I was serving in the celestial room of the temple last week, there
was nearly an hour when I was completely alone in the room. This is a
rare experience that can be had only by temple workers (or by
custodians after hours), because the celestial room is never left
unattended when the temple is open.
first time you’re in the celestial room alone is a surreal
experience. There is no place on Earth where you can feel closer to
God, but the spirit is shattered if there is even one other person in
the room. When you’re there alone, it’s as though you
have a private audience with Him, and it is absolutely awe-inspiring.
what was on my mind when I had that time alone there last week? I was
thinking of the shuffling of playing cards — how magicians can
be shuffle a deck not once, but several times, and then know with
absolute confidence where any card is in that deck.
is a scripture out of Ether that I never understood before reading
this book. It’s the last part of Ether 3:5:
know that thou art able to show forth great power, which looks small
unto the understanding of men.”
reason I never understood that scripture was because of the word
“small.” Every time I see a miracle, it has looked huge
to me! I am constantly in awe of the things God does, and I never
fail to think that they’re amazing. It was only when I read
this book, however, that I realized how amazing those miracles are. I
was able to see that by comparing them to magic tricks (which isn’t
as sacrilegious as it sounds).
go back a decade or two. A couple of times, Fluffy and I have found
ourselves on a cruise ship with an amazing magician, Shawn Farquhar.
This guy is the best of the best. He has a signature card trick that
I’ve seen in person three times, and that I’ve watched on
the internet countless times afterwards. If you want to watch it,
Shawn Farquhar, performing the most amazing of magic tricks. It won him the Magic Olympics in Beijing in 2009.
I read Fooling
I wrote this card trick off as “magic.” I knew it wasn’t
supernatural, and that there was a logical explanation for how the
magician makes this trick work, but I had no idea what actually went
into it. After reading this book, I have a better appreciation of
what it entails. It is far more complex than the way we write magic
off as “sleight of hand.”
I used to marvel, “How did that card get there?” I now
wonder how many years it took the magician learn to use one hand to
cut a card deck into four thirteen-card stacks and manipulate those
stacks so the card would always
appear where he planned it to appear. Contemplating the hours
and weeks and months that each step of his trick took to master is
far more of a wonder to me than the magic trick was in the first
is mathematics involved in magic — not elementary math that I
can do, but physics. There is dexterity. Not only does the magician
have to move his fingers quickly, but he also has to have a sense of
touch so keen that it allows him to count cards by their feel or by
their weight, and to do it instantly and unerringly. That alone takes
years of training.
has to know psychology, because if you do it right the audience can
look at something that is there without seeing it. And there’s
a lot of mnemonics involved, too, because he has to remember the
order of cards in a deck where those cards are in what appears to be
a completely random order.
followed the author for a year or so of his life as he learned these
different facets of magic. The amount of study it took him to be able
to do all these things at once was impressive. There such a huge
array of knowledge and so much training that went into being able to
throw a deck of cards into an audience, have several strangers
shuffle the cards in succession and each take a card, and then be
able to identify those cards from up on the stage. The spectators
gasped in amazement, but there was a logical reason behind it all.
And even though the author never fully explained his trick, by the
end of the book I could see pretty much how it was done.
suspect that miracles are the same way. We look at them and say,
“That’s a miracle!” But to call something a
“miracle” is only scratching the surface — making
it “small,” as Ether said. We never stop to think of all
the knowledge that God must have to make miracles look that way.
Young said this about miracles:
I will say with regard to miracles, there is no such thing save to
the ignorant — that is, there never was a result wrought out by
God or by any of His creatures without there being a cause for it.
There may be results, the causes of which we do not see or
understand, and what we call miracles are no more than this —
they are the results or effects of causes hidden from our
understandings.” (July 11, 1869)
on, he added:
is hard to get the people to believe that God is a scientific
character, that He lives by science or strict law, that by this He
is, and by law he was made what He is; and will remain to all
eternity because of His faithful adherence to law. It is a most
difficult thing to make the people believe that every art and science
and all wisdom comes from Him, and that He is their Author.”
(November 13, 1870)
people may say that expecting God to do His miracles according to
natural law limits God. I don’t think that’s the case.
Just as magic seems even more wonderful when you see all the work
that went into it, miracles seem even grander when we stop to
consider a whole chain of actions that must have taken place in order
for a miracle to come to pass.
prophet Alma said it this way:
ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto
you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to
pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise.”
I sat in the celestial room pondering the way magicians make their
magic tricks look magical, I was overcome with the knowledge that God
has of every facet of the universe He created. I was amazed that He
goes to so much effort to make things come together in each one of
our individual lives.
all that work and all that love, it must be frustrating to hear us
pass off these great feats as “miracles” without a second
thought. The next time I see a miracle, I’m going to at least
stop and offer an extra measure of gratitude for the amount of
thought and preparation it took to prepare something that “looks
small unto the understanding of men.”
Kathryn H. Kidd has been writing fiction, nonfiction, and "anything for money" longer than
most of her readers have even been alive. She has something to say on every topic, and the
possiblity that her opinions may be dead wrong has never stopped her from expressing them at
A native of New Orleans, Kathy grew up in Mandeville, Louisiana. She attended Brigham
Young University as a generic Protestant, having left the Episcopal Church when she was eight
because that church didn't believe what she did. She joined The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints as a BYU junior, finally overcoming her natural stubbornness because she
wanted a patriarchal blessing and couldn't get one unless she was a member of the Church. She
was baptized on a Saturday and received her patriarchal blessing two days later.
Kathy married Clark L. Kidd, who appears in her columns as "Fluffy," more than thirty-five
years ago. They are the authors of numerous LDS-related books, the most popular of which is A
Convert's Guide to Mormon Life.
A former managing editor for Meridian Magazine, Kathy still moderates a weekly column
("Circle of Sisters") for Meridian. However, her biggest claim to fame is that she co-authored
Lovelock with Orson Scott Card. Lovelock has been translated into Spanish and Polish, which
would be a little more gratifying than it actually is if Kathy had been referred to by her real name
and not "Kathryn Kerr" on the cover of the Polish version.
Kathy has her own website, www.planetkathy.com, where she writes a blog entry every
weekday. Her entries recount her adventures and misadventures with Fluffy, who heroically
allows himself to be used as fodder for her columns at every possible opportunity.
Kathy teaches the Young Women in her ward. A long-time home teacher with her husband, Clark, they have home taught the same family since 1988. The two of them have been temple workers since 1995, serving in the Washington D.C. Temple.