Archive for the AA Is So A Religion Category

AA Sends Out Its Anonymity Letter

And Romenesko has picked up on it!

A day after a Romenesko reader noted that Roger Ebert was an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor for reporters, A.A. sent a message to journalists on its email list. It says that “our fellowship does not comment on matters of public controversy, but we are happy to provide information about A.A. to anyone who seeks it.”

Check out some of the comments.

Alcoholics Anonymous and the TABOO of the GEOGRAPHIC change.

 

 

No.

Geographical Cure (a.k.a Geographic ):
An effort to cure our alcoholism by getting a ‘fresh start’ in a new location. It doesn’t work. There is a saying around AA, ‘Wherever you go, there you are.’

I remember having about five years sober in AA and approaching my sponsor for guidance. I had done well and established a very successful business. In my success I started to look at property in an idyllic location where my family and I had always wanted to live. I had saved enough money to buy a house there for cash. My wife and I had picked out a house and were ready to make our move. Being a good AA I decided to check with my spiritual advisor and sponsor first. Much to my disappointment, he told me that it was dangerous for me to buy this house and move so far from my support group. Clearly I was brainwashed; AA and my sponsor had become my lifeline. I had such a lack of confidence in myself from working the AA program and listening to the rhetoric of the group that I was unable to stand on my own two feet. I was completely dependent on the program and fellowship. As someone who has disconnected from AA, I can look back and see what a shame this is. I see now that AA did not give me power but that it completely crippled me. I have not been living my own life but have been living the lives of others. I remember hearing how bad it was to move away from a persons AA group but never recall hearing anyone share about experiencing a move in which they drank. Members would share that if an alcoholic were to move away from their group they would drink. They would even share that subconciously it was probably an underlying reason for the move. Remember, the great obsession of every alcoholic is to drink normally.

Another factor that plays into the AA’s management of the geographic move is the God implication. Whether implied or by direction the AA seems to rely heavily on the notion that God will do for the alcoholic what he cannot do for himself. Live and let live and let go and let God would seem to directly conflict with any sponsors direction regarding a geographic change, unless of course the AA sponsor is a direct channel from God.

Bottom line; what business does any AA have meddling with the personal life choices and goals of anyone who wanders in their door?  Have you been incapacitated by a sponsor who told you not to make a geographic change?  Were you pressured to stay in your community?  This may be the place to talk about it and share opposing viewpoints so that those who are still crippled by AA can gain insight and make their own decisions.

Why We Were Chosen

Why We Were Chosen Group

Sometime in the 1980s, a meeting chairman in San Francisco gave me a wallet-sized card engraved with a portion of the text from “WHY WE WERE CHOSEN,” an eponymous speech given by Judge John T. on the fourth anniversary of Chicago’s first AA club in 1943. He said that, although GSO Conference had declined to approve the text as AA literature, the San Francisco groups had thought it such an important message that they handed it out to newcomers and visitors.

“WHY WE WERE CHOSEN” talks about drunks as prophets and saints, and places AA as a movement as important as Christianity. It’s both grandiose and inane at the same time and a real Christian might find it offensive, as Dr. Arthur H. Cain did when he called it “idolatry” in his Saturday Evening Post article. You can read both the tract and Cain’s response on Orange’s blog: http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-Why_We_Were_Chosen.html

By the time I first saw the tract, I had already heard all kinds of BS, from an aging hippie explaining that Bill Wilson’s birth was the “dawning of the Age of Aquarius,” to how AA was so “cutting edge that science was trying to catch up with it.” I considered most “Meaning of AA” proclamations as either psychobabble or Godbabble, and I thought it was harmless drivel. But, twenty years later, I got to see harmless drivel in action.

A friend asked me to speak at a “Chicago” Group here in my home state. She explained that Chicago Groups follow the 90 minute format of the groups in that city using a speaker who introduced the topic, and a chairman who “calls up” responses from the group. She didn’t particularly like the group format, because she thought the men used it to exclude women. She had been going simply because her daughter attended, and now she hoped to change the group by bringing in women speakers. She wanted me to be her first speaker, even though she wouldn’t be able to be there that night. I didn’t know what a Chicago Group was, but I liked her and I thought it would be fun. I also wanted to encourage young women.

