Burning Desire to Share
AMEN again... Keep it simple and most importantly keep an open mind!
0617 I agree with the Solid. Today's AA is a group of
two million sober alcoholics who are so solid that the
suffering alcoholic approaching us have little or no
chance penetrating its walls. Those members who understand
this are few, a real minority.
Can you imagine what an army of two million sober drunks
could be, what power we could have, if we truly knew how
to carry the message of Alcoholics Anonymous? We could
be five million strong by the year 2020. Are we ready and
willing to follow that advice offered to us by Dr.
Silkworth so many years ago: Stop preaching. Start practicing love and tolerance.
