In a sense, of course, there’s no better time to be a Christian than the first 25 days of December. But this is also the season when American Christians can feel most embattled. Their piety is overshadowed by materialist ticky-tack. Their great feast is compromised by Christmukkwanzaa multiculturalism. And the once-a-year churchgoers crowding the pews beside them are a reminder of how many Americans regard religion as just another form of midwinter entertainment, wedged in between “The Nutcracker” and “Miracle on 34th Street.”
Douthat makes some of the typical arguments for why this is happening. Stuff like the church has become too political, too hateful, anti-culture and irrelevant. There is no doubt this image of our religion is real and problematic. But does it make Christmas hard for Christians?
Not for me. I see Christmas as a chance to begin to turn those perceptions around. In the midst of the shop ‘til you drop commercial Christmas, which does bother me, I think people are looking for more. It’s a time where people are open and willing to turn to the church for answers. The question is, are we providing them with something different? Are we putting aside our political frustrations, or anti-culture rants, to simply show God’s love and grace? Or are we so caught up in defending against the war on Christmas that we’re not reaching out to people in a real, meaningful way? Christmas is our chance to share peace and help people find the comfort that is truly believing and trusting in Jesus.
So for me, Christmas isn’t hard. It’s hopeful.