How Imagination and Fantasy Help our Spiritual Growth

This post is an edited version of part of a reply I wrote to a comment by a reader named Boluwade Kujero on the article, “Is Masturbation Always Sinful? Does it Always Come from Lust?” My full comment responds to a few more of Mr. Kujero’s points, and applies the ideas presented here specifically to the issue of fantasizing while masturbating.

Imagination

In this material world we are often hindered from acting on our goals and intentions by many external circumstances. We can therefore fool ourselves into thinking that we are morally clean when in fact it is only social pressures or practical concerns that keep us from acting in very immoral ways.

But according to Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772), after we die, when we are living in the spiritual world, those social bonds and external hindrances are gradually taken away. When this happens, unlike in the material world, whatever we think and intend, that is exactly what we say and do. If we think something, we just go ahead and say it. If we want to do something, we just go ahead and do it.

Our intention is the reality behind our actions

That’s because the inner reality and source of our actions is our intention or will to act. And though our intentions and actions often get separated here on earth, in the spiritual world that separation is erased. There, our intentions flow seamlessly into our actions, and our thoughts flow seamlessly into our words. This is what Jesus was talking about when he said:

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs. (Luke 12:2–3)

That’s how it would be here on earth, too, if all social rules and practical restrictions were removed. Everything hidden inside of us would be out in the open. We would all act upon everything we intended or desired.

But that is not the case here on earth. And the reason it’s not the case is to make it possible for us to go through the process of spiritual rebirth that Jesus spoke about in his nighttime conversation with Nicodemus in John 3:1–21, in which he said:

“Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (John 3:3)

And because in the end—in the spiritual world if not here on earth—we will act upon whatever we desire and intend, it is our inner intention to act upon a particular thought or desire that is critical.

When we are merely fantasizing, we have no such intention.

But when we have the sort of burning lust or “coveting” that the Bible condemns in the Tenth Commandment (Exodus 20:17), we do have the intention to act upon those wrong thoughts and desires. And we will act upon them if we think we can get away with it. That’s why the Bible forbids coveting: because coveting is the sort of desire and intention that leads us to do things that are evil and wrong.

Imagination and fantasy are necessary for our spiritual growth

But as I just said, when we are merely fantasizing or engaging our imagination, we have no intention of actually doing what’s running through our mind.

And we need this ability to imagine, think about, and fantasize things that would be evil if we acted upon them.

This ability is necessary so that we can mull over in our mind the moral rights and wrongs, and the likely effects, of actually saying or doing particular things. This is part of our spiritual rebirth or “regeneration” process. God gave us a thinking, discerning mind and an active, creative imagination so that we would have the ability to consider and evaluate within ourselves various things we might say, and various courses of action we might take, before we actually say or do them.

  • The ideal is for us to recognize in our mind and imagination that something is wrong so that we don’t have to learn the hard way by acting upon it and reaping the painful consequences.
  • And the ideal is for us to recognize in our mind and imagination that something is right so that we can direct ourselves to speak and act based on it.

That’s why the idea that every fantasy about something that would be evil and damaging if we acted upon it is bad as a fantasy is mistaken and counterproductive.

God gave us the ability to imagine and fantasize both good and evil situations and behaviors so that we could turn these things over in our mind, evaluate them in our head and in our heart, and decide within ourselves what we believe to be good and evil, and what we will and won’t speak and act upon.

It takes time to change our desires, thoughts, and actions

This is not a simple process of fantasizing about killing our boss or about having sex with a married man or woman, saying, “That’s bad,” and then never thinking about it again. Rather, it is an ongoing process in which our inner desires, both good and bad, continually present themselves for view in our thoughts and fantasies, and we evaluate them over an extended period of time.

We humans do not change instantly. Our process of being spiritually born again is an extended one. It takes place over our entire lifetime.

It is unrealistic to think that we are going to quickly overcome and defeat every unworthy thought and desire, and become instantly pure and clean. We must face our true thoughts and desires over and over again, examine them multiple times from every angle, and yes, sometimes go ahead and act upon them in order to fully comprehend why some thoughts, desires, words, and actions are evil, and why some thoughts, desires, words, and actions are good—and then make an informed choice for the good over the evil.

Fantasy is where we face our inner self

Attempting to suppress every illicit fantasy the moment it occurs to us is not merely unrealistic. It is actually damaging to our spiritual health and our emotional life.

Our fantasies don’t just spring up out of nowhere. They come from deeply held thoughts and desires that are part of our unreformed, unregenerate self. And we can never face and deal with those parts of ourselves if we continually suppress any awareness of them, and pretend that they are not there.

