Hypothesis: Dabbling In heavy metal music, fantasy role playing games and/or the occult Is simply a normal process of adolescent maturation. Proponents feel that dabbling in heavy metal, fantasy role playing and the occult are in most cases, simply phases adolescents proceed through on the way to maturation. When they actually "grow up", the vast majority of adolescents shed such controversial activities for more acceptable affiliations.
Dr. Joyce Brothers has said that Dungeons & Dragons "provides an especially safe way for young people to meet their needs for excitement and adventure... it's just far enough removed from reality that the violence of the game doesn't promote real-life violence, but rather provides a way of draining off aggression and hostile impulses." (Brothers, 1984.)
An article published by the Game Manufacturers Association states that in regard to fantasy role playing games, "The accusations regarding Satanism are groundless. Role-playing games no more make their players Satan worshipers than Monopoly makes its players slum landlords. A game may be a person's first exposure to the occult but cannot be considered any more a 'doorway into Satanism' than the average Steven King novel, encyclopedia, or book store." (Stafford, 1988.)
The Christian-oriented Spiritual Counterfeits Project claims that the concept of fantasy role playing games "is not wrong in and of itself. When carried out within the context of the Christian world view it can be a useful and creative activity. As creatures made in the image of an imaginative God we should consider ourselves obligated to stimulate and exercise as well as protect our precious gift of imagination." (Dokupil, 1982.)
In regard to dabbling in occult belief systems, Aidan A. Kelly of Holy Family College has written, "I think that some rebellion against childish religion is normal and necessary; the emotional bonds of that faith can be deep and strong, so that some struggle will be needed to break free of them. In struggling free of the cocoon, the butterfly strengthens the muscles it needs to fly with. I think this struggle will take an unhealthy form only if the normal growth process is thwarted by parents who, for whatever reason, attempt to infantilize their teenagers. If a young person is not allowed to express his or her real feelings and real thoughts when they occur in early adolescence, and must bottle them up for years, it is hardly surprising that there may be an explosion at around age 18, when that young person is ready to leave home. Furthermore, the worse this explosion is, then the less likely it will be, I suspect, that the person will ever be able to progress to a genuinely adult religion." (Kelly, 1986.)
In a 1986 study of 240 California teenagers, Drs. Jill Rosenbaum and Lorraine Prinsky found that the students questioned heard and understood very little of the musical lyrics that referred to sex, violence, drugs and Satanism. Their research led them to conclude that "Lyrics are not the primary reason that the young have for listening to popular music but rather the musical beat or overall sound of a recording is of greater interest to teenagers." (Rosenbaum and Prinsky, 1986:12.)
Organizations Supporting the Maturation Hypothesis
Game Manufacturers Association
P.O. Box 867623
Plano, TX 75023
Comprised of professionals who manufacture games, including fantasy role playing games, the Association also publishes materials designed to correct the "misinformation being spread throughout the law enforcement and educational communities about the supposed dangers of role-playing games."
Spiritual Counterfeits Project
P.O. Box 4308
Berkeley, CA 94704 (415) 540-0300
SCP is dedicated to understanding the "significance of spiritual turmoil and pluralism in our culture." As such, SCP researches broad spiritual trends, individual groups, and movements; authors a journal and newsletter; provides speaker services; and offers a "ACCESS Telephone Ministry" line.