Moment of Clarity
I am a snow bird in Fl attending over 300+ meetings annually for a few years. I am curious as to the defination of "a member of the group" and who is included and how one joins. I do have a sponsor in each location and have a home group. I do attend the monthly business meetings where all are welcome,speak,chair,greet, participate,sponsor,etc. Thank you, Don
In my experience and the third tradition, you're an AA member if you say you are, and your home group(s) are your home group(s) if you say they are as well. There are no qualifications or approvals to be met other than the desire to stop drinking... and to be a "part of"
I had turned to drinking/ drugs so early in life that I didn't learn to let the shock of a problem move through me and subside long enough to realize that it wasn't the end of the world. I had forgotten how to function without it. Oddly enough the challenges that used to turn me to escape now strengthen my resolve & run me away from danger. My former "fiancee"(5 years) wouldn't accept my new found strenghts and was really close to inspiring a relapse by seeing my former old helpless 1st step person when I may look the same but I'm different. He'd say go run out and get drunk, that's what you do, thanks to the 2nd step, No, I don't! Thank you very much, AA! I'm not the helpless victim, & I haven't been for 1 year and 2 1/2 months. I know that I can still be tempted but I distance myself from those who need me in a state that's easier to control or more comfortable to them for whatever reason. The urge to show him & prove the newer, healthier me is being replaced by the desire to be the newer & better person. And, of course, the desire to help someone else's recovery.
I have been quite pleasantly surprised by something that was hurled as an insult becoming a moment of clarity in the end of a strange realationship that was just as self-destructive as drinking.
Today, I don't automatically drink & for me it's escape from a horrible trap.
Re-reading the chapter Working With Others, reminded me that instead of "You should read the Big Book", I need to be saying "Myself, I read the Big Book, all of it." So I read it. What did I think, the last 411 pages were for, people who needed more fiber in their diet?
Putting together the information from the AA pioneers stories,
I saw clearly what I'm "Entitled" to.
The AA message.
A town the size of Chicago or a country the size of Canada to carry it to.
For thousands of years alcoholics didn't have that. They had insanity, institutions, death. The message came only 14 years before I was born and only 44 years before I needed it. I found it in minutes a few blocks from my home, a long way from Akron.
I don't believe I'm "Entitled" to a meeting free of chanting, non approved literature, the right brand of sugar substitute, dust motes in the corner....
If I'm not "Entitled" to something I not getting, I really have no business feeling angry about it or not being able to impose MY WILL on those who HAVE IT ALL WRONG. I think I do my part keeping the group close to the AA ideal as I understand it. I think that's what I'm supposed to do.
I'm grateful that I get infinitely more than I'm entitled to.
I do believe that I am entitled to attend an A.A. meeting
without all the chanting,shouting,hooting and hollering.
We look like idiots in the eyes of the public. Bill
warned us many times about the value of a favorable
public image. It took a lot of time and effort, but
today I have a chant-free meeting to go to almost every day.
Occasionally a member will chant, but soon hears how
stupid it sounds. We don't even have to point it out. ANONYMOUS
I think you are too. I guess I’ve been fortunate in finding good meetings for 33 years. From Thunder Bay, Ontario to Pascagoula, Mississippi, from Gulf Coast Florida to the high desert country of western Colorado and close to a dozen ships at sea I’ve never herd any hooting or hollering. None. Chanting? Maybe three seconds of “It works if you work it”. Although I don’t join it doesn’t come close to reaching my resentment threshold and if it did, nobody elected me Grand High Poobah to lord over every second of every meeting. Thank God they didn’t, come to think of it.
For the poor fellow who reported all the chanting and hooting, I’m glad you found your way out of the Hare Krishna Temple or witches coven you were stuck in.
Thanks for your comments. If you have time, reread chapter 7. Take careful notice of the change from we ought to you in chapter 7. Especially read page 95 - ask him to read this book......and so on. I have counted at least 40 times in the big book where it refers to the book, asks u to read it or asks you to ask someone else to read it.
Campfire meeting, a gathering of clean and sober bikers in the western Colorado desert.
A line from page 45
"Its (Big Book's) main object is to enable you find a Power greater than yourself that will solve your problem."
About a dozen years sober before I heard it and now close to two dozen after and it's still the most powerful thought in all of Alcoholics Anonymous. I find a Higher power, the Higher power solves the problem. I no longer need to hammer square pegs through round holes. I'm freely given pegs that fit the holes.
Moment of Clarity is when I discovered there was a God and "WE" were not it !!
Two weeks ago I was at a meeting I normally don’t attend. I don’t recall the exact topic, but the discussion was mostly centered around the big book and AA literature. The last person to share said something I have never heard in an AA meeting until now. He said “When AA started they didn’t have the big book or literature, If they didn’t need then I don’t either”.
