Lael Caesar

is an associate editor of Adventist Review.

​Abracadabra—Not . . .

The Bible is not sleight of mouth. You’ve heard of sleight of hand—where skilled distractors make spoons and bodies levitate, or draw silk handkerchiefs or furry rabbits from the bowl of a top hat. Sleight of hand can make you see what is not. It is the power of illusion.

Sleight of mouth is the illusive power of mystery words: say “Abracadabra!” and magic happens. Write it on your amulet, and the malaria goes away, or the plague never comes. Abracadabra: onomatopoeic nonsense, based on an A-B-C-D alphabet, that grows in significance through the perversity of human gullibility about secret knowledge. Baubles and trinkets and muttered utterances …

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