Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rumspringa

Tonight I watched a 2002 documentary called the Devil's Playground.
It follows a handful of Amish teens as they go thru the rite of rumspringa.
It is a period of time starting at the 16th birthday & can last from a couple months to several years.
Fitting that time the teens are allowed to do anything they want. Party, drugs, alcohol, sex & electricity.
It was a fascinating documentary.
I really felt for the kids.
It's such a foreign idea to me to go from that amount of sheltering to that amount of rowdiness in literally the course of a day.
The first night of their 16th year a huge majority of the kids get hammered, high or worse & the party continues for weeks, months or years.
It's said that 90% of the Amish that leave the community for their rumspringa return to join the church.
Once you do return & join the church if you choose to leave again you are shunned by your entire family as well as the community you grew up in.

My only problem with the doc was I desperately wanted to see at least one of the teens they followed go back & join the church.
They talked to one girl who had already decided to so she wasn't partying during the movie.
Then the main guy they followed decided to go back and live Amish but had not decided to join the church yet.
Something I was unaware of until I saw the doc was that while on rumspringa the teens are allowed to live with their parents. They can & do have ridiculously huge parties on the Amish property. One such party had 1500 attendees, bands, liquor, drugs & rock all in a barn in the back of the Amish fields.
I always assumed you had to leave the community for your time in the world but I was wrong.
That to me makes a lot of sense. Largely because your parents and the community is there to put the pressure on to join the church & put the partying behind you.
I really recommend the doc. It has some swearing because while out in the world they swear a LOT but it was such an interesting look into that life.

I'm kinda obsessed with the Amish right now. I have this huge respect for that level of conviction in ones beliefs.

I don't think you'd regret watching the movie. It's available from Amazon, thru Netflix & for download.

Thanks for reading.

Alan

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