Controversial uses of Magic

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Guest » 05/08/04 06:26 PM

Diego -- It is very hard for me to "relax and enjoy" when doing that is exactly what has gotten our nation into the pickle it is in.

As do Penn and Teller -- I have a very hard time accepting a mixture of magic, magick and the "magick of religious belief" that leads way too many people into thinking that personal responsibility AND reactions to science and advances must be dogmaticly fought by bible quotation, scriptural proscription and prescription that in no way excites thought and creative action in areas that will indeed move mankind into a "kinder gentler world."

It was not magick or prayer that extended life and removed many illnesses from those who could afford to pay for it.

The use of publicity -- and yes -- even performance magic (could be movies are magical in their inception, no?) to spread the news of scientific and creative discovery that has increased lifespan and even removed women from the daily grind of washing clothes by hand -- cooking only after the wood was split or coal oil hauled to the kitchen -- and even the burden of unwanted children.

In my library I have a volume -- it shows a skull in three dimensions on the cover -- and is inscribed "MAGIC" in bold letters. I ask visitors to open it to discover the real magic in life. It contains three wonderful shots of far galaxies from the Hubble and a mirror.

When I run a seance -- the guests leaving receive an arcane scroll, sealed in wax. It contains a reformation of Carl Sagan's BS detectors they might have wanted to ask during the performance -- leaving little doubt I do not want to expose the performance magic tricks -- but do want my audiences to think on several levels.

That's their choice -- much like Andre would bve doing -- IF he did not only offer "The Big Illusion" to follow the sermon. That means I did not get a complete show if I leave.

Nuf said -- on that.

Maybe we can get Nakul to comment on how show magic is being used in his culture to bring messages to people -=- outside of a religious framework.

GC
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Postby Guest » 05/08/04 07:13 PM

Whew, stop racing your engines....I never realized there was "trouble in river city", and we were in such a pickle!
Read the first 4 paragraphs and the statements you have made, are only your own...no one on this board, (and most in and out of the pews) has said those things or refutes the benefits of scientific advancement.
Yes, there are those out there that do not have your views, and be careful of stereotyping others who don't. (who is the most intolerant here?)
There has been concern over "cultural imperialism" by other countries, but that cuts both ways. What a contrast where the different,(even Gospel magicians)the weird, and others can exercise the wonderful right to be wrong, here in the U.S....try that in many middle-east countries.

You seem to have your agenda and focus, so do they...it's OK.
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Postby Bill Palmer » 05/08/04 07:59 PM

Possibly the most controversial use of magic during the past century was the documented use of props purchased at Douglas Magicland by James Jones for him to use during his sermons to the flock that was eventually to become the population of Jonestown. According to a friend of mine, whose brother was in the congregation, he used those tricks, mostly products of U.F. Grant, to prove his supernatural powers.

I once told my friend that I had often thought that perhaps debunking Jones might have prevented the Jonestown massacre. He said that he had often tried to do just that, but it didn't matter. His brother would not have believed it, anyway.
Bill Palmer, MIMC
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Postby Bill Palmer » 05/08/04 08:06 PM

Re: Andre Kole:

Please, do not misunderstand me. I know what I am going to see when I go to one of his shows. I really like his magic. And I do not find his message offensive in the least. However, there are those who consider ANY reference to the Deity to be proselytizing, as I mentioned in my first post about this. And Andre doesn't. People who book him need to understand this. And they should not expect him to change his show.

Re: Felix Snipes and Danny Korem:

Both of these gentlemen are friends of mine. They are top-notch performers. They are obviously not the people I had in mind.

Re: Choirs sounding "too professional"

My father was the choir director at Memorial Lutheran Church for many years. He regularly hired two sopranos, two altos, two tenors and two basses, as well as other musicians to fill out the sound of the group for special performances. He staged many special "festival" performances. They were ALWAYS well-received. I never once heard anyone criticize his choir or ensemble for sounding "too professional." He sold many of the recordings of the choirs he directed. He paid for the recordings, and all proceeds went to the church.
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Postby Joe M. Turner » 05/09/04 11:34 AM

I had written a longer response but I decided to erase it. Those who object to religious evangelism will find a reason to object to it in any form. Those who believe they are divinely commanded to share their faith with others will do so and be labeled proselytizers, or they will fail to do so and be labeled hypocrites... often by the same people.

Also, Christianity is as "diverse" as any other faith, and particularly so when introduced into an area where it is not practiced.

I definitely agree that there are too many "Gospel magicians" who are lazy with regard to technique and performance, resting on an idea that "anything" they do for God is good enough. That is a valid objection. Such laziness is not limited to Christian magicians, at any rate, although they are an easily identified subset.

Notably, Andre Kole is not a member of that subset.

Best,
JMT
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Postby Guest » 05/09/04 09:14 PM

Is there a difference between evangelizing and propagandizing when performing magic? I think it boils down to notice to the audience of what to expect.

When I go to see Penn & Teller, I expect to see an irreverant but patriotic show. When they made a religious statement in a magical forum -- where it had been announced that it would be rife with adult and irreverant material -- some Christian magicians who had chosen to attend even though forwarned -- tried to make a much bigger deal of their being insulted ( a few, very few, even walked out) because of the, what they called "blasphemous content " and did not reference the fact they were forewarned. The P&T may have been in bad taste for general consumption -- but the general consumer at the event was forwarned.

Let me be clear -- I have no objection to any degree of evangelizing particularly for morals, human compassion understanding, ideas, patriotism and even products if I am forwarned it will happen. I expect such in a trade show and I love a good dramatic piece such as P&T on flag burning -- McBrides water bowlswith its moral of watching what you ask the gods for --- and after 9/11 I was quickly putting together a rally point mismade flag routine with Pete Seeger's version of "This Land is Your Land..." a wonderful Woody Guthrie protest/and/or/folk song. I am sure I was not the only one. I did not feel, for myh show "God Bless America" was right -- since I was playinmg near a college where many atheists and patriots attended my show.

I do find it strange, however, that many faiths used to persecute magicians. Now I see some have embraced the John Edwards types as a proof and bridge into life after death. And I see other - more fundamentalist Christian groups exposing Edwards as a "dangerous spiritual fraud." And how plaintif are the cries many of our other Christian magicians in their exposure of him -- because he did not announce his intention to use cold reading deceptions until the end of his program -- and then only in small print too long to read in the time it was on the screen.

James Randi's exposure of Uri Geller comes to mind. Confrontational and changing no ones mind -- demeaning to magic at best. James Randi is a hell of a stand-up guy when it comes to his beliefs -- but his rational and confrontive style probably wins fewer "converts" than other means -- means at present seemingly used by evangelizing minister magicians.

There is an interesting article on communication between the new age/magical world and skeptics (and there are a lot of skeptical but religious magicians too). It indicates that by direct affront, verbal assault or contradiction on a base religious belief -- or even by verbal inuendo -- one group shuts out the other. This is probably because it feels that even considering the possibilities of contradiction presents a threat to the system of belief. A true skeptic never feels that way. I firmly believe in numinous experience.

