Yes (to answer Dustin's question)! The whole sub-text of Houdinis art was defying death (a.k.a. challenging God). I fully agree with Kaufman on this. I think it is in the style of Harry's self confidence. The fact that he is Jewish makes the statement all the more provocative. Even Christ doubted himself, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Granted, Houdini cheated, but hey, that's what our business is all about, we make that perfectly clear upfront.
Remember his nude photos in chains (under the guise of having nothing to hide)? Pretty bold at the time and I think the piece in question is simply an upgraded version of the same bold message that Houdini was trying to create for himself. If your art doesn't provoke, doesn't upset, if it's simply pedestrian, then you aren't doing your job. If Harry taught magic one thing, it was be bold