I thought,” to each his own”. That comment made me think something I have never thought in the 20 years I’ve been in AA. I wondered how many times in the big book does it suggest reading or using the book? I meditated on that question for awhile. I started at the front cover of the 4th edition of the big book. Before I got to page 1, I counted 10 references to reading or reasons for the book. From pages 17-164 I counted another 30 references to using the book or volume. That’s 40 references to why we have literature, suggestions to read the big book, suggestions to use the book for 12 stepping, suggestions to the wives, families, and employers of alcoholics to read and use the big book. There were a few other references to the book in different contexts. Nonetheless 40 references to the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”! I’ll take that number as a suggestion from the founders of AA that the big book is an important volume and should be used in my personal recovery!
Yes, I did have some free time during my winter break from work.
Good luck to you all in your recovery!
About 3 months ago I visited a town about 40 miles from my home. While there I got a chance to do something that I really enjoy, attending an AA meeting in a new town. I checked the local schedule and found a big book meeting that I could attend.
During the beginning of the meeting, as part of the meeting format, the group read Richmond Walker’s 24 hour book. My heart sank a little. I thought I was at a big book meeting not a Hazeldon meeting. After a few minutes the meeting started and it was good.
When it was my turn, I had a few words to say, although it was difficult. I said, I have never been to this meeting before, I am from out of town and may never return. I would like to mention that I am aware that each AA group is autonomous, however that the 24 hour book is not AA conference approved literature. Also our general service conference “suggests” that we only display or sell AA literature in our AA meetings. The conference also felt it was best to use AA materials that align with AA principals. I also brought up that Richmond had offered the book to AA in the early fifties. It was declined partially do to it’s religious tone. The book was offered to AA again in 1972 and declined again. I offered to forward an email sent to me from GSO describing the facts I had mentioned.
On Saturday my daughter had a basketball game in that same town. As it worked out, I was able to attend that same big book meeting before her game. The 24 hour book was read from again to start the meeting. I felt my heart sink again. This time, the chairperson called a group conscience just before the start of the meeting. He asked why are we reading a book produced my hazeldon in an AA meeting. A short discussion followed with a motion to no longer use the 24 hour book in conjunction with that meeting.
Afterward I thanked the chairperson for what he had done. He said that he recognized me from months earlier and we left it at that.
I have learned once again that it is my responsibility as an older member of AA to share my experience, strength, and hope, even if it may be unpopular. As long as I am honest and have motives that stand up to the four absolutes, I should usually be ok.
About seven years ago I went to a meeting in Northern Virginia where I was told that they no longer allow the
24 hr book to be read in their rooms. I was livid! How
dare they ban a book which I had carried in my back
pocket for 35 years. I knew that it was not conference
approved, but I always felt that Bill W. didn't accept
it because it wasn't his work.
Let this be my apology to our co-founder. I simply
did not understand the real reasons for Bill's refusal to
allow this book to be an official part of Alcoholics
Anonymous. The book contains a vast amount of great
material for alcoholics.
To read this book aloud at meetings places the
"cart before the horse". We do not want to try
to cram this information down the throats of our
members, new or old.
This book "must" be removed from all A.A. meeting
rooms. This is one of my favorite books, but it ought
not be allowed in meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous.
The reading of this book at meetings has led us
to becoming some new type of religion. Bill wrote
that nothing could be so damaging to A.A. than for
it to become another religion. The reading of HIW and
the 24hr book aloud at meetings has driven hundreds of
thousands of suffering alcoholics from our rooms. No,
I have no scientific research. Only my observations
and GSO's membership numbers. ANONYMOUS
To my knowledge the 24 hr book was not "offered" to
Alcoholics Anonymous in 1972. It was only offered once
in the early 1950's. In 1972 enough members wanted the
24 hr book approved to bring it up for a vote. The
members at that time wanted the conference to approve
the book. It was being widely used and accepted by the
members and the groups. Thank God there were enough
votes to deny approval. Today I am convinced that it
would be approved, and by a large majority, although
there would be no financial gain.
Personally I never understood why Bill W. and his
friends refused the book in the first place. Today I
do understand, and it frightens me that it is so
widely accepted and used in meetings. ANONYMOUS
Corey, I have a couple of questions. 1. If the meeting you
attended were an open discussion topic meeting, would
you have objected to the reading of the 24hr book. 2. If
our General Service Conference approved the book (this may
be closer than you think) would it then be OK to use?
I see the reading of the 24hr book and the reading
of "how it works" aloud at meetings to be in contrast
to how to carry the message. This custom ignores Dr.
Silkworth's advice to Bill W. in the spring of 1935.
Bill writes that without this advice A.A. could never
have been born. If we keep ignoring that advice A.
