Martyr Complex Lite

Is it possible to be an American Christian without being self-pitying? Sometimes I wonder. American Christians are either being pushed to the margins of culture or else dissatisfied when a key holiday of their religion — namely the ever-commercialized Christmas whose “true meaning” is always in danger of being forgotten altogether — becomes so popular that they can’t control the use people make of it. Oh the torture of not being quite powerful enough, or powerful in precisely the right way!

The “war on Christmas” idiocy and the prickliness surrounding “happy holidays” is a case in point. As Tom Tomorrow points out, even if you leave aside inclusiveness concerns, this time of year has multiple Christian-celebrated holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. It is, indeed, the “holiday season,” not because we’re all politically correct liberals but because there are several widely-embraced holidays in rapid succession.

10 Responses to “Martyr Complex Lite”

  1. Evan Says:

    It’s odd to call the “war on Christmas” a case in point in your second paragraph, when the article you link in your first paragraph calls the “war on Christmas” overdrawn and cynical. Are you intending to agree with Douthat or disagree with him?

    I think there’s a difference between struggling with one’s own piety and belief as it relates to the wider cultural status of Christmas, and blaming other political or societal targets for this struggle. To call both of these things a martyr complex of some sort is, I take it, what has made your critique here so unhelpful.

  2. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Douthat and I both agree that the “war on Christmas” is a trope that exists.

  3. Charlie Collier Says:

    This is vintage Douthat. He actually wants to say some challenging things to his conservative Christian brethren, but he cannot do so without flattering their worst conceits. Put differently, the last paragraph is nice, the first paragraph is bullshit. In fact, I don’t see how he can believe what he says in the last paragraph and the first paragraph at the same time.

  4. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Another contradiction: he says “war on Christmas” stuff is overblown, but he also seems to agree that grouping Christmas with other winter holidays is an affront to Christianity.

    I wonder if there were pagans who sat around complaining about how the Christians had totally hijacked the meaning of the winter solstice….

  5. Marvin Says:

    Yeah, the first paragraph and the second paragraph seem at cross-purposes. If Christians are, in fact, entitled to feeling under siege, as he seems to affirm, then the difference between him and the War on Christmas crowd he slams is one of degree, not kind.

  6. queenemily Says:

    If there weren’t pagans complaining about Christians hijacking winter solstice, there are now.

  7. Adam Kotsko Says:

    Wow, imagine how mad Christians would get if people started throwing the winter solstice into the mix as a matter of course.

  8. queenemily Says:

    I’m always up for a Saturnalia party!

  9. Hill Says:

    I have good friends that celebrate winter solstice.

  10. Bruce Says:

    Here’s something related from Ludic Despair:

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