Archive for the Spirituality in AA Category

Clowns to the left of me…

AA Toronto

[UPDATE: The Friendly Atheist blog picked up the story. It’s a good blog for any of you godless creatures].

AnnaZed just found a story about a couple of secular AA groups in Toronto whose meeting schedules were purged from the local AA rosters. The groups, called Beyond Belief and We Agnostics, use an altered version of the 12 Steps, which they edited to remove all reference to God or a Higher Power in order to be more welcoming to non-believers. Toronto AA holds the position that since they changed the language, their meetings no longer qualify as AA and therefore have no place on the AA meeting list. The distilled version of Toronto AA’s explanation is that God is central to recovery. If you take God out, it’s not AA.

Continue reading Clowns to the left of me…

4 Reasons Why AA is Religious

4 Reasons Why AA is Religious and Not Spiritual

I’m not going to pretend that I don’t know the difference between religious and spiritual. I know what people mean when they make that distinction. By spiritual, they mean something like a deep, unmediated connection to the universe and a sense of their place in it. And by religious they mean a that this connection to the universe has been corrupted by human mediation and codification.

I’m also not making a judgment about whether or not spirituality is real or correct – if you’re religious (and object to AA on the grounds that it betrays your beliefs), you shouldn’t take offense to my definitions. I’m just saying that I know what people mean, I’m going use that universal understanding to say why AA is not spiritual, but religious.

Continue reading 4 Reasons Why AA is Religious

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“.

Father Sam

[I’m re-posting AnnaZed’s comment from the Big Day for AA thread. –ftg]


by AnnaZed

Well, this IS a special day in AA history, not because of the knife murder (those are probably more common than one might think) or the two-DUIs-in-one-day Canadian AA member lady who won’t do a day in jail (though she is special), but because Father Sam’s AA get out of jail free card on charges of stealing millions of dollars from his treatment facility in Akron, Ohio is like none I have ever seen or conceived of.

Here’s a little puff piece on his “Bethlehem in Akron” known as Interval Brotherhood Home or IBH (seriously, that’s disgusting and I’m not even a Christian):

I have been doing a little reading up on the good father, and wow (I mean WOW) I can’t believe what I am Continue reading Father Sam

The Evolution of Jeremiah [updated]

Update 2: “Removal” has been removed and Stinkin’ Thinkin’ was disappeared from TEoJ — it’s like it never happened.

Update: “Removal


This week, DeConstructor linked to a stunningly bigoted article on Christian Wire, for the purpose of drawing a comparison between the type of theological nonsense and pseudoscience that passes for reason and research among AAs and the anti-gay homobigots.

In response, SoberPJ found a post on The Evolution of Jeremiah, which he found relevant to the topic, and linked to it in the comments. Since I was away, I didn’t get a chance to see the post he linked to, or the comments left there by our readers, because Jeremiah Andrews deleted the linked post.

Not only did he delete the linked post, but he had some choice words for us, and dedicated a post to Stinkin’ Thinkin’, called “Stinking Thinking“, which is comprised of a giant picture down the barrel of a gun, a cut/paste of our about page, a lot of “fuck you”s and “fuck off”s, and a threat of legal action if we don’t “cease and desist.” He also left us a serenity bomb in the comments section of DeConstructor’s post.

Since we have been disinvited from commenting on Jeremiah’s blog, I will respond to him here:

Jeremiah Andrews, you can put your Serenity Gun down. You’ll notice, if you read the original post, that it is not about you or your blog. One of our members found a post on your blog relevant to the topic at hand, and provided a link. You might also notice that the comments on the thread in question are about the Christian Wire article; not about you. Regardless, linking to someone’s public blog is not an actionable offense, nor is commenting on a blog — nor is criticizing someone’s public work.

(What is potentially actionable is posting a picture of a gun aimed at the camera, under which you provide someone’s contact information. )

There has been no attack launched against you. All that happened is that someone linked to your blog from here. Maybe you got a couple of comments you didn’t like. That’s not an attack. That’s just one of the hazards of publishing your work in a public venue: people will disagree, and people will link. The good news is that you are free to moderate your comments and to block links from Stinkin’ Thinkin’ (you didn’t have to delete your post — you could have just blocked the link and deleted the comment/s). You are the master of your domain.