To me, a true magician -- skeptic, Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Jewish, Hindu, Bhuddist, or a worshipper of Cthulu-- MUST be an exceptional communicator, an exceptional listener and a very good performer. The major problem with this -- is that too few magicians actually consider what they are communicating. Even fewer listen. I will not comment on the level of performance I have seen -- and I do not consider myself a great performer. Good much of the time -- but not great.

An admirable part of Andre Kole's wonderfukl and most magical presentations are that he makes sure you know the tricks are tricks devised by men -- and are only used to animate an example of his principles -- when he is in the sermon mode using a trick. Otherwise his tricks are mostly solid stage magic without evangelism. I have never seen him use a silk trick to tell a Gospel story when the context of the trick has nothing to do with the story, such as using a blendo to tell the Joseph story. When I saw another evangelizing magician put this very routine on in the middle of a commercial show-- unannounced in publicity or entrance to the show -- it became one of the few times my distaste overcame my manners and saw me walking out in mid-show. I hope he never books a Bar-Mitzvah. (And Andre was happy to do Barry Shore's son's Bar Mitzvah as I understand it...without evangelizing.)

It is my understanding -- and I may be wrong in this -- that some of these ministers, of whom I originally spoke in my first post, go to these non-christian nations -- advertise a magic show -- then weave this type of silk gospel trick into the show -- in addition to a sermon.

That to me is propagandizing -- not evangelizing. It also robs the audience of its money -- spent for entertainment, not a church service.

Again, I must point to the Spiritual Magic of Father Daniel. In his show -- held for Catholic Audiences -- he teaches moral principles. Avoiding confrontational direct references to the bible -- he uses allegory to get his point across. His cut and restored rope is a story of friendship and forgiveness -- and is not preachy, but magical on SEVERAL levels at once. It does teach a universal principal in all religions, without thumping.

So -- does everyone know that Franz Harrary walks through that jet engine as a trick -- or does it have to be put down to a miracle of a god???????

Frankly -- as long as I am aware of what I am buying - and it is my decision to attend or not -- or even walk out AND get my money back if I have not seen a complete show -- I feel each performer has the right to perform what he or she will in the manner they choose.

Then --and let me think again about how to say this -- too many religions for too long persecuted ALL manner of magic. Now some have tried to pre-empt the magic craft to draw the heathen and non believer into their fold. That is their right.

But is it not also the right of magicians to question what harm the former persecutor may do to the craft or art of magic -- by pre-empting what they formerly labeled as "sin." Will this not eventually lead to exposure of our secrets -- or will it lead to a change in their beliefs???
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Postby Guest » 05/10/04 11:58 AM

On a different note, at a magic history conference, I had discussions about the those who seem to have been forgotten, dismissed, or ignored in and from magic history.(but of course, everyone feels THEY are most slighted) Those included mindreaders/mentalists, childrens magicians, women, minorities, and Gospel magicians
because of who they are, or genre they work in.
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Postby Guest » 05/10/04 12:29 PM

"Maybe it isn't that you are against clergy being involved with politics, but you are against conservative clergy involved as well." (Paraphrase of Ronald Reagon to Walter Mondale, during debate)
As Mr. Turner has brought up, if the concern is about the rightness/correctness of sharing/promoting/forcing,(pick your choice) the Gospel or other beliefs to others of different beliefs and cultures, than that is an issue than cannot be resolved, and would be wasteful to try, in a magic-focus forum. (some will say, "how can you include your belief/message in your shows", and others will say, "how can you not use the opportunity to include this important message in my shows?!"

Mr. Mara prefers those whose messages agree with him, in their performances, and others feel the opposite.
Most of Kole's performance are in church-related venues, or on a campus, under the auspices of Campus Crusade for Christ. And despite all his disclaimers, if anyone asked for their money back, I can see Kole immediately refunding their money, knowing that sends a positive message as well.

I wonder if you would have walked out of a (fellow?) magician's show, if he used a blendo to show how the Joseph/Gospel stories are not valid and more rational thinking is needed in this world?
Some members, of some religions have persecuted magicians, but again that title can mean many things...may be why some went under the label of "jugglers" instead...but again, that may not have a lot to do with today, centuries later.
As Mr. Palmer notes, there is a wide diversity of beliefs within all beliefs.
There is a decreasing minority of those who feel playing cards are "the devils playthings", and others who have bridge/canasta card nights as pleasant recreation in their church social halls.

Times/things change....Talk of "former prosecuters/persecuters, later pre-empting magic" or better performance magic to promote their beliefs, reminds me of a prominent, conservative,
minister , recalled how he was almost kicked out of seminary, for the sinful practice of watching a baseball game, and a generation later, his churches have their own baseball teams, and how some top players, have joined the ball team that Campus Crusade for Christ, has touring-playing local teams, so they can later share their message to those who wish to listen.(Like the runner in "Chariots of Fire" did)
Again, we are in different worlds in a different time, and it is only too easy to make strident generalizations.
I've seen Kole and P&T and enjoyed both shows.
Agreement with their beliefs, format, or premise is not a requirement with me.
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Postby Guest » 05/10/04 10:14 PM

Hi All,

To address Greg's primary question, magicians in India seem to be using magic primarily for four types of communication (in addition to its primary function of entertainment):

1: Magic for (& of) the Gospel -- This is at best a rarity when it comes to Indian magicians, as most of the gospel magic we see in India, comes from the "Western" magicians who are visiting us. We are more or less used to the fact that ANY (sorry about that!) Western magician who is visiting and performing here, MUST be performing Gospel. This is true of many "award-winning magicians" who have visited India, under the auspices of Campus Crusade, and other like-minded organisations, who perform both for schools (mostly christian convent, but also for others) and colleges, and for the public. I will address this issue in greater detail in my next post.

2: Magic for product promotion -- which are mainly commercial in nature, and use magic as a marketing tool to promote and market products and services, or a people gathering mechanism... all the while brandishing the products/brands of a company.

3: Magic for social education & awareness -- where magic is used as a tool to highlight the nuances of health (AIDS awareness, pulse polio campaign, et al.), family planning, promotion/propagation of governmental (& non-governmental) welfare schemes, election awareness, national integration, and more...

4: Magic for Promotion of Rational Thought -- Closely related to the above, but drastically opposite to the concept of Gospel Magic. Here magic is used as a tool to "explain" to the people the 'reality' of long-held superstitions, religious and traditional beliefs. The performance is most of the times demonstrational in nature, and 'exposes' some of the secrets of the art, to convey the message that it has nothing to with the supernatural, but essentially trickery.

