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Leisure and Spirituality

Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Perspectives

series: Engaging Culture

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This addition to the award-winning Engaging Culture series explores the link between leisure and spirituality, offering a Christian perspective on leisure concepts and issues in contemporary society. Paul Heintzman, a respected scholar and experienced recreation practitioner, interacts with biblical, historical, and contemporary leisure studies sources to provide a comprehensive understanding of leisure. He also explains the importance of leisure for spiritual growth and development. This work will appeal to professors and students as well as practitioners in the recreation and leisure services field, youth and college pastors, and culture-watchers.

About the Series

The Engaging Culture series is designed to help Christians respond with theological discernment to our contemporary culture. Each volume explores particular cultural expressions, seeking to discover God's presence in the world and to involve readers in sympathetic dialogue and active discipleship.


Part 1: Leisure in Contemporary Society
1. Concepts of Leisure
2. Contemporary Leisure Trends and Issues
Part 2: The History of the Leisure Concept
3. The History of Classical Leisure
4. The History of Leisure as Activity
Part 3: The Biblical Background to Leisure
5. The Sabbath
6. The Biblical Concept of Rest
7. Other Biblical Words and Themes Related to Leisure
Part 4: Leisure and Work
8. Work Today and in the Past
9. The Biblical View of Work
Part 5: Christian Perspectives on Leisure
10. A Critique of the Concepts of Leisure
11. Leisure, Work, and Ethics
Part 6: A Leisurely Spirituality
12. Leisure and Spiritual Well-Being
13. Leisure-Spiritual Coping
Epilogue: A Concise and Illustrated Theology of Leisure


"For the past quarter of a century, Paul Heintzman has been a leader in the field of Christian leisure theory. Leisure and Spirituality is the fruit of Heintzman's long career. And the most notable feature of the book is its thoroughness: all of the important topics are covered and the survey of scholarship is breathtaking. The book is a triumph of scholarship and a helpful guide to thinking Christianly about leisure."

Leland Ryken, emeritus professor of English, Wheaton College; author of Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure

"This is, quite simply, the most thorough and thoughtful book about the relationship between leisure and spirituality. It covers biblical, historical, theological, cultural, and practical terrain. I encourage you to read it in a leisurely and therefore more spiritual way. If you follow this book's suggestions you will be the better for it, as will your relationships, activities, and world."

Robert Banks, Centre for the History of Christian Thought and Experience, Macquarie University, Sydney

"The things closest to us are often the hardest to see, understand, and talk about. In his Leisure and Spirituality Paul Heintzman does a masterful job of casting light on many of those crucial closest things: work, rest, leisure, time, body, and soul. The book itself is 'leisurely': the author does not hurry us through these hard topics, but becomes a thoughtful guide: through the confusions of our own time, the long history of different views of work and leisure, and--most important--the deep biblical sources for a life which lets us both be and do as thankful recipients of the gift of being. For scholars in leisure studies, this study is likely to become the most helpful and comprehensive resource for a long time to come. But all thoughtful readers will find their life--both in work and in rest--made more whole by this wise and magisterial study of how we live, and how we might live better."

Loren Wilkinson, professor of interdisciplinary studies and philosophy, Regent College, Vancouver

"What do you get when a social scientist turns his attention to leisure while retaining a framework of Christian conviction? Paul Heintzman's Leisure and Spirituality, which is now the most comprehensive and up-to-date treatment of Christianity and leisure. This exhaustively researched volume is also a significant and welcome contribution to the field of leisure studies more broadly."

Karl E. Johnson, executive director, Chesterton House: A Center for Christian Studies, Cornell University

"I expected and enjoyed a well-researched, biblically sound treatise examining the history of leisure and spirituality coupled with challenging questions for Christians seeking to define leisure and its impact in their lives. Unexpected and appreciated was the deeply personal application of these concepts in Paul Heintzman's life, helping us see the blending of the personal, spiritual, and scholarly dimensions of his journey, inspiring readers to pursue such harmony."

