. [N.B. A little trivia for you: The Protestant Episcopal Church is in fact NOT Protestant and there are movements under way to remove the term "Protestant" from the name]. But, all of that said, performances of any type are generally forbidden in the sanctuary itself. Again, check with the priest - and Anglican clergy are properly referred to as "Father."

Lutherans: There are two major Lutheran bodies in the United States, namely, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. The former is more liberal and in my experience is more accepting of card magic while the latter varies depending on the minister's own predilections. Again, no performances in the area of worship.

United Methodists: Accepting, and as in the previously listed churches, the minister will want to know that your magic is for entertainment. United Methodists for the most part are open to Gospel magic because they tend to be very open to interpretation of gospel. That said, you should review your message with the minister.

Baptists: There are 79 distinct denominations that fall under the rubric of "Baptist." As far as magic of any type is concerned, this is a minefield and you should definitely, absolutely, without hesitation, confer with the minister. Some Baptist sub-denominations, i.e, those tending more to fundamentalism may even ask you to explain/expose the methods after the performance. So tread carefully! As a for instance of just how tricky - pardon the pun - this denomination can be consider the fact that the Southern Baptist Convention stands in favor of the death penalty while the American Baptist Church staunchly opposes it. I mention this grave issue because such a major issue divides the two and magic, comparatively speaking, while minor in comparison to judicial execution, also falls under the same microscope. Check with the minister.

Jehovah's Witnesses: Under NO circumstances can a JW watch magic OR perform it. It is considered a work of evil.

LDS: The LDS seems to have a friendly attitude toward magic in general but in my experience, the LDS are not really welcoming of card effects with a gambling theme as gambling is prohibited in the LDS. The LDS has no clergy in the sense that Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants do, so, when contacting them, it's imperative to speak to whomever is in charge of the local ward.

There are of course far too many to list so THE best rule to follow is to ALWAYS check with the priest or minister no matter what church. That said, I would offer also one more reminder: when performing for Orthodox, Coptics, and Catholics under Rome (all 27 rites) - you may offer positive messages but do not teach the Gospel. To do so is considered anathema.

So in closing, ask! Smile
daffydoug
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Anathema to teach the gospel?? Man, I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around that one!

I'm not even going to try!!

Nevertheless, your article was very enlightening and helpful! Helps one to see just what kind of minefields he is navigating out there!!

Could you add to that list some information on the Pentecostal and Apostolic denominations?
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Danny Kazam
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My friend is JW, and watches magic.
I was an elder for a Lutheran Brethren Church, and was a member of several Baptist churches, plus the Pentecostal, Anglican, and was even baptized as part of the Catholic Church. There are several protestant churches I have been a part of during my life time, and I have learned that Paul says it best in 1 Corinthians 3:16. And, 1 Corinthians 1:11-13
and, I don't consider myself a member of any specific church or denomination anymore. I am not of Luther, Calvin, Pope, or anyone else but Christ.
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Kevin Ridgeway
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We do two different routines that involve a deck of cards. We have had no issues with either routine. For the record we mainly do our show in the worship center/sanctuary. We also happen to put a 140 gallon tank of water right in the middle of the stage. That bit of square footage in no more or less holy than any other square footage in the building or elsewhere.
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Vlad_77
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Quote:
On Mar 15, 2014, daffydoug wrote:
Anathema to teach the gospel?? Man, I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around that one!

I'm not even going to try!!

Nevertheless, your article was very enlightening and helpful! Helps one to see just what kind of minefields he is navigating out there!!

Could you add to that list some information on the Pentecostal and Apostolic denominations?


Daffydoug,

Thanks man for you kind words. Let me first clarify: the Orthodox Catholic and Roman Catholic Churches recognize clerics as interpreters of Scripture due to Apostolic Succession. Yes, Roman Catholics and Orthodox Catholics can and do have Bible studies and they do "teach" each other - but these studies are approved by the priest; the interpretation of Scripture is guided by the teachings of the Church because the Church decided what books are canon. Moreover, personal interpretation of Scripture can and has lead to major problems. If, for instance, a Gospel magician would perform at a Catholic function and center his act around the "Rapture" that would be a serious problem as neither of these ancient churches accept the doctrine of the Rapture. In actual church services, laypersons may read at Mass or Divine Liturgy from the Old Testament, and any of the books in the New Testament EXCEPT the four Holy Gospels and The Revelation of St. John. Only a cleric may read from the Gospels in a formal service and clerics are the only people who may conduct what you would call a sermon. [The word used in Orthodox and Roman Catholicism is "homily"]. The Revelation of St. John is NEVER read in formal worship under any circumstances. When the Revelation was added, it was added with the proviso that is should never be read in formal worship and that is why you will never hear readings from the final book of the Holy Bible in a formal church service.

