Archive for 22 March 2009

Step 13

The 13th step is used to describe the efforts of an old timer who tries to seduce a newcomer or someone with less than a year of sobriety. This is when a person trying to recover from their addiction is most vulnerable, and is most easily influenced and manipulated. The most prolific 13th Stepper in AA history may have been Bill Wilson himself, whose philandering is now legendary within AA.

Step 2: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, or My Cat Answers All Prayers. Sometimes the Answer is 'No'

“And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.” – God

Those are some heavy duty words right there, and a person does not need to be a biblical scholar to understand them: Worship other gods, and you are going to spend all eternity in the place where the guy with the horns and a pitchfork conducts his business. Worshipping false idols is not just a sin, it is one of the biggies. Heck, it is probably the biggest of all, considering the fact that it is the number one sin on God’s top ten list. This leads us to Step 2:

Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

A person of faith would have no problem with Step 2, at least in terms of accepting God as their higher power. It might get tricky if that person believes in freewill, and that God is not manipulating them from above, but I won’t get into that here. Take a critical look at how this step is explained to a stepper, and you will find it full of everything from blasphemy, absurdity and manipulation – a regular trifecta of cult goodness. Below is what Bill Wilson wrote:

“At the start, this was all we needed to commence spiritual growth, to effect our first conscious relation with God as we understood Him. Afterward, we found ourselves accepting many things which then seemed entirely out of reach. That was growth, but if we wished to grow we had to begin somewhere. So we used our own conception, however limited it was. We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. – “Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?” As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.” – The Big Book

In other words, ‘you may not be a believer now, but if you are willing to open the door to believing just a crack, that will do for now’. Once a person does their 90 meetings in 90 days, and are beaten down with thought stopping slogans and conditioned to believe that they are morally bankrupt, they are more likely to be converted to the real god. Sure, worshiping false idols is wrong, but in Bill’s mind it was justified, because he used it as simply a gateway drug to the ultimate objective, and that was a full conversion. “We had to begin somewhere”, he wrote. In his mind, the ends justified the means.

When dealing with such a person, you had better use everyday language to describe spiritual principles. There is no use arousing any prejudice he may have against certain theological terms and conceptions about which he may already be confused. Don’t raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are. – The Big Book

Giving oneself over to a higher power is one of the most common objections. Either a person does not believe in a god, or they don’t believe that they are puppets on a string to a god who suddenly will guide them to sobriety, but did not give a shit about them before they joined AA. The answer to this objection is a simple one. Ridiculous, but simple: “Your higher power can be anything you want it to be – a rock, a doorknob, a Pez dispenser, a tree, a penis, a rock band – whatever you want it be. The sky is the limit!” The most common suggestion is to make AA itself your higher power, which is really the objective, anyway. Here is a true example of this in practice:

Jill made her cat her higher power. Let’s apply this to the steps, and see how this works in helping here to gain sobriety (the names have been changed to protect the identity of the person and the cat) –

Upon admitting that her life is unmanageable, Jill…

• Came to believe that Fluffy could restore my sanity. (step 2)

• Made a decision to turn her will and her life over to the care of Fluffy. (step 3)

• Admitted to Fluffy, to herself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs. (step 5)

• Were entirely ready to have Fluffy remove all these defects of character. (step 6)

• Humbly asked Fluffy to remove my shortcomings. (step 7)

• Sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with Fluffy, praying only for knowledge of Fluffy’s will for me and the power to carry that out. (step 11)

So, what Jill was told to do was turn her life and sobriety over to a house pet with the brain the size of a walnut. She was told this with a straight face from the other steppers that this was a great idea. In fairness to the others, I’m sure they felt this was rational thing for Jill to do. This is because once a person has been conditioned and beaten down by the group, the absurd seems normal. That is the very nature of a cult, and why it is impossible to reason with a stepper who has drank the kool-aid.


In a sad and predictable conclusion to this story, both Jill’s sobriety and Fluffy the cat were lost in the same night, when Jill fell off the wagon and left her front door open in a drunken stupor. Nobody knows where Fluffy is now. My guess is that she is no longer with us, which is not a bad thing. That would put her up in heaven, which is where a higher power really belongs.

There is laughter in this, but there is seriousness, as well. AA believes alcoholism to be a disease. Imagine this same form of treatment being applied to any other disease. How would you react if a doctor walked into your room and, with a straight face, told you that you did indeed have a heart murmur or alzheimers or clinical depression or cancer – and he told you that what was needed was for you to pick an object, group, person or or living thing of your choosing – to manage it for you. What if you objected, and he told you that was “stinking thinking” or “take the cotton out of your ears and put in your mouth”. How would you react? This happens in AA every day.