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FriarShaun
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I was joking. However, there is a deceptive nature to this art, and as such it creates a tension with our charge to be truthful. Obviously when using magic to illustrate or entertain in a Christian environment we can explain the purpose of what we do. It is in what we "sell" ourselves as that may create problems. What about just calling yourself by your name and using what you do as a bi-line.

"The Great Friar Shaun"
Storyteller, Illusionist, Escape Artist, Fool for the King

by the way I am not a Friar, it is just a name I picked up. I've been called Pastor Shaun, Commander Shaun, CubMaster Shaun, *%$#@!, it all depends on who you talk to.
CurtWaltermire
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Hey *%$#@!,

I like your style!

Curtis
http://www.CurtisMagic.com
Cybersloughter
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I don't do Gospel Illusion, or Christian Magic. For me, my magic is my personal hobby and something that I do for entertainment of family and friends. I do know a couple of people who use the exact same tricks, props, or routines that I do and use them for ministry.

One thing that has prevented me from bridging the gap between hobby and ministry has been the mental potential for hypocrisy. When I perform, I am literally doing one thing while pretending to do something else. Essentially, the problem in my brain has been that I am "lying" to the people while attempting to witness to them.

It's kind of like teaching someone about Santa Clause and then saying that he doesn't exist... What makes them believe the next words out of my mouth? Or as a more magical example, when I make those coins disappear out of my spectators hands and appear in my hands, why should they believe me when I talk about God?

Just a problem of mine, and I am curious as to how others handle this issue...

JLJ
James L. Johnson

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
- Voltaire

... a rigmarole with a few bits of paper and lots of spiel. That is Mentalism
- Corinda
Terry Owens
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It's not an issue for me, I'm not pretending that I have "powers"; in my mind they are object lessons...something that I use to illustrate a truth. We are actors playing the part of a magician...no more is an actor the character that he or she plays.
Theodore Lawton
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In my limited experience, I'd have to say I agree with Terry on this one. People know that you are there to try and fool them. Half the fun of watching magic is trying to figure it out and not being able to. If you present yourself as someone who is there to entertain with illusions and no "real" magic is involved, you are not lying. Then, you can tell them the only thing about your act that is supernatural is the power of the Holy Spirit working in people's hearts.
Magic is the bacon in the breakfast of life.

............................................

God bless you and have a magical day
Joe Marotta
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Richard Osterlind is a born-again Christian brother who makes his living as a full time performer. For the last 30 years, he's been wow-ing the masses with his 'mentalism' performances. He performs many effects that he's created over the years.

If you like mentalism, even if you don't like mentalism, get some of Richard Osterlind's DVDs. Watching him work and listening carefully to his patter. You'll see that he never once lies to the audience. He says he's very careful and particular with the words that he uses and careful about not causing someone to think that he has any 'special' powers or mental abilities.

It's a joy to watch him perform and there is so much that anyone can learn from watching a professional work. His timing, his use of the different forms of misdirection, pacing, intonation, blocking, etc.

Sorry for the commercial but I think it's still on topic... somewhat.
Heres Tony
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A drama ministry presenting a drama in church is still pretend and everyone knows it. Just point out that what you are doing is an illusion used as a visual aid. It sounds like maybe the Holy Spirit is pulling you toward doing some Gospel magic in church maybe? If so, go for it!!

Tony Brent
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Bendy
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A lot of Christians have problems with the term, "magic." The word seems to conjure up, (pun intended), visions of the witchcraft and secret societies or of Egyptian magicians copying things that God was doing through Moses. I've also found that using the term "Christian Illusionist" seems to ward off some of those thoughts before they can form. Additionally, the word, "gospel," literally means "good news." While it is typically associated with Christianity, I don't think the descriptive "gospel" softens the title of "magician" in the minds of those uneducated individuals, (and that's not being rude - that's exactly what they are). By stating that you are a Christian Illusionist, you are stating your beliefs right off the bat. The 'good news' you will be delivering is going to be decisively Christian in nature. You are an illusionist; so you aren't performing "magic" and will not be repeating any evil incatations; but will instead be simply fooling everyone's eyes within the natural confines of physics.

Forget that there is no difference between the two terms/titles. People will percieve them differently. Additionally, as a Gospel Magician, you are obligated to perhaps apply a message of sorts to nearly all of your tricks. If you don't, you may be questioned. If you do, your services may not be so desirable. However, as a Christian Illusionist, you are obligated only to perform illusions. You are a Christian; so you may apply a message as you see fit and you are also free to refrain from applying messages to any or all of your illusions. I think the term, "Christian Illusionist" not only staves off immediate concern and fears over what you do; but it also allows you more freedom in designing your shows.
Richard Osterlind
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First, I want to thank Joe Marotta for those very kind words about me and my performance. I appreciate it, Joe.