As for denominations, I am glad my post enlightened you and I can only reiterate that the best advice is to still check with the priest or minister of a given church as far as magic not only because of differing views of magic but how the magician - especially a lay magician interprets.

The Church of the Brethren: This denomination is very receptive to magic and I have to share an interesting story. I was contacted to perform at a Church of the Brethren as a secular magician to provide entertainment as a reward to a large group who had just completed a summer long bible camp. When I talked to the minister about seating and where he would like me to perform. I had assumed that performances were held in the church's basement or in a church hall or perhaps somewhere else. The minister stated that I would be performing in the church itself. Now, please remember that I come from Roman Catholicism and had converted to Orthodox Catholicism and so I was a bit taken aback by the notion of performing magic in the place where actual worship takes place. I asked the minister if I could call him back after I conferred with my pastor. My priest explained to me (he is a former Protestant clergyman) that some denominations permit performance in the sanctuary itself. Anyhow, I did the show and the audience was one of the best I had ever worked for.

African Methodist Episcopal: In my experience, cards are a no no. But this one can be tricky because the AME Church represents a sort of conjoining of the Episcopal and Methodist churches though it is its own entity and not a derivative of either of the former.

I have no experience with non-denominational "mega-churches" but I have spoken with many performers who have stated that it's best to make sure that the person with whom you are contracting to perform has the authority to tell you what is and isn't allowed.

All of that said, what I have found - and I need to use theologian speak here - is that "high churches" such as Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, and Lutheranism tend to be very accepting of magic in general. (High church is defined by the mode of worship, and so high churches are very liturgical; it is NOT to be mistaken or misunderstood as a privileging of one body over another. I think the theologians and those whose are involved in religious studies could have picked better terms Smile. Also, denominations in Protestantism are heavily informed by leanings best described as either conservative or liberal. So again, Anglicans, even conservative Anglicans, are very welcoming of magic as a performing art whereas as a Primitive Baptist (yes there is such a denomination) while conservative, frown on magic in some cases and frown on cards whether they are used for magic or for recreational play in virtually all cases as they are considered at best, mundane distractions, and worse, tools of Satan.

In the end, it's a minefield out there and when working with churches, I would say that it's best to be clear on what your show contains, what the church deems acceptable, and to what extent you are permitted to act as a lay minister - especially if you are not an adherent of a given body.



To Danny,

While your JW friend may be watching magic, that does not mean it is accepted in the Jehovah's Witnesses belief system. Jehovah's Witnesses are by their organization's own doctrine forbidden to perform magic or watch it.

As for being for Christ only, obviously all faiths who profess to be Christian are, but, the question was about whether or not cards were acceptable for performance in different churches. As such, I was merely trying to provide some guidelines from personal experience. While your personal beliefs are valid and yes I am aware of your ecumenical background, nonetheless there are different branches of Christianity and in each branch there are further branches, each with its own distinctive doctrines and perspectives. Please do not read anything else into my response? I have not made any judgement at all nor will I. Rather, what I wrote is based my experiences with these denominations and are by no means "official proclamations" nor are they meant to be, implied, inferred, or otherwise, to be taken as such.

The best answer was already given and that is to ask the priest, minister, or other cleric with authority in any given church what goes and what doesn't. So, even though I can safely state that United Methodists for example are quite friendly toward magic, it is still a very good - and respectful thing to check with the minister of any given church and the same holds for Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians, etc., etc.

Unfortunately, the reality my friend is that Christianity is fractured and while that situation remains, each denomination bases its perspectives upon its own understanding of the faith and to an extent, the individual cleric's perspective on it.
Vlad_77
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Quote:
On Mar 15, 2014, Kevin Ridgeway wrote:
We do two different routines that involve a deck of cards. We have had no issues with either routine. For the record we mainly do our show in the worship center/sanctuary. We also happen to put a 140 gallon tank of water right in the middle of the stage. That bit of square footage in no more or less holy than any other square footage in the building or elsewhere.