As most of us understand the first two issues clearly, let me provide hyperlinks to two news articles, to serve as examples for Point 3 and 4, respectively:
(3) - http://www1.timesofindia.indiatimes.com ... d=35003944
(4) - http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanheral ... 004/c7.asp

Hope this serves to further the discussion on this topic ;-)

Nakul

PS: Greg, Sorry for the immense delay in posting a reply. Was way too tied up at work. You have started a very interesting thread! More in my next post...
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Postby Guest » 05/10/04 11:27 PM

Hi All,

As I said before this thread has made more than a very interesting read. I too have had the occasion to watch Andre Kole's show when he visited India last, and--while time & opportunity did not allow meeting Andre in person--I have been in touch with Andre ever since through email. He continues to provide much valued input to my research on the communication potential of magic.

The above goes to say that I am not trying to hold Andre in contempt, but only trying to use his shows (which I have seen) to illustrate my views.

Diego mentioned how Andre "explains that after a break, he will talk about how the Gospel became relevant to him and how it can be for others, and those who would not be interested or possibly offended, can use the intermission to leave without embarrassment..."

While I agree, I do have some reservations with this. At least in both the public (ticketed) shows where I saw Andre perform, he said: Later on in the show I will share with you something that I have found of immense value to my life. I have found the truth in it... This Truth that I found, have changed my life greately. I wish to share with you this Truth, so that you too may find your Truth. (This is a recollection, I will try to trace my notes from the show, and post the actual words tomorrow...)

But this I am sure. Nowhere did he mention "God," "Religion," "Christ," and the like. He kept saying that he was going to share some personal feelings with the audience, which some of them may not like... That he was going to give a break, for the benefit of those who did not want to experience this, so that they may leave.

And when the actual moment came, he announced that a break of ONE MINUTE was being given for people who wanted to leave, as he was now going to share his Truth with the audience.... After which (and this is VERY important) the magic show would continue.

And then followed the 20 minute sermon, for the better part of which Andre was doing just that... delivering a sermon.

I was in the audience... I did not see many people leave. I will guess why... Most people did not know it was to be a religious sermon. Most of the rest, wanted to watch the full show... the show for which theyt had paid. Again, it would not really be "Indian culture" to get up and leave like that... We are a pretty "conscious" lot... always wondering what the others might think ;-)

And then when the gospel presentation began... I saw people shift in their seats, felt them feel squeamish, et al. Cause this was not what they expected... not a sermon. Not a religious one at least!

And what happened at the end of the sermon took the cake! The audience was asked to stand up and take part in a prayer... A prayer, may I add, was entirely "Christian" in nature. And VERY out of place, and queer, (to say the least) for an audience comprised of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Muslims, Christians, and more...

And then followed a distribution of small chits of paper, where the audience was expected to write in their contact information, and state their thoughts on the "one and only real" Truth.

Having said all that, I must say that Andre is a good performer, and understands totally the impact his shows have on his audience. Andre understands the potential of his art and craft to communicate his message effectively to audiences worldwide.

Although the one problem (?) I see in his "message" per se is that throughout the show he talks about all magic being scientific; that he has not found evidence of ANY supernatural occurrence; that ALL the people who claim paranormal powers and the rest are actually performing magic tricks... And then he starts to talk about his Lord, & Christ, who was the ONLY ONE bestowed with the Powers.

Again, full credit to Andre, as he does put in immense effort in his "disclaimers" to "warn people" to leave, lest their sentiments be hurt.

For in ALL THE OTHER gospel magic performances I witnessed of visiting western magicians in India: there was no disclaimer, no warning, nothing.

Just the message about the only Truth, and the ONLY way to God! And in a country, where the 80 per cent of the people bow in reverence to at least 10,000,000 Gods... ;-)

Nakul
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Postby Guest » 05/11/04 12:24 AM

Interesting reading the above recollections. I can only say when I've seen Kole perform, (over 3 decades)the intermission here in the U.S. was longer and relaxed...long enough to do whatever while Andre stood by the souvenir stand and talked to people. My recollection is that Andre made it clear the content and focus of the next part...that most of the "show" was now done, although the last time I saw him, he did say his final (big) illusion would conclude his program, for those who wishes to stay.
I remember the prayer, but remember staying in our seats...but things may have changed with time or venues.
Interesting that a "problem" is Andre's debunking of the (occult/pagan) supernatural, while different than P&T and other skeptics, he is trying to have others use "see what is false, and find what is real."(to him)
Keep in mind, contrary to perceptions of some Christians being close-minded and heavy-handed...those in other religions in India and otherwise, can demonstrate far more bigotry and intorance...witness the constant wars between different (non-Christian) religions.
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Postby Guest » 05/11/04 12:52 AM

Thank you for the information Nakul.

All - consider this -- there is a culturally and religiously sensitive world in many places that put magic in a different regard than an American or British mindset of performance cabaret. misic hall, Las Vegas stage or Uncle Harry's darned double lift at Thanksgiving,

This is another reason why I feel using magic for ANY religions' evangelizing is dangerous to the entertainment performance craft.

I think Nakul has only hinted at the fact that ALL USA magicians tend to be branded with the "Christian Missionary" stripe in many portions of India --- by the common man.

So -- let me ask then -- would it be OK for an Ossama Bin Laden missionary to perform a magic carpet illusion and preach the doctrine that the west is evil in Boise without warning????

I spent a week in January asking Jay Marshal, Penn, Teller, Eugene Burger, Obie Obrien, Joe Stevens,Kevin James, Nick Rugierro, Andy Greget, James Randi, Ian Rowland, Tejani, Jerry Andress, Larry Becker, Jamie Ian Swiss, Tommy Wonder, Jim Riser, and quite a few other compeers if they had ever seen or heard of a "political" magician along the lines of Will Rogers, Dennis Miller, Dick Gregory or even Mort Sahl.

While all thought -- most indicated only one piece -- P&Ts flag burning. Other than that most assented that "political magic is too dangerous -- and probably will not get booked."

So the message of magic in politics is dangerous (at least economically) and might even get some people horned off at magicians doing a political head chopper?

Now consider the Indian, Thai and Bangladeshi view of American Magic. Ya gotta be a Christian to come here perform it -- and give a Christian message. If we want to see magic -- we do not have to put up with this,

I agree bookers in major cities in these nations -- can cut through the problems in some venues, (particularly western tourist hotels) for the educated and wealthy --- but if we entertain PEOPLE of these nations, not just the wealthy and western tourist-- what is the people's perception of what we perform and why we perform it.

Penn has a great phrase in his CBC show with Teller while in India -- "I am not a god man" . In this context "God Man" one who does magic so you will follow him (or his religion) as a god. Only after that statement was interpreted to people in some crowds did the PEOPLE seem to relax and enjoy the show.

I apologize to those reading this thread who may think I am anti-religious. While no longer a member of any organized sect (I am a democrat, however, a disorganozed sect) I strongly subscribe to the principle that each person has the right to worship who, what when and where they may > Also believe that they must show me the same respect as a matter of human respect.

