“A Christian and His Amusements”

Cathy Lundeen

A person called the archives a couple of weeks ago wanting to know if we had a pamphlet on dancing published by the Lutheran Church in the 1940s. We didn’t have that specific pamphlet, but my colleague Joel Thoreson discovered one distributed by the Augustana Lutheran Church on not only dancing, but also card playing and going to the theater. “A Christian and His Amusements“was written circa-1945 by the Rev. John P. Milton a pastor trained in the Augustana Lutheran Church who transferred to the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America in 1942.

Nowadays worrying that our youth might be dancing, going to the theater, or playing cards might be seen as quaint. But back in the 1940s the church saw these activities as potentially leading its young people down a path of “moral delinquency and spiritual indifference.”  Times have changed and so have the worries of society for its youth and the dangers they face — bullying, underage drinking, distracted driving, and the list goes on.

Not that variants of these dangers didn’t keep some parents up at night in the 1940s, but it sure would be nice if all that parents had to worry about today were their teens dancing too much, playing clandestine games of Hearts or Spoons, or sneaking out to see the latest Errol Flynn picture. But time marches on, the church continues to pray for the guidance and protection of its youth, and today’s multitasking teen, while using their laptop to watch the movie Footloose and play a game of computer solitaire, asks ”who’s Errol Flynn?”

(If you would like to see the pamphlet, here is a link to a PDF: ”A Christian and His Amusements” )