Can Christians enjoy magic shows?

DeusLuxMeaEst

Pelican
Orthodox Inquirer
Gold Member
I don't see an issue unless the magician is claiming occult powers. I find that very rare, most of the time magicians tell you it's just an illusion.

However, another concern is that many famous magicians are atheists (Penn and Teller, Randi) and I do believe they are part of the agenda to sow doubt in the minds of Christians. There has to be legit non atheists though.
 
A magician is not a sorcerer. They perform tricks and do not engage with demons, normally. Some magicians have an occultism-image though, but that is rather show than serious.
 

Dijkstra

Pigeon
If it is indeed just sleight-of-hand parlour tricks, with no ties to the occult, I understand it to be acceptable, not unlike how card games or alcohol in and of themselves are not innately sinful, but can most certainly be used sinfully. This of course comes with the scriptural caveat that should something cause a brother to stumble, put it away from you.
 

Elicola

Pigeon
I enjoy sleight of hand and appreciate the skill of magicians who perform this art.

That being said, given its ties to the occult, can a Christian enjoy or participate in magic shows?

I don't know whether you are alluding to the Myrrh-streaming icon, or something else.

There is a genre of Gospel Magic. I think it is mostly an Evangelical practice, but don't see why it could not be used by Orthodox or Catholics.

 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I spent a while learning some sleight of hand with cards. My view is that it's okay, with a caveat. This being that one doesn't pretend that one is doing anything supernatural, one doesn't have to give away the secret (because that usually ruins the fun) but one should always say "it's just a trick." So I'd avoid any magicians who aren't clear that they are just doing cool tricks.

It took me a while to figure out the ethics of it as you could be hard line and say you are being deceitful by doing tricks. But I think as long as you say "I am deceiving you" then you are fine because the fun is in them not knowing how you deceived them. If you are pretending that there is no deception, just some kind of actual magic then you are doing something wrong. Others may disagree, but that's how I see it.
 

Elicola

Pigeon
Why would you think that healthy family entertainment is tied to the occult?

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No one says you can't enjoy a magic show. Should you "enjoy" it though? Illusionists are all satanic scum, peddling occult lies. Simple street performers may just be jovial people who learn tricks and pranks, or they could be black-hearted gypsies that throw chicken bones on trash can lids and conduct obscene rituals with animal blood. I don't enjoy the stuff, at least, not anymore after learning how much of it is steeped in the dark arts. This is all in the same category as those who claim to read the future, see your thoughts and desires, communicate with demons, mess with the effects of the dead, and attempt to use divination to arrive at some truth that allegedly can't be reached at with logos or faithful determination. The scriptures make it clear what these people are to the Lord.
 

Rob Banks

Pelican
But I think as long as you say "I am deceiving you" then you are fine because the fun is in them not knowing how you deceived them. If you are pretending that there is no deception, just some kind of actual magic then you are doing something wrong. Others may disagree, but that's how I see it.
I agree.

But on the other hand, the famous atheist magicians like Penn & Teller and James Randi use this very reasoning to push atheism.

"We are magicians performing tricks. There is nothing supernatural here. It is all material. And we are honest about that.

Those religious nuts, on the other hand, will not admit -- like we do -- that reality is all material and the supernatural does not exist."


(How do I know this? Because I was an atheist for my teenage years and most of my 20s. "Penn & Teller: BS" was one of my favorite shows when I was in high school).
 

Lawrence87

Woodpecker
Orthodox
I agree.

But on the other hand, the famous atheist magicians like Penn & Teller and James Randi use this very reasoning to push atheism.

"We are magicians performing tricks. There is nothing supernatural here. It is all material. And we are honest about that.

Those religious nuts, on the other hand, will not admit -- like we do -- that reality is all material and the supernatural does not exist."


(How do I know this? Because I was an atheist for my teenage years and most of my 20s. "Penn & Teller: BS" was one of my favorite shows when I was in high school).
Yeah I'm aware of this from my phase as a cringe atheist in my early twenties.

The type of people who are drawn to magic are the kinds of people who get a kick out of knowing the secret non-supernatural formula for creating the appearance of the supernatural, so it's not surprising that they get a kick of claiming to know the secret non-supernatural formula for the universe.

In terms of your average performer though, I doubt they'd risk alienating their audience with this stuff. They'll just do their tricks.
 

NoMoreTO

Hummingbird
I was in Las Vegas 5 or 10 years ago and remember really wanting to check out a magic show, but wasn't able to make it.

I'm convinced, largely due to this video that magic especially at higher levels is fully occult and demonic. I now essentially believe the tricks aren't tricks, but indeed "magic". When you see some of the magic that has been done, it's simply unexplainable other than the supernatural.

