Against The Circuses and The Theatre – St. John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom was the son of a high-ranking military officer and was raised as a Christian by his widowed mother. He studied law under a distinguished pagan rhetorician, Libanius, but gave up his profession to study theology, ultimately becoming an ascetic hermit-monk. When his health gave way, he returned to Antioch and became an ordained deacon in 381 and a priest in 386. Over the next 12 years he established himself as a great preacher, and his homilies were well regarded. In 387 John calmed the riotous citizens of Antioch, who had treated the images of the sacred emperors with disrespect and were threatened with reprisals, with a famous course of sermons known as The Homilies on the Statues.

Chrysostom often came into conflict with the local elites including the empress Eudoxia (pictured), as he was just as bold in condemning them as he was with the common folk. Several of his writings survive, including a condemnation of homosexuality and his famous Homilies Against the Jews.

The attendees of ancient horse racing and theatrical performances show a stunning similarity to the television watchers, sports fans, Netflix subscribers, and pornography indulgers of today.

“If you ask [Christians] who is Amos or Obadiah, how many apostles there were or prophets, they stand mute; but if you ask them about the horses or drivers, they answer with more solemnity than sophists or rhetors.”

Chrysostom was so opposed to these spectacles that he would go so far as to bar any who attended them from communion. What would he think about the media we consume in the modern era? How would he react to what you watch?

Let his words embolden us in our many struggles.

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