I strongly dislike both of the terms “lying” and “illusion.” My full line of reasoning can be found in my book, “Principles of Magic.” If you all would start where you should, that is – that magic is an ART – then you will treat it as such and eliminate most, if not all, of your problems.

The dilemmas being discussed here are not something I have not thought about in very great length. I became a Christian over 30 years ago. I had already been practicing magic for a very long time and had accumulated many books and props. Because some of my new found Christian friends were free with their advice, I totally got rid of absolutely EVERYTHING I owned concerning magic. There was not one book or prop that I kept and it was not without great remorse that I lost some of my most precious possessions. It took me a very long time to sort things out.

It was not until I started thinking of magic as a true art form that I began putting things into their proper perspective. Those same friends who thought that I shouldn’t do magic also thought that I shouldn’t play drums unless it was Christian music. I suppose if I were a painter I shouldn’t have painted anything but Christian pictures or, if I were a writer, that I should only write novels about Christ and not fiction. And yet, these same people who had jobs that had nothing to do with the Church or Christian endeavors, such as working in stores, factories or offices, saw nothing wrong with that.

The goal of the art of magic is simply, and only, to create wonder and mystery. No other art form has that aspiration. Mystery has, as its first definition, no explanation. That is what makes it so special. If Divine intervention is introduced, the occurrence is explained. It is wonderful, but not a mystery. The magician who is a true artist has the duty to project this situation to his audiences by his speech and actions. That needn’t be by a long lecture about his art anymore than a movie maker needs to lecture his viewers that he has made a movie. It is a skill that is not easily developed and that is not even recognized by most of today’s beginners in the art.

The Bible is a living book. It is Supernatural and accurate. It is not to be looked at as simply ancient history. The prophecies alone testify to its continuing urgency as we watch events in the Mid East unfold before our very eyes. We need to relate what we do and how it is perceived to the world we live in and the way the Holy Spirit guides us. Each person must do what he is led to do by the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

After a lifetime in magic, may I suggest the following: Examine what it is you wish to ACCOMPLISH before you set out to do it. Simple as that may seem, most people don’t do it. They start with lesson three instead of lesson one. Once you decide, do it with all the power and energy God gave you.

Richard
Theodore Lawton
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Lots of wisdom to learn from there. Thank you, Richard for sharing your personal experience with us. As a newcomer to Gospel magic I cannot tell you how valuable your suggestions are. I appreciate all that you have to share and just a reminder-the Lord is using you here to help me with any ministry I may do in the future.

Be blessed!
Magic is the bacon in the breakfast of life.

............................................

God bless you and have a magical day
Richard Osterlind
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Preston,

Thank you for those very kind words and please know that I am so blessed!

If I may be allowed to, I would like to expound a bit more about my own performing philosophy.

Every age has its own problems. Like in the day of the Tower of Babel, too many people in this new century believe that science and modern technology has taught them everything. They believe anything they may want to know can be found with Google. When I perform, I try my best to completely confound everyone in my audience and destroy their logic! I mostly use mentalism as my performing media as that hits home in a way that speaks far closer to the soul than most magic. It goes places that sleight of hand alone doesn’t seem to approach. And please understand that what I do in live performances is a bit different and more involved than what I have demonstrated in my “teaching” videos. I could never bring myself to do anything less than my best and rest assured if you have liked what you have seen on those L&L series, you would love my real show. My goal there is to totally startle anyone out of complacency and thinking they know everything.

I actually want my audience to wonder what strange powers this man in front of them has. Although I always – and make that an Always with a capital A - tell them I am not psychic nor do I possess any abilities they don’t have, I want to impress them that I am a person who can do incredible things that seem to have no explanation. I want them to think they are seeing a man who knows about life and about pursuits they are not familiar with and are in awe of. I want them to be dumbstruck!

Then, when I am approached afterwards, if they should ask me what my own religious beliefs are – and that happens very frequently – and I tell them I am a Christian who has accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, they know they are not talking to a “brainwashed” person who cannot think. They know that I must have some very sound reasons why I believe what I believe if I can do the kinds of things they just saw. No, I don’t attribute any of what I do to my being a Christian, but I do attribute that searching part of me to finding Christ as the Truth and the One Way. At that point I am totally prepared to witness my Lord to anyone who may want to know about Him. He didn’t deny me and I won’t deny Him!

