My Christmas: What I’ve Been up to This WeekAdrian Holloway on December 27, 2010 with 0 Comments
First highlight was Xmas drinks with some of my old Durham University friends in a pub in Green Park. Seven blokes who twenty-two years ago were thrown together at St Aidan’s College, and now we are all married and between us we have 20 kids, but in many respects nothing has changed. The banter is the same, and we shamelessly re-lived the glory days. The language is not exactly the same as that you’d hear in the Christ Church London office, but such is life’s rich tapestry! It was a great night.
All 6 Holloways then went to the ballet. This was amazing in itself. We all went to the Nutcracker at The Coliseum near Leicester Square for £20. Julia’s prowess at finding bargains never ceases to astonish me! I can’t give you a proper review of the production as I spent half the performance in the bar with our 1 year old Emma, playing Humpty Dumpty. It is remarkable how high the walls are that Humpty is willing to fall off if his song is sung often enough. Congratulations to Grace (aged 3) who sat through the entire performance riveted.
Then it was off to my sister’s in New Malden, where I once again praised God for the invention of the Amazon wish list, which has liberated people like myself from the randomness of unwanted Christmas socks and jumpers. Now, every present is a direct hit. So amongst many Christmas treats I have got Peter Hitchens’ ‘The Abolition of Britain.’ I fear that this is a dangerously right wing book, but this guy fascinates me, partly because he is the brother of nuclear atheist Christopher Hitchens, who I have listened to many times recently (author of ‘God is not Great’) and I am amazed that two brothers can hold such diametrically opposed views. Peter Hitchens contrasts Churchill’s funeral with Lady Diana’s funeral, and analyzes the moral and spiritual decline of Britain between the two events. He sees the centrality of Christianity, and it is a scary read.
I also got Edgar Andrews’ “Who Made God” which is a heavyweight antidote to Stephen Hawking’s ‘Grand Design’. It seems to me, that Hawking had already decided that he was going to find a Theory of Everything that made the God hypothesis redundant, and that when he didn’t find it, he decided to write The Grand Design anyway. Anyway, I don’t believe in a created God, so the Dawkins argument of “who made God?” doesn’t really work as far as I’m concerned.
The most exciting present I have got this Christmas is Dinesh D’Souza’s “What’s so great about Christianity?” I have been listening to his debates with atheists Peter Stringer and agnostic Bart Ehrman (author of “Misquoting Jesus” and “God’s problem”) on the Fixed Point Foundation on Itunes. D’Souza is a clever bloke, and an ex-White House aide to Ronald Reagan! Like Hitchens he’s very right wing. In fact in the debate with the Australian Stringer, he describes one atheist argument as displaying “Obama-like cunning,” which I thought was hilarious, but probably damaging to his cause. The debate with Stringer was about “Can there be morality without God?” and the debate with Ehrman is on the problem of God and suffering. I am thrilled to have discovered D’Souza for the first time, and I have just begun watching his debate with Dan Dennett (another of the so-called New Atheists) on You Tube. What’s so impressive about D’Souza is his breadth of reading. He’s read everything it seems and can easily correct his opponents mis-reading of everyone from Kant to Thomas Jefferson. What D’Souza does in “What’s so great about Christianity?” is re-cover the unique contribution of Christianity to western civilization. In fact he shows that without Christianity the new atheists would be deprived of many of the privileges they now enjoy. He shows how the scientific method began with the presumption that the universe is “lawful” and therefore intelligible. It’s only because scientists thought that the universe was rational that they undertook scientific enquiry in the first place. They thought there was a rationality or an intelligence behind the universe and therefore thought it worthwhile to study it. (This is the main point that John Lennox makes in his debates with Richard Dawkins that I feel Dawkins fails to answer adequately.)
Anyway, we then had Christmas Day with Julia’s sister and their family in Windsor. It was a fantastic day, perhaps our best ever Christmas Day. I was on getting the babies to sleep duty, so drove my youngest daughter Emma, and my youngest niece Alice around on Christmas Day to get them to sleep. It was fantastic to drive through Eton with snow on the ground, to see the school and town as it is virtually unchanged for hundreds of years. It’s a great option if you happen to have £30,000 a year after tax burning a hole in your back pocket, and a very bright son!
I have my 95 year old Grandma coming over for lunch with my parents, so I will have to sign off for now. A very Happy New Year to you!