A. is doomed. Read that history. Investigate please.
Chanting and today's concept of sponsorship make us
a cult. Reading the 24hr book and How it Works aloud
at meetings make us a religion. We were never meant to be either, a cult or religion. Today much of the general
public view us as a strange religious cult. A recent
poster wrote that one of the frequent questions asked
of GSO Is A.A. a cult? ANONYMOUS
I might be just a little thick tonight but I fail to understand how reading HIW at our meetings makes AA a religion. Can anyone explain the logic of that statement?
Thanks for your your help and wish all of you another 24 hours.
Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religion, never has been
and never will be. But our fellowship has become so much
like a religion that it is treated as a religion by our
court system. The next time you hear "How it Works" being
read loud and clear at an A.A. meeting ask yourself: Is
this much like a church service? Are we not cramming the
steps and God down everyone's throat. According to Bill W.
that is not the best way to reach the suffering alcoholic
at the depth necessary for recovery. Please read the Grapevine article Bill wrote for the September 1945 issue
of the AA Grapevine. "Rules' Dangerous but Unity Vital,
page 6 in The Language of the Heart.
The decades of the 1960's, 1970's and 1980's were years
of tremendous growth in A.A. membership. Ought we not
return to A.A. to the way it was in those years. I saw
the changes, heard them with my own ears and now have
seen the results of those changes. Most other members
who observed them have simply walked away or have
passed away. A.A. will eventually become effective again
or it will die. I just want it to be restored to an
effective solution to alcoholism before we lose another
generation. We have not only ruined A.A. Other fellowships
are following our lead and soon they also will be
You are one of the few who will ever be willing to
continue to investigate until you understand what I am
talking about. You will get there. I am just trying
to fast-forward by sounding the alarm, repeatedly. ANONYMOUS
I am getting very tired of all the gloom & doom talk, that AA will not be around for the next generation. I came in to the fellowship in the early 80's and how it works was read at my first meeting and has been read at every meeting all these many years. No one that I have every seen has forced any idea on to any new person. Have you ever heard the saying take what you want and leave the rest?" That does take some work on our part to discern what we believe and what we don't. The program also calls for us to get to know ourselves better and how we can interact with our personal Higher Power on a helpful level and how we can help the still suffering drunk. AA is a spiritual program not a religious one. Lets spend our time to better uses that such negative " The sky is falling " crap.
Hope you enjoy this sober day we have all been given; I plan to! I also plan to attend a meeting tonight and will think of you while How It Works is being read!
Harsh. AA is neither a cult nor a religion. Sticking to GSO approved literature is the group conscience of AA as expressed through our trusted leaders. AA is doing fine.
"A.A. is neither a cult or a religion." In a video produced
in 1999 for public television this question was asked. "Is
Alcoholics Anonymous some kind of religious cult? This
video was titled "Inside Alcoholics Anonymous". Whether
we admit or not A.A. has become a strange religious cult. The public sees it. New alcoholics aproaching us soon see
what we have become. We have become what we vowed never
to become. Bill W. warned us many times about the mistakes
we might make. We have made practically all of them.
If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it
probably is a duck. From the inside, A.A. appears to be "alive and well". But stand back and take a good look.
We have been "spinning our wheels", stagnant, for two
decades now. Pride and EGO, dogma and distortion are
pushing suffering human beings, from what may be their
last attempt to quit drinking themselves to misery and
early death. That is what I would call "Harsh".
We have a method, technique, gadget which rarely
fails, but we have pushed that solution aside, trying
to do it our own way. Again Page 70 in Alcoholics Anonymous
Comes of Age offers that vital information. ANONYMOUS
Good questions, I’ll try not to botch my answer too much! To answer question 1. Yes, I would and do object. When I attend a meeting that reads the 24 book, I state my case and share some facts and leave it at that. In my location, which I like to refer to as treatment centerville (ha ha) all but three meetings use the 24 hour book during the meeting format. All but one (my home group) read how it works to start the meeting. As a relative old timer (20+ years sober), I feel a responsibility to suggest groups not use non aa material as part of the meeting. That being said I will answer question 2. We need to remember that each group is indeed autonomous. What each group conscience chooses to use in their format is up to them. I need to keep in mind tradition 2. If GSO ever did approve the 24 hour book, I will eat my shoe. It was turned down because of it’s religious tone and I don’t see how AA could ever approve a book that Hazeldon prints.
As Always, I enjoy these discussions,
Corey in Mn.
Thanks again Corey for your input. I enjoy reading your comments and it gives me encouragement that I am not alone in my concerns for the future of AA.
It is not just the reading of non-approved AA literature due to its religious content that gives me concern. There are many other religious aspects present at most AA meetings which I believe are equally damaging.