I can guarantee you, though, that we have no interest in storming your blog — not because of your legal threat, which is silly, nor because your serenity seems just a wee bit unstable — but because we don’t storm blogs, and because we’re clearly not welcome on your blog.

(However, now that we are aware that you are a whackjob — a fact I was unaware of until I saw your Serenity Bomb and your gun barrel — we might check in on what you’re up to time and again.)

Nearly the credibility of 12 step “research”

Here is an article that includes a list of things for wives to look into regarding the sexual orientation of their husbands.

It looked quite a bit like the “research” that is done by apologists for the AA faith as they attempt to proclaim the drug induced prophecies of William Griffith Wilson to be empiricle scientific fact.

Included is the line “Drawing on the expertise of spiritual and medical professionals”

Also included in the article is “Same-sex experimentation is also connected to drug or alcohol abuse.”

Hmmm. I spent quite a bit of my life very drunk, and same-sex experimentation never did sound like something I might be interested in.

I will admit that drug and alcohol abuse may lead to some not particularly bright ideas sometimes including power tools, mis-use of electrical appliances, culinary disasters, fireworks, dazzling dancing and karaokee performances, and in certain cases bad haircuts (but that is  another story).

Perhaps another case of the need to keep science and religion separated.

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.

What Would Plate Tectonics Do? Spiritual vs Religious Double-Plus-Redux

I don’t know how I found myself standing in front of the stack of unopened Grapevines this morning. And I don’t know why they keep sending them to me, since my subscription ran out long ago. And I don’t know what possessed me to pick up that specific issue and tear off the black plastic porn wrapper. All I know is that it happened, and it was a miracle.

Who moved?

If God seems far away, guess who moved!

When I looked at the cover of the April issue and saw that the theme was “Getting Spiritual,” I just had to drop to my knees in amazement – there are no coincidences in AA! If I’d been playing God with my own life this morning, I might have just done my taxes.

(OK. Gah! I can’t keep that up. No wonder AA has such a miserable retention rate.)

Now, then! This issue of Grapevine is devoted to the distinction between Religious and Spiritual, and it just proves everything all of us here have ever thought or said about AA. Not only that, but it puts an end to this interminable argument.

First thing: The foundation of AA is bald contradiction, and for that reason, it requires faith or suspension of disbelief. There’s a good reason for slogans such as “Ain’t nobody too dumb for AA, but plenty are too smart,” and “Don’t think. Don’t Drink. And go to meetings” and “My best thinking got me here,” and “Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth,” and “Let go and let God,” and “The alcoholic’s mind is like a bad neighborhood: Don’t go there alone,” and etc. The good reason is simply that AA makes no freakin’ sense.

And this is not a point of contention – I don’t think – between us muckrakers and the AA faithful. There’s not much to be gained in arguing with religionists by telling them that they make no sense, because they take that fact as a point of pride and as evidence of their having “got it” – and, even better, of our not having “got it.” We don’t agree on much, but we agree on that.

But this agreement leads, naturally, to another question, a more important contradiction, which actually is a point of contention: Is AA an alcoholism recovery program or a road map to spiritual awakening, of which sobriety is just a benefit? Do you go to AA to get sober, or do you go there to get God? Continue reading What Would Plate Tectonics Do? Spiritual vs Religious Double-Plus-Redux

That’s not A.A.

“That’s not A.A.” is one of those Unofficial, Unoffical AA Slogans. I use the word twice because AA members claim that their official slogans are not official AA slogans. The unofficial, unofficial ones are the ones that are just as common as the regular unofficial ones, but that you will never see on a bumper sticker.

The comments in the post below reminded me of this “That’s Not AA” slogan, and also reminded me of a post I read last night on PZ Myers’ blog, Pharyngula, which is a  back-and-forth with Andrew Sullivan, who is a gay Catholic man who is married (no, not to a woman) and writes for The Atlantic. He often blogs about the distinction between true Christians and Christianists (and it almost makes sense, until PZ gets ahold of it). Continue reading That’s not A.A.