Despite my parents’ best efforts, I think it’s fair to say that I failed them in the music department. The thing is, I love rock ‘n roll. Love hip-hop. Love the Beatles clear on through to the Red Hot Chili Peppers and sideways on over to the Indigo Girls.
Now, maybe this isn’t a big deal to you, but to my family, this is a whole world of wrongs. I was not only NOT allowed to listen to secular radio when I was a kid, but I was also subjected to the cultural alternative at least daily. My mother, being a professional harpist, took the lead on this, lulling us to sleep with the classics every night. When I wasn’t busy doing my homework, I was polishing my shoes so that I could make an appearance at one of the weekly recitals or symphonies being put on either by the city or one of the local universities.
And then there were the music lessons. Oh yes, I play. As a matter of fact I have at one time or another taken lessons for the piano, the violin, the flute, the acoustic guitar, the harmonica, the autoharp, the organ, voice, the recorder, and—of course—the harp. When I became an adult I even took a crack at the lead electric guitar, but by then it was too late. I was done for. Washed up. Drowned in a sea of master-of-nothingness.
I used to sneak the radio and even MTV. It was the era of Vanilla Ice and Bel Biv Devoe, so you know what I’m talking about when I say that the whole world had gone mad. Lucifer, the Lord of Music and the Dance, had dug his long, black nails in deep to the music industry and was holding on for dear life. I mean, we’re talking about the era of Weird Al, people.
So when experts in the church said there were Satanic messages which were embedded backwards in rock n’ roll music, it seemed all the more credible to me. I was already doing something I wasn’t supposed to be by listening to that smut on the sly. The demons were all but slapping high fives over me.
Apparently I was not the only one. Rumor had it that entire groups of boys and girls from the Christian Academy were listening to the stuff. At home, in cars…it was getting out of control. And if anyone needed proof, all one had to do was say “Stop. Hammertime!” in the hallway in between classes and watch the mayhem that would ensue.
Once the alarm had been rung that the Christian Academy’s boys and girls were on the fast track to becoming Hell’s hand servants, it was time to bring in the big guns. Clearly, the youth did not understand what it was messing with. We did not appreciate that we were dealing with powers and principalities unseen. On Monday, all of that would change.
Both to our joy and apprehension, we arrived at school to find that we were on chapel schedule that day—despite the fact it was not a normal day for chapel. But what they had to tell us could not wait.
We filed in reverently to the chapel auditorium. The anticipation was so thick that nobody was really talking to anybody else. I sat near the front wedged in between one of the boys from the varsity basketball team and a woman teacher who had the annoying habit of sniffling every ten seconds. To make matters worse, one of them smelled like tuna fish.
But I would not dwell on this for long. Just as I feared I was about to faint from nausea, the lights were dimmed and a large movie screen at the front demanded our undivided attention. Rock music blared. Colored lights and flashy lightning bolt styled graphics assaulted our retinas. Some of the boys—accustomed to worshipping the Dark Lord through music—began pulsing their heads to the rhythm. And then all faded to black.
Over the course of the next hour, my eyes and ears were opened. What I hadn’t known until that moment was that I had been allowing myself to be controlled. Since the time I had heard my very first rock n’ roll song, I had been listening to secret messages from Satan without even knowing it. I thought I had been doing all right with the Lord and obeying His word, when all along I had been taking instructions from the Prince of Darkness like a college intern with a Steno.
In numb shock I listened as Led Zeppelin sang an anthem to the Dark Lord when the words “a bustle in your hedgerow” were played backwards in “Stairway to Heaven” producing “Here’s to my sweet Satan.” At the time, I had never heard of “Stairway to Heaven”, being more of a Madonna and Michael Jackson girl, myself. Never mind the fact that I had never heard any of these artists above a whisper from my clock radio when I knew my parents were on the other side of the house. But what did that matter? If Satan had polluted one song, what was stopping him from polluting them all? [...]
Excerpted from Devangelical: A Memoir