Our preamble states, “AA is not allied with any sect or denomination”. Reality falls far short of this objective. Religion is offensive to agnostics, atheists and non-religious members. We live in a pluralistic society where meetings should reflect only spiritual values.
Due to AA religious practices many professionals and the general public hesitate to recommend us. Many practicing alcoholics believe AA is a religious cult and refuse to seek our help.
Groups holding meetings in churches fail to state they only rent the meeting rooms adding to the belief (especially with newcomers and visitors) that AA is a religious organization affiliated with many churches.
Sadly, the Lord’s Prayer, a Christian prayer, is used to close most meetings. Religious prayers, prayer circles, chanting, religion bashing and Bible quoting are frequent practices, seen and heard, that contradict our tenet of being only a spiritual program.
Newcomers arrive at our doors sick, lonely, and resentful towards God and religion. They leave after experiencing too much of either. The last thing a newcomer needs is a religious member trying to convert them at an AA meeting.
AA unity, growth and recovery rates depend on retaining spiritual principals while eliminating all religious aspects found in our meetings. What we do and say in meetings must follow the principals laid out in our traditions, Blue Card and Preamble.
These practices have been getting worse over my 23 years of sobriety. IMO religion is one of the main issues that threatens the unity and survival of our life saving and life giving fellowship.
I pray that the majority of AA members and groups begin to accept these problems exist and become willing to take some action to turn things around.
Let’s keep the spiritual and get rid of the religion in AA. There really is a difference IMO!
GSO will never approve this little black book. They do not
have that power, any means to do so. The 21 trustees could
possibly render it approved. They have absolute power.
It is the fellowship, represented by our delegates,
which will eventually approve the 24 hr book. And I believe
it is closer than you think. The membership has already
made the book a part of A.A.. It has already been
accepted by most of our membership. You say "all but 3
of your local meetings use it." Most of the meetings
in my area use it. Why not just make it "legal". This
could be accomplished by the General Service Conference.
Out of 134 voting members, if the majority approves,
it will be Conference Approved Literature.
I believe that this action would be a tragic blunder.
But the blunder has already been made by our religious
members. But we need to investigate and understand why
this book was rejected in the first place. Confused??
Did you know that Bill W. and his friends rejected the
24hr book in the early 1950's, even though they must have
realized that it was and is a real money maker. A.A. could
have owned the book with all the profits.
I am convinced that if that same offer was made today,
the 24hr book would be accepted wholeheartedly.
The Daily Reflections book which is an A.A. approved
book. This accepted book is a conference approved version
of the 24hr. book. By 1990 the A.A. religion had already
In 1972, there were enough members who wanted the 24hr
book accepted to bring it to the conference, without
the possibility of any financial gain. That frightens
me. Try to understand what I am trying to say. A.A.
has become a strange religious cult and much of the
public sees that. New members approaching us see it.
It is only the current cult members who do not see it,
and refuse to even investigate.
You are sober two decades. At two decades I fought
"tooth and nail" to keep the 24hr book in my meetings.
You already have a glimpse of the problem. It took
me another fifteen years to open my closed mind. I
believe today that the acceptance of the 24 hour
book into A.A. was one of our worst blunders ever.
When I finally understood why the 24hr book was
rejected, it became clear why the reading of "How
it Works" aloud from the podium is so harmful to
the effectiveness of our fellowship.
Thanks for your devoted service. ANONYMOUS
You write that your home group does not read "How it Works".
How do you stand on that format? I truly believe that the
reading of HIW aloud at meetings is one of the worst mistakes we have ever made in Alcoholics Anonymous. That
reading in addition to the 24hr book has led our fellowship
down the religious path. Bill warned us about turning A.A.
into a new type of religion. We have done just that. Even
with that we do save some souls. But the theme of attraction
rather than promotion offers wholesale recovery for the
Study Bill W.'s initial attempts at helping alcoholics.
He was using the HIW, 24hr book approach. Sure, neither of
those had been written, but that was the approach Bill was
using. No alcoholic responded to that method.
Bill W., using advice from Dr Silkworth, developed
a different method, technique, method, gadget which
has been effective in most cases. Study the "cart before
the horse idea". Bill writes many times in our literature.
Read page 70 in A.A.C.A. Bill tells us how to carry
the A.A. message. It may be difficult to understand.
A friend recently came up to me and said: Now I
understand what you have been trying to tell us. He
had been reading some of the messages from Language of
the Heart. This unique way of carrying the message may
seem a bit unusual but it works almost every time.