On the day of the meeting, I got a call from a man who introduced himself as the Powerfully Recovered Alcoholic who would give me the Chicago Group speaking rules. I needed to wear a “modest” dress and make-up, to introduce myself as a “Recovered” Alcoholic, to give both my sobriety date and sponsor’s name, to not use curse words, and to limit quotations either to the first 164 pages of the Big Book or to the “Other” Big Book.

Well, okay.

When I got to the clubhouse, a young woman wearing a flowered Sister Wife dress opened the door. She was in the middle of introducing me to the other similarly dressed Sister Wives when I realized she was the daughter of my friend. Her Andrea Yates thousand-mile stare had been so flat that I hadn’t recognized her. She handed me to a faded young man in a baggy suit, unpressed tie and scuffed shoes, and then she faded into the wall.

The young man was the Powerfully Recovered chairperson. He showed me to my seat, and began to read “WHY WE WERE CHOSEN” from the podium. He was near the end of the tract when I noticed that everyone wore oversized clothes.

I picked an innocuous topic and I told the usual jokes, but I just couldn’t connect with anyone. I was the only person wearing the right size and a smile in the room. I realized that looking like a normal person might very well constitute immodesty in this crowd.

After I spoke, the Powerfully Recovered chairperson began choosing men (not women) from the audience to give short responses. The gloomy men spoke about duty and privilege, and the (nearly) cheerful men talked about their new lives. They inserted “Praise God” an average of once every 90 seconds, and thanked their tireless sponsor, who was the Powerfully Recovered chairperson.

I was glad when the meeting was over and, for the first time in AA, I did not stay and talk to the crowd. I never went back.

My friend later told me that she had gotten her daughter into therapy and that the therapy had caused her daughter to leave the group. The daughter had the divorced her husband, mainly because he lost his job because he was missing work to be at the group. He then left the group and moved back to Iowa to live with his parents. Both of them blamed the group for destroying their marriage.

The Powerfully Recovered chairperson admitted that he has twice been hospitalized for depression, and he has left the group, which shrunk from a club house to a weekly meeting.

Also, AA Members Can Fly

From a CNN interview with Philip Yancey, promoting his new book, “What Good Is God?”

CNN: What can churches learn from AA?

Yancey: Two lessons stand out sharply to me: radical honesty and radical dependence.

Alcoholics Anonymous members can spot a fraud, hypocrite, or liar the minute he or she walks in the door.  They know the only path to healing begins with a frank self-assessment of failure.

When we go to church we like to look good and gain the respect of others.  A married couple may fight all the way to church, but when they pull into the parking lot they’re all smiles, “We’re just fine, Mrs. Jones, how about you?”  You’d never get away with that at AA.

AA also forces each person to admit their dependence on God (or at least a Higher Power) and on each other.  Most AA members freely admit they could never make it on their own.  People of faith believe that, too, yet how many of us practice it as passionately as those in a twelve-step group?

Shock Us To Our Souls

[I updated the title of this post because it was grating on me. When I read this article, I thought “Now here’s a guy who wishes he weren’t too smart for AA.” He found a way to make it sound smarter.]

From The Guardian:

A Healthy Nudge? No, Shock Us to Our Souls

This is not a plea for the legalisation of street drugs, nor is it a flippant counter to vague public health measures that have been described as “window dressing” and “lacking in detail”. What I would suggest, however, is that the best method of treating alcoholism, smoking and obesity is a religious one.

The basis of Bill W’s recovery was the renewed sense of purpose that his religious experiences offered and, in his 12-step plan, he stressed the need for AA members to surrender themselves to a “higher power”. This higher power didn’t have to be a deity; what mattered was that people believed that, while they were not in control of everything, they lived in a meaningful universe. It was the classic prescription for a way out of the “age of anxiety”: if he or she wanted to survive, the recovering alcoholic or drug addict had to learn what Alan Watts calls “the wisdom of insecurity“.

The Big Book

AA Original Manuscript Reveals Debate on Religion

After being hidden away for nearly 70 years and then auctioned twice, the original manuscript by AA co-founder Bill Wilson is about to become public for the first time next week, complete with edits by Wilson-picked commenters that reveal a profound debate in 1939 about how overtly to talk about God.

(Thank you for the head’s up, Cherokeebride!)

