There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold

When I was about 14 or 15 I attended a Church Fireside meeting about rock-n-roll music. Fireside meetings were special monthly meetings for youth usually held at someone’s home (by the fireside, natch) about topics ranging from how to stifle all sexual awareness until one was married to how the wine that Jesus drank was different than the wine sold at stores today. (My personal belief is that the dudes in the New Testament liked to rip it up [otherwise heaven is going to be one huge harshing of the mellow] and that the only difference between wine then and now is that then it didn’t come with the year stamped on the label. Methinks Jesus would have been a gentle drunk.)

I’ve heard other Mormons talk about a similar rock-n-roll fireside lesson, one in which the person giving the lecture brings in a recording of a rock song playing backwards (almost always “Stairway to Heaven”) to demonstrate how Satan talks through the music. Somehow they’d always be able to decipher a “welcome to hell” or “worship the devil” out of noises that sound like nothing but words being sung backwards.

“Nevaeh ot yawriats a gniyub sehs dna.” CAN YOU HEAR IT? CAN YOU HEAR THE DEVIL? I bet you didn’t know that Robert Plant was the anti-Christ DID YOU.

I’m frightened because when Leta reads books to herself she sounds EXACTLY like “Stairway to Heaven” being played backwards. I want to record her and then play her backwards because if we’ve given birth to a conduit for Satan, HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE? Sometimes Jon will call in the middle of the day and ask about Leta, and I tell him, “She’s quoting Satan again, something about flesh and burning. Oh, and ‘bow to the Demon.’ That’s new today.”

Jon and I have been reading a lot of religious literature lately, and maybe that’s why the devil has come calling. THROUGH LETA. Both Jon and I left the Mormon Church in the mid-1990’s and we’re coming to terms with how our belief systems changed so fundamentally and what it has done to us emotionally. Since both of our families are still quite Mormon and especially since we live in the beating heart of Mormondom I think we’re both trying to decide what we’re going to tell Leta. Plus, everyone keeps asking me, “What are you going to tell Leta?”

For starters, I’m going to say, “Hold on one second while I pour myself some wine.”

Then, I don’t know yet. Do I believe in the Bible? No, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to teach Leta that the Bible is not true. I’ll talk to her about it, let her read one of the many copies we have in the basement, but as far as religion is concerned it’s important to me that SHE MAKE HER OWN DECISION. I think that’s the thing I’ve realized lately through all the reading I’ve been doing, that I didn’t have a choice. I was forced at birth into a life full of guilt and repression, a life of thinking that my eternal salvation was at risk with every thought and desire in my heart. I lived 22 years in constant fear.

Also important is the fact that whatever she decides she will know that I will love her no matter what. And yes, that means if she wants to be baptized a Mormon, if that’s what she really wants, I’ll put on my pantyhose and meet her at the Church. But it has to be her decision.

What is not up for discussion, however, is Led Zeppelin and how much she will love them, how she will kneel at the altar of The Who and pray to the God of Radiohead. And lo, I command that she name her first child Pete and her second child Townshend, lest her soul and flesh burn for eternity, her salvation lost to The Demon, Boy Bands.