In 1972, I would have voted to accept the 24hr book
as approved literature. Today the fact that enough
A.A. members wanted it to bring it the conference
level in 1972 frightens me. But regardless, the 24hr has been widely accepted by our membership, but I won't ask
you to eat the shoe. ANONYMOUS
How do I stand on the how it works format? Personally I think the language is strong for a newcomer. I also believe in tradition 2 and 4. Each group should follow it’s own conscience and I should respect that if I am in compliance with tradition 4.
That being said, if you read Working with Others, on page 95 it says if he is interested and wants to see you again, ask him to read this book in the interval. So as you can see, AA suggest you read the big book from the get go, and any newcomer will be reading how it works when they get to page 58. The cart before the horse idea should be employed during that first meeting, in my opinion.
My home group is relatively small. It is a big book meeting. Each week we read where we left off the last week until we go through the first 164 pages, then start over. If we have a newcomer, we read the first couple pages of more about alcoholism and discuss that.
I feel if we are reading out of the big book, we won’t stray to far off course. I am well aware of the “cart before the horse”. That is what the Dr.s Opinion , Bill’s story, and More About Alcoholism is for.
Thank you and God bless you,
We had a local meeting about ten years ago, a Big Book
noon meeting, where we read just the stories. We did not
even read the first 164 pages. Thinking about it now, I
wonder "What were we thinking?".
I don't know the location, but Bill W. wrote that we
ought not underestimate the value of the stories in the
Today at local meetings, we read the book beginning
to end, every page. I personally believe the stories
are as important as the first 164 pages.
I also love the book Experience, Strength, and Hope,
the collection of stories deleted from editions I II&III.
Identification is vital to recovery for most of us.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a spiritual fellowship. Few
alcoholics get sober using the mechanical TWELVE STEP
PROGRAM approach. Some but not many. ANONYMOUS
Yes, I agree the stories are important for identification. I have been to meetings where only the stories in the big book are read. I had the feeling the group was avoiding the program while enjoying the fellowship.
Including the forwards in the begining of the 4th edition, there are 196 pages. If we cover about 8 pages per meeting we can read the unchanged portion of our book of experience twice a year during our meeting. If we read the entire book during the meeting, we would have to cover 23 pages per meeting the cover the book in a year. Our group conscience decided to stick with the first 164.
In regards to the story section of the book, there is some great history in AA Comes of Age. I can't remember the exact page, however Bill W said that of the 28 stories in the back of the book,15 never drank again, 8 drank and returned to stay sober, and 5 drank and never came back. If you have time, a revealing exercise is to identify the stories removed from the first addition and replaced in the second. I am no rocket scientist, but I'll bet the stories removed from the first addition and not included in the second edition are likely the drinkers.
If anyone can remember the page this information is on in AA comes of age please respond.
You are 100% right that few alcoholics "GET" sober by using the 12 steps. Most alcoholics need to use the 12 steps to "STAY" sober and emotionally balanced. I like the sentence in the big book on the bottom of page 82, " We feel a man is unthinking when he says that sobriety is enough.
Thanks again for the discusion topics, good luck to you in your sobriety and God bless you,
Corey, I don't especially like the sentence in the big book
on the bottom of page 82, "We feel a man is unthinking when
he says sobriety is enough." Looking up the definition of
sobriety, I am satisfied that sobriety is enough. "Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics
to achieve sobriety." Sobriety is our goal. Anything else
is icing on the cake. Did Bill mean that just not drinking
is not enough? That I would agree with. ANONYMOUS
Another great book (also my opinion) is "Experience,
Strength and Hope", a conference approved book, published
in conjunction with the Fourth edition of the Big Book.
This book contains all the stories deleted from the
first, second and third edition of the Big Book. It
is available at a very low price.
When Bill first introduced the traditions to the membership by way of the Grapevine,
He wrote that we have no "musts" in A.A. Some members say there are as many as fifty
"musts" in the big book. Bill explained that the big book and the steps were meant to
be suggestive only. He wrote in the big book that more would be revealed, that the book
was meant to be suggestive only. The steps are defined as suggestive only. Most A.A. members
today have no real understanding of what suggestive means, or what is meant by
suggestion. To tell an alcoholic to do something or they are going to die is far
from being a suggestion. ANONYMOUS
When we say there are no musts or requirements to sobriety, we are full of intelectual pride and classic alcoholic rationalizations.
If i am to get or stay sober, i must not drink.
Our requiement is that we must be convinced that a life run on selfwill cannot be a success.
For me today to say there are no musts in AA is a deadly lie. I have seen more alcoholics drink and die by being mislead to beleive an alcoholic can continue to be selfish and selfcentered and live.
I am writing from experience. when i worked the program my way, i couldnt't stay sober. When i tried to do what the big book described as a program of recovery, I got sober and have stayed that way since,God willing.
What do you suppose Bill W. meant when he wrote in
an article for the December 1947 issue of the A.A.
