Ross Douthat had an interesting column in The New York Times last week titled “A Tough Season for Believers.” He begins, “Christmas is hard for everyone. But it’s particularly hard for people who actually believe in it.” As a believer, he’s struck by the paradox of a statistical majority who feel marginalized and embattled: “Depending on the angle you take, Christianity is either dominant or under siege, ubiquitous or marginal, the strongest religion in the country or a waning and increasingly archaic faith.”

A certain ambiguousness is probably inherent in Christianity; unlike other religions, it’s not from around here. It also thrives on paradox. Christians are called to be in the world but not of it; to deny themselves while calling the Creator of the universe “Daddy”; to base real-world decisions on the hope of a world yet to come; to rejoice in suffering. Our leader is all-man and all-God, who descended to rise and defeated death by dying. Christmas itself is paradoxical: a joyful holiday when many feel the most depressed, a celebration of life when suicide rates reportedly go up.

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