Receiving and Giving

A book is a gift you can open again and again.
— Garrison Keillor

Dear Friends,

We are delighted to start off our December Museletter with a few words from the Dean – Eugene Burger:

Receiving and Giving

Eugene BurgerIt is the holiday season: the time for giving and receiving.

In the title of this piece, I have purposely reversed these words because so much more is written about giving — and how important giving is. Perhaps it will be a good idea to spend a few moments thinking together about receiving. Receiving gifts.

We are told, for example, that giving is better (more “blessed” according to Acts 20:35) than receiving. I have no doubt that all of this is important and true. I think that giving may, indeed, exhibit a higher virtue.

But to say that giving is more blessed than receiving is not to say that receiving has no value at all. And that is just the point. It may be that receiving involves a real, though lesser, blessedness. But it is blessedness nonetheless.

Do you ever consider that giving is much easier for us, psychologically, than receiving? To give a gift is to stand in a position of power; to receive one is to stand without power. Giving makes us feel strong; receiving can make us feel weak.

Over the years I have met so many otherwise wonderful and intelligent people who, when presented with a gift, become embarrassed and say truly stupid things, such as, “Oh, you shouldn’t have done this!”


I believe that one of the most important life-lessons all of us might learn is how to receive gifts in our lives, how to receive them truly, to receive them with sincerity and grace and an honest acknowledgement of how grateful we feel that the gift has been given.

And, let us not forget, if we ourselves are to experience the higher blessedness of giving, we need to have receivers to receive! Without the receivers of our gifts, we couldn’t be givers and experience the higher blessedness that giving brings.

So, perhaps this holiday season, we will summon the courage to be the best receivers of gifts that we can be. Happy holidays!

Thanks, Eugene! I always especially enjoy reading Eugene’s thoughts, because he always makes me think a bit deeper myself. Today, he has me thinking about gifts I’ve received, and how well I’ve received them. Have I always been gracious and appreciative? I hope so, but I somehow doubt it. Sometimes we receive things that delight us and honor us, and we are truly delighted to receive them. Other times, they make us wonder, “what were they thinking?”

Jeff recently received one of the first kind. He recently traveled to London for the International Festival of Magic — and at the end of the festival was awarded the David Berglas International Magic Award. The award is quite a big deal — Jeff is only the fifth to have been chosen for it, after David Copperfield, Uri Geller, Derren Brown, Juan Tamariz and The MacMillan family, one of Britain’s legendary magic families.

Jeff McBride and David Berglas

It’s not hard to gracious when you receive a surprise gift like that.  Thank you, David Berglas!

So: How to make sure you receive the gifts you would most like during this holiday season. It’s really quite simple: just ask. But ask clearly. Not just for “a book about magic,” or “a magic trick.” No, you want to ask for The Show Doctor by Jeff McBride. It is available online at or Or maybe what you want is George Parker’s INDEX-terity, also available from both places. We all have family and friends scattered across the globe these days, and sometimes they become frustrated trying to find you the things they know you want — so be sure and tell them how they can do that…and you’ll be far more likely to receive those gifts that will make it easy to feel the gratitude, and to respond in a way that will make your friends feel great about what they’ve given you.

Perhaps you’re like my father — hard to buy for. There’s nothing that fits into a box that he really wants at this point in his life. So a few years back the family banded together and bought him a cruise aboard a tall ship. The gift of an experience he would probably never have thought to buy for himself…and one he’ll always remember. A trip to the Magic and Mystery School can be just such an experience for many of us. So don’t be afraid to ask / suggest to your family that, “Maybe what you would like to do this year, is all pool your funds to send me to study in person with two of the world’s greatest magic teachers in Las Vegas,” and send them to, where they can find out more.

Okay…I know I’m starting to sound like a used-car salesman or carnival barker here, so I’ll stop. And hope to see you in Las Vegas one day soon!

Oh — just one last plug. I’ll be doing a Locked Room lecture next week — Tuesday Dec. 12. I’ll be talking about the mystery of developing a deeper purpose for your magic, and how that can serve you many times over as it will help you create unique and powerful magic — magic that is truly all yours.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season.

Tobias Beckwith

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