Grapevine: Alcoholics Anonymous has no "musts". You can
find it in Language of the Heart, Page 76.
Do you think Bill was full of intellectual pride
and classic rationalizations?
I believe there are certain things I must personally
do, or not do, in order to get sober and remain sober.
But I do understand why there are no "musts" for
membership in A.A. I would hardly call it a deadly
We do not make any demands on any alcoholic coming into
Alcoholics Anonymous. A desire to get well is the only
requirement. We only share how we got sober and end it!
If we are attractive enough maybe they will want what
we have and will be, or eventually become, willing to
do what we did, as described in the Big Book. If we
display spiritual pride and EGO, without any humility
the suffering alcoholic will leave and may never come
back. See page 199 in "As Bill Sees It", and read the
related articles. Bill explains it better than I have
done here. ANONYMOUS
I get the impression you like as bill see’s it. Have a look at page 273. It says: The life if each AA and of each group is built around our twelve steps and twelve traditions. We know that the penalty for extensive disobedience to these principles is death for the individual and dissolution for the group. But an even greater force for aa’s unity is our compelling love for our fellow members and for our principals.
When the work on that book began, It was meant to be
a daily reader. The A.A. Way of Life was the origional
title. I personally believe that the book was meant to
be a substitute for the 24hr book. I question why this
new book was never completed. If it had 365 or 366 dated
pages, it could be a true daily reader. It is an idea
which could easily be accomplished. Simply add the day
by day date and add the additional thirty some pages.
When the book was published it was not a very good
seller. Some attributed it to the title, so the title
was changed to "As Bill Sees It". I believe the reason
for poor sales was that the book was never finished.
Bill W. was old and ill, and time ran out.
I have a deep respect for all of Bill W.'s writings.
Collectively they offer a solution to the age old
dilemma of alcoholism. I needed to hear and understand
the whole story. Taken in bits and pieces his work
is sometimes impossible to understand and apply.. Bill often wrote material, and later explained it again as more had been revealed. Bill was a human being with flaws. He made mistakes. I think he covered that with "we are not saints."
Note: Some southern groups follow that with "WHAT IS THE POINT?"
The one point I would wholeheartedly agree on is this:
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly
followed our path. Very few alcoholics stay sober in
A.A. today so why do I contradict myself? It is not
the newcomer who is not following the path. It is
today's prideful A.A. member. ANONYMOUS
Interesting what you say about no demands then the requirement in tradition 3. Sounds like talking out of both sides of our mouth.
I see demands everyday in aa liturature and meetings. anonymity, singleness of purpose, give it away to keep it, we must or it kills us, God makes that possible,any life run on self will cannot be a success,non-alcoholics cannot be aa members, share experience, strenght and hope,once an alcoholic always an alcoholic,if we skip this step we may not overcome drinking, abandon yourself to God as you understand God, admit your faults to Him and your fellows, Half measures avail us nothing, ect.
It's hard not to think we make no demands on newcomers when meditating on this last paragraph.
We must give it away to keep it. If we don't try to give
away the gift so freely given us, we may lose that gift
ourselves. To me that gift is life itself.
But in order to transfer the gift, we must (there's that
word again) follow specific directions. The directions may
sound strange. We must never tell any alcoholic what they
must do. Most alcoholics have a rebellious nature. One
of the steps describes us as being emotionally sensitive
and grandiose. Defiant brats.
Again, we do not tell any alcoholic what to do or
what they must do.(in theory). Leave that job up to the Big Book and God. Attraction, not promotion. If we just share
exactly what happened to us, and our own house is in order,
we will rarely fail. If we display spiritual pride and
arrogance, we will rarely succeed.
If you have trouble understanding this concept you are
not alone. Dr. William Silkworth worked intensively with
alcoholics for 20 years until he stumbled upon the "IDEA"
while working with Bill W. Very few alcoholics recovered. Most of today's A.A. members have no idea what that IDEA is. Dr. Silkworth simply called it the "cart before the horse", idea. If we can study, understand and obey that
idea, we can restore the effectiveness of our fellowship.
If we stubbornly refuse to even acknowledge that a problem
exists, Alcoholics Anonymous is doomed.
The saddest part is that we could stumble along,
"spinning our wheels" for several more decades, appearing
to be successful, all the while failing hundreds of
thousands of suffering human beings every year. God gave
us a special technique, through these two men. Bill W.
and Dr Silkworth. This method rarely fails. ANONYMOUS
I absolutely do believe Bill W was full of intellectual pride and alcoholic rationalizations. If he wasn't to one degree or another, he would hardly be alcoholic.
Like you said, you belive personally there are certain things you must do for sobriety. I agree 100%.
I feel when we say there are no musts, we mean there is no way to enforce our musts or requirements. Each member must decide for themselves if they want to live or die.
