Fantasy Christian Men

A few weeks ago I was flipping through Netflix instant streaming looking for a new movie or show to watch. I was getting disappointed about the lack of new exciting content and became resigned to the fact I would probably have to start watching an old show.

Then I saw the little thumbnail for the show “24”. Yes, I had heard all the buzz for the many years the show was on television. For whatever reason I never watched an episode. I wondered, should I give it a shot? Yes, I knew it was probably not the all-time best show but I just didn’t see any other good alternatives. I then wondered if the show would be edifying? I knew it wasn’t like reading the Bible but I also figured there were probably worse shows for me to check out.

The reason I was looking for a show to watch is because I try to run 3 miles every morning before work. I am one of those psychotic people who actually enjoy running on a treadmill. My day is off to a good start if, after a while in the Bible and prayer, I watch something on Netflix while pounding it out on the treadmill.

I usually enjoy watching shows from places like: History Channel; Discovery Channel; etc… but I wondered if “24” would be a nice change. I hit play and had mixed feelings about the first episode. My curiosity was piqued enough to give episode #2 a last chance the next day. Episode #2 ended in enough of a cliff-hanger I figured I’d at least see how some of these story lines were going to find resolution.

Three weeks later something happened. I picked up my iPad, opened Netflix and discovered I was on episode 35. What?! How did I get to episode 35 so fast? I started getting so interested in the story lines and in the characters that I couldn’t wait until the next morning to find out what happens next. While lying in bed next to my wife I would put on some headphones and finish out an episode that had started earlier in the day. While working in the garage I would prop up my phone and have an episode running in the background. While going to the bathroom I would…well you get the point. I pulled out my calculator and realized in a very short time period I had just spent 1,505 minutes in the world of 24!

Is this sinful? Not necessarily. Is it bad? Not necessarily. Is it unwise? Not necessarily. One thing, however, made me stop watching 24 in the middle of the 35th episode. Here it is, my fantasy world was hurting my reality.

Edifying books I had previously loved devouring were continuously sitting unread on my night stand while I devoured “24”. New books were being added on top of these half-read books as I wondered where all the time had gone? My three kids were swimming by themselves as I sat next to our little pool with my phone in my hands devouring “24”. They asked me to jump in and join them, my response, “Daddy’s just going to relax by the side of the pool.” a.k.a. “I have better things to do.”

Fantasy Christian Men

I think there are many men like me. I am going to call us, “Fantasy Christian Men.” We love Jesus. We really do. We want to change our world. We want to advance the kingdom of God. We want to fight injustice. We want to be heroes to our wives and children. Unfortunately, however, we are just as good if not better at fantasy than reality.

If you look at our focus, passion, reading, time, thoughts, conversations and strategy you will find many of us are killing it at: Fantasy Football; Basketball, Baseball; Netflix; and Video Games. We are endlessly engaged in things that are rooted in fantasy. I know you will probably say you are forming powerful relationships with people for Christ through your fantasy draft weekend, the chat room from your favorite video game, etc…

Without going into a long argument for reality over fantasy, I will simply share a new principle I’m seeking to live by. Whenever I am confronted with an opportunity to engage in something fantasy I first ask the question, “How is my reality?” Here are some questions I want to continually ask myself: How is my walk with God? Am I growing in the Word of God? How is my prayer life? How is my marriage? Are my wife and I growing closer or colder? How is my relationship with my kids? Have I been an absent dad (even if I was still in the room) or have I been engaged as a dad? How has my reading been? Leaders are readers. Am I growing in wisdom and knowledge from the writings of others? How is my home? Am I procrastinating the to-do list or am I being a good steward of my home?

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am NOT saying fantasy stuff is necessarily bad. I am saying, however, fantasy stuff is bad if it hurts your reality. If you’ve taken care of the things that are truly important then it’s perfectly fine to delve into lesser things, but so often we get it all backwards. I had gotten it backwards. Is it backwards for you today?

14 Responses to “Fantasy Christian Men”

  1. Michael, I like the way you think out loud. I think I will share this with my thoughtful 15 year old son. Good things to contemplate…for women too!