W. Dale Connally, CPRP, professor of health, human performance, and recreation, Baylor University

"This book provides a significant contribution to academics and lay persons who seek a holistic understanding of leisure from a Christian perspective. The author systematically critiques biblical, historical, and contemporary concepts of leisure and effectively leads the reader to his thesis that, 'leisure reaches its fullest potential when our lives are lived in relationship with God.' With this book Dr. Heintzman has given the Christian community a wonderful gift that will transform our perspective on common elements of our daily lives: work, rest, and play."

Glen Van Andel, professor emeritus, Calvin College

"Paul Heintzman has once again demonstrated why he is the quintessential Christian scholar in the study of leisure and spirituality. Heintzman masterfully integrates the biblical, historical, and modern perspectives on leisure and spirituality into a well-organized and thorough volume that can be utilized across disciplines. What Leisure and Spirituality unveils is Heintzman's faithfulness to his Christian heritage and his longstanding commitment to this specialized strand of leisure studies."

Steven N. Waller, associate professor of recreation and sport management, The University of Tennessee-Knoxville

The Author

  1. Paul Heintzman

    Paul Heintzman

    Paul Heintzman (PhD, University of Waterloo) is associate professor of leisure studies at the University of Ottawa in Ottawa, Ontario, and has extensive experience as a recreation practitioner throughout Canada. He previously taught at Brock University and at...

    Continue reading about Paul Heintzman


"A comprehensive, freeing look at an oft-ignored topic. . . . This is wholly an academic book, filled with deep research, pages of notes, and an intelligent tone. . . . While Heintzman's work is thorough and academic, it is far from verbose or pedantic. The book is well paced, delving into each idea but bringing the ideas solidly back to the surface, where they have practical impact on everyday life. This book will be transformative for Christians exhausted by extremes of the so-called Christian work ethic. The wisdom and research of this book empowers ministers, church leaders, and spiritual directors to bring rest and refreshment to those they serve."

Melissa Wuske,

Foreword Reviews

"Heintzman has provided an inspiring work on the meaning and understanding of leisure. . . . Leisure and Spirituality will be useful for readers in search of a well articulated, scholarly understanding of these concepts. It is not to be read hurriedly; the author has footnoted almost every line in the book. Resources for further study are highlighted throughout the book, and this bibliography alone is worth the price of the volume. It would serve well as a text for a class in theology."

George Cooper Carpenter,


"Using a Christian perspective, Heintzman gives a comprehensive understanding of leisure in a biblical and historical sense and how it relates to contemporary society."

Caitlyn Schmid,

U. S. Catholic

"A most welcome addition. . . . [Heintzman] offers an informative overview of the concept and practice of leisure as it developed in Western cultures, all with an eye toward discerning how Christians ought to engage in leisure holistically. . . . The most obvious strengths of Heintzman's book is the commendable effort he has made both in mapping the current state of the discussion of leisure in contemporary Western societies and in identifying many of the key questions that Christians must address if they are to live faithfully within them. . . . Any thoughtful Christian interested in wrestling with the largely unexamined topic of leisure in our day would do well to start with Heintzman's informative work."

Philip D. Kenneson,

Stone-Campbell Journal

"A great example of serious Christian scholarship, and a substantial work about the subject of leisure. . . . For those of us who are serious about developing a uniquely Christian take on all of life, reading widely to help us craft a coherently, faithful worldview, it is a God‐send, vital, more valuable than you may realize. I very highly recommend it. . . . This book is nothing short of magisterial, and stands, at this point, as the definitive Christian book in the field. There is simply nothing like it on the market, and it should appeal to any number of readers. . . . The vast research in this remarkable book will help us ask better questions, and learn to discuss what we might mean as we use certain words. . . . Books like this are a gift to the Christian community, and they have the potential to help us transform our perspective--and experience--of so much of our daily lives."

Byron Borger,

Hearts & Minds Books blog

"Very well researched and written. . . . An excellent primer on leisure studies. . . . As a student of science and theology, I would recommend this book to anyone studying in the areas of ethics, neuroscience, cognitive science, and Mindfulness Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy. This indeed is worthy of a share in your personal library budget."

S. Scott Mapes,