Godpuppetry

Last year, we posted a story about Herbert Jones, a deluded 12-stepper who showed up outside of a Portland, Maine AA meeting with a sniper rifle and a load of resentment toward pedophiles. Obviously, we don’t condone his actions, but I do give him credit for his strategy. I mean, if you are deluded, and your goal is to snipe off a pedophile, randomly spraying bullets into a crowd of AAs is like shooting fish in a barrel. You’re bound to pick off at least one, maybe two.

Recently, under a plea agreement, Herbert J was sent to a mental hospital, where he will hopefully get some proper treatment. There was no disagreement between the judge, prosecutors or the defense attorney as to whether or not this guy is mentally ill. I doubt anyone reading the facts of the case would disagree. He was, after all, receiving messages directly from God, and believed that he was on a divine mission at the time of his arrest. I doubt any reasonable person, understanding the facts of the case, would disagree with the fact that this guy is deluded, and that he needs psychological help. Continue reading Godpuppetry

Over at James Randi…

There’s a thread in the forums called “Why do people insist that AA is not religious.” I thought yall might be interested.

Quiet My Imperious Urge

After a romantic dinner of Maalox and Chex Mix, you can really get down…. on your knees! Bow-chicka-bow-wow:

An Example of Pre-Sex Inventory Prayer:

“God, please help me to be free of fear as I attempt to shine the spotlight of truth across my past sex relations. Lord, please show me where my behavior has harmed others and help me to see the truth these relationships hold for me. Help me see where I have been at fault and what I should have done differently.” (From the thoughts on pg. 69)

“God, help me review my own conduct over the years pas. Show me where I have been selfish, dishonest, or inconsiderate. Show me whom I have hurt and where I have unjustifiably aroused jealousy, suspicion or bitterness. Help me to see where I was at fault and what I should have done instead. Help me to be fearless and searching in my endeavor to write my sexual inventory.” (69:1)

A Sex Prayer:

“Father, please help me mold my sex ideals and help me to live up to them. Help me be willing to grow toward my ideals and help me be willing to make amends where I have done harm. Lord, please show me what to do in each specific matter, and be the final judge in each situation. Help me avoid hysterical thinking or advice.” (69:2, 69:3)

“Father, please Grace me with guidance in each questionable situation, sanity, and strength to do the right thing. If sex becomes very troublesome, quiet my imperious urge, help me not to yield and keep me from heartache as I throw myself the harder into helping others. Help me think of their needs and help me work for them. Amen.”(69:2, 69:3, 70:2)

Here’s the link.

Quote of the Day

First off, if you don’t do the steps of course you go back out. Heck, if you don’t get a sponsor, and won’t do 90 in 90, and won’t do the steps, you were never in! How can you go back out? How can you relapse if you never attain?

When I was taken through the steps I was told that AA required constant and unending spiritual growth until I died. I was told that the character building never ends, and that I was responsible when a suffering alcoholic put out his hand for help. But much more than what I was told, it was what I was shown. My sponsor and his circle of friends were all in their late 60s, and they were 12 stepping machines. You could ask them any day what they were building in their character, and they could and did come right back with the answer of what they were working on.

My sponsor once drove through a hurricane to do a 12th step. Believe me, he wasn’t crazy, just willing. The person he went to told me that he arrived moments before the suicide. On the night he died my sponsor went out on a 12th step at 9pm, and died at 2pm. I might add that he died in his sleep, sober, serene, and loved by very many.

My sponsor was always taking people through the steps. When ever he made an assignment of any kind for a sponsee he went and did it again himself. He said he had seen too many old timers falling into telling people to do things they had long since stopped doing. This approach to serving and character building kept him constantly recycling the steps, and it caused him to apply AA principles in all his affairs.

To the best of my knowledge, all the people he sponsored are still sober. It is my intention to keep doing the actions he took, that kept him sober, and that gave him such a clean and serene end.

From a response posted yesterday on a year-old thread over at Friends of Bill called “relapse is ‘stinkin’-thinkin'”.

The original post is some bonus crazy:

We are speaking of those who are capable of being honest with themselves. Relapse is caused by a lack of spiritual development and we believe in a spiritual solution that recovery is completely and directly dependent on the integrity of the individuals spiritual program. It is not based on support groups from finite man, ((b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism..) but upon the individuals spiritual fitness- how well one “trust God, and cleans house”.