Divergent: The Path To Factionless by Dr. David Powers
Dr. David Powers is an adventurer, philosopher, and cultural architect. Considered a human puzzlemaster, he has a penchant for assembling random bits and bytes into workable solutions. He is a best-selling author in cognitive psychology, experimental education, adventure travel, and martial arts. He is a decorated veteran of the Marine Corps and a founding member of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He is married and the proud father of three feral boys and one princess that he and his wife homeschool. His mission in life is to find the magical best mug of coffee in the world.
Be sure to check him out at drdavidpowers.com.
In case you’re not familiar, let me give you a quick rundown on the Divergent series. The Divergent Series is a group of four science fiction dystopian action adventure films based on a trilogy of young adult books by Veronica Roth. If that bit of labeling doesn’t spell it out for you, just know that it’s in the future, there’s a lot of tech and science we don’t have, and the world has gone to crap. As usual, it’s up to a bunch of kids to save us all because adults are mean and cruel and caused all the trouble in the first place. The stories are very similar to The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner because of their themes and intended audience. Many of you are probably like me, and despite the intended audience of teens and young adults, enjoyed the movies and/or books as well. After all, sci-fi is sci-fi, and it’s way better fare than sparkly vampires.
Aside from the cool plot and post-apocalyptic version of Chicago, I also enjoyed the movies for another reason...I’m in one of them. I had the opportunity to play a Factionless soldier in Allegiant, which hit theatres in the spring of 2016. If you watch it, look for the bald guy with a fierce red beard and a kilt. The movies are set on a standard earth, but far removed into the future and a global event that apparently destroyed much of the planet and its population. The society of this future classifies and groups citizens based on their social and personality aspects into one of five different factions. Imagine a world where your job, home, friends, and entire life were dictated by your Meyers-Briggs profile? INTJ baby!
The five factions are-
Abnegation (the selfless) "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." - Philippians 2:4 - This faction was formed by those who blame selfishness for the errors of human civilization. They believe that peace is gained through the elimination of selfishness and devotion to others and are expected to be compliant with the wishes of others at all times. They are very quiet and don’t like to call attention to themselves. Their choice of clothing is always plain grey to be less noticeable. Other factions view them as weak. A modern example that might give you an idea of their actions and personality would be the Amish people.
Dauntless (the brave) "Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.” 2 Samuel 10:12 - Dauntless members blame cowardice for society’s problems and believe the only answer is to face fears through bravery. They constantly test themselves through death-defying feats to challenge their own fears. All security and military functions of the city are their responsibility and they train constantly with various weapons and in hand-to-hand combat. Imagine a mix between special forces troops and Red Bull sponsored athletes and you have the recipe for Dauntless members.
Erudite (the intelligent) "For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict." - Luke 21:15. This faction was formed by those who believe human nature is to blame for the downfall of civilization. They value intelligence and wisdom over all other virtues and are focused on the pursuit of knowledge and elimination of ignorance. They are eloquent and constantly reading or researching in their thirst for knowledge. They primarily wear blue and are responsible for most of the academic or heavily educated jobs within the city. Imagine all the tenured college professors of the world living in one place and all wearing blue.
Amity (the peaceful) "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." - Isaiah 26:3. Members of Amity dislike war, discord, and strife of any kind because they blame aggression for society’s woes. They are highly democratic and heavily agricultural. They are the only faction to live outside the walls of the city and make surrounding farmland and forests their home. They live in a very tight knit community and wear comfortable red or yellow clothing. Imagine a heavy dose of Quaker with a dash of Amish to picture Amity in modern life.
Candor (the honest) "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." - Ephesians 4:25. Candor members value honestly and cannot tell a lie, even if it gets them into trouble. As truth is black and white, that is what they wear. Although truth and lawyers don’t go together in our society, Candor represent the lawyers of Divergents society because of their truthful nature. In addition to the five factions, there is also a group that consists of members who don’t belong to any of them.
Factionless- The Factionless members are people who for one reason or another do not belong to any other group. This places them on the bottom rung of society where they are ostracized by everyone and survive by scavenging from garbage or other sources. They are largely ignored by the other factions. Although they are thought of as less than human, the story eventually reveals them to be way more powerful and organized than originally thought. To imagine Factionless, think of a situation where a group of people in a large city included both the regular homeless population and the disenfranchised street gangs.
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28
In this world of factions and labels for each and person in society, the main character Tris Prior finds out that she is Divergent and will never fit into any one group. This is compounded by the fact that she is born into Abnegation, chooses Dauntless, and discovers a plot by Erudite to take over the city and destroy all Divergent people.
So, it turns out that this future society and its efforts to separate people based on virtues still falls into the same old trap of “I’m better than you and you’re different from me, so you have to fall into line and do what I say or I’ll kill you”. And that’s how I found myself feeling very Factionless in many ways, from playing that part in the movie, to my own life, to the life of my namesake, David of the Bible, as he fled from King Saul.
We find David’s exile and time on the run from King Saul chronicled in 1 Samuel 19-30. David was a highly decorated and valued member of the kingdom at this point, but the jealousy of King Saul was too much to allow him to stay. It was even sung by the people that “Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). Apparently, Saul just couldn’t handle it and started throwing spears at David any chance he got. Wouldn’t you leave too if the king threw spears at you every time you walked into the throne room? It was a very Game of Thrones kind of time for everyone.
So, David left the castle for exile in the forests and deserts and spent years in exile and on the run. He went from a champion warrior of the king and famed giant slayer to a factionless rabble rouser. It wasn’t like he ran out into the woods and built a nice Ewok village to hang out in either. David left, gathered an army, fought the enemies of Israel, endeared himself to the common man, and then later got revenge on the killers of Saul and his son Jonathan, who also happened to be David’s best friend.
Does this sound a little bit like the Divergent story? David leaves his home and family for a calling he’s unsure of. Tris declines the Abnegation faction of her family for another. Saul set David “over the men of war” (1 Samuel 18:5). Tris joined the Dauntless faction.
David was forced to live without a home and scavenge for essentials. Tris and Four were forced to rely on the assistance of other factions. David found both love and friendship in the royal court. Tris made dear friends and found her true love at Dauntless.
No matter what, David refused to believe that he couldn’t find a way to make things better for those around him, whether they wanted it or not. Tris fought with all she had to make her small world a better place for everyone. There’s so much more I could tell you because the comparisons go on and on. I’d rather not, for two reasons. Number one, if you’ve not read the books or seen the movies, I don’t want to spoil anything. Number two, I want you to pull out your Bible and check it out for yourself. See how many comparisons you can make between the Divergent saga and the story of the boy who became the King of Israel.
In your research, if you find yourself curious about which faction you might belong to, as a fun exercise, search for the Wikipedia entry for Factions (Divergent) and read through them. The entry describes each but also lists each one’s manifesto and initiation. I think I’m quite at home with the Factionless.