Bill also said there are two authorities in AA. One benign and one malign. One is God waiting for you to do his will and the other is alcohol saying if you don't do God's will I will kill you.
If I want to live, I am required to take or not take certain actions. AA's have no way of impossing those requirements on anyone but ourselves.
Good job, Corey - nice and simple -
All members must decide for themselves if they want to
live or die. But to carry our message of recovery to the suffering alcoholic, we do not tell them that they have to decide.
Attraction, not Promotion. If we are good examples, they
will want what we have. How could anyone refuse a new
life when it is offered? The God of my understanding
gave me free will. We must offer the suffering alcoholic
approaching us that same freedom.
You have some good messages. I hope you have the time
and energy to continue for a long time. Hopefully you
can find more information in A.A. Comes of Age, and
The Language of the Heart. Study those books and learn
the A.A. history. They offer information vital to the future
of A.A. It took me 35 years to get involved and somewhat educated.Please don't wait that long. ANONYMOUS
PS: We have no way of imposing any requirements on
anyone but ourselves: Let's stop trying!!
Does everything happen for a reason? I am not an attorney and do not claim to be any kind of expert on copyrights. I have always believed that the loss of the copyright to the book
Alcoholics Anonymous was to some measure a tragedy. Today I see the loss as a defining moment
in our fellowship, in regard to our seventh tradition of self support. That is, supporting
ourselves at all levels without any money from outside our AA membership, actually refusing
outside contributions, always. Bill W. certainly was crushed when John D. Rockefeller refused
to give AA large sums of money. It was not Bill W., but Rockefellow who gave birth to our
tradition of self support.
In the early years Bill and Dr. Bob needed the income from the Big Book, in order to devote
full time attention to developing our fellowship. Without the
Big Book income, Bill would have had to find a job. Dr. Bob could
not have treated those thousands of men and women in his remaining
The General Service Board was given full ownership of the BB
in 1942. If we had not lost the copyright and had maintained full
absolute control of the book, our trustees would be able to fund our
NY operation with profits from the book. If necessary the price
could be raised to $30 each. I would guess that the books are
printed at $2.00. Our AA members would not even have to
"participate" at all. But with the loss of the copyright, and
competition from other publishers, we have to keep our price
within reason, along with other publishers.
What a blessing. The book is easily affordable by all. Plus
the AA membership is compelled to pay for services and
"participate". What a wonderful design. What a wonderful
Designer. I hope this makes sense. ANONYMOUS
I am disappointed by the lack of response to this article by ANONYMOUS. I think it deserves discussion. Rose
How GSO ever lost control of their lifeline I do not know but I see it as God's will.I just hope other's who publish the BB do not make changes like the AAWS did in Dr Bob's Nightmare-which ws a real nightmare.
I recall comments about slight changes in the doctor's
story from the third to the fourth edition. Could you
explain what changes were made. Do you know if we still
hold the copyright on the stories in the third edition.
I know that we lost the ownership of the first 164 pages
somewhere along the way. I understand that some of the
wording on the dust cover of the third edition was
changed by "someone". "Someone Else" recently tried to get that change reversed. I don't think they were very successful. I found that fellowship in the
third edition evolved into Fellowship in the fourth
edition. Shucks, says someone. What difference could
that POSSIBLY make? ANONYMOUS.
It seems to me that your posting is more severely caustic, scathing than anything I have posted.
I questioned whether it was even worth a reply. But here goes: I really do not consider any edition
of the Big Book to be sacred. I would have stayed with the third edition. I would never have accepted
the "Hold hands and pray" story in the fourth edition. AA is prettymuch like it was thirty years
ago. By 1982 most of the changes had already taken place. The reading of HIW, the 24hr book, and
chanting had already made an appearance. These changes had taken place in the eastern states by
that time. Todays concept of sponsorship developed probably late 1980's, into the 1990's.
I love the way Bill W. wrote. I do not know if it is Edwardian English. I know that his writings
are simple and can be understood with a little effort. He warned us about turning AA into a
religion. He wrote that nothing could be so unfortunate for AA's future. The courts view AA as
a religion. Recent postings show that to be true. Bill warned us about cramming the steps down
anyone's throat. Yet we read them to newcomers over and over at meetings. The God filled 24 hr
book has been accepted as appropriate for AA in many meetings.
We have about 300,000 less members in Alcoholics Anonymous than two decades ago. If that does
not alarm you, then just go back to sleep. We grew continuously for 57 years until these
distortions began to affect our effectiveness. Very few alcoholics coming to AA today remain
with us. We make too many demands on them. Really, "what an order".
