Archive for 17 April 2009

Learning to believe in the God of Alcoholics Anonymous


Glenn Chesnut is a 12-step author. He gave speech to the Northern Indiana Counselors Association, which was later included in the book The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program: For Believers & Non-believers. It gives great insight into how AA manipulates people into believing their dogma. This speech has everything from circular logic to bait and switch recruiting tactics, so I thought that it would be interesting to examine. I’ve taken selected parts of the text, but the full text of the speech is available here.

This is Part One of three parts that I will post here in our blog:

From Glenn Chesnut’s speech:

“…at least 95% of alcoholics are totally hostile to organized religion in all its forms. Many of them are outright atheists: “There is no God, and the whole notion is a piece of absurd superstition, a crutch for the weak and ignorant.” Others are agnostics: “Well, maybe there’s a God, but I dunno. I’ve heard arguments both ways.”

How does he come with the figure of 95%? He just pulls it out of thin air. He actually has his figures ass-backwards. Alcoholics are no different than people within the general population who have no drinking problem, and the majority of people (Americans, at least) believe in God – a full 92%.

“My first observation is that no one — absolutely no one — learns to work the twelve-step program well, who has not cut the umbilical cord connecting them with their childhood religious beliefs. As an adult, you cannot truly go back to your childhood religious beliefs. Some people, when they begin the twelve-step program, make the mistake of trying to get a better grasp of the spiritual dimension of the program by going to church services or synagogue services, or reading the bible, or something like that. At best, this is totally ineffectual but comparatively harmless. But a lot of people who try it this way end up going back out and going back to their addiction…”

“…a lot of people who try it this way end up going back out and going back to their addiction….”

This is true. In fact, most will – just as most will go back to their addiction who work the steps, but he does not mention this. What he also does not mention is how this perception plays out in the world of AA. Those who do not work the steps and fail, are held up as examples of the consequences of not working the steps. Those who do work the steps and fail (the overwhelming majority) are ignored, or brushed off as though they don’t exist, or are explained away as not being “fully honest” or “giving entirely into the program.” Continue reading Learning to believe in the God of Alcoholics Anonymous


So, on tax day, Sen. Jim Webb, visited a couple of rehab facilities, as part of his mission to reform corrections in this country. I commend! I also wrote him a letter, because one of the places he visited was a 12-step center, and the other was a Christian center. Please go visit Jim Webb, and send him a message: congratulate him for his focus, and gently direct him toward more viable addictions rehabilitation options. -ftg

Good Drunkalog

Bonus: Not a slogan in sight.

From Cary Tennis’s March 19th Since You Asked advice column, “Sober and Boring” at Salon. An excerpt:

I crave your attention but I can’t do the old strip-tease for free. A body’s got to get paid. Truth be told I still want your whispered admiration and your secret envy of my coolness but not enough to wreck my car and go to jail for it. I have to be the boring one in the crowd of loud laughter or go down screaming to an early grave. I’ll live with that. I’m in it for the long haul now. Survival is my trump card. Survival breaks scissors, cuts paper, covers rock. My premature death lacks a certain je ne sais quoi, however amusing it might sound over Jameson and darts or a deafening Damned show where anyone skinny enough to wear all black and play guitar and shoot brown heroin in the men’s room can get on the guest list. Do the math.