Don’t get me wrong. I like Disney as much as the next person – I’ve been known to enjoy their movies, their amusement parks (although not their prices) and I’ve even read the occasional Disney book as a bedtime story to my children. But there are a few things I find troubling, some of them obvious, some of them less so.

I’m not the first to mention that the “marrying the prince and living happily ever after” theme is, shall we say, not the most realistic. What happens when there’s garbage to be taken out and bills to pay? But maybe princes don’t have to worry about those kinds of things.

I’m also not the first to notice that the fundamental problem at the heart of Sleeping Beauty – that when the prince falls in love with her, she’s asleep! He knows nothing about her character – and that action tells us all we need to know about his shallowness.

But these issues pale in comparison to what I think is the biggest flaw and most damaging message inherent in most Disney stories: the fairy godmother. “But she's just a fantasy!” you protest. Unfortunately, many of us confuse fantasy with reality. It’s not that that we really believe in fairy godmothers, but their wish-granting abilities have affected our world view.

I once heard Rabbi Motty Berger say that we don’t like to believe in our Father in Heaven because what we really want to believe in is our Grandfather in Heaven. What’s the difference? Parents say no. Parents need to shape character and build discipline and responsibility. Grandparents are just all unfettered love and never say no (which is why we sneak our grandchildren chocolate behind their parents’ backs).

I used to think he was right. But I no longer think we want a Grandfather in Heaven; we want something more, something more unrealistic, more fantastical. We want to believe in our Fairy Godmother in Heaven. We want a “God” who is constantly waving his metaphorical wand and granting all our wishes, turning all our desires into reality, making all our dreams come true – whether they are good for us or not.

We cling to a childlike vision of God rather than face reality. Because reality doesn’t accord with our fantasies – and Disney (and other escapist entertainment) has taught us that it should. People frequently say to me, “The God I believe in wouldn’t…” – the blank is usually filled in with something that we didn’t want to happen. But we have that backwards; we don’t create God – He created us. And our desire to believe in a magical wish-fulfiller doesn’t translate into reality. We don’t get to choose the God we believe in; the God Who is already exists.

It’s not that I don’t have plenty of dreams I’d like to come true or pain I’d like to avoid. But wishes don’t create reality and fantasies only lead us farther away from it. Rather than long for what we don’t have, we should work on embracing what we do. Rather than cling to an immature image of a Merlin-type figure in the sky, we should endeavor to achieve an adult understanding of our Creator.

It’s not good for our marriages to imagine there are others out there who are simply living “happily ever after” (there aren’t). It’s not good for our growth as human beings to wait for our lives to be magically transformed rather than working on ourselves and our character. And it’s really damaging to our relationship with the Almighty to imagine Him as our fairy godmother granting each and every wish rather than a loving parent who does only what is good for us (and to not recognize how much better that is).

I’m not really blaming Disney. We are adults and we are responsible for our choices. But we are also affected by the society we live in and by the constant bombardment of images and ideas from “the happiest place on earth.” So when you take your family to Disneyworld and watch Frozen 2, don’t forget to distinguish between what should be harmless unrealistic entertainment and the reality of the world we live in and the challenges we face. And remember our benevolent Creator Who guides us lovingly in the direction we need to go; He has all the power and none of it is magical.