I believe if we can develop an understanding why the 24 hr book was rejected by our
founders, we can understand why the reading of "How it Works" from the podium has been
so harmful. How it Works is a part of chapter five. Let us return it to chapter five. If this
were to be the first thing a newcomer to be exposed to, Bill would have written it
in chapter one. We startle the newcomer by yelling HI JOE, and then tell him/her they have
to find God and find Him NOW! This nonsence has to stop. For those members who understand
what I am writing about, the reversals will not be easy. But we must stand up and speak out.
Alcoholics continue to suffer while we delay. Their families are suffering unnecessairly.
We have a solution, a technique, method that works. Dr Silkworth and Bill W. left the
solution for us. Stop telling any alcoholic what to do, or what they must do. Just share
what we were like and what happened to us, and end it there.
I do not consider Bill W. or Dr. Bob to be spiritual leaders. They were simply alcoholics
who discovered a way out of the nightmare. They left this solution for us. Dogma and distortion
have pushed the solution to the sidelines. We can bring it back, but it will be costly, not in
cash. We have to give up our foolish pride and admit our mistakes. ANONYMOUS
I agree that there was no need for a 4th Edition.I did campaign against it & fully understood why the GSB wanted it but why would the membership?
I remember reading "somewhere" that the number of
new fourth edition books sold on the first day available,
exceeded the number of any other book sold in any one day.
I believe this to be true. Anyone who finds it, please
give its location. Almost all A.A. members were waiting
to order it. Add the groups who stock and use the
Big Book. The number sold was huge, to my knowledge.
Instead of taking it personal when members say "keep coming back." I now understand it as life gets better.
Keep coming back, It works if you work it, etc. when
spoken by the group is chanting. Chanting has no place
in A.A. This ritual began in the Northeast around 1980,
and makes us look foolish in the eyes of the public. I
think it startles newcomers, who come to their first
meeting aprehensive, shaking and sweating. This seems to be one thing that many I-SAY posters agree with. This
nonsense began with one member chanting Hi Joe! when I
said my name is Joe and I am an alcoholic. It quickly
spread throughout the Northeast. Chanting can be
eliminated from AA but not without a lot of work. Too
many members have no idea how stupid it sounds. They
only hear themselves, as they demand attention. ANONYMOUS
That statement is not coming from a judgement of you, nor is it an attack, just that I sense by your words that you haven't gotten 'it' yet. What I mean by that is there are a lot of things that can be off putting to a newcomer, the language they use, the mantras, the activities, the chants... but here's the point to it: all of it together is a new kind of routine and structure that is not part of 'your element', is not something you'd normally do or say, may seem foolish. (By the way as I type that word out, it now feels a bit insulting that you'd go to the length of posting your view of not only something I've come to appreciate but more importantly as a response to someone else's offering of their moment of clarity.)
To really get it means that no matter how you feel about the ways they present this program, what you ultimately get out of it for you to interpret. Forget the language, the style they use and so on, and take what you hear and learn to use for your own recovery. If it really bothers you so much, then start a meeting of your own where that rhetoric is left out. But, if being sober is really your goal and it's not being forced on you or is a way to get people or the law of your back, then you take out of it what you need and leave the rest. Repeating the lines 'keep coming back, it works if you work it' ('sober and honest' is added at the end of our version) is a way of reminding you that if you've gotten through the day in the way you had really hoped for, it was probably because you had something different at play than the ways and means that you did before. You were honest with yourself and others, you didn't have thoughts of using, you didn't relapse. What you were doing in the past was destructive in some way and trying to sort it out without help and being honest never truly worked, or you wouldn't have needed AA in the first place.
That's why I think that you don't get 'it'. Why right now you might not be able to further recover because of the issues you have with how it works. I'm drawing from observations of my own when I see someone who appears to not be commited to it. I could be wrong as I'm unaware of your situation or progress.
As far as saying hello in response to an introduction, just realize that people are trying to make you feel welcome, at the very least it helps some remember people's names. But keep in mind, some of these people have almost literally just come from a place where they've screwed up their lives and relationships so badly that people they love and would want to now rely on may not even want to look them in the eye, let alone acknowledge them when they've just done something as meaningful as admitting to a serious problem. A problem that a lot people have died from before ever opening up about. Your comments didn't anger me, just made me confused that you feel these are aspects that need to be eliminated, even though that program as it exists now has proven to help so many people. It's the total commitment to the process and the structure that makes it work the way you need it to. But like I said, take from it what helps you and simply leave the rest.
As a note, I just started a recovery program for the first time in my life this last Friday (10/5/12) and the same day attended my first AA meeting. I don't pretend to have all the answers but I have an open mind and am slowly gaining the tools that will help me live a life that I would have missed out on. Right now, I can't think of much else that I am more grateful for than that.
-Anonymous, alcoholic and addict.