In the early days of Christianity, people's attitude towards leisure was largely influenced by their attitude towards creation and life. Some Christians saw leisure as a good thing in human life.

However, some Christians including Clement of Alexandria and the Monks looked at the worldly pleasures as evil. This was because of the influence of the pagan philosophy where the world was thought to be evil.

Therefore, Christians had to make choices about how to spend their leisure time. The main leisure activities during this period included the following.

1. Christians enjoyed cruel entertainment like fighting between men and wild animals which had been starved and men and men. These activities were common in the Roman Empire.

2. A good number of Christians enjoyed drama during leisure time. Such plays were based on bible stories. They were mainly acted around market squares of the towns.

3. Reciting stories was also an important way of spending leisure. These stories were about the pagan gods whom the Christians had denounced.

4. Christians enjoyed hymns during their free time Saint Ambrose, who was a Bishop or Milan-Italy, was the one who composed these hymns.

5. Some Christians wrote good and interesting books during leisure. This was intended to make Christian literatures available for reading in any place and at any time.

6. The Christians also got involved in drawing pictures and making sculptures. Among others, they drew and painted Jesus' pictures as being a good shepherd and His mother Mary as being holy.

7. The Christians decorated churches during their free time. The churches were made beautiful using carvings in wood and stone that were brightly coloured.

8. The Christians used their free time by holding church ceremonies. They for example, commemorated saints' days among others.

9. Some Christians carried out charitable work during leisure. They helped the disadvantaged such as widows, orphans and the poor by giving them basic needs in life like food and shelter.

10. Christians worshipped God during their free time. S1. Francis of Assisi was the one in charge of this important aspect of the church. He called on his followers to worship God in the humblest way by building.

11. Prayer was also an important way of spending leisure. The apostles in particular took time off to pray to God through His son Jesus.

12. Some Christians enjoyed the beauty of creation during their free time. For example, Saint Anthony lived in a specific place because he loved its beauty.

The leisure activities disapproved in Church History

In the early days of Christianity, the church had recognized the importance of leisure but encouraged her members to always make proper choices.

However, this kind of attitude changed at a later stage. The Protestant reformers led by Saint Augustine, who were later joined by some radical Catholics, felt that too much enjoyment was not good for the Christians.

Consequently, they formed themselves into a group called the Puritans and urged Christians to live a strict life without any pleasures. Because of this attitude, the following leisure activities were condemned.

1. Fights between men and men. These tights were organized and enjoyed by some kings and their royal families in the Roman Empire. The men who were either slaves or prisoners could tight to the point of death.

2. Fights between men and wild animals like lions. Which had been starved until they were fierce? Shamelessly, the crowd could cheer on the winning animal even when the individual was dying.

3. Fights between women who were naked. Such tights caused bodily injuries and even claimed the lives of some.

4. The church reformers condemned idol worship as being a form of leisure. This was because it had become a common practice for Christians to surround themselves with picture, stories and Christian heroes during their free time. This posed the danger of Christians back sliding to pagan practices.

5. The church reformers disapproved reading and listening to immoral literatures. Such literatures contained sexual issues, fights or violence and other forms of injustice.

6. The reformers disapproved plays and stories which were about pagan gods.

7. The; reformers disapproved' drawing pictures and statues of pagan gods which had become common among Christians during their free time.

8. The church reformers disapproved participation in unhealthy and childish games. Such games, which included eating, crying, laughing and shouting competitions, had nothing to do with personal and community development. .

9. Some reformers disapproved any form of dancing and watching plays. They reasoned that such kind of entertainment was not good for the people who were committed and dedicated to the service of God.

10. The reformers disapproved writing poems which encouraged and promoted acts or immorality.

11. The church reformers also disapproved crude and immoral games like public show of sexual play between men and women and gambling.

12. The Puritans disapproved composing, listening to and dancing worldly music. To them, such songs that neither praised nor worshiped God were unhealthy for Christians because they contradicted the gospel messages.

13. The church condemned showing off or public display of material possessions by wealthy people. Such possessions included fine clothes and jewels. This was considered pride, extravagancy and selfishness to the disadvantage of the poor.

14. The Puritans disapproved drinking alcohol among Christians. The alcoholic drinks were seen to be too strong that they could eventually carry the Christians away from their ideal practices.

15. The missionaries who later came to Africa disapproved African dances as being wrong, They looked at African cultures as pagan practices and wholly bad for Christians to adopt.

16. The Puritans disapproved obscene jokes. This was because they did not portray the true characteristics of Christian life that required an individual to wholly be holy.

iDevice icon Revision Questions

1. Explain the leisure activities that Saint Augustine condemned

2. What leisure activities did the puritans disapprove of in the history of the church?

3. Explain the leisure activities the early church reformers stood against. '

4. Why did the early church reformers disapprove the leisure activities of their time?

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