Now I am not advising anyone else to follow this approach. I realize it is a little offbeat and strange, but that is who I am and what I do best. After searching my soul for many years, I truly believe this is the direction the Lord has sent me in – for now, anyways!

Richard
Terry Owens
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What a great post Richard and I love the fact that what you do can open powerful doors for sharing Christ...

You've got this Pentecostal boy all wound up and excited...I'm proud to have you as a Brother in the Lord.

Keep the faith!
Cybersloughter
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Wow, I feel honored to have had such wonderful responses to my rather hastily written post. Looking at who have responded, and how, I think that I need to go back and possibly clarify some things and potentially ask a new question or two.

A small caveat before I begin, I wanted to add that for most of my life I grew up as a PK (no, not psycho kinetic, psycho maybe, but not kinetic, as my waist line attests to). With my Father pastoring any number of churches at one time I have seen the good, the ugly, and the really, really, really bad in churches. So sometimes, my opinion of the average church goer has been sadly messed with. I actually prefer new Christians who are just discovering the wonder and love of God over the "heirs" whose family have their name on a small placard on their pew.

As for my post specifically, I want to make sure that it is understood that it has been my personal issue about using magic to witness to people. I have absolutely no issues with other people using magic to witness to people. A good friend of mine at work is actually a "Gospel Illusionist" by his own naming and we often talk shop during free time. I personally love hearing about what he does (we attend different churches) and I have even written a couple of routines for him or at least given him ideas on how to use current gimmicks or tricks for the purpose of witnessing.

My (and if I could figure out how to underline, the word "my" would be underlined) problem ties in nicely with this quote from Terry Owens...

Quote:
On 2008-03-30 19:32, Terry Owens wrote:
But...though illusionist means one thing to us, illusion is exactly what we do...we are making something look like it's happening when it's really not. Thus it was an illusion...so that's why we can use it when it comes to churches.


So the issue that I had/have with using magic in my testimony essentially boils down to something like this, "I have just done something (Hey Rocky, wanna watch me pull a rabbit out of a hat?) that is typically outside the realm of normal. I am not purporting to have "power" or abilities beyond that of anyone else, but through the course of my demonstration, things have been happening that defy typical explanation. Why should the spectator then go on to believe and understand my testimony after they have seen me do such things, especially after I assure them that what I have done is normal and not powered by some unseen entity?" So I've just done a simple Corinda center tear with a Banachek/Houchin "Stigmata" reveal, and then followed with... something, and my spectator has been blown away by what I have done.

What is to keep them from thinking something like, "Man, he has shown me all these powerful things, and done stuff beyond what people should do. Now he is trying to tell me about this Deity and his Son and how I can be saved for all eternity. How do I know that he isn't just trying to exert some other power or control over me?" Or something like, "Wow, this guy just did all these tricks for me, whose to say that he isn't "tricking" me with this testimony?"

Is that any clearer? (Sorry if I'm too verbose... I like to write in addition to magic)

Actually, I guess the best way I could put it would be like this: Have any of you ever had your testimony/witness HURT by your magic?

And I have some more I could say, but I'll let this go right now because this is far longer then I intended it to be when I started writing.

JLJ
(James L. Johnson)
James L. Johnson

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.
- Voltaire

... a rigmarole with a few bits of paper and lots of spiel. That is Mentalism
- Corinda
Dan Bernier
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When the magic is given more attention and respect than the message of Christ, it will more than likely always hurt our testimony. If the magic is leaving too strong of an effect on those who we are trying to reach spiritually, we might want to think about toneing down our magic or dropping some routines altogether. If everyone you perform for only talk about how great you are as a magician, then that's probally an indication that too much emphasise is being put on the magic and not enough on the message. If I ever felt that a magic trick hurt my testimony or the message of Christ, I would not perform it anymore, or look to tone it down if possible.
"If you're going to walk in the rain, don't complain about getting wet!"
Terry Owens
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I've never to my knowledge had my testimony hurt by performing magic. I've seen countless number of people come to Christ as I illustrated biblical truth with an effect. Last month over 180 people came to Christ through my very magic oriented program. Magicians are entertainers...we are brought into groups to entertain, not display our supernatural abilities...so the expectation when you perform an effect is it's not really happening, they might not know how you're doing it, but most folks know it's not happening...thus an illusion is something that looks one way, but we know it really is not. If you approach someone and tell them you have a new effect that you want to show them...they know up front it's not real...in my Gospel presentation I turn water black and red and then clear them up...powerful reaction from the audience, but when I share that the blood of Jesus can wash away your sins...the message is what wins out in the end.

