Placebo Effect?

You may have noticed that my blog on Holloway Pills stirred some comment – particularly from Noel Heather, recently retired from Royal Holloway.  He says that its founder, Thomas Holloway, was the originator of the Holloway Pills and that the College was therefore built on the proceeds of placebo medicines.

I pondered this as I heaved my various bits of episcopal bling through the security scanner at Edinburgh Airport yesterday.  This stirred some questions from the person behind me in the queue about what had happened to +Richard Holloway.  ‘I read his books and they made me think seriously about Christianity’   Not so placebo after all, methinks.

Bit of a milestone being back in Portadown today for Gemma and Al’s wedding and I was glad to be able to do it.  Gemma lived with our Anna in Belfast for four years so it was sort of family.  Interesting to be back in Seagoe for the first time and to be at home but not at the same time!

Naturally I took time to get various bits of personal maintenance done at the same time.  Another trip to McMahon’s shop to buy a suit – some more ‘easing’ of the trousers was called for.  Got my watch fixed at Campbell the Jeweller behind St Mark’s Church after it stopped as I stepped off the plane in Bangkok.  Had a haircut at Encanto – short on the cutting but long on chat – with my favourite hairdresser Michael who comes from Dundee.  Also answered various detailed questions from local blog readers … including ‘What is the current mileage of the Faithful Passat’  To which the answer is – it will pass 160000 on the way home from the airport.  The oil pressure warning light did come on on Thursday but, since I carry a spare everything in the back, that was easily dealt with.


  1. David, Your response, besides being open-hearted and profound, is very moving. After 8 Years in /Derry, Portrush and Ballymena (wife from latter), I have come to expect no less from N.I. folk! The mature, humorous wisdom which Ulster folk convey: unbeatable. Post-Foucault and Post-Lindbeck one sees scripture as a corpus from which one induces a socio-theological grammar (propositionally-based). ‘Sentences of belief and practice’ generated by this grammar by the believing community are both Christ-centred and very inclusive (Gal 6: **especially** the household of faith). The grammar even transforms the ‘one of them’ lonely, into the ‘one of us’ isolated! It goes back to when Jesus hands his mother to the first spiritual sibling on the cross. In a church based on this, interactions are unconsciously founded on ‘Are you a spiritual colleague or sibling?’, rather than ‘Are you like me socially or domestically?’. This grammaticality/propositionality leads to a group of **fellow** believers, not just to (‘the faithful’) a group of believers. When you see what God does here in a community it is beautiful to watch. I’ll try to send you one of my full academic articles (not written in green ink therefore) when I get back to Egham. It can be very liberating once you get into it (single folk of course tend to be special fans). So the new perspective of CP is deconstructive-constructive. In Perth — just off the Glasgow Road — the new National Centre for Christian Outreach may well reflect all this: it is certainly a beautiful set-up, and well worth a coffee visit.

  2. Noel – I can just about grasp the outer fringes of the edges of what you are saying. Are we in the area where, should it happen to be that the emperor should turn out to have no clothes, it’s better not to know?

    I stand in the middle of all the stuff I stand in the middle of – as at St Andrews, St Andrews, last night and wonder. I used to come home from holiday, go back into church and ponder – ‘Who am I? Who are these people? Why am I wearing these funny clothes? What are we doing?’

  3. My arrival on Saturday in ever-lovely Perth seems to have coincided with a return of the sun, from what I can hear. Re Holloway, I find liberalism in theory attractive. I taught Cyberfeminism on the MA Postmodernism at Royal Holloway, but just as I gather things have really moved on to Postfeminism now(??), so too ‘although’ an Evangelical, I have (sorry — no pomo pun intended) moved on to Postliberalism and have developed ‘Critical Postliberalism’ (‘CP’ as Google will reveal (an SJT article is forthcoming)). In short, most of this is about Christianity/rellgion being a faith-based language you learn. This helps to explain what appears to be the deep-structure grammaticallity of our Bible-based faith. I suspect that once you tinker with this it’s going to die. To sum it up from another angle: ‘once you say the gods don’t really live on Mount Olympus — it’s [eventually) gone. Postliberalism helps get round this unfortunate aspect of liberalism as it retains grammaticality linked referentially to faith. In my (CP) sub-branch of this, I add in the social, inclusive aspect. Counter-intuitively, perhaps, evangelicals tend to be very inclusive; their language avoiding things like ‘the busy lives we all seem to have these days’.

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