Moral Fragments and Moral Community: A Proposal for Church in Society

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2 November 2015

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Devil’s Playground


            The film “Devil’s Playground” is considered as one of the films ever produced that is more of a psychological thriller that is developed in a church setting, schools as well as the upper levels of power which exist in the Catholic Church, specifically, Australian when there was change in late 1980s. The film has various stars including Simon Burke who plays the role of Tom Allen. The other characters in the film include Don Hany, Jack Thompson, Toni Collette, John Noble, Andrew McFarlane, Anna Lise Phillips, Leon Ford, UliLatukefu, Matt Levett, as well asJarinTowney (

            Form this film, it can be noted that the Amish youths, when they reach the age of 16 years, they are allowed to make their personal decisions and take other ways apart from following the set Amish rules. The youths sample the outside life from the routine life of the Amish which is often under strict rules (Rasmussen, 9-20). The youths get to have modern life whereby they do things as they please and engage in all manner of activities that comes with modernism. In the year 1988, Tom Allen was still recuperating from the loss of his wife as well as the love affair that he had with Alice. One boy goes missing from a Catholic School and there are a lot of questions which are asked by the community. Desperate search by Andrassi as well as Brother Warner to find the boy that has gone missing. In the second episode of film, there is a body which is discovered as well as a note, cryptic, which gives the suggestion that the death of that has occurred is not a normal death or as a result of accident(Rasmussen, 9-20).

            The film is quite clear on the lessons that it tries to pass through to the society at large. As it is depicted in the film, the youths are left to make their choices in life, whether to follow modernism or to follow the Amish rules(Beaty, Carlton, and Mark, 107). The film is all about freedom in the society to make choices and live according to what the world offers. From the film, the concept of change is eminent in the film whereby the youths, at the age of 16, are left to do what they want(Rasmussen, 9-20). The film depicts the society as weak and lacks the control that it needs to have on young people. For example, Faron, who is the son of a preacher, gets involved in drugs and leaves the teachings of his father.

            There is a lot of disrespect for authority that is depicted from the picture of Faron getting in to drugs and other social vices(David, n.p). The producer of the film tries to show the society that when people are left without any rules, there are high chances that things will definitely go wrong. However, it is ironical that the son of a preacher is ardent drugs user, something that the society greatly believes can only happen to those that do not go to church.

            In this film, there are several characters that have been used, which includes students, clergymen, as well as person in authority. The use of the different characters helps in bringing out the themes in the film as well as the development of the film. The use of the clergy and having church settings as part of the film helps in bringing out the religious aspect that people have in the society (Beaty, Carlton, and Mark, 107). However, despite there being the aspect of religion and beliefs, the society is full of vices, some of which are associated with the church. The clergy are expected to perform the role of teaching morals to the followers and the society as well as offer the much needed support for the people. However, in the context of the film, the church is seen as one that is riddled with politics as well as social vices, although these are not outwardly displayed(Beaty, Carlton, and Mark, 107). The use of the clergy in the film helps in supporting the theme of religion whereby people get hope from religion, as it is seen through the various youths that decided to get back to their communities instead of continuing with their reckless life(Rasmussen, 9-20). The church is the source of hope and future in the society. It is important that in society moral values should be supported by all the relevant authorities so that the young people can have some form of guidance since they are naïve and inexperienced.

            Contrary to the moral values that are expected, the authorities have instead turned around and became symbols of immorality in the society, as this can be seen in the film. The clergymen fail in their responsibility which in turn leads to the death of a boy, and some form of note claiming that the death is not an accident(David, n.p). From the tile of the film, the Devil’s Playground”, it is symbolic since the events that take place in the film such as the way the youths have left the ways of the Amish and instead engaged in modernism, depicts the title of the film.

            The producer of this film managed to bring out the title of the film since there are a lot of social vices which are depicted throughout the film. The vices cover up the religious beliefs that exits leaving in the film, and the church seems not be effective in carrying out its duty of ensuring that the moral values that are expected in the society are upheld by everyone. The schools are not left out as it is depicted in the film (Brooks, 125). The students are the victims that are greatly affected by the vices in the society. The film is a clear indication of what modernism has on a society that does not hold on to its cultural values. The students are presented as intelligent and are aware of what is happening in their surrounding and from observation, they try and practices what they see(Beaty, Carlton, and Mark, 107). The use of the students as part of the characters in the film the producer of this film were simply trying to show that there is no one in the society that is immune to vices which are in a society.

            It is the responsibility of everyone in the society to ensure that moral values are upheld. Furthermore, it is not just the responsibility of the clergy, as they are not as perfect as they may be viewed to help maintain moral values in the society. Parents have the first responsibility of instilling moral values in their children. In the film, parents are seen to be strict to their children and want the children to follow what they want (David, n.p). However, as the children reach the age of 16 years, they are left to make their choices without the guidance of the parents. The effect of this laxity on the side of the parents result in the death of a boy, many of them getting involved in drug abuse as well as sexual relationships, things they are not supposed to do. The whole aspect of religion and parental guidance is lost as it is depicted in the film, and instead, evil is left to prevail(Rasmussen, 9-20).


            In conclusion, the use of the different characters in the film is quite accurate and matches the title of the film, bringing out the clear theme that was intended by the producers of the film. In addition to the characters, the use of different settings, that is, the church, schools and homes, helps to support the theme of the film and the development of the film, something that is a plus to the film. The whole aspect of the film is to help people understand the behavior of human beings when faced with changes, that is, the psychological impacts of different events in the life of an individual(Beaty, Carlton, and Mark, 107). In a society, there it is important that moral values should be maintained and young people should be taught how to live morally upright lives. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of everyone in the society to help and support each other in ensuring that cultural values are not lost.


Beaty, Michael D, Carlton D. Fisher, and Mark Nelson.Christian Theism and Moral Philosophy.Macon, Ga: Mercer University Press, 1998. Print. P.107

Brooks, Thom. Ethics and Moral Philosophy. Leiden: Brill, 2011. Print. P.125

David Dale, Catholic church is in the spotlight for Devil’s Playground TV series viewed from on 23rd November 2014

Rasmussen, Larry L. Moral Fragments and Moral Community: A Proposal for Church in Society. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993. Print. P.9-20

The Devils’ Playground viewed from on 23rdNovember 2014

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StudyScroll. (2015). Moral Fragments and Moral Community: A Proposal for Church in Society. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 1-Jun-2023]

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