When I do my headline prediction and they're blown away with the fact that a box that I've not handled for more than a week contains notarized predictions...they're blown away, but my declaration is I can not really predict the future, but I know of One that knows what your future is...Jesus Christ.

So if you are showing something that is mind blowing, you guessed something that seems like you read minds...take it to the next level, tell them what if I really had to ability to know your thoughts or future...what would I see. I don't but I serve one that knows thoughts and intents of your heart...Jesus Christ.
Richard Osterlind
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Gospel Dan,

Thanks for your post. I totally understand what you are saying, but let me approach this subject in a different way.

First, if you were, say, a professional chef, would you “tone down” your cooking at a church dinner so as not to draw too much attention to it? Or would you “tone down” your abilities as a cabinet maker, if you volunteered to build something for your church, because you were concerned too many people might put their attention on your artwork?

Why would you do less than your best in any chosen field if that is your God-given ability and you can do it well? One of the most glaring examples of this kind misconception is the attitude of some who sing in Church.

I have actually been told by some singers at services that they are afraid to put too much into their performance because they are afraid they might be getting the attention instead of Christ. And yet, these same people will go to concerts given by professional Christian singers and Christian groups and rave about them! These entertainers perform in huge arenas with all the trappings and show biz of any other professional concert and make incredible music! And, I should point out; these people lead thousands in their audiences to the Saving Grace of Christ. There is nothing wrong, my brothers in Christ, with “entertainment” just as there is nothing wrong with a preacher telling a humorous story during the course of his sermon. And it certainly doesn’t glorify Jesus Christ by doing your “non best” in anything!

May I suggest there is only one reason why you might want to “tone down” what you do? Could it be it is because you believe there might be something “wrong” with what you are doing? Why else would the “degree” with which you do it matter? I suggest that if you are afraid of doing something “too well” you might be having regrets about what you are doing in the first place.

Let’s go back to this constant use of the word “illusion” and its allusion to lying. (See below) If I ask a person to write a name on a piece of paper, take it back and rip it up, hand back the torn pieces and then tell the person the name (to his great astonishment!), where is the illusion? If I don’t tell someone how I am doing something, then how could it be misrepresented for something else?

Do you want to know why everyone gets hung up with magic in churches? He is a cut and paste of the definition of illusion.

il•lu•sion [i l’n]
(plural il•lu•sions)
n
1. something with deceptive appearance: something that deceives the senses or mind, for example, by appearing to exist when it does not or appearing to be one thing when it is in fact another
2. deceptive power of appearances: the ability of appearances to deceive the mind and senses or the capacity of the mind and senses to be deceived by appearances
3. false idea: a false idea, conception, or belief concerning something

Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


Take a look at how many times the word “deceive” or "false" appears above. Is that what you want to do as a Christian?

Why not just structure your magic so that you don’t have to make any false statements or claims, but rather just have it melt into a beautiful, harmonious effect?

If you think this is a radical concept then consider the person who most would name as the number one magician of all time – Houdini. Would you call his escapes from restraints – ILLUSIONS? All he ever claimed was that he could somehow get out from anything they shackled him in. And he did. Where was the illusion?

Sure, we can stretch semantics to call all magical entertainment illusion, but then why not do it with other art forms. Why not call a great painting an illusion? After all the Mona Lisa is not a real person, just some pigment on some canvas that has the “illusion” of something important. Scribbling, by that outlook, would be as valuable.

Why is Handel’s Messiah regarded as anything else but just sounds made by a variety of instruments? How could something so trite possibly represent the Magnificent Glory of the God that created the universe?! Isn’t that just some kind of deceptive use of sound?

Getting back to magic; how exactly do you tone it down? Do you do something that has less of an effect? Or do you do something that is so transparent that it is laughable? If you do that and people either don’t care or make fun of what you have done, why do it to begin with? What does it accomplish and how does that affect your witness?

Isn’t the purpose of magic to do something amazing? If it isn’t worth seeing or if no one is amazed, it isn’t magic!

Now don’t get me wrong here, I am not putting down a children’s message where you use a visual aid to help with your illustration. And if something a bit startling or off-beat happens to keep their attention; that is great. I am also not suggesting that you do something that might be inappropriate for children or above their heads. But if you are going to do magic, then do it and do it well!

