18 November 2007

Masters of Deception

Jordie, who blogs from Australia, has kindly given me permission to excerpt one of her recent blog posts here. Her blog focuses on spiritual abuse, but as you will see, the concepts are universally applicable. And her exposition is too good to miss....
.... The magicians Penn & Teller have been known to, as part of their act, explain sleight of hand while demonstrating it with a performance by Teller, appearing to only light a cigarette. While Teller performs, Penn describes what he is doing, and explains the seven principles of Sleight of Hand.
The Seven Principles are:
1.Palm - To hold an object in an apparently empty hand.
2. Switch - To secretly exchange one object for another.
3. Misdirection - To lead attention away from a secret move.
4. Simulation - To give the impression that something that hasn't happened, has.
5. Load - To secretly move a needed object to where it is needed.
6. Steal - To secretly obtain a needed object.
7. Ditch - To secretly dispose of an unneeded object

The comment from this video which struck me as most astute and relevant was the comment by Teller (or was it Penn...the guy with the guitar anyway) "Looks simple doesn't it...but when you are dealing with a master of deception...... even the simplest activity may be a complex deception". The life of a deceiver is very complicated. They have to keep all the balls in the air (sorry to mix the metaphor) at the same time, and have techniques in place to explain any oversights or mistakes. The truth is the enemy of all deceivers.

As I heard this sentence, I immediately thought of my own experience with masters of deception. Its true. Every activity which they undertook, whether it was preaching on a Sunday, visiting a sick person in hospital, caring for the 'widows and orphans' or investing the church's money, everything had an ulterior motive, and that motive was unfailingly about their own selfish ambitions. They treated the truth with the same 'sleight of hand' that these magicians treat their magic tricks. A magician gets up on a stage elevated from the audience and distanced somewhat so that nobody can see what they are up to 'up close'. The minute the magician reveals his 'tricks' you can see that if you had the right perspective, you would have realised what he was doing and the illusion would have been punctured.

It reminds me of the Wizard of Oz. "Take no notice of the man behind the curtain". Remember that the real wizard, the man behind the curtain, was working away feverishly at his buttons and levers in order to create the illusion that he was somebody else. Once he was discovered, he used a very clever, but often used counter-illusion. He made his pretend wizard warn the characters about the real 'wizard'. He takes an element of the truth, admits that there is in fact a man behind the curtain, but explains it away to maintain the illusion that the image of the wizard is in control. In the case of our cult, once somebody discovered the man behind the curtain, the 'wizards' worked feverishly at their buttons and levers to maintain the illusion that they were still in control. They did this by warning the congregation to take no notice of the person who had discovered the man behind the curtain. They turned the congregation against the one who dared oppose them, and effectively squashed those people by character assassination. It worked well.
This is just the beginning of a fascinating exposition. Here's the rest of it.

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