As recurring readers might already have fathomed, I read brainy books, listen to brainy podcasts, and watch brainy discussions online. However, I also read seemingly trivial books and have a quite eclectic taste when it comes to films. This summer, while strolling through the maze that YouTube nowadays constitutes, I stumbled over the film Seven Days in Utopia. Believe me, it is far from being brainy. Appealing to the heart? Yes. Appealing to the brain? Not that much. Well, at least on first sight.
I watched it, and I found it actually entertaining.
It would not be me, if watching even an emotional voyage like this film would not instigate deeper reflections and brainy thoughts. At a first look, Seven Days in Utopia comes across a sports film. Luke Chisolm, an amateur golf player who just recently has gone pro, experiences a play-related meltdown, after which he ends up in the little heaven of Utopia, TX. After a minor car accident he is hosted by Johnny Crawford, a local farmer and -surprise, surprise!- a former professional golf player himself. Johnny offers Luke to transform his golf playing and to get him out of the low Luke is in, but only if Luke is willing to go through one week of one-on-one teaching. Hence the title: Seven Days in Utopia.
I know this sounds bland, but stay with me.
The teaching turns out to be not so much about golf, but about the fundamentals on which it builds: trust, mindfulness, character, etc. Luke’s journey into the foundations of golf leads to a rather sudden plunge into Christian belief one hour into the film. I am not a believer myself, so I was not convinced at all by this sudden change of direction. Admittedly, the Christian story is clearer and “meatier” in the book, and it jumps not as suddenly at the reader as it does at the watcher of the film. However, even after having read the book I was not convinced by the Christian undercurrent, but this blog post is not about me not believing. Rather, it is about looking at what we as people have in common. For whatever I might think about Johnny’s argument why Christian is the true game (pun intended), it fascinated me that one could watch the entire film from a humanistic, areligious perspective, and one could still agree with pretty much everything said in the film, such as
- In order to be good at what you do find and stay in your “game” instead of emulating the style of others;
- Being good at something is a gift and not something one owns;
- “See it, feel it, trust it”;
- Character is more important than performance;
- What we yearn for is not so much to be good at something but to be seen and touched;
- What do you want your epitaph to be?
If the above list sounds a bit shallow and bland this is mostly due to me boiling down rather long parts of the film into very short statements.
Yes, one can of course arrive at the above insights through religion, but one can also arrive at the very same insights without any religious disposition at all. So, truth is independent of who adopts and promotes it. That is what I call reality. But there is a second story here. Instead of stopping watching the film once I realised that it went into “Bible land,” I stayed with it and was rewarded with a confirmation of something I strongly belief: we human have, at the core, more in common than what we expect. There might be a rift between believers and non-believers, but that rift only exists when one focuses at what distinguishes us. When taking a step back we see an entirely different picture: that of commonality and basic principles, which to follow behoves all of us. So even I, as a non-believer, I believe in community.