A reflection by Philip McMaster...
I must admit that when I heard a movie was being made about an American Army pacifist participating in an assault on Hacksaw Ridge as part of the Battle of Okinawa, I had very mixed feelings. To be honest I had never heard of this man Desmond Doss who won’t carry a weapon into battle yet almost single handily rescues 75 soldiers and becomes the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Medal of Honour. Having been deployed to three different theatres of operation myself the idea of not carrying a weapon almost felt offensive. So, after being invited to a free pre-screening of the movie on 26 October 2016 with the newly established Canberra City Bible Forum, I invited a mate and went along.
Make no mistake Hacksaw Ridge is not for the feint hearted. And I guess, nor should it be. War brings out the best and worst in people and this blood and guts portrayal of the 77th Infantry Division’s assault on the Maeda escarpment is no exception. To even get to Okinawa Doss has to navigate the tricky and treacherous minefield of initial training whilst sticking up for his Christian beliefs. For not carrying a weapon he is beaten, ostracised and court martialled. He perseveres, never shying away from his faith in God and shows in leading by example that faith and life are entirely compatible.
Whilst I cringed many times during this full on movie which covered the topics of substance abuse, domestic violence, the scars of military mental health, courage, mate-ship and faith in God it is worth watching. I was very grateful that City Bible Forum was able to offer the audience a chance to process what they had watched through a panel discussion after the movie including two currently serving military members. Some good questions were asked about what it is like to have faith whilst serving in your workplace and how compatible with life this is. My mate, a guy still working through his own faith, very much appreciated the opportunity to hear why faith is important in life. It gave me an opportunity to explain to him afterwards why my own faith in Jesus Christ is what I centre my life on each day. I thank City Bible Forum which provided this opportunity. It was a great first event and I look forward to the next one!
So go and watch Hacksaw Ridge, a story of courage and conviction. See it knowing that it is challenging viewing, but viewing that points us to the ideals of service and sacrifice, no better demonstrated by the love of God our Father, who sent his only son Jesus, to die on the cross.