Unannounced evangelizing in a magic show offers me no respect for my beliefs -- and realizing that lack of respect I am proud, not shamed\, to walk out.

BTW -- in Andre's last two shows I attended as a paying admission -- I knew the message was coming -- and stayed as my choice to see the complete show.

I have purchased and read Andre's books and disagree with some of what he says for me -- but it works for him. He is an admirable, sterling individual, one of the prolific inventors of good solid performance magic in the vast wasteland of rip-offs we see daily. He is, in person, a respectful gentleman, not a raviong thumper.

Now -- reflect a recent setg incidents here in Tucson. One individual started booking a series of birthday parties. Not a bad magician -- but he always would include Christian propaganda tricks in the shows,k at first an unannounced surprise to the adult party hosts. He performed a bit -- and the Christian hosts though nothing of it. At first, the Jewish and Muslim kidsi were taken by surprise -- and finally their parents -- for good reason I think -- would not let their children attend parties thrown by their classmates if this individual was to appear. (And in fact -- a few, because they did not know this guy's name -- any magic show or party.)

That separated -- even segregated these kids of other religions as from their peerrs as "other." And I do not think second and third graders need to be subjected to evangelizing at a magic performance without the host or parents of attendees knowing what was coming. Christian homes having thjs guy in did not understand why such cute bible stories would be offensive to their child's classmates.

To me -- that is a form of reprehensible cultural and religious imperialism by an adult magician who should have known better.

He is now a full time Christian Magic minister traveling the world -- and a few American citizen Jewish and Muslim kids feel a little more allienated -- from peers and magic.

And that is just one of the reasons I feel this practice of preempting magic performance to push any religion can be a danger to the whole of the craft.

I am sorry if my tolerance of other people's beliefs and honoring who they are and choose to be offends anyone. I know that prosceletizing magicians feel their belief demands they continue. But I prefer they not put the art of what I practice or believe down -- or minimze my beliefs -- or attack my brand of magic throuigh discounting my belief of what they may be doing to the art.

Saying that -- I know that Paul Albestat has had some conversations on what he does on occassions that people start believing 100 per cent in his cold reading skills and magic. His approach seems, mostly, well thought out and humanely applied. Paul knows he is talented -- but like Penn -- he knows he is not a "God Man."

GC
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Postby Guest » 05/11/04 02:55 AM

Originally posted by payne:
I've always felt that using magic or any other medium to inflict the gospel upon the unsuspecting cheapens the message.
If the message is so strong why do you need to trick people into hearing it?
Payne,

While I agree with your thought, my fears are in the opposite...

I have found Magic to be so powerful a medium of communication that--when used in an effective way--it can make the message overpowering, and literally "force-feed" its way into a person's mind.

The fear is that using magic as the medium might just make the "message" (whether right/wrong) so strong that it might NOT be not-accepted!

Nakul
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Postby Guest » 05/11/04 03:08 AM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
Using magic to illustrate ideas seems a good idea. There is a general caution about matters of faith being diminished by demonstrations.

Likewise, when the illustration becomes confused with the subject illustrated... we will have problems. The map is not the terrain.
Exactly. "When effectively used" it is too powerful a medium. So much so that it might prevent the audience from being able to refuse the message communicated.

The two primary (interconnected) reasons for this are:

ONE : Association
An effective and efficient performance of magic may ensure that the audience (mis)associates you with a psychic or godman, or a person with (genuine) powers.

TWO : Perception
The above (mis)association automatically takes the message to another level. Your thought / communication may be perceived to be Truism.

Most of us have got into many a (un)pleasant situations where after an hours performance of performing magic, members of the audience have approached us to "find utility" in our "powers".

Notwithstanding the fact that we "made known" during the performance what we presented was accomplished using science at various levels, or at times more clearly as owing to sleight of hand and misdirection.

But the people still come, as they KNOW, what we are doing is GENUINE powers. What is to prevent them from (mis)understanding our communication as being the one and only truth?

Nakul
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Postby Guest » 05/11/04 03:22 AM

Originally posted by Ron Giesecke:
Danny Korem has, I think done the best job of fusing these two things, but I also tend to agree that any message can be lost if oversaturated in a magic routine. It reminds me of a television commercial that is so hilarious, that when it's over, I have no idea what company, product or cause was being put forth anyway.
Well put, Ron. That's the whole issue: To be able to communicate the message effectively and efficiently.

The entertainment value of the commercial may have been so great, that the message was forgotten. In using magic the dangers are manifold, as here it may not only be the entertainment value, or the story, but the effect per se that might be so powerful that the message might be lost.

Using a non-magical example, the right mix may lie in the difference between Public Relations and Advertisement. To communicate the message effectively, Magic too needs to be subtle like PR, and not as blatant as advertising.

Originally posted by Diego Domingo:
I find it interesting when some question the use of performing magic,(or other forms of entertainment) to present,(some would say "force-fed", others would say "share") the Gospel or other religious message, when I have yet to hear anyone take issue with the fine performers/people, who use magic, to present/promote, (financed by the corporations that make them) beer, liquor, tobacco, and other corporations, whose products, do nothing but hurt and kill people.
Diego, I loved this point, and I agree totally.

The hindrance is that most of us do not really understand the impact of a "magical communication". And that is why the morality aspect is seldom discussed.

I guess once we realise that the medium is so powerful that it has the potential to communicate like no other, we will sit down and bring the morality and ethicality into question.

Nakul
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Postby Guest » 05/11/04 04:39 AM

Yes, Diego. "One minute" was what was announced, and the show resumed in less than that time period. Again, for a show held in an open school playground, for a mixed audience of 5,000 plus, even a five minute break to "leave" would cause too much confusion and unrest... Bearing that in mind, I guess the "continue with the Big Illusion" bit may be a tool to dissuade people from leaving... After all, he wouldn't really want the audience to leave.

Like you said, the show and content must surely depend on the organisers and the venue. Again, I wonder if Andre knew if what his audience comprised of. It might be interesting to know, if he indeed knew that the audience was a mix-bag, and comprised of people from all faiths and religions.

This would also impact my perception of the other western magicians that I witnessed in various schools and colleges, and in public shows, who were essentially funded and brought to India by the various evangelistic organisations. Did they know who their audience was?

Coming back to the prayer: Most public functions in India begin with a prayer (invocation). So while it is quite a common sight for the audience to stand up in reverence (faith no bar) at a public gathering for the invocation, the prayer... your must be knowing the words by now ;-)... was not very well received, as the words denoted accepting and inviting a God into the person's life.

I mentioned in one of my earlier posts that gospel magic was seldom seen in India through the hands of Indian magicians. But what is equally interesting (?) is the fact that most of the magicians who do perform gospel magic are associated with the Church, as in are either a Rev. Father, or a Brother.

In this context, it is indeed interesting when the said individuals in their sermons admonish all "magic" to be the work of Satan, and later on use "magic" to propagate the gospel.