Let me end here by stating publicly that I am not happy with the current state of magic in general. This is a rather recent development on my part over the last few years. There is just too much bad magic and too many bad people in magic. I’m sorry if that sounds judgmental or critical, but that’s how I feel. I have seen too many deplorable things going on recently that I can not tolerate. Rather than bring attention to these offenders, I would rather combat the situation by trying to create and perform the best magic I can using the abilities my God has given me. I am far from perfect and make continuous mistakes, but I am always trying to learn and be better.

I hope this posting has not offended anyone and I would be glad to discuss viewpoints that might be opposing.

Regards,
Richard
harris
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Isn't it great to have a Home Church and a place on line to share and discuss.

I have shared both in professional Christian Theatre, as a musician, ventriloquist and yes magician for churches including during Sunday morning services. At times our troupe has had a problem keeping active men actors...leading to this completed Jewish Person playing roles from Francis of Assisi, Noah, Abraham and yes Jesus...(some say he wasn't as tall a shown in many movies.)

I agree Drama is not lying, nor is magic it is a tool used as a message. Our scripts are based on biblical passages. This summer a full length production is coming on Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.

Due to other commitments I will not be part of the cast this year. Last year I got to share words and music as Stanley in Smoke on the Mountain at several churches. Several times I got to smile when audience members asked if I was typecast as the wayward brother/prodigal son character. (he's the one that knows what beer smells like and likes it...Me I stick to water)

God gives us all talents...(you know the story)

Peace be with you

Harris
Harris Deutsch aka dr laugh
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Dan Bernier
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Richard, you are right in what you say. I used the word, "tone" for the lack of a better word. I see that the word, "tone" was a wrong choice of words altogether. I am not offended by what you had to say, in fact I'm glad you said it.

If my magic was hurting my testimony,(which it's not) I would have to decide what is more important to me, performing magic, or spreading the message and love of Jesus Christ. If I was accomplishing nothing but rave reviews about my talents as a magician while everyone was missing the message I was trying to convey, then I would start feeling bad and questioning what I'm doing. I don't have any guilt for performing magic, but I perform magic as a tool to help illustrate Gospel truths. If the magic I performed hindered that in anyway, and no one was getting the message, I would have to evaluate how I was presenting the message. If I was to believe that a magic trick or magic in general was getting in the way of that message being heard, then I would re-think my approach.

However, with that said. I have not been faced with that issue and continue to pray that I never do. Magic has been a great way for me to communicate God's love, if it be in a church setting or on the streets. Using magic has been nothing but positive for me. To me, it's all about priorities.

If we use magic to present our testimony, or to speak about the message of Christ, our magic should be done very well and professionally, just like the message. To those of us who use magic in ministry, it's vital that our audience gets the message or it was all in vain. I believe that the message should always take center stage. Gospel magic is about presenting the Gospel using magic as a tool. It's not supposed to be about us, although it sure feels nice when we get a laugh or an applause for a trick or illusion well done. Getting an applause or the kind of reaction we were looking for helps us to feel that what we are doing is playing a difference, no matter how small that difference may be. If it's not making a difference we need to look as to why.
"If you're going to walk in the rain, don't complain about getting wet!"
Heres Tony
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Wow, this thread is rocking! So much great content. Richard do you ever appear in churches? I'm so happy to hear where your heart is. I've been a big fan for years. The "Miracle Flying Cards" principle is used nightly in my dinner show.

Tony Brent
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Outta Control Magic Show
"Orlando's funniest dinner show" - WESH-TV
Dan Bernier
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Another thought came to me after reading this quote again.

"First, if you were, say, a professional chef, would you “tone down” your cooking at a church dinner so as not to draw too much attention to it? Or would you “tone down” your abilities as a cabinet maker, if you volunteered to build something for your church, because you were concerned too many people might put their attention on your artwork?"

If my specialty in cooking was preparing a dish that used an item that one person was allergic to, I would change the dish for everyone in attendance, making sure that the ingredients I was using did not contain the food item the person was allergic to. I would still be able to cook a fantastic dish and put my heart into it, but I wouldn't compromise the health of one indavidual for the sake of cooking my most successful dish.


If I built something for the church and was concerned that people would put more attention on the art work than the reason why they are at church, I would have to ask myself the question as to why I'm building the cabinet in the first place. Is it because it will serve a function other than just eye candy? Am I building it so I can get recognition for being a great cabinetmaker? Or, am I doing it because I love the Lord and want to serve Him in every area of my life?
"If you're going to walk in the rain, don't complain about getting wet!"
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