Kevin,

In a sense you have confirmed what I have been trying to convey. In a Roman Catholic or Orthodox Church, that bit of square footage in the sanctuary is sacred and as such, if you placed a 140 gallon tank of water on the altar area of a Roman church or anywhere in the area in which worship takes place in Orthodox church you would most assuredly have some difficulties. In fact, most Orthodox churches are so strict about the sanctity of the worship area that photography for weddings is allowed but it is restricted to certain areas of the temple. So, while for you, a square fott in a church may not be sacred, or more sacred than another part, to adherents of particular bodies, that space is sacred and thus the policy of asking is quite wise.

In Christ,
Vlad
daffydoug
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Whew!!!!
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Dougini
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The answer to that question, for me, came from a Rabbi. Very wise man. I asked about Magic, Cards and such. Whom should I perform for? The answer was whom I should NOT perform for. Anyone offended by my actions. Wow. Deep stuff...

He explained that if I perform for a hundred people, 99 loved it, and ONE was "offended", I have failed. To ignore the one, for the 99 is wrong! Makes no difference in right/wrong. That ONE person may feel that Cards are sinful, and may want NOTHING to do with them. If I know this, then Cards will NOT be in my act. Period.

It's like pork. I love it, but my Jewish and Muslim friends do not. I do have to be careful. Not offending one's fellow human is key. In any case. There is no right/wrong. I want YOU to enjoy what I have to offer. if pork, Cards, etc are offensive to you, why would I insist on using them? I wish to clear the way for my fellow human to step. Not put stumbling stones...

Doug
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Most people who have a problem with cards do so because of their association with gambling. You can still do card tricks just use a different type of card, like a deck that designed for children such as the fast-N-genious deck, people wouldn't have a problem with that.
themagiciansapprentice
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(1) ask the individual Church before a show what is expected and allowed - many associate cards with gambling and often fire/ water/ doves/ rabbits/ electrical tricks are not allowed by their insurance. Trying to cover all churches with the same name, even in the same diocese is troublesome. What one group of elders/leaders/ ministers allow and what others do is often different!! In the past year I have happily worked in the UK in Anglican Churches (and a Cathedral soon if it's raining outside), Methodist, United Reformed, Baptist and Free Churches. No too are the same!!! And often they are now combined denominations in one congregation due to falling numbers etc. Also changes in congregations lead to changes in the rules for what is permitted.

And if you are asked to do magic in a service, that settles many matters.

(2) why use a standard pack of cards anyway??

I perform in the main part of a Church, as part of a Service, over fifty times per year to family congregations (ie the kids have not been sent out to Sunday School etc), but would never use a prop as small as a pack of playing cards. I do though use double lifts, slip force etc in my routines using A4 picture cards like Farmyard Frolics or Can Openner.
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daffydoug
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After all this reading of all posts, I'm starting to get a case of cold feet. Not sure if I have what it takes to navigate all the religious landmines without getting myself blown up!

It's sad it has to be this way in the religious world.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
wwhokie1
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It is sad, but the one simple principle will solve all the problems: ask the person in charge. If the church is inviting you to do magic then they are pretty open to what you do already, so most of the hurdles you are already past.
Mike Ince
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It's hard to answer. If someone's conscience tells them using cards is sinful, we probably shouldn't use cards in front of them because we'd be committing an act they believe to be evil and possibly tempting them to use cards (which would violate their ill-informed conscience and bring them guilt). Is there anything wrong with card tricks? I doubt it, but 1 Corinthians Chapter 8 applies here, doesn't it?
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rossmacrae
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Look, I completely think this whole kerfuffle is nonsense, BUT ... if you can't willingly do a show without card tricks, then maybe ... just MAYBE ... you love showing off your magic skills more than you really want to promote the gospel.
daffydoug
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Very perspicacious, my good man!
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
Stephon Johnson
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Controversy Alert:
Has anyone thought of using Joshua Jay's "Inferno"?
Seriously: it could be framed around playing cards being regarded as inherently evil, and they should all be burned. "And that's exactly what we're gonna do tonight...burn a deck of cards!...'imaginary cards'.
Whichever side of the fence a church is on, they should be on board at this point!
Go on to make a parallel between the cards and all of us prior to salvation: wicked, evil, lovers of sin, haters of God and deserving of Hell.
As you get volunteers, bring out the matchbox and matches and talk about God's saving Grace, and through His Mercy some will be saved.
Explain that for sake of illustration, we are going to narrow down a card which will be "snatched from the flames"
Go through the routine, revealing the chosen card.
Speak of the importance of witnessing and preaching the Gospel!
This is presented as a rough idea only, but I think it could have impact. (Of course, that could just be the door slamming in my face)
WHAT IF you wake up tomorrow with ONLY the things that you THANK GOD for today?
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