Nakul

PS: Hope I am not making too many a post ;-)
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Postby Guest » 05/11/04 07:07 AM

Remember when some knock "magic", they are referring to (presumed)"occult/psychic" magic, not entertainment. Be careful of blurring the lines, while in India and other places, those lines are blurred already.
Kole probably DID know the make-up of the audience,(he's in India, not Memphis) and most important, Andre and most Gospel magicians, would WANT the opportunity to give their message to the non/other believers, so they can hopefully become believers...he is interested in evangelizing others, he doesn't want to just, "preach to the choir".
Also, as noted in other threads, remember their are those who will be impacted by what they see and hear, (even it is a poor presentation) and those who, (while watching even the best presentation) will shrug their shoulders and say, "It was an alright show, where are we going for dinner?", and forget you the next day.
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Postby Bill Palmer » 05/12/04 12:05 AM

I think I should post about a friend of mine who, sadly, is no longer with us. He was a minister in a rather strict branch of Christianity, and an amateurish magician. He had a tendency to perform magic during his sermons, and do it very badly. Those of us in the local clubs tried to work with him to get him to improve his performances, but he just didn't seem to think it was important.

It was, though. The elders of his church warned him that they were tired of the magic in the sermons. He should have taken the hint. After repeated warnings, they fired him.

That was his last preaching gig.

The only message he ever seemed to really be able to communicate with his magic was the value of practicing more.
Bill Palmer, MIMC
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Postby Guest » 05/12/04 04:10 AM

Well said, Diego.
Yes. There are all kinds of audiences. The point is there are all sorts of magicians too. And the effectiveness of a message being communicated is naturally totally dependent on the performing (and convincing) capabilities of the magician.

Bill : The case you mention about your friend, while being sad, is entirely true in many other cases. Most magicians in India are NOT what people would consider good performers. Many (actually a majority) have learnt ALL their magic from dealer items and the description sheets that accompany these items. And as such their performance is limited to the same.

To All:
The major question seems to be revolving around good, better, and exceptional performers, who can actually influence the audience with their performance. I feel it is at thie juncture that the question of ethics comes in - The question of using a medium way too powerful.

Remember magic is integral to ancient cultures & civilizations like India... where the use of "magic" in its varied forms has consistently been associated with society and religion... and thus people's life.

Nakul
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Postby Guest » 05/12/04 02:20 PM

Again -- Nakul - thank you for articulating the point I want to discuss much better than I have.

Magic is a powerful dramatic tool. Like a gun --- it can be unloaded and used as a prop -- such as in Commercial Trade Show magic where we stop a crowd to actually look at the product -- which has nothing to do with magic. Comedy magic often loads the gun with blanks -- noisy and fun -- but blanks.

But when magic is loaded with message -- it IS a loaded gun. Our dramatic and philosphical statments can -- and many time do -- go to the core of someone's beliefs. Witness cold readers who get a following. And then some cold readers start believing -- that the thing they portray is para-real. The compliments and return following they get (and not to mention the money) offers them a power that can turn corrosive quickly. This power is not available to them if they just do "shows" and do not present an image that they "believe" as would a shut-eye.

There are many stories of method actors who cannot get out of character after the drama is done. Many magicians get into this frame of mind and do not realize it. Alter ego in performance becomes the full time presenting personality.

Let's face it -- magicians, in show business -- are low men on the totem pole for the most part. They get a lot less respect than Rodney Dangerfield could ever complain of. Some even earn disrespect.

Magic is powerful. So is religious belief. When a person who does not deserve respect tries to mix the two -- it is truly russian roulette --- for the perception of the whole craft of performance magic, IMHO.

Let us look at the life arc of L. Ron Hubbard if we want a non-magic comparison -- or that of John Edward and Uri Geller if you want magical techniques used for another message. Look at the impact of Richardi's sawing --- on a sophisticated crowd.

That is NOT to say we should eschew message magic and the mysteries we present --BUT--- I feel it is our duty to warn the audience about it before the show and chance losing a few ticket sales. This can be done in many legitimate ways.

GC

GC
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Postby Guest » 05/13/04 12:55 PM

I'm a bit confused about the main topic here. I read that India is more 'diverse' than the US, actually it isn't, which makes me wonder about the use of the word and thus the writer. While not an advocate of Gospel magic I was suprised at the implication that hords of incompitent Gospel Magicians from the US are rampaging across India and the rest of Asia. Who are these magicians and how long do you believe they will be tormenting the poor people in that region? Those countries have the right and power to deport those horrible Gospel magicians and thus avoid the same 'pickle' the US is in, what ever that is suppose to mean.

I applaud those that tried to salvage the thread but the main point still leaves me puzzled.
Steve V
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Postby GAMOLO » 05/13/04 03:57 PM

Dear Diego....re: Gandi on religion:"God has no right to appear to mankind in any form...except as a loaf of bread."
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/13/04 04:26 PM

Originally posted by Steve V':
...hords of incompetent Gospel [Magicians] from the US are rampaging across India and the rest of Asia. ...
The topic and subject of unintended consequences of half hearted and misguided teaching of Christianity was broached and framed in that wonderful book The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis.

Incompetent or not, do we really care that competing franchises of faith are using our toys in their turf war? Is faith A better than faith B because its proponents use David Copperfield's leftovers while the guy representing faith B is using Doug Henning's leftovers? Is the faith with the best tricks the best faith? This seems the sort of mixed message that erodes credibility and faith.

Imagine this sort of comercial: Coming up later tonight we have Jacques Cousteau and the Masked Magician presenting "An hour with Chuthulu"... with the new message that Sometimes you need all Eight arms to Lend a Hand, and that classic message of hope ...The Deep Ones care Deeply.
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Postby Steve V » 05/13/04 07:18 PM

I don't think Gospel should be put into magical presentation. Magic can be done at churches etc. as a draw to get people in front of the minister or priest but I have no use for presenting Prof. Nightmare as the trilogy. What I'm questioning here is some of what this fellow from Tucson is implying about this country. I'd like to see one or two sentences explaining his position rather than having to dig through the rambling and trying to determine what is being stated. If one can't come out and just say it them perhaps it isn't as valid as one thinks.
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Postby Guest » 05/14/04 12:54 AM

Steve:

Since you ask, here are some of the reasons I started this thread, but the ideas are complex -- and I cannot put it into a one or two minute soundbite. There is too much consideration in this subject to sell it a short shrift by minimizing the discussion or airing the impact of what I perceive as threats to magical entertainment performances.

One way to put it bluntly is that I am of the studied opinion that religious imperialism demonstrated by the Christian Magicians from the USA, who go to "poor heathen countries" to perform and evangelize, stands a very good chance of distancing a great piece of the public in that country from our seeing craft as entertainment and forcing the rest of us who are not "Christian Magicians" to accept an ascription of a value to our work we may prefer not to receive, one thaty culture would find as negative.