Facing them in our minds in the form of imagination and fantasy is how we let them out far enough for us to see them for what they are and evaluate them without actually saying or doing them.

We choose good or evil within our mind and heart

The inner life of our imagination and fantasy is precisely where we make the decisions that determine the direction of our life.

  • If we condone our illicit fantasies and foster the intention to actually act upon them, we have made our choice to go in an evil direction. Sooner or later we will go ahead and do the evil and destructive things we have fantasized about.
  • If recognize within our mind and heart that acting upon them would be wrong, and forbid ourselves from acting upon them, we have made our choice to go in a good direction. If we stick with that resolve, those fantasies will gradually lose their appeal for us, and will fade toward the periphery of our mind.

These are the greater issues involved in our fantasy life.

Acting something out in fantasy or imagination within our minds simply is not the same as acting upon it in real life. One is theoretical. The other is actual. One has effects only within our mind. The other can have far-reaching and highly damaging consequences for the rest of our life, and even to eternity.

The bridge between the two—if we build that bridge—is our intention to act.

If we intend to act upon some imagination or fantasy if and when the opportunity arises, then spiritually it is tantamount to actually acting upon it, even if the opportunity never does arise. That’s because in the spiritual world, there will be no disconnect between our intentions and our actions as there often is here on earth. There, whatever we intend, we do.

That is precisely why coveting and lust are condemned in the Bible as evil. They are condemned because they are an intention to act upon the evil things we desire. Coveting and lust are not mere fantasy. They are a burning desire to do the evil things that we desire in our heart.

God’s gift of imagination and fantasy

But fantasy and imagination by themselves, without any intention to act upon them, are a good and healthy way for us to see and recognize the desires of our heart, both good and bad, spin out scenarios of what they would lead to and result in, and make a choice and a decision not to act upon the evil ones, and to act upon the good ones.

At least, that’s what God wants us to do.

And if that is what we do, then even our illicit and wrong imaginations and fantasies have done their job. That job is to show us what is truly inside us, and give us the opportunity to progressively reject and root out those parts of ourselves without the damage and destruction that would result from actually saying and doing them.

This, in a nutshell, is why God has created us with the ability to imagine and fantasize about all sorts of things, both good and bad.

For further reading:

About

Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in Spiritual Growth
28 comments on “How Imagination and Fantasy Help our Spiritual Growth
  1. Alex says:

    This is very interesting because I have experienced it myself. As a kid I used to have power and domination fantasies, but I was afraid to act on those because somehow I knew it to be very wrong, so they remained in my head.
    Fast forward a decade and my opinion on power and the abuse thereof has devolved into ‘Why would I ever want to do that? That is dumb and wholly unnecessary.’ and I had no such impulses in recent memory.

    Thanks for the good read, Lee 🙂

    • Lee says:

      Hi Alex,

      Thanks for stopping by, and for telling your story. I’m glad this article helped to put it all in perspective for you! And thanks for your kind words.

  2. Tony says:

    Hi lee
    “The other can have far-reaching and highly damaging consequences for the rest of our life, and even to eternity” so what highly damaging consequences does make it to eternity and not merely for the rest of our lives here on earth?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Tony,

      If a married man or woman fantasizes about committing adultery, but doesn’t act on it, the effects are limited. But if he or she actually does commit adultery, it’s likely to destroy his or her marriage. And if he or she does not repent of the adultery, it will put him or her in violation of God’s will and God’s commandments internally in the mind and heart. And that is what causes us to spend eternity in hell rather than in heaven.

  3. Rob says:

    Is 70 years or so really enough time for a human to determine his eternal destiny? What if a person was given infinite time to change and embrace the good, seeing its wisdom and how the good gives the greatest and lasting human satisfaction and happiness? Is there any justification for the average number of years allotted to a person as a measure of character?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rob,

      Good question.

      My general response is that the particular time frame really doesn’t matter that much. Some species of insects go through their entire life cycle in a few hours or days. And if they were morally aware beings, presumably they’d be able to make their moral decisions within that time frame.

      Sure, God could have stretched it out to millions of years. But what more would that really have gained us? We humans go through our natural life cycle in six, eight, or ten decades. And during that time we go through the various changes from infancy to childhood to adolescence to young adulthood to middle age to our elder years. Through those changes, and in those decades, we have plenty of time to gain knowledge and experience, evaluate ourselves and our situation in the larger scheme of things, and make choices about what sort of person we want to be. And that’s the important thing.

      Personally, I would not want it to be stretched out to millions of years. It would only prolong the process unnecessarily without giving any particular advantage in the decision-making process.