If my kid wanted to do a card trick, I'd play along but as fun as a card trick or two is, I would definitely be directing his energies elsewhere.


* I know this youtuber isn't an orthodox favourite, but the breakdown is very good, and video is wholly devoted to analysis of magic, no theology in it as I remember.
 

Elicola

Pigeon
I'm convinced, largely due to this video that magic especially at higher levels is fully occult and demonic. I now essentially believe the tricks aren't tricks, but indeed "magic". When you see some of the magic that has been done, it's simply unexplainable other than the supernatural.

Why would people with occult powers bother to compete with Celine Dion in Vegas? If Satan gave Siegfried and Roy the power to produce live tigers, then why did they keep producing the same ones for years? I guess Roy broke his deal with the devil and got bitten.
 

Blade Runner

Ostrich
Orthodox
Most magicians are materialist showmen, yes. These are the "big" acts though. They create stories and illusions and want you to wonder if it's possible to do what they are doing by method and misdirection, spoofing, etc. It's just their BS schtick (Think Copperfield, Criss Angel, and so on).

Other sleight of hand guys (I always liked these, as the original commenters stated) realize that people appreciate comedy, stories, skills, and wanting to be entertained by all of the above - especially with objects that we commonly also have touched, shuffled, or moved around. That's why guys like Michael Ammar or Gregory Wilson are not only likeable but also enjoyable to watch. They don't do any of the BS voodoo crap. And they call people out who actively show disdain for their tricks, or a miserly attitude acting like they can figure all of them out or catch them in the act.
 

Cleotis

Pigeon
As long as we’re clear that by "magician" we do not mean actual magic, such as witches, warlocks, or anything paranormal, but rather illusionists, who do things such as card tricks or other things that appear supernatural, but which everyone understands is not. I'm not aware of any specific Catholic position, or any Catholic prohibition on clowns, jugglers, comedians, singers, poets, illusionists or any other performers/entertainers. If they're just doing stage trick magic, it would be a simple entertainment performance. St. John Bosco famously used magic tricks and juggling to teach young people and explain to them the Gospel. So magic shows in general would not pose any moral problems.

That said, some of the magicians today clearly incorporate the occult into their shows. Be cognizant of the fact that magic shows are a form of (((show business))), consequently a disproportionate percentage of magicians (illusionists) belong to a certain tribe. These are the ones that would be morally objectionable, and I would point out that even if they are feigning (pretending) an occult dimension to their otherwise "innocent" trick performance, it would be morally objectionable for casting something sinful like the Occult in a good light.

Denziger 1653 & 1654 may shed some additional light on the “magician” question:

*The Misuse of Magnetism*

[From the Encyclical of the Holy Office, Aug. 4, 1856]

1653 . . Already some responses on this subject have been given by the Holy See to particular cases, in which those experiments are condemned as illicit which are arranged for a purpose not natural, not honest, and not attained by proper means; therefore, in similar cases it was decreed on Wednesday, April 21, 1841: "The use of magnetism, as it is explained, is not permitted." Similarly, the Sacred Congregation decreed that certain books stubbornly disseminating errors of this kind should be condemned. But because, aside from particular cases, the use of magnetism in general had to be considered, by way of a rule therefore it was so stated on Wednesday, July 28, 1847: "When all error, soothsaying, explicit or implicit invocation of the demon is removed, the use of magnetism, i.e., the mere act of employing physical media otherwise licit, is not morally forbidden, provided it does not tend to an illicit end or to one that is in any manner evil. However, the application of principles and purely physical means to things and effects truly supernatural, in order to explain them physically, is nothing but deception altogether illicit and heretical."

1654 Although by this general decree the lawfulness and unlawfulness in the use or misuse of magnetism were satisfactorily explained, nevertheless the wickedness of men grew to such an extent that neglecting the legitimate study of the science, pursuing rather the curious, with great loss to souls and detriment to civil society itself, they boast that they have discovered the principle of foretelling and divining. Thus, girls with the tricks of sleepwalking and of clear-gazing, as they call it, carried away by delusions and gestures not always modest, proclaim that they see the invisible, and they pretend with rash boldness to hold talks even about religion, to evoke the souls of the dead, to receive answers, to reveal the unknown and the distant, and to practice other superstitious things of that sort, intending to acquire great gain for themselves and for their masters through their divining. Therefore, in all these, whatever art or illusion they employ, since physical media are used for unnatural effects, there is deception altogether illicit and heretical, and a scandal against honesty of morals.*
 
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