If the citizens of those nations (specifically India, Thailand, Bangladesh) where the evangelism through magic occurs, and that public identifies our western brand of magic entertainment with Christian evangelism -- the cultural interchange of a broad range of ideas presented through plain entertainment shuts down.

To me that is a threat.

Please note that Nakul Shanoy, a citizen of India, has indicated this has been the case he has run into a n umber of times during his work toward his doctoral degree. His specializationincludes studies of the communication of messages in magic, particularly if they can be used for public health, commercial uses and the very secular ideas of hygene, reading, birth control and even banking.

I also feel, from an opinion I draw from my studies of cults, religions and societal philosophies as a reporter and writer, that in the messages of cultural exchange and friendship that can be offered by magical entertainment, that the addition of this type of evangelism exported as magical entertainment, creates a mutual and residual schizmogenesis between us and a world population. This is particularly true when tis type of show is presented in a culture without the thoughtful permission OF THE AUDIENCE to receive a message in this way. That is how many of the magical ministers are now preaching their gospelk message abroad.

Several of our local (very good magical moves, studied in the craft and very earnest earnest in evangerlical belief) Christian missionary magicians have discussed being chased down streets by mobs because of their springing or broadcasting a gospel presentation to unsuspecting audience in a town that thought they were there to entertain and discovered otherwise.

What happens to the next American performer if he plays that same theater with a secular entertainment magical show? Or, more so, how does this harm ticket sales for western magic of pure entertainment in that locale??

I can take the economic impact of fundamentalist groups staying away from my shows because they "magic is evil" in the US. Their right to stay away is proitedcted. But to alienate the population another country? Then have thise people subscribe to the erroneous belief all western magicians are evangelicals?? No thanks.

In my 62 years with travels throughout the world I can tell you that I have learned that religious zealotry makes martyrs and victims, not friends. It creates solid and impenetrable communication blocks. Each person's beliefs are very personal and I believe if they seek religion, great, if they seek magical entertainmentm great. But, look at how our own community receives the work of Uri Geller or John Edward because it impinges on various belief and ethical systems.

When belief is introduced cold in the face of an unsuspecting audience, the vast majority of the audoience will shut down chances for two way communication, often for extended periods. this is especially true if they paid for entertainment and got a sermon thrown in that might be in conflict with their beliefs. Very little dialogue with ideas can take place. And if that is the only representative they see of our community?

Again - I ask -- how would you feel if a magician, dressed as a Genii sitting on a carpet suspension started preaching how right Osama Ben Laden might be in your local theater???? And how would you think of the next guy who showed up in a genii costume???

There are other threats I see.

First, I do not want anyone to feel I am attacking their beliefs. ATo me knee jerk reation to the exchange of ideas about magic and religion is to be dogmatic about one's own beliefs. That too can be a shut-down.

I do want to thoughfully discuss an area offering some consideration of what these evangelical ministers are doing and how it affects the relationships of the rest of our magic community with other world cultures and peoples.

BTW -- after hearing public radio today -- do we have any Wiccan magicians on board who prosceletize with magic???

With Respect,
C. H. Mara
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Postby Guest » 05/14/04 01:35 AM

Originally posted by Steve V:
I don't think Gospel should be put into magical presentation. Magic can be done at churches etc. as a draw to get people in front of the minister or priest but I have no use for presenting Prof. Nightmare as the trilogy.
Steve,

The discussion here is indeed about the morality and ethicality of using magic as a medium / tool of communication to propagate the gospel, akin to communicating other issues of social relevance.

For example, some magician friends of mine in India have great use of the Professor's nightmare to communicate the need and importance of the pulse polio campaign to eradicate polio.

Having said that I agree with you that magic should not be used to communicate the gospel (of ANY religion) IF that is what you meant.

Nakul
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Postby Guest » 05/14/04 01:48 AM

Originally posted by C.H.Mara:
I do want to thoughfully discuss an area offering some consideration of what these evangelical ministers are doing and how it affects the relationships of the rest of our magic community with other world cultures and peoples.
And as for me, (in addition to the above) I would be keen on gaining any perspective on the use of magic for communication per se whether it is religious, social, or rationalist... ;-)

Nakul
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Postby Steve V » 05/14/04 06:36 AM

Yup, any religion.

Now I get it. You've a problem with the only exposure to magic as a form of entertainment often found in parts of the world not familiar with said magic is by Gospel Magicians. The end result being that when a standard magician tries to hit the same areas folks don't want to deal with the preaching aspect. Makes sense. I wasn't aware there was such a problem with Gospel magicians but I can see it. I've encountered 'evangelist' around the world that iritated the local folks. Most were not religious in nature (typically a pair of angry women who happen to be communist thinking they are 'saving' the locals) but I do know how locals can react to extremes.
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Postby Guest » 05/14/04 08:31 AM

First of all, the dogma of "Hell on earth", can be demonstrated and experienced by audiences that are subjected to see, ANOTHER performance of, "Professor's Nightmare!" (Mother of Mercy!)

As we read between and (now)on the lines, Mr. Mara does have a view/agenda/concern,(take your pick) about evangelical Christianity being propagated/shared/forced,(take your pick) in foreign (often 3rd world) countries...the impact on other magicians and/or international relations, and the cultures of different people.
Again, the larger question may not belong in this Forum.
This fixation on Christian magicians, is not unlike those who look at someone, Hugh Hefner, Dr. Spock, or Rush Limbaugh as the cause of our being in "a pickle". (Old Yiddish expression: "To a worm in a jar of horseraddish, everything is horseraddish!")

Despite this tunnel vision, (and not having been in India) I really doubt Christian magicians are causing this much trouble...I will hazard that in India, most magicians are not perceived by 3rd world populations as Christian/evangelical magicians.("The guy is doing magic with doves, watch out, I bet he's going to insert a sermon on the holy spirit, from Acts 2, chapter 5!"

Remember Christian magicians are everywhere,(don't get paranoid) but more commonly in the U.S.
I don't see American audiences worried about the next magician doing a Gospel presentation, and I really doubt all (western) magicians, are perceived as evangelists, and I doubt they are hurting the opportunities of ALL of us(?!) who want to go to India to perform. (Top of my list!)

I am very glad you have been able to withstand the boycott of the fundamentalists,(many who do like magic and other entertainment anyway.) who must be the reason for any empty seats, you hopefully don't have, when you perform.
I doubt Coppperfield, or others are hurting, because of a Christian magician, who has "burned up the territory", before them....especially since most Gospel magicians still appear in churches or venues sponsored by churches.
(Interesting to note Kole's promo video is hosted by Copperfield.)

Yes the "Imperialism" of the west is/has been a concern, whether it is The Gospel, rap music, or Barbi Dolls, but (now native) evangelicalism is a strong, self-growing movement
in many 3rd world countries....who while learning the methods of their western brothers, have appropiated these evangelistic techniques for themselves.