      God could have designed the time frame on any scale. The one God chose seems appropriate to our nature as human beings.

  4. Rob says:

    I think “choice” is overplayed. We’re born with a propensity to “sin”, in a world that is stuffed with sorrows of every kind. What kind of test is this? I think anyone who makes it through even a few years in this world with their sanity intact deserves everlasting bliss. The whole idea of “hell” is obscene; punishing people for their choices in the short span of their existence.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rob,

      Yes, there is much pain, suffering, and sin in this world. But there is also much joy, camaraderie, and love in the world. Life can be a struggle. But there is also great beauty, if we look for it.

      And hell is not a punishment. Rather, it is the best God can do for those who get their pleasure out of evil instead of out of good. They didn’t have to make that choice. And choosing evil over good does inevitably bring pain. But God allows hell not to punish these people, but so that they can get at least some of the kind of pleasure they enjoy, even if it is inevitably laced with pain. For more on this, see: Is There Really a Hell? What is it Like?

      • Rob says:

        No. Nobody deserves any pain or suffering after experiencing life on earth. If anything they deserve medals for making it through this life with their sanity intact. People deserve eternal bliss for the suffering in this world. If God was good he’d allow people to be annihilated. Instead he gives them eternal existence in hell. He loves suffering. God loves his creature’s suffering. Why else is there so much of it? Suffering is a sweet savor unto the Lord.

        • Lee says:

          Hi Rob,

          I’m sorry you feel that way. I don’t agree at all. God takes no pleasure in our suffering. Nor does God give anyone an eternal existence in hell. People give that to themselves. If it were up to God, all of us would spend eternity in heaven. But God gives us humanity and freedom, and if some of us use that to choose evil over good, that is our choice, not God’s. God sends no one to hell. Anyone who is there is there because he or she insisted upon it, against God’s wishes.

  5. Frankly Frank says:

    “Hell is not a punishment”………

    I dunno there, Lee. Not re-interpreting Rob’s thoughts for only he can subjectively do so, but if I would venture what he’s getting at here is the notion that hell is indeed a “punishment” anyway you slice it. Basically if one is forced to continue to exclusively exist in a certain crappy environment (hell) then in this context “choice” and “love” make about as much sense as “joy” and “pain”.

    Perhaps another way to look at it is if God’s love (joy) even extends to allowing souls to “enjoy” their wallowing in the evil pleasures of hell for eternity then indirectly God thus (vicariously) also “enjoys” whatever “joys” they experience in hell. The painful part of hell we can probably agree is enjoyed by no one except maybe for Marquis de Sade type sadists.

    Well, it’s sure one helluva a (damn) motivational mystery, eh? lol(?)

    Frank

    • Lee says:

      Hi Frankly Frank,

      What I’m saying is that no one is forced “to exclusively exist in a certain crappy environment (hell).” Rather, it is a choice on the part of those who exist there. And they continue to choose that state of being after they die. This doesn’t mean they like everything about their existence. Rather, it means that of the available choices, that particular one is their preference. More on this in response to your second related comment.

      And no, God’s joy does not extend to enjoying evil spirits’ wallowing in their evils. This is something God permits or tolerates for the sake of those evil spirits, not something God enjoys.

      Oh, and don’t forget about masochists! They enjoy pain! So don’t impose your pain-averse bias on everyone else, thank you very much! 😛

  6. Frankly Frank says:

    “And hell is not a punishment”…….

    I dunno about that one, Lee.

    There are vivid accounts from Swedenborg where in one example he describes IIRC two angels holding a hell detainee off the ground by the head and feet and then “twirling” them back and forth repeatedly in opposite directions so that their spine felt like it was being torn apart. Yeah, I think that could be called “punishment” but if it isn’t I’d hate to see what qualifies. (lol?).

    I don’t see how a spade here isn’t a spade. And I don’t see how one honestly could interpret that it’s actually God’s love and not punishment in that particular scenario as an easy way out to explain it either. Bottomline hell is inherently a PRISON. Aren’t prisons defacto punishment?

    Frankly Frank

    • Lee says:

      Hi Frankly Frank,

      I presume you’re referring to Spiritual Experiences #1696.

      First, it’s necessary to understand that Spiritual Experiences is more of a journal of experiences than a finished work. It was not something Swedenborg planned to publish, though he did draw on the material in it for his published works. And the earlier parts of Spiritual Experiences were written while he was still getting his bearings in the spiritual world, and did not fully grasp and understand what he was seeing.

