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Devil's Playground

Devil's Playground

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating
User Rating 2.5 Star Rating (2 Reviews)

By Tim Stopper

Devil's Playground

A scene from Lucy's Walker "Devil's Playground."

Rumspringa refers to the Amish rite of passage which begins when an Amish child reaches 16 years of age, and continues until they decide whether or not they want to join or leave the Amish church. It is the subject of Lucy Walker's debut effort as a documentary film maker in "Devil's Playground."
At sixteen, the Amish are permitted to leave the community and explore what they refer to as the "English World" and the adults in the community call the "Devil's Playground." An Amish person is not baptized as a child, but as a young adult, when they are called uponto make one of the most important decisions of their lives.

"Devil's Playground" follows several teens through their experiences during rumspringa, but the main focus is on Faron, the son of an Amish preacher. When he is exposed to the world "outside," he becomes addicted to crank, or crystal meth. He ends up dealing to support his habit, and hooks up with an "English" girlfriend. He acknowledges that he will probably have to say good by to her when he rejoins his community, which from the beginning of his Rumspringa never seems to be in doubt. Faron frequently says that he believes in the Amish church, it's a good religion, and makes two attempts to get off the drugs, knowing he must if he is going to return "home."

It seems a chaotic existence, but also seems related to the Native American vision quest. The difference is that for Amish, they need to find their answers in the wilderness of the soul. They subject themselves most intentionally to temptation and find out about their strength of character on the other side.

In interviews with the teenagers, the documentary shows that partying is never all that is on their minds. These young Amish adults are struggling with what they want to believe, how they want to spend the rest of their lives. The downside to putting off baptism in the Amish church until you are old enough to choose is the tragedy that occurs if you die before you choose the church, because the Amish belief system affirms that anyone not baptized is lost. The Amish teens seem to take this very seriously.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 4 out of 5
, Member delweave

This is in response to previous review stating that this is fictional and these are actors. I can promise that this in not the case; I grew up with these people in my home town and several of them are my 1st cousins. Now, the video definitely only showed one aspect of these years as there are groups of individuals who do not get this involved in the party scene. To say that these stove/refrigerators and appliances in the houses are electrical is crazy talk; they are usually natural gas and every Amish family that I know has these amenities; they have hot water/running water/indoor plumbing. The Amish culture is a bit more complicated than perceived by society. I could write forever on this topic; however, I just wanted to let individuals know that this was not by any means fictional and these people are not actors.

25 out of 25 people found this helpful.

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