  2. Some great thoughts here, and right as God’s recently been convicting me of similar things with regards to video games. Of course I’ve been rationalizing (I know always a sign that you’re probably in the wrong) but you hit the ‘long and short of it’ right on the head. Only for me it would be, are video games bad? Not necessarily, but am I spending too much time on them at the sacrifice of more important things? Possibly. So I’ll have to be more careful of that in the future.

  3. Tim!, I like the way you think out loud. I think I will share this with my thoughtful 15 year old son. Good things to contemplate…for women too!

  4. “I grew careless of the lives of others.

    I took pleasure where it pleased me, and passed on.

    I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber, one has some day to cry aloud from the house-top.”

    …from today’s post by Kevin DeYoung:

  5. Tim,

    If you haven’t already, you should really check out Captivated – it’s a documentary/movie about how our culture is captivated by media. Some incredible statistics and info from Christians and non-Christians. In one part, they discuss how there are two parts of your brain that are activated when you are doing something that challenges you, and that you enjoy. (Forgive my memory as I have no clue now what those parts were called…)

    Basically, when someone is working through a problem, or a challenge, or a project of some sort, and it’s something they really enjoy, the front part of the brain is firing like crazy. Then, almost in response to that, the central part of your brain (which gives you a feeling of success or accomplishment) starts going crazy as well.

    However, when someone is playing in a video game (which, let’s be honest, a lot of the most popular games today are basically “playing” through a movie or storyline similar to 24), it works in the opposite direction. The central part of the brain is activated, and actually takes blood-flow away from the front part of the brain.

    Whether I’m remembering the technicalities accurately or not, the gist of it is that you end up with a feeling of accomplishment or success without ever actually doing anything at all – i.e. you’re living in a fantasy world.

    They also tied this in as *one* reason that contributes to men being more passive now than just about any time in history. Fantasy / escapism have too many sources to pull you from reality thanks to media – games, movies, internet, etc – it’s all just escaping your reality.

    And no, this documentary doesn’t recommend trashing all media – though there are a few people in there that did – but it recommends keeping it in balance. I highly recommend it…


  6. Excellent article and very well written. It does make you think and take a closer look at your own life.

  7. I like you. I feel like you’re a guy that “get’s it”, without being all “hoity-toity” (a term my mother uses…). Anyhow, just wanted to share that I too ask myself questions before I sit down to waste my life. One of the ones I ask myself is “Will I regret this?” Now don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t necessarily work all the time, but more often than not. Even after wasting 90 minutes of my life watching the movie “Seven”, I was still able to pull something biblical out of it, but nevertheless, it’s not a movie I would encourage my congregation to watch, and it kept me up WAY past my bedtime.
    I’m glad others have to stop and ask the same questions I do, it’s encouraging. Thanks for sharing.

  8. I did this a few months ago with Friday Night Lights. It was crazy. I was living with Coach and Mrs. Taylor and fell in love with Tim Riggins. I couldn’t wait to see the next episode and also wanted desperately to finish the series so I could stop being obsessed with this TV program. Then when I watched the last one, I realized I was going to miss them. That’s pityful.

    I watched the first episode of 24 a few nights ago. Like you I was left unimpressed with it. And now you’ve convinced me to not even bother watching another single episode.

    Thank you. You have done a great service for this woman. God bless you, Tim Kimberly!

  9. i think we can do that with blogging too. I know I have often been guilty even though I’m not a man. Sometimes we can get so into a thing that we forget what’s real and valuable in our lives, and concentrate on what’s on line to define us and our beliefs, and expect others to be subject to that.

    Not good.

  10. Along similar lines of post-modern observation is the following link by Barry J Bryan; Relationships in the
    Age of Consumerism:

    All of these observations fall under the heading of “post-modern effect” on today’s society.

  11. Fantasy stuff can get out of hand.

    But that is where a good preacher comes in. To present God’s law to you on Sun. morning (or whenever) and bring you back to reality.

    And that reality may not be a pretty picture.

    But then he/she hands over Christ and we are given a picture of the reality that awaits us, and the reality of His comfort and forgiveness in the midst of the storms of life.


  12. Sometimes too someone’s reality is so bad that they just don’t want to deal with and so they escape into fantasy, essentially taking the “traditional” place of drugs and alcohol.

  13. Great point—very thought provoking and relevant…

    But you have got to complete 24….
    it may well have been the best show on TV…

    The seasons get better and Jack never disappoints!


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