      Spiritual Experiences has to be read with these things in mind, and with some caution about drawing hard-and-fast conclusions based on what is written there. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot of fantastic material in Spiritual Experiences! It just needs to be read in light of his later, published works, where Swedenborg writes with more experience under his belt, and a better understanding of what it all means.

      Now about that particular description in Spiritual Experiences #1696, though angels are mentioned in the previous section, they are not mentioned in connection with the punishment itself; and the following section makes it pretty clear that it is spirits, not angels, who are doing the monitoring and punishing. “Spirits” could mean relatively recent arrivals in the spiritual world who are still living in the “world of spirits” (the intermediate region between heaven and hell) and have not yet gone to their final homes in heaven or hell. Or it could mean evil spirits.

      Once again, in the earlier parts of Spiritual Experiences, Swedenborg had not completely gotten his bearings in the spiritual world, so it’s not always clear exactly what he’s talking about. In his later works he usually (but not always) identifies punishing spirits as evil spirits. He does, however, sometimes mention good but strict spirits who punish wrongdoers in the world of spirits. The punishers in Spiritual Experiences #1696 could have been this sort of spirits, also.

      Angels are capable of inflicting pain upon evil spirits who manage to venture up into heaven for less than noble purposes. But it is more to protect themselves and scare the evil spirits away than it is for punishment. Angels have no desire to punish or inflict pain on anyone. And in general, the pain is the result of the heavenly aura of love and truth that surrounds angels hitting and grating against the hellish aura of hatred and falsity that surrounds evil spirits, and inflicting pain due to the extreme dissonance of the collision of opposites. This is how angels protect themselves from the evil intentions and actions of evil spirits.

      In hell itself, punishments are not meted out by angels, but rather by other evil spirits in hell, who enjoy inflicting pain on their fellow evil spirits, and are always looking for an opportunity to do so. They get that opportunity when someone does something evil, which opens them up to retribution and punishment. And since evil spirits in hell love doing evil, and are always doing it whenever they can, there are indeed many punishments in hell.

      So yes, there are punishments in hell. It’s not that the evil spirits in hell like everything about their existence. What criminal wouldn’t love being able to continue in a life of crime without having to ever get arrested and imprisoned, or suffer any negative consequences whatsoever?

      Unfortunately, that’s just not how life works. And even though criminals may not think of themselves as choosing to be in prison, when they get out of prison, re-commit the same crimes, and land themselves back in prison, what would you call it? In effect, they are choosing the punishment by choosing the crime.

      There is no reality in which people could commit all sorts of evil actions with no consequences. When we choose the evil, we are by the very same choice also choosing the consequences of that evil.

      Today, every time a smoker in the United States buys a pack of cigarettes, he or she sees the Surgeon General’s Warning on the side of the packet, warning of dire health risks and likely death from smoking.

      Does it stop them from smoking?

      Nope.

      They just ignore the warnings, and go ahead anyway, even though they know very well that smoking is likely to lead to a long and painful death.

      The reality is that you cannot do damaging and destructive things without causing damage and destruction. Evil is evil precisely because it is damaging and destructive. So when we choose evil, we are choosing also the consequences of evil, which is pain, suffering, punishment, and misery. These consequences may come right away, or they may many years later. But they will come. And we know it—even if may try to fool ourselves and deny it.

      So there’s really no excuse for the evil spirits in hell. You don’t get to hell unless you consciously, intentionally choose evil over good knowing full well that it is evil, and knowing very well that bad things will happen as a result of this sort of behavior.

      No criminal is stupid enough not to realize that if he or she gets caught, there will be very unpleasant consequences such as prison, serious physical injury, or death. In fact, in countries with a humane justice system, getting caught by the police and imprisoned is generally preferable to getting caught and brutalized and/or killed by the wrong victim. Criminals make their choices knowing the risks. And the reality is, if you continue to act in an evil and criminal way, sooner or later those risks are going to become a reality. It’s just a matter of time.

      So we can cry for the evil spirits in hell if we want to. But nobody goes to hell without having chosen that life. Unlike in the material world with its often faulty and corrupt governments and judicial systems, there are no miscarriages of justice in the spiritual world. No one goes to hell through a divine clerical error. The only people who go to hell are those who knowingly and intentionally choose an evil life, being well aware of the implications and consequences of their choices, and having the ability to make a better choice if they wished.

      And the fact of the matter is that although there are some people who veer into a destructive and criminal life due to a completely screwed-up childhood, there are others who could very well have done something else, but who chose a life of crime because they liked that idea better than working for an honest living. There are some criminals who truly enjoy their life of crime, not due to some mental illness or shockingly bad childhood, but because . . . they truly enjoy wrecking other people’s lives in order to gain money, power, and pleasure for themselves at others’ expense.

