“Ask a Priest: Is It OK to Make a Fantasy or Film a Big Part of Life?”

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Q: Is it a sin to have a fantasy world or a film as a big part of your life? Can it lead to sin? If so, how could I avoid it? – L.S.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: Watching a good movie, reading a good novel, playing an enjoyable “fantasy” game with friends — these are fine and certainly have their place in a well-balanced life.

You question seems to touch something a little beyond that, though. Without knowing exactly what you mean by having a fantasy world or movies as a “big part” of your life, this answer will have to be a bit generic.

Let’s say that it makes for a healthy life if we learn to live in the real world, but with an eye toward the next world.

This doesn’t exclude a “fantasy world” if we mean a better world that we are working toward. For instance, it’s OK if we envision a world where the poor have more access to health care and education and economic development, or where the oppressed can enjoy religious freedom.

To build around our life around a movie or some fantasy video-game world, however, can be a sin against the virtue of hope. That is, we ignore God as the only source of salvation and we neglect the attention due to him.

A movie or fantasy world can also become a center of gravity in our psychic lives that distracts us from the task of aiding others. Moreover, depending on how many resources are dedicated to the fantasy world, it would be a fault against poverty. Some of those resources could be better spent on charitable works.

This isn’t to say that we can’t have favorite movies. Some films can lift our spirits, even on repeated viewings. This is part of the power of art to inspire us. This is OK.

The key, again, is balance, and to let that inspiration motivate us to do more for the glory of God and for the good of others.

If someone finds that he is too focused on fantasy, it might be good to get involved in volunteer work. By helping the poor, the elderly, the lonely, we can keep our feet on the ground and appreciate the good things God has given us.

Someone immersed in a fantasy world might have personal issues that he needs to deal with. That is another issue altogether.

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  1. hi there, if a fantasy life is taking over you should then seek counselling.
    If it is part of a balanced life then it is fine, depending on what the fantasty is.
    I am a Star Trek fan especially when I was a teen, I like the retro original series and the Next Generation as it actally had some moral teaching in them. It led me to meeting lots of people from different walks of life and I was happy. But I had a balance, if you are using it as escapism then a bit of counselling can help you.

    As long as you are putting God first and his teaching, and that you are helping others in real life and that you have a healthy balance in things then it is not bad.

    If you constantly think about the fantasy life and are obsessed then some counselling could help you.

    Please also read up about what adult autism is. In case you think that you might be like that. No bad thing having autism, it is just a difference. but a lot of autistic people (who may not come across as autistic a lot look and act like non-autistics ) . Just that a lot of people who get obsessed and life every moment in fantasy or on a hobby or on their work or a certain topic can have autism.

    Always pray and I hope that you find your positive balance in life. Ask God to guide you.

  2. Father, I heartily agree with the suggestion of doing volunteer work. I have done some with the food bank and hospice thrift stores. It was very satisfying work, especially since I was helping to make sure people less fortunate than me were getting fed and that I was helping those in hospice.

    Sarah, I love Jane Austen’s works, especially Pride & Prejudice. I have looked into the Jane Austen Society and am considering joining. So I second finding ways to use the things you love, whether that be books, movies, TV, comics, art, live theatre, or sports as a way to build human connections. God created us as social creatures, so no one can live without human connection and intimacy.

    It seems you have quite a bit of knowledge of autism. I recommend that you watch Life, Animated and Temple Grandin.

    Life, Animated is a documentary about a young man with autism who loves Disney with an intensity that normal people usually don’t demonstrate. He loves Disney movies because they helped him get through some speech problems as a toddler and they help him to understand the world around him.
    While God is the center of the lives of Christians, I welcome art as a means to help other people. Who knows, maybe God was using Disney movies to help this young man. After all, God can use all kinds of things to help and reach people.

    Temple Grandin is a bio film about Dr. Temple Grandin, an incredibly bright autistic woman who has made some amazing contributions to animal science and how livestock are treated. She developed some more humane ways for handling and treating livestock, particularly cattle.

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