I don't think I'll shock anyone by admitting that I'm not a regular reader of The Village Voice. Unsurprisingly, I wouldn't have seen an amusing blog entry posted to its website if reader Jen Sharp hadn't passed it along to me. The entry is a mocking retrospective on a book I don't think I ever heard of entitled Like Lambs to the Slaughter by Johanna Michaelsen. The book's sub-title is "Your Children and the Occult."
Given that the book's foreword is by none other than Hal Lindsey, one could safely predict -- far better than Lindsey ever could -- that it's going to be an embarrassing bit of alarmist doggerel of the sort that pops up with depressing regularity on bookstore shelves. And so it seems to be, based on the blog entry, which includes hilarious excerpts from the book itself. What's even more amusing is that Michaelsen seems to have it in for the Care Bears, which she ranks up there with D&D, He-Man, The Chronicles of Narnia, and My Little Pony as bearers of hidden Satanic messages. To me, it's all so patently ridiculous and yet there was a time when lots of people took stuff like this seriously, or at least pretended to do so.
I've said before that I never had any significant encounters with anyone who had a mindset at all like the author of this book. I played D&D all through my late elementary and high school years, sometimes at school, and only once ever met anyone who had a problem with it (and she was widely regarded as a Grade-A nutcase by one and all). My parents and relatives saw it as an imaginative pastime and my friends' families were similarly supportive of our shared hobby. In the case of many of my friends, D&D is what got them to read history and write creatively for the first time in their lives. It was certainly a positive influence on them, as it was one me, engendering a love of the Middle Ages that eventually took me to graduate school. And far from turning me into a Satanist, I'd say that D&D played a role in buttressing my moral philosophy.
So, it's always a bit strange when I read things like this blog post, because, though I know there really was a Satanism scare in the 80s, it doesn't reflect the world I inhabited at that time at all. There's an air of unreality to it for me, one that makes it much harder for me to accept its having happened than, say, World War II or the Battle of Thermopylae, events that occurred before I was born. Reading about it, I almost feel as if someone is just making stuff up and passing it off as something that really happened, but then, on a certain level, that's exactly what they are doing.