      Ever heard of a rapist who enjoys raping women (or men)?

      Ever heard of a thief who enjoys stealing?

      Ever heard of a murderer who enjoys killing people?

      Ever heard of an embezzler who enjoys skimming off as much money as possible?

      These are the people who end out in hell.

      And once they have made those choices and hardened themselves into a life in which they enjoy gaining pleasure through inflicting pain and loss on others, there is no turning back. It’s not that they’re not allowed to leave hell. It’s that they have no desire whatsoever to do so. They laugh and sneer at good-hearted spirits and angels who try to remonstrate with them. And then, if they could, they would beat them to a bloody pulp and rob them blind. Because that’s what they enjoy doing.

      So are there punishments in hell?

      Yes there are.

      But is punishment the purpose of hell?

      No it isn’t.

      The punishments in hell are simply an unavoidable consequence of the evil choices and actions of the people who live there. And those punishments are not inflicted upon them by angels, still less by God, but by their fellow evil spirits.

      Could evil spirits get out of hell?

      Theoretically, yes. No one is forcing them to be there. Not in an ultimate sense.

      But in order to get out, they would have to make a different choice. They would have to choose to live from love, truth, and goodness rather than from hatred, falsity, and evil. And they have exactly zero interest in making such a change in themselves.

      Technically speaking, they don’t “choose” to be in “prison” in hell any more than technically speaking, criminals on earth “choose” to be in prison.

      But practically speaking, both criminals on earth and evil spirits in the spiritual world do choose to be in prison, or hell. They choose to live in such a way that prison, or the prison of hell, is the only possible place they can live long-term.

      Yes, prisons are de facto punishment. But the primary function of prisons actually isn’t punishment. That is a secondary purpose. Prisons exist primarily to protect the innocent from the guilty. We cannot let murderers, rapists, thieves, embezzlers, and so on wander around scot-free. If we do, they will kill, rape, steal, and embezzle away, and cause massive damage to many innocent people.

      In some societies, people who engage in terribly damaging behavior receive the death penalty not only as punishment and as a deterrent to others, but to ensure that they never harm another innocent person again. Other societies have decided that the death penalty is not allowable. So how can they prevent hardened criminals from hurting more innocent people? Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole is the only other foolproof option. Because as soon as you let a hardened criminal out of prison, he or she is going to start right away looking for opportunities to get back into the life of crime, and victimize innocent people. It’s what they do.

      That’s how it is for the people in hell. If they were willing to live in such a way that they did not endanger and victimize innocent people, they could walk right out of hell. In fact, many of them are allowed to walk right out of hell, especially in the early stages. But as soon as they do, they start victimizing people. This brings the inevitable consequences of excruciating punishment and pain, as described in Spiritual Experiences #1696 and elsewhere in Swedenborg’s writings. And then they throw themselves back into hell to escape that pain and get back into an atmosphere where they can breathe freely.

      So do evil spirits choose to be in prison?

      In a word, yes.

      They choose to be in prison by their actions, just as criminals on earth choose to be in prison by their actions. They know the law. They know that if they’re caught they’ll end out in prison, or worse. And they go ahead and do it anyway.

      Isn’t that, in all practical reality, choosing to be punished, and choosing to be in prison?

  7. Frankly Frank says:

    Whew! Hell’s a lot more complex after you describe all the intricate nuances! Anyhow it sounds like real hell to me however one cuts it.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Frankly Frank,

      Yes, hell is very complex—just as complex as the whole complex of human evil.

      Meanwhile, I’ve posted an edited and expanded version of that already long comment as a new post: Pain, Punishment, Prison, and Hell.

      I’d say “Enjoy!” but somehow I don’t think that’s quite the right word! :-/

  8. Jazmine says:

    Helllo Lee! I wasn’t sure where to ask this so im hoping this is the right place, if not apologies!
    Im also very sorry this came out so long, but its mostly explinations for what im trying to say.
    (Also sorry for bad english)

    Im in a bit of a.. well confused mess i guess you could say and i was hoping i could find some answers here.

    What is your opinion on the fantasy genre? Why is it that alot of Christians seem to dislike it/say its a sin? and.. is it!?