Yes, there are sometimes negative reactions to their messages, and that happens. If Madonna tears up the Pope's photo on national TV, she will receive negative reactions of others. (Fortunately, in the U.S. she is just booed off stage, no mobs chasing her as in other countries.)
Likewise if a floating genii talked about the benefits of his religion, OK, if he talked about how "right" terrorist acts against the U.S. are...there maybe WOULD be mobs chasing him!

Again, some wonder HOW can someone share/intrude their message, others ask how can they NOT share/intrude their message.

I'm going back to worrying about the Tri-Lateral Commission and The Illuminati!
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 05/14/04 04:48 PM

Originally posted by Diego Domingo:
If Madonna tears up the Pope's photo on national TV...
In all fairness to Madonna, it was Sinead O'Conner who did this on Saturday Night Live (about ten years ago now).
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/14/04 05:02 PM

The presentation of a magic trick suggests its own evidence of something extraordinary. The socio-political message of the performer is inherent in the performance of the act as a whole. There is no way around this.

Even if one posits that the universe is random and one must cope as things happen for no reason there is a message.

What view of the world to you present? How do you present the view? How does your persona interact with this view? What do you want your audience to consider for themselves when they consider the interaction of your character and the world view you present?

What would it mean to the audience if you performed as Randolf Carter? Or Palmer Eldrich? How about performing as a character from Lewis Carol's Alice stories?
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Postby Guest » 05/14/04 10:01 PM

Dustin: Thanks for the correction...I definitely had the wrong singer.

Reading this thread, please keep in mind, some of these issues have been an ongoing discussion/debate among evangelicals, for decades.

In the wake of the religious revival in the late 1940's, in the U.S...several movements/organizations formed to reach those (especially youth) who could/would not be attracted to traditional church services, and to retain those, from leaving a church that seemed less relevant/important, than their parents did.

All kinds of programs, activities, shows, music groups, sports exhibitions, high energy youth rallies, puppet shows(!), etc. to appeal to those, that would not be interested in just going to hear a preacher, to tell them how bad they were.

Some felt this was reaching the unchurched by going out and getting their attention first, then presenting the Gospel in a less/non confrontational manner.
("If we want more young, attending Sunday School, first don't have it on Sunday, and don't call it school!")

Others felt this was worldly/shallow/deceptive marketing, where people, when learning the true religious committment required, would lose interest when the fun and games were over.
Others felt some are turned off by these gimmicks from the start, when a more straightforward approach, may not attract bigger numbers, but acheive better quality/serious committments in the long run.

So it isn't just folks on the outside who question the results, different Gospel presentations, may acheive, but also at what expense to the message and the perceptions of others, that can happen in the process.
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Postby Guest » 05/15/04 11:47 AM

I guess my concerns in posting this line are being misconstrued by some of those of us in the craft who have deeper roots of religious performance than I.

Let me see if I can ramble a bit and rephrase my concerns.

In the United States we have all the freedon of religion our neighbors grant us -- plus a little. There are indeed communities where someone of a particular belief or stripe cannot live. (Ask me about my investigations of Colorado City, AZ sometime.)

Also, in the USA, if we are of a majority age -- we have the freedom to choose between many types of entertainment and can pay to attend or not. Competition between "free entertainment" channels also allows choice of a "style" of entertainment -- but other than by turning off free program provided -- little choice of content.

This is not true in other nations and cultures. Often, a village's performance venue is the only entertainment available. And, it is the only venue, free of not, that offers community activity. In major urban areas, this is particularly true in "neighborhoods" or enclaves of a specific caste or class.

With this isolation of communication ANY entertainment becomes a big deal. If a foreign performer comes -- he or she must be aware they may be the first -- and sometimes ONLY foreign performer this group has seen or will see.

In my opinion it is the duty of a good performer to forge a HUMAN link of emotion, commonality and share those traits that bring us together as people. If we try to do that by preaching -- particularly of a religion that may not be dominant in the location we are working -- we may create an impression that ALL Americans are preachers (we're the only one they've ever seen, remember) and all Magicians from America use magic to dupe us into listening to a religious message we did not know we were going to hear.

I admire the Magic that teaches common human spiritual principles. Jeff McBride's water bowls is a greatg example. Fr. Daniel Roland's cut and restored rope of freindship is another. The trick DIRECTLY reveals a common moral principal without preaching. In fact, McBride's piece is silent.

To trivialize the impact we have is wrong. Ergo -- when I perform I said I do not worry about seats going empty because some misinformed fundamentalist group is boycotting me. I feel the same way Proctor and Gamble did when their soap was labeled as having "devil signs" on its label. I am concerned on how such a group of supposedly intellegent adults could concoct such a misguided fable. I am also going to investigate it -- because -- unchecked such a rumor can have an impact. Often there is nothing to be done -- as their belief system is just that -- an unsubstatiated belief that ALL magic is evil and of the devil.

If we do not discuss the audiences perception -- not just of the performer -- but of the performer's message in the context of culture, time and place of presentation -- are we not imposing an impedement to communication between cultures and the magic craft and people of the world at large?

Now -- Andre Kole always -- as far as I know -- makes sure his audiences have been notified in advance that he is a Christian and many of his sponsors refer to his fine work for the Campus Crusade for Christ and hold his performances in church facilities, or proclaim their church sponsorship of the show.

This is a step, that when out of the country, I feel evangelizing magicians may be skipping or missing. And using the promotion of a magic show -- without including the religious sponsorship -- can taint the audience's perception of western magic.

For a number of years, I have performed for the Vietnamese communities in the US. One reason this American of Polish descent keeps getting bookings is because I honor their culture and do not offend their sensibilities, although I do message magic about our commonalities. One consideration many may not consider -- is that the exposing of ANY OPEN BLADE -- in a trick, is considered a major insult and challenge to a bride and groom.

I do not know if many or any of the evangelizing magicians performing overseas to gain converts (as opposed to making a living in show business) have considered these cultural items in assembling their act. And how many ignore the affront they may be offering to the members of these other cultures they may cause by preaching rather than demonstrating.

This is but one way I find the use of magic controversial. Again, I ask -- what if another religion sends its magical missionaries to --Plano, TX, or Smallsburg, West Virgina -- and starts preaching in the middle of a paid for show thought to be entertainment. WWYD, particularly if you had spent a month's worth of your entertainment budget to get there? Would you demand your money back. Or if say, the show was promoting something like homosexuality, or the taxation of churches -- what would your reaction be -- and thoughts of a similar type of show coming to town?

If you are forewarned and have choice -- and choose to be at an entertainment -- fine. But to sell the show, like medicine show workers of the last century, the idea of entertainment on one hand, and then switch to the sale of a "snake oil, or even a religion on the other, I think is dangerous to the whole craft.
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Postby Guest » 05/15/04 01:15 PM

Mr.Mara,
Your selective generalization and use of labels, could be confusing as to what and when something troubles you.

