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Pledging Virginity to Dad: A New Doc Explores the World of ‘Purity Balls’

Pledging Virginity to Dad: A New Doc Explores the World of ‘Purity Balls’

By Jessica Valenti, Religion Dispatches….
As I watched Virgin Tales, a Swiss documentary about purity balls—dances where young girls pledge their virginities to their dads—I thought of my father often. Because the most compelling focus of the film wasn’t the events themselves, but the way in which one family’s dynamic can reveal so much about American culture and politics.
Filmmaker Mirjam von Arx follows the Colorado Springs-based Wilson family whose patriarch, Randy, invented purity balls. Von Arx focuses on one daughter in particular, Jordyn. (The Wilsons have five daughter and two sons.) Jordyn is college-aged but not in college. “I want to be a wife and a mother,” she says, “I would hate to go off and spend thousands of dollars on an education that I wouldn’t use.”

What's in Your Bible?

What’s in Your Bible?

By Kenny Smith, Religion Bulletin….
In a recent piece for CNN’s religion blog, “Actually, that’s not in the Bible,” John Blake examines the ubiquity of “phantom scripture” in American Christian communities. By “phantom scripture” he means ideas, teachings, and passages that sound like they belong in the Bible–e.g., “This too shall pass,” “God helps those who help themselves,” “Spare the rod, spoil the child,” or the notion that it was Satan (rather than a serpent) who tempted Eve in the Garden–but which, upon “close” (i.e., scholarly) examination, are in fact not there at all. A mild deconstruction of Blake’s discussion, I hope to suggest, opens up important pedagogical insights. By way of getting at such insights, consider a somewhat parallel example. In my undergraduate “introduction to religion” course, students watched a documentary about the “Purity Balls” movement popular among some contemporary American evangelicals….