    I’ve read articles where churches burn Harry Potter books (which even if they are bad seems.. a bit over the top for me, not to mention kinda bad for the environment) Now, i’ve never read the Harry Potter books so maybe they are that “bad”, but i’ve always found it strange that its so hated by christians. I suppose it’s because it deals with magic, but from what understand the magic described in the bible is reffering to connecting to spirits, dark magic and such. Which im pretty sure isn’t the magic that’s in Harry Potter. I’ve always thought that it’s just fantasy, if the story teaches a good message like friendship or something like that (Which i’ve heard Harry Potter is about) then the story is ok, and the magic aspect is just another form of expression.
    Fantasy and imagination is a wonderfull thing (as you even said in this article) and is one of the things that makes us human.

    Recently i’ve been getting back into a fantasy book series i’ve always liked, it’s about feral cats living in the forest. (It’s called Warrior cats)
    Now, i’ve never seen anything bad in the series. (aside from some bad writing but that a whole other can of worms lol) The series teaches friendship, caring for elders and children, respect and courage, but has alot of spiritual undertones. Of course the book can also be quite grapic at times, the charecters battle often, because well,,, they are feral cats living in the woods.

    But the series has alot of spiritual things in it. Basically theres a cat heaven that good cats go to when they die, they don’t have one God but follow their ancestors who die before them. Theres also cat hell where bad cats go when they die, charecters also.. essentialy train in cat hell for some of the books, but this is seen as a very, VERY bad thing by the other charecters. And in the later books there are also ghosts, reincarnation.. and they get possesed.. but i haven’t read that far. Some cats can talk to the ancestors and sometimes they send omens or phropecies, visit dreams ect. ect. (Theres also book where the cat heaven fights the cat hell alongside living cats but that is ALSO another can of worms i don’t want to open right now)

    I’ve always seen the cat heaven as being symbolic of God. The charecters look to the ancestors for edvice and thank them for food and pray to them in hard times. And the series has a big theme of being faithfull.

    But i recently stumbled apon christian reviews of the book and.. yikes. People had things to say. Of course, i respect other peoples opinions, they can think or say anything they want, it’s and opinion. But i say alot of christians saying the books are horrible, i was expecting them to like the books, since it has such a big emphasis on faith, but they really disliked it. They said the authors are trying to decive children, because 4 people use one pen name (even tho it states what autor wrote what book on the inside), that it premotes “The stepping stones” (im sorry i dont know what those are) and witchcraft, which it clearly doesn’t. Also they mentioned a transgender charecter being bad in the books, but in reality it was just an editing error where a male charecter was described as female.

    Now im very confused, i really like these books and have for a long time. I personally see nothing wrong with them, in fact i see alot of good in them. Im also very confused on if fantasy is bad or not. I don’t think it is. I’ve been meaning to write a short story but everytime i write something that may bee seen as bad (for example a villian charecter being evil, magic elements, mad eup relegions) i get anxious. Like i said, i’ve always thought theres nothing wrong with such things, its all fiction in the end and as long as your not premoting anything horrible its alright. But recent event have made my mind… sway.

    Im SO sorry this is so long, but i hope you’ll take a look at this comment.
    Thank you in advanced if you do!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Jazmine,

      I actually did read through all of the Harry Potter books not long after they came out, when my children were still teenagers. They were reading them, so I decided to read them to see what they were all about. And I did enjoy the story, or I never would have made it all the way through seven fat volumes!

      The key point is that they are fantasy, not reality. If Harry Potter and his friends and enemies were actually walking around in the real world casting spells on people, then I would be very concerned. But they’re not. They’re characters in a fictional story that uses good and bad magic as metaphors for human struggles and issues, including spiritual issues of the internal and societal battles we all must fight between good and evil.

      Even in your “Warrior Cats” series (which I haven’t read and hadn’t even heard of before), the various characters are really just feline versions of different types of human beings, and different aspects of the human mind. Making the characters be cats instead of people allows the authors to explore various facets of the human mind and human experience without banging people over the head with it. Children and adults can read these stories and imbibe lessons about life while simply enjoying a good story.

      About all those “Christians” who say fantasy is evil, evil, evil, I wouldn’t pay too much attention to them. They live in their own weird fantasy world of biblical literalism and complete misunderstanding of the Bible, in which they are the only people who are saved, and everyone who believes anything else is going straight to hell. I could point you to all sorts of articles here showing that their beliefs are wrong and contrary to the plain teachings of the Bible. But here is the short version: They are wrong. Their teachings are contrary to what Jesus and his Apostles taught. The best thing to do is just to ignore their opinions about the fantasy genre—and about everything else, for that matter.

      But yes, as you suggest, some fantasy is better than others. And no fantasy series is going to be perfect, just as no human being is perfect. As long as the overall message of the book or movie is to promote love, kindness, and integrity in the battle against hatred, bigotry, and deception, then it is good stuff even if there may be some mistaken views in it, such as reincarnation. You can just ignore those parts, and read or watch it for what is good in it.

