In 1984, a book called Playing With Fire was published by Moody Press, an evangelical publishing house. The book decried the playing of role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons as a tool that would lead participants into the occult. And it wasn't the first, nor would it be the last, to make these claims.
Nearly 30 years later, it seems pretty crazy to talk about, but during that time, there was public discourse about the "Satanists next door." Newspaper articles, books and even 60 minutes all talked about Satanists and their recruitment tools - violent role-playing and video games, occult books and hard rock music - that were, according to both evangelical and mainstream religious leaders, leading "our precious children" to the Devil by bloody and unnatural murder, teen suicide, baby sacrifices and ancient rituals. That time has colloquially become known as "The Satanic Panic." It steadily built up through the 70s, reached it's peak in the 80s and faded from the public consciousness in the 90s.
I look back at "The Satanic Panic" completely dumbfounded with the insanity and stupidity of it. All my friends and I were doing was staying out of trouble in our parents' basements. We weren't out drinking or getting girls in trouble or doing drugs. We were pretending to be elves and dwarves in Middle Earth. We rolled dice, we ate CheetosTM, and drank copious amounts of fizzy drinks. We never wore robes or chanted in strange tongues or sacrificed babies to the Devil. We just had fun. And that seemed to bug people.
When I found a cheap copy of Playing With Fire last year, I laughed out loud and bought it for fun. I recently pulled it from the shelf and decided I'd do a review.
Five pages into it, I wanted to throw it across the room.
Instead, I decided to do an in-depth review of the book. So watch for all the parts.