Walter Mitty and the Danger of Fantasy
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a 2013 remake directed by Ben Stiller, put my wife and I to sleep – twice. It limped along at such a painfully slow pace that we just couldn’t keep our eyes open! If you can tough it out to the end, however, the film’s final scene makes the entire thing worth watching.
The film explores the personal fantasies of a typical American office drone. The worse Walter Mitty’s reality seems to be, the more he withdraws into the world of fantasy, until it gets to the point where his daydreaming begins to hinder his ability to relate to people in real time.
Imagination and fantasy are wonderful gifts, and are what make storytelling such an exhilarating experience. But this film does a great job of pointing out that, if left unchecked, fantasy can become an addiction that hinders us from becoming the people we most want to be.
Fantasy: The Good, the Bad, and the Terrifying
During my preteen years my family was technically “homeless” for about two months. We had sold all our belongings in order for my dad to take a new pastorate in Illinois, only to get there and have him realize that it wasn’t going to work out. We had already said goodbye to our former life, and drifted from state to state for a time unsure of where we’d end up. God had a plan in it all, and used this to lead us to the Dallas area (where I met my wonderful wife). But at the time, it was a difficult experience for all of us.
It was in this dark time that I saw the Star Wars trilogy for the first time. I couldn’t get enough of it! Retreating to a “galaxy far, far away” allowed me to cope with my reality by giving me a mental break from time to time. After a while, though, I realized that spending too much time in the land of fantasy would keep me from actually living, and I made a conscious effort to keep my imagination in check.
Drifting into other worlds in our mind’s eye can be beneficial and cathartic, but if we allow it to become an obsession it has the potential to do us great harm. What leads a serial killer to commit such heinous crimes? It usually begins with innocent fantasy. But after a while they decide that these fantasies need to be realized, with results that would make your blood run cold.
“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.” – James 1:14
Capturing Our Fantasies for Christ
Believe it or not, Scripture has a lot to say about our thought life. We’d like to think that our personal thoughts are harmless and nobody’s business but our own, but the Bible wouldn’t bother with our private thoughts if it wasn’t essential that we address them.
“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5
Have you ever thought about what it looks like to bring every thought into captivity in obedience to Christ? The context of the passage is talking about addressing false teachers, so the main point of this verse is that Paul was determined to cast down any prideful idea or theory that challenged the truth of God’s Word. But the Greek word he uses for “every” is pas, which literally means “all, totality – every single one of something, and every single kind of something.” Yes, we are to stand against false teachings, but Paul takes it a step further. It is also important that we bring every thought into obedience to Christ.
Which includes our fantasies. It isn’t wrong to daydream… unless you find it is hindering your walk with Christ. In that case, action must be taken on our part.