      • Jazmine says:

        Hello Lee! Thanky uo for the replay (and sorry for the delay on mine)

        Since we’re talking about entertainment, i was wondering about your opinion on reality tv and diffrent shows?

        I have always been a big fan of cooking/baking show, book, video, you name it! But recently i saw an article on gluttony that got me thinking, is it a sin to watch shows where people criticise food when there are people starving in the world? Im not saying all cooking shows are like that, some are about resturants and some donate money to diffrent charities, but msot are just about diffrent cooks competing and judges judging.
        (Also, while on the topic, could you please define gluttony and how its used/ment to be interpreted? To me gluttonies always been taking so much theres nothing left for others or little left for others, but the article also mentioned that eating before dinner is gluttony or even enjoying food alot.)

        Also on tv shows, what about those where people get hurt/embarrased? (Not seriously of course) Im not realy a fan of these but still would like to hear what you think. To me they aren’t that bad, since the people signing up for them consent to whatever the show is wilingly. (Well.. alteast i hope it’s willingly lol)

        Thank you in advance if you answer this!

        • Lee says:

          Hi Jazmine,

          Some people, many of them so-called “Christians,” are no fun at all! They seem to delight in destroying other people’s enjoyment.

          That’s not what the Bible and Christianity are all about. In fact, Jesus himself was accused by his enemies of being “a glutton and a drunkard” because he “came eating and drinking” (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34). So don’t pay any attention to those killjoys. They do not have the true spirit of Jesus Christ within them.

          Gluttony is regularly eating way too much. It really doesn’t have anything to do with depriving the poor of food. It’s not as though if you didn’t eat something in your fridge, some poor person would eat it instead. Or even that if you buy a bunch of food in the grocery store, that means some poor person won’t have enough food. That’s just not how the economy works.

          Further, even though gluttony is traditionally considered one of the “seven deadly sins,” it hardly gets a mention in the Bible. There are those two mentions in the Gospels, and only two or three others, in the Old Testament (in Deuteronomy 21:20; Proverbs 23:1–3, 20–21). So yes, the Bible takes a dim view of gluttony. But the idea that it is a terrible, terrible, deadly sin is rather overwrought compared to the scant treatment it gets in the Bible. The Ten Commandments do not include the commandment, “Thou shalt not eat too much.”

          Basically, gluttony is a matter of physical health and disease. Eating too much is bad for you. It isn’t a good idea to do it.

          But as for enjoying food and drink, there is nothing wrong with that at all. Why would one of the central rituals of Christianity be the Holy Supper if eating is bad and sinful? The whole idea is ridiculous. God gave us pleasure in eating for a reason. Eating is part of maintaining a healthy body, which is necessary to have a healthy mind. It is no accident that one of Jesus’ last actions on earth was to share a meal with the people who were closest to him.

          Yes, if we get carried away by eating, and our whole life revolves around eating, then that is not a good thing. Our life is meant to be focused on loving God and loving other people. But as long as we do put our main emphasis on loving and serving God and our fellow human beings, eating and drinking is a good and healthy part of our life. Especially if we have shared meals with family and friends, it is not only physically healthful, but emotionally and spiritually healthful as well. Why would people say grace before meals, thanking God for their food, if God thought that eating is borderline sinful?

          It is true that the life of cooks and chefs revolves around food. But their life does not revolve around eating food, but around preparing food for other people to eat. And if they cook tasty and healthful food for people, then they are providing a good and valuable service. There’s nothing wrong with that.

          In short, as long as we keep food in proper perspective, and don’t let it take over our life, then it is a good thing. There is nothing wrong with watching cooking shows that focus on food and food preparation. Food is an essential part of human life. And if we’re going to eat, we might as well eat good food, and enjoy it!

          As for shows that embarrass people, as you say, as long as that’s what they signed up for, I don’t see anything hugely wrong with it. Maybe it’s not the highest level of entertainment in the world, but people get a laugh out of it. Even for the people who are getting embarrassed, it can have the salutary effect of knocking down their ego a bit so that they don’t get all puffed up and egotistical. It all depends upon the spirit in which it is done.

          Of course, teasing, insulting, and bullying people just to put them down and jack oneself up is evil and wrong. But, for example, friends who rib and insult each other in a good-natured way are just being affectionate in their own way, even if it’s not the highest level of human interaction. Guys, in particular, often don’t feel they can be affectionate with one another, so they insult each other instead, and everyone laughs, including the one being insulted.

