May 312007

Did you know that nearly everyone making rock music in the 1980s was demonically possessed? Did you know that when you listened to rock music, Satan could actually come through the speakers and influence your behavior?

None of the churches I attended in my youth in Anniston had significant anti-rock ‘n’ roll/pop culture contingents, but several of my friends at Greenbriar went to private school at Trinity, which was substantially more conservative. So I got to hear about all of the anti-rock ministries coming in and around. We would go to the presentations recreationally–a practice I continued at least once more after we moved to Huntsville. Several friends and I went to see this guy about 1990 or so.

These passionate crusaders were (and are, I presume) a scream. We’d blast the music all the way out to the church, and then howl with laughter all the way back at the things we’d heard. We saw one guy who gravely warned that the Smurfs were Satan’s most insidious instrument yet for eventual world domination.

At some point, I had an opportunity to buy some books. I can’t remember exactly when or from whom, which bugs me, because I generally have a good memory for that sort of thing. They’re all from the famous/infamous Chick Publications, publisher of tracts sitting on a toilet tank near you:

I understand there’s a collector’s market for older Chick stuff, so three 20-year-old Chick anti-rock books are probably worth something to someone (even given the highlights and notes I scrawled throughout one of them as if I were responding to literary criticism, which I find equal parts of quaint and pathetic today). It’d have to be a whole lot before I’d consider parting with them. As funny as I thought they were at 15 years old, they’re nearly inconceivably comical today. For example, in The Devil’s Disciples: The Truth About Rock, we learn (and I swear I’m not making this up):

Most Rock tunes are in 4/4 time, four beats to the measure. This coincides exactly with the time signature of the human heartbeat. Thus, Rock music hits ALL listeners right in the guts, oozing its way like a ravenous leech into the most basic systems of the human body.

Ah. Gotcha. Sheesh, I’m never listening to or singing “Onward Christian Soldiers” again, because that’s in 4/4 as well. On AC/DC:

Widely thought to be a tribute to the late Bon Scott with its entirely unadorned, black cover, (sort of an LP in mourning for the fallen singer), “Back in Black” also can be taken quite another way. As all occultists know, to be “into the Black” is to hunger for evil and aggrandizement, to shun the light of all good works. In this sense, “Back in Black” means “Returned in full force with the power of Lucifer behind us.”

These books go on for hundreds of pages just like this.

And it’s not just AC/DC, Kiss, Judas Priest, and the like that gets it. Paul McCartney, Elton John, Heart, Cheap Trick–you name it, they’re all card-carrying agents of the prince of darkness. Who knew?

Stairway to Hell goes beyond rock. It hits it, of course, but it also hits Dungeons & Dragons, homosexuality, smoking, and all kinds of other stuff guaranteed to make you a crispy critter forevermore. The author of this one is seriously (fetishistically?) into describing hell to you, to be really damned (sorry) sure you get it. To wit:

“Oh God! No! No! No! This can’t be happening to me! Total blackness! Terrifying screams! God! Please get me out of here! I’m on fire! The flames are sizzling me! The smoke is choking me! The stench of burning flesh is turning my stomach! I can’t stand this pain. Somebody get me out of here!” – This is a gruesome description of one more teenager who just took the last fatal step down the eternally damning stairway to hell. This poor sap discovered a little too late that he had been deceived by someone who hated him and had devised a plan to make him suffer forever.

These little descriptions are scattered throughout the book.

It depresses me to think about how many people might be out there who would take these books seriously. To be sure, a minor part of these books’ content is straightforwardly positive (respecting your parents, studying diligently, and so forth). There’s probably a decent book in there. But it’s far easier to impugn rock music and make a lot of weird racket about demons and goblins than it is to take some genuine responsibility for the people your children are becoming. I thought that then, and I think it now.

That I can recall, my dad made exactly one comment on my music during my entire adolescence. He had come in my bedroom to talk to me about something, and as he was leaving, my poster of Ozzy Osbourne’s The Ultimate Sin album cover caught his eye. “That’s kind of creepy, Bo,” he said. That was it.

I never got grief about my music because he knew who I was, and he wasn’t overly concerned about that person. Given that, what I was listening to was a mundane detail. That’s exactly where I’ll be trying to put my head with our boys in another five or six years.

Thanks to for the image of Pan.

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  7 Responses to “Runnin’ with the devil”

  1. You know what is also cool? The ones who try to convince you that space exploration is evil. You know, launching ships into God’s place? Not good.

  2. I’m going to have to run on home and burn all my rock albums now. thank you thank you thank you for telling me about the evil ways of music.

    And Smurfs too – I knew they were pretty evil – Smurfette was always a little tease – I’m sure she slept with them all! She was after all the ONLY female smurf in the town.
    Man what a ho.

    I’ve heard bunnies are pretty bad too – especially the ones that carry drums, wear flip flops and promote battery sales. Watch out for them too!

  3. Saintseester: Wow. I haven’t heard that flavor of hysteria before. I wish I were more surprised.

    Brina: Repent! Repent! And LOL at your Smurfette comment. ISTR he went part of the way there in his “exposé.”

  4. My former radio comrade Kurt Kuersteiner no doubt has several novels in his head, but before any of that could proceed he HAD to write the definitive Chick Tract collector book, “The Unofficial Guide to the Art of Jack T. Chick.” He’s as serious as a heart attack induced by watching JUST ONE episode of Bewitched! He also runs the online “Jack Chick Museum of Fine Art.”

  5. LOL! It is funny. I was in a hick beauty parlor in south mississippi one day about a year after the first space shuttle explosion. Long story, short: i was telling someone about my major (CS) and this older woman just started ranting about how men had no business writing programs to send machines into space. ??? She went on and on about how we were intruding on Heaven, and God didn’t like it, so he smacked that Space Shuttle right out of his ‘hood.

  6. Unrequited: The Jack Chick Museum of Fine Art is a treasure. Thank you!

  7. […] he popularized the “heavy metal horns,” which more than one well-intentioned (I guess?) road show tried to convince me was a symbol of his deep, unyielding satanism.  One or another of those guys […]

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