Starting with your last statement/paragraph, reality is the MOST/ALL of show business , IS one continuous "medicine show"...especially TV...just as 100 years ago, the medicine showmen performed music, jokes, magic, and said he would then tell the crowd what he heard about crop prices in the next county, soon as he finished tellng them about his wares...now the TV performs music, jokes, magic, and will blurb, "how gasoline prices are changing, the story right after this message."

(Remember TV account salespeople, refer to programs, as something to put between their commercials.)
Cut out the "pitch" and there will be little showbusiness anywhere.

Those of 2 generations ago, can tell you how in small town America, (just as villages in other countries)they would come out to see anything, just to see something...preachers, medicine shows, politicians, circuses...anything. Some would buy the products or religion or politics that were also promoted, while many just went home, having seen something new to talk about.

Likewise the reason many political "pundits" of the left or right are on the air, has little to do with their content, but their ability to keep people watching and stay for the commercials.
Some watch Jimmy Swaggart or Al Sharpton, feeling they are just a lot of hot air, but find them entertaining/compelling to watch regardless.
("The goal is to be convincing to those who believe, and entertaining to those who do not." Anton LaVey-1997)

TV, especially American TV is now EVERYWHERE, even in the smallest villages...so many have seen more forms of entertainment than thought. I have heard from those in other countries, more concern over the "values" and images protrayed by "Baywatch", or "The Bold and the Beautiful", than Andre Kole or Billy Graham.

On another note, other religions HAVE presented their programs, in the U.S. and inserted overtly/covertly their messages/agenda as well...from the Unification Church, Krishnas, Buddists, and more...when I heard complaints of the tactics/success Rev. Moon's organization had, I always said, "Guess who he learned from?!"
Just as our Korean friends and others, learned how to make cars and TV's from the west, they also learned how to make/market/package religion and politics as well. Likewise, some singers and comics do tell/push why being gay is great.

So again, depending on your point of view, magic/entertainment can be a means of reaching others, or an impediment...sometimes, both can be correct.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/15/04 01:47 PM

Originally posted by Diego Domingo:
...Likewise, some singers and comics do tell/push why being gay is great...
At present, we do not have magicians openly proselytizing such a message, or urging others to consider converting. As homosexuality is somewhere between favorite ice cream flavor and eye-color, let's stick with the political matter of conjuring within preaching a faith.

I posted earlier about unusual gods and faiths. How would you feel if a magic show were a thinly veiled urge to change your faith? Sure I used the Lovecraft reference so's not to offend large group of readers here at the BBS. Do we need to get specific and tread on some toes before the basic issue becomes apparent?

What would it meant to you to find messages in support of a faith you do not support and barely tolerate in the works of a performer?

Taking this back to safe ground for a moment, I suggest you consider the PKDick story about the three toys examined by customs for political content. And how the message got through.
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Postby Guest » 05/15/04 04:11 PM

Agreed, homosexuality is a non-issue here, not originally brought up by me. The idea of magicians encouraging others to convert to homosexuality...there are some great jokes there...but we better not. Back to business.
Again, I have seen magic and other entertainment used to push overt/covert beliefs/agendas...TV is accused of that often...You may be assuming I believe everything Andre Koles does...maybe, maybe not, it doesn't matter.

Sorry, not familiar with the PK-toy story.

I think this discussion is headed for the broken-record syndrome...round and round, hearing the same stuff each time without end. Maybe enough has been said...by me too. Decide for yourself folks.
Maybe a final shot: While I have seen a few jabs at Gospel magic, I still wonder why not one peep,(not that they should) has ever been said about magic to sell products by R.J. Reynolds, Seagrams, or casinos.
(Casino boss to John Scarne: "Who did you think is running these casinos, Father Flannigen?!")
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Postby Guest » 05/15/04 10:48 PM

So our conversation does not go round and round -- about the medium being the message or the message being the medium -- may I suggest that each of those participating contact members of other cultures or magical bents on their lists and see if they wish to comment participate and comment?


I do not wish to beat a dead horse -- just open conversation and consideration of a subject dear to my heart -- the art of magic and perception by people of faith, and people of other cultures.

After all the Catholics of the 1600s had almost stopped burning witches - but the Protestants were having a bonfire.

Have Jadrus been stoned n India, street magicians in Indonesia banned from piercing their bodies because it is dangerous to kids, or has the Australian sense of humor in magic gone to hell because it does not play well in Thailand or Korea, and is not really understood in the US?

What thought is going into the ethics of our presentation OR are the Christian magicians the only ones loading their shows with "meaning?"

And is loading a show with meaning dangerous or controversial???? In some places -- definitely yes. Just try an evangelical show in Faluga tommorow!

I never did see a show by Rev. Moon's people that included magic or was introduced as "entertainment only." He did use a dodge about "education and relaxation" as have a number of cults.

Other than local Wiccan groups in various areas who may have a shamanistic/ritual magick (with a K) approach to their earth religion (not Satan worship, BTW), I know of no other cult or group using performance magic to push religion evangelical Christianity. I know some "god-men" have tried to organize in a religious fashion -- but have no details.

Please correct me if I am wrong -- I could use some specifics beyond opinion.
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Postby Guest » 05/16/04 01:17 AM

I have not seen,(or said) Rev. Moon's group use magic, but they have had "Celebrate America" shows and festivals, complete with name Southern Gospel Groups, clueless,paid-for celebrities, "free" dinners with singing and sharing.

I think T.A. Waters once wrote evangelical Christians, may be the only religious group to (more commonly) use magic as a tool/vehicle to promote their faith. Likewise, I wonder how many Hindo or Jewish puppet or vent shows are out there.(to reach/teach others about their beliefs)

Pentecostal/Church historian Grant Wacker, affectionately but accurately said, "When it comes to innovations in evangelism, we pentecostals do it first, we do it better, and generally less tastefully!"
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Postby Guest » 05/17/04 02:15 AM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
The presentation of a magic trick suggests its own evidence of something extraordinary. The socio-political message of the performer is inherent in the performance of the act as a whole. There is no way around this.
Well said Jonathan. And I would say that this fact stresses the necessity for magicians to understand the power of their craft, and then address questions of ethicality of using the same for certain kinds of messages. This would not only include those related to the Gospel, but also others promoting liquor, smoking, et al.

We need to think IF we really want to communicate a given message... bearing in mind its impact.

Nakul
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Postby Guest » 05/17/04 02:19 AM

Originally posted by Diego Domingo:
I think T.A. Waters once wrote evangelical Christians, may be the only religious group to (more commonly) use magic as a tool/vehicle to promote their faith. Likewise, I wonder how many Hindo or Jewish puppet or vent shows are out there.(to reach/teach others about their beliefs)
Diego,

Very interesting quote you have there. Seems to say a lot about the history and usage of magic for the propagation of the Gospel. Would you be having the source for this quote... as in which publication did T A Waters say this? Would love to read up the whole piece.

Nakul
Guest
 

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