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Is it a good or bad thing to exercise independent thinking about fundamental religious issues, such as the existence of God and the authority of scripture? In the directors commentary, Walker notes the inconsistencies in many of the Amish rules for example a rule that permits tractors for bailing, but not for plowing. After her rumspringa experience, Velda was baptized into the Amish church, but was shunned after she later decided to leave it. Whats so bad about the practice of shunning if it helps maintain conformity to tradition? In the directors commentary, Walker notes that Faron idolized gangster rapper Tupac Shakur, yet at the same time wanted to be an Amish preacher. A caption in the film states the following: Believing that education leads to pride, the Amish require their children to drop out after 8th grade and begin working.

They change so few rules so slowly that sometimes things drift in different directions at once. Does this parallel the development of religious rules in non-Amish culture denominations? Several of the youth who returned to their Amish tradition were asked what things they missed the most from their Rumspringa experience. In the directors commentary, Walker states that all of the young men going through rumspringa adopted the same secular fashions in clothing, music, lingo and hairstyle. She states that the shunning is for them their last way of showing you that they love you. Hes going to get torn in two different directions; theres no comfortable compromise between those. In the directors commentary, Walker states that Within weeks you could see them sucking up MTV, the clothes at Walmart, and so on, so quickly they became expert in the latest pop culture trends. With all of the secular sub-cultures available for them to sample, why would popular youth culture be so much of an attraction? Throughout the film several Amish youth struggle with choosing to either accept or reject their Amish tradition. The formal education they do receive is from one-room Amish schoolhouses. government step in and force the Amish to better educate their children? In the directors commentary, Walker states that a mobile home manufacturing company set up a factory in Indiana specifically to draw from the local pool of honest, hardworking Amish.

While many religious groups endorse some sort of "age of accountability" doctrine, the Old Order Amish have a specific age, sixteen, which seems to be a high estimate for when human beings begin to consciously sin.

Rumspringa is when an Amish adolescent, age sixteen, goes to experience the "English" world and, consequently, becomes lost.

Mahayana Buddhism has the notion of useful means, that is, concerned believers can do anything necessary in order to bring people to salvation.

Is there anything wrong with the Amish using their young women as bait or a useful means to get their young men to join the church? In the directors commentary, Walker states The wild thing about these kids is that, even though theyre high on crystal methamphetamine and doing all these other worldly things, they dont for a second doubt the existence of heaven and hell. I didnt know any teenagers that wouldnt question that.

PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES: free will, moral relativism, the afterlife CHARACTERS: Faron (drug dealer), Sara (Farons first girlfriend), Emma (Farons second girlfriend), Gerald (boy who lives in trailer), Velda (young woman who was shunned), Joann (girl who later joins Amish Church) SYNOPSIS: Devils Playground is a documentary film by Lucy Walker which explores the Amish adolescent rite of passage called rumspringa (pronounced ROOM-shpring-a).

Upon their sixteenth birthdays, Amish youth, both male and female, are released from Amish restrictions and can explore secular life the devils playground outside of the Amish community.

If you wanted to really take the relationship to the next level, youve got to get married, and in order to get married youve got to join the church.

This retention rate is the highest ever since the founding of the Amish church in 1693.

In the directors commentary Lucy Walker states that the success rate may be partly due to the courtship ritual.

A less "religious" but equally troubling ethical question consists in the moral culpability of the Amish parents for the condition of their children.

One of the movies subjects, Faron, becomes extremely addicted to drugs and even begins to deal narcotics.

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