The illusionist moved his hands swiftly, waving his fingers in a manner suggestive of hypnosis.
He reached for the ear of the volunteer he had recruited from the audience and a coin appeared. When the coin appeared, the poor volunteer felt his ear and stared in confusion – amazed, no doubt, that he felt nothing – and the oohs and aahs that rippled through the air from the captivated audience bore testimony to the fact that he was not alone in his amazement.
Oh, the mesmerising interplay of light and shadows.
My friends and I were teenagers attending a talent showcase on the grounds of our local library. Vendors lined the perimeter and the aroma of jerked chicken permeated the atmosphere. It had begun at dusk, and the illusionist took the stage two hours in as the penultimate act. The poorly lit outdoor stage sat against the backdrop of a moonless night and his shimmering dark outfit cloaked his lanky frame in an air of mystery as he practised his craft. The intermittent drumming from the concert band at crucial moments was potent enough to distract and befuddle the mind, and delighted children squealed and begged for more. Willing adults – probably parents wanting to avoid nagging – gave up cash for an encore.
Light and shadows. Things are not always as they appear.
I remember munching parched peanuts purchased from one of the local vendors while I watched. These legumes masquerading as nuts had been soaked in a saline solution and baked in their ‘jackets’. Crunchy and salty, they exuded the delightful peanutty aroma that I loved so much. I stood there among friends cracking brittle shells and emptying the contents into my mouth, hardly bothering to examine the individual peanuts.
They looked okay.
Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.
Distracted as I was by the antics of the entertainer and my burning desire to decipher his methods, I did not realise until it was already too late. I had munched on a bad peanut and the weird bitter flavour stuck to the back of my throat. Ugh!
Illusions all around. *sigh*
Deafening applause and cheers alerted me to the fact that I had missed the illusionist’s finale, but I was off in search of something to cleanse my palate.
Talk about leaving a bad taste in the mouth.
That’s it! When the illusion of health gives way to a picture of internal rottenness, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth.
Much like the Pharisees who lived during the time of Christ. Their collective hypocrisy was of such that it has come to be seen as the very definition of what Pharisaism entails. Instead of inspiring thoughts of fervent Biblical instruction, the words that come to mind are usually related to posturing and hypocrisy: whitewashed sepulchres filled with skeletal remains.
In spite of the Pharisees’ insincerity, Jesus instructed his followers; “whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.” (Mathew 23:3) Is it any wonder that Paul (a second-generation Pharisee) restrained himself not wanting to preach to others and end up as a castaway?
While do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do theology may benefit the hearer, the lax spiritual condition of the one who teaches will invariably take them in a wrong direction. If the immaculately dressed, Scripture-quoting Pharisees of Christ’s day could presume to hatch a murder plot, no one is immune.
As it is with illusions and parched peanuts, vigilance is vital.
Have you examined your ‘peanuts’ lately?