          Don’t let the “Christian” killjoys ruin your enjoyment of life. If God hadn’t wanted us to enjoy life, then God wouldn’t have given us so many physical senses, and so many things in this world to enjoy.

        • Jasmine says:

          Hello Lee!

          I didn’t really know where to write this, so im hoping we can continue out conseration here if thats alright as the topic is similar.

          Recently i saw something that got me thinking, could writing fanfiction be considered a sin?
          (Fanfiction emaning – a non cannon story written by a fan of, and featuring characters from, a particular TV series, film, etc)

          Of course i don’t really think it is, as most fanfiction is usually a compliment to the orginial creator of a story. Because you like their story so much you create your own from theirs (sometimes but not always using the same charecter, themes ect. Just writing in that stories world)

          But could it be considered a sin, because your ”stealing” that persons work? I don’t mean actually stealing as most good fanfiction is credited as a fan work and the original creator is also credtied, and almost always isn’t made for profit.

          So my question is this, could writing fan works of already existing universes be considered as sinful? Because you are taking someone elses story and making it your own? (Personaly i don’t really think so, as writing fanfiction can be a good tool to help write but i would like to know your opinion on it)

          Also, side note here, since every book/story ever written is also in heaven would fanfictions/fan works of existing stories also be readable in heaven?

          Thank you in edvance if you respond to this!

        • Lee says:

          Hi Jazmine,

          Well . . . that’s a complicated and hotly debated question. Some authors, and most companies (such as Walt Disney) really do not like people using their characters in stories they didn’t write or produce. Others, as you say, consider it a compliment. Basically, I think people should respect the wishes of the people or groups of people (companies, etc.) that originated the characters. It’s rude to steal people’s creations and use them for your own purposes when they don’t want you to do so.

          As for whether it is a sin, that all depends upon the intent behind it. Words and actions are sinful only if they are said and done with selfish, greedy, and generally evil intent. People who don’t think there’s anything wrong with writing fan fiction, and who aren’t doing it for a profit motive, aren’t sinning even if the originators of the characters and universes they are “borrowing” don’t like it. But people who know very well that the originators of the characters and universes don’t want them to use them, and who go ahead and do so anyway, especially if they are looking for profit and fame, are engaging in sinful behavior. Sin is doing something that we know very well is wrong in order to benefit ourselves in some way.

        • Jasmine says:

          Hello Lee!
          Thank you for the quick response!

          And, yes, ok i agree! Most people are alright with thier stories being used for fan-works, and its always important to respect the original creators.

          What about autors/creators who haven’t specifically stated if they want their wors used or not? (But seem to be alright with it) Would it (morally) be alright to use them? (If theres no ill-intent behind it of course)

        • Lee says:

          Hi Jasmine,

          I guess that’s a judgment call. Life is complicated. But in general, if people have the skills to write fiction, in my opinion, it would be better for them to create their own characters and situations anyway. That is, unless they are using another author’s or company’s characters and situations with the blessing of that author or company.

          Oh, and yes, everything ever written and published here on earth is available in the spiritual world.

  9. Jasmine says:

    Hello Lee!

    I don’t think i really understand your previous comment, are you suggesting people write their own stories in general or that people create their own charecter and situations in the set world of the story? (if its the latter then most people already do that to my knowlage)

    • Lee says:

      Hi Jasmine,

      Well, I’m not an expert on fan fiction. I don’t really read or watch it much myself. Mostly, I think that the world is a richer place if people create their own original worlds and characters. But I do understand that many people find particular already created worlds very meaningful, and want to set their stories in those worlds. Once again, really, it’s a judgment call. That was just my personal opinion.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Jasmine,

      Just one example: I’m a fan of the various Star Trek series. What I like about it is that it’s not all about wars and battles. Though wars and battles do occur in the Star Trek universe, even they are more about character and character conflicts than about exciting action scenes. Star Trek is about exploring the human mind and human culture.

      However, the little bit of fan fiction Star Trek stuff I’ve seen is almost always about wars and battles. It doesn’t have the characteristic that makes the Star Trek universe interesting to me, which is that exploration of human character and interaction in various settings and situations. It’s all just “Zap! Zap! Zap!” The same is true of the Star Trek video games I’ve seen advertised here and there. (I’ve never actually played any of them.) They take a series that is about exploring the human psyche and the human condition, and turn it into big dumb action movies and games. Nothing wrong with those. But that’s not what Star Trek is about.

      In this instance, I’d rather the fans just left it alone. Most of them seem not to have the approach and inspiration that Gene Roddenberry built into the Star Trek universe.

  10. Jasmine says:

    Hello Lee!

    Alright, thank you for your input!

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

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