The Common Good

The Hand Is Quicker Than the Eye

“The hand is quicker than the eye” is a traditional proverb and organizing principle of every practicing magician. There is no actual “magic” involved in a magician’s act – it is pure deception and distraction.

A high degree of finesse and showmanship combine to make appealing, mysterious and captivating.

Learning how a trick is done ruins the act by deflating the anticipation and element of surprise.

As much as we’d rather not think so, politics is very much the same.

Political parties are organized around “big ideas” but they get their power – and they get elected – because of “little ideas” – those rumors, speculations and paranoid fantasies that drive voters into panic and hysteria – and into the arms of the political party that promises to protect them from the big, bad, mysterious ‘other’ people, ideas, and forces that threaten us and our way of life.

Any party or individual who rouses our fears and passions is just like the magician who distracts and confuses us as he amazes us with his next trick.

The irony though, is that Jesus calls us to be wise and not deceived.

Christians, the Bible tells us repeatedly, should be defined by discernment. We should be the “watchmen” who see what is coming (Ezekiel 33:7). We should be the last ones deceived or swayed by our fears and irrational fantasies.

There is far more than a fiscal cliff in front of us. But if there is one thing that should define every person of faith, it is a refusal to accept fatalism.

Our national identity is continually being reshaped and refined. We are not who we used to be, and what we are becoming is yet to be seen.

Our faith should inform, equip, and strengthen us. Lies and deception weaken and confuse us. The path ahead is certainly difficult, but it is clear, at least for those with eyes to see.

With our “eyes on the prize,” and not on the past or on the fevered fantasies of conspiracy theories we can walk confidently (and humbly) together towards our God-given destiny.

Morf Morford considers himself a free-range Christian who is convinced that God expects far more of us than we can ever imagine, but somehow thinks God knows more than we do. To pay his bills, he’s been a teacher for adults (including those in his local county jail) in a variety of setting including Tribal colleges, vocational schools and at the university level in the People’s Republic of China. Within an academic context, he also writes an irreverent ESL blogand for the Burnside Writers Collective. As he’s getting older, he finds himself less tolerant of pettiness and dairy products.

Magician photo: InnervisionArt /


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