Should I worry about buying video equipment called Blackmagic Design?

Q.  I’m getting back into cinematography and for my new company I’m looking at some video equipment from a company called Blackmagic Design. Nothing about the company indicates that they are occult based, but the name is an odd one.  This seems to be really good equipment at affordable prices. Should I worry about the name?

Blackmagic Design logo, courtesy Wikipedia

No, I don’t think you need to worry about the name.

For one thing, as you suspect, this company has no involvement with the occult.  Blackmagic Design is the name that founder Grant Petty chose apparently to echo of the name of his former company, Digital Voodoo, after (in his own words) he “lost management control of the company and resigned.”  And no occult connections seem to have been intended for that earlier name, either.  Rather, the Internet was being described in its earlier days as “a kind of digital voodoo, a blur between technology and magic” (as this website for a different company of the same name explains), and the expression came to be used for any other advanced digital technology.  In other words, the references to “magic” and “voodoo” are simply metaphors, and such they are harmless, as I explain in my post entitled “Should Christians read books and watch movies that have magic in them?

Secondly, and more importantly, even if Blackmagic Design did have some occult connection–even if the founders, say, had sold their souls to the devil in order to become successful, or even if they put curses on every product on its way out the door–buying the equipment still couldn’t hurt you.  An analogous case in the Bible is the Corinthians’ question to Paul about food offered to idols that was then sold in the marketplace.  Citing the Scriptural principle that “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,” Paul advises, “Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience.” 

In other words, even though the meat had been offered to idols, it didn’t carry any spiritual power or effects with it.  An innocent purchaser would be unharmed by any of its previous associations.  In the same way, digital equipment, whatever its source, is simply a product of creation and culture by the time it comes into the hands of the end user, and it can be freely used by those who love and serve “God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

The one qualification, again on biblical grounds, would be not to use the equipment if this caused anyone to stumble.  A new follower of Jesus, for example, might trying to break free from past occult involvement, and using equipment with the name Blackmagic might cause them to violate their conscience by doing something they felt was wrong. Even though this would not be absolutely wrong, they shouldn’t violate their conscience, and no one else should encourage them to do this.

But that is only an unlikely hypothetical situation.  I think the only real concerns anyone should have when considering such equipment are quality and price.  I do not have the expertise to advise you on those issues.  But do I hope I’ve helped reassure you about the name.

 

Author: Christopher R Smith

The Rev. Dr. Christopher R. Smith is a writer and biblical scholar who is also an ordained minister who served local churches as a pastor for nearly twenty years. He was a consulting editor to the International Bible Society (now Biblica) for The Books of the Bible, an edition of the Scriptures that presents the biblical books according to their natural literary outlines, without chapters and verses. His Understanding the Books of the Bible study guide series is keyed to this format. He has an A.B. from Harvard in English and American Literature and Language, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell, and a Ph.D. in the History of Christian Life and Thought, with a minor concentration in Bible, from Boston College, in the joint program with Andover Newton Theological School.

2 thoughts on “Should I worry about buying video equipment called Blackmagic Design?”

  1. Hi Rev. Chris,

    Interesting take on this. This post is over a year old but I thought a response would still be useful…I’m of African descent and in Africa the practice of black magic is a real and present activity and many Africans are, by nature, very sensitive to it.

    I’m not sure that your argument about food offered to idols necessarily applies in this instance. For one thing, food offered to idols, when sold in the market place, is rarely labelled as “Food Offered To Idols”. So, in most cases, one is unaware of any such connection and once the food is blessed and consumed, that’s it…it’s gone.

    Using Black Magic Design kit on the other hand, means constant exposure to the name as it is emblazoned clearly on all their equipment; it’s almost a taunt, a reminder, that you’re using “black magic”! I would expect any Christian to be uneasy in their spirit if they constantly have to handle equipment that is so labelled.

    Having said that, however, I’m aware of many Christians and Christian organisations/churches that don’t appear to have a problem with this and freely use Black Magic Design kit. I’m clearly in the minority, but for me, for conscience sake, would rather leave well alone.

    Shalom.

    1. Thank you very much for this thoughtful contribution. It strikes me that this is actually very much like the case of food offered to idols, in which some, “accustomed to idols,” cannot partake innocently, while others, for whom “an idol is nothing at all in the world,” can partake. I see your point that someone who had seen actual black magic in operation would be very uncomfortable constantly seeing the words “Black Magic” on video equipment in their church. But perhaps these words could simply be covered over?

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