There’s a disturbing trend on Facebook: There’s a new type of hyper-zealous vegan, who feels entitled to spew curse-laden vitriol toward anyone not in line with his/her vegan view. It’s grounded in atheism. The thinking is, look at the horrible things that happen to animals. Therefore, there can’t possibly be a God.
Makes sense. That is, if you haven’t put 40 years into studying Western philosophy, Taoism, Buddhism, esoteric Christianity, karma, virtue, reincarnation, enlightenment, sages, seers, saints, and so on. If you have, it makes no sense whatsoever.
But atheism is the source of a vast amount of modern depression. And the horrors of war and PTSD can cause an Army chaplain to lose his faith and descend into depression regarding the illusion of a seemingly random universe—same as current veganism adherents.
“Indivisible” is the real-life story of one such chaplain’s test of faith on the Iraq battlefield, and that of his wife back home raising three kids on the Fort Stewart, Georgia, Army base.
It’s good. You’ll cry a lot. It’s got some powerhouse acting performances. It’s primarily for Christian audiences but stretches across any religion that requires faith. Which is the definition of religion, more or less. All religions rely on faith.
Into the Fire
Darren Turner (Justin Bruening) is a newbie chaplain who, armed with a Master of Divinity degree but no experience, deploys to Baghdad in 2015 (President George W. Bush’s “Surge”), hoping to help the troops find God amid the chaos of war.
He has two allies in his commanding officer (Eric Close) and sergeant/aide (Skye P. Marshall), but faces testing
and questioning by 1) battle-hardened vet Michael Lewis (Jason George), who happens to live across the street from him at home, and 2) Lance Bradley (Tanner Stine), the Humvee turret gunner.
Michael Lewis is sullen and cynical. Lance, on the other hand, his gunner-versus-chaplain faith-sparring debates are humorous, with Lance saying repeatedly, upon being offered various things to help him with his faith (a Bible, and so on), “Don’t get your hopes up. I just like free stuff.”
Home Fires Burning
Stateside, wife Heather (Sarah Drew) juggles three children while volunteering to give new widows support, care packages, and comfort. She wants Darren back in one piece. Darren returns with his body intact but hauling a formidable load of marriage-sundering PTSD.
There’s marriage counseling by an elder chaplain (Michael O’Neill), who reminds us all that faith is pretty much synonymous with tests of faith. Faith is not faith if it’s never tested.
The war version of the vegan objection to faith, in “Indivisible,” is how can there be God if children die as collateral damage? Chaplain Turner’s answer—that he doesn’t know the answers—is what eventually endears him to his soldier flock.
The power of his ministering lies more in the obvious care and compassion in his counseling, as, for example, when he helps Sergeant Peterson become a better long-distance parent to her young boy, who’s being raised by his grandmother in her absence.
What You Get
Sarah Drew and Skye P. Marshall are the real stars of this movie; their portraits of two opposing aspects of mothers suffering from the inherent sacrifices of the war profession are quietly incandescent.
While PTSD is an arresting topic, Bruening is too bland to bring the necessary intensity. For better portrayals, watch Ryan Phillippe and Channing Tatum bring the PTSD heat in 2008’s “Stop-Loss.”
The major drawback here is the irresponsible suggestion that PTSD is curable by a few visits to the base chaplain and a wife adjusting her attitude. Maybe that was all it took in this real-life case, but that might be the exception that proves the harrowing rule. But then, maybe this was a miraculous cure, given the movie’s subject matter. If so, nothing leapt out designating it as such.
PTSD is more like the true story of the most decorated sniper in U.S. history, Chris Kyle, returning home from Iraq and blowing away two men at a gas station for trying to steal his truck. Then again, concealed-carry proponents might argue that one simply does not mess with former U.S. Navy SEALs.
While some object to the very concept of an evangelical movie, others may find it refreshing in its the lack of zealous preaching. The emphasis is on God’s boundless compassion and not on positive outcomes to divine-intervention petitioning. Actually, there is one instance of prayers being answered, and it’s very believable, due to this being a true story.
The ultimate reward of seeing “Indivisible” is the truly powerful reminder of just what it is our armed forces—and their support systems, their families—do for us. It’s a seriously hard and painful life, fraught with constant danger and worry; we don’t normally dwell on what our servicemen and women do. The sacrifice is huge. The service is humbling. We all stand in their debt. It will bless your days with the recognition, humility, and gratitude that our freedoms are not to be taken for granted.
Director: David G. Evans
Starring: Justin Bruening, Sarah Drew, Jason George, Tia Mowry-Hardrict, Skye P. Marshall, Tanner Stine, Michael O’Neill
Running Time: 1 hour, 59 minutes
Release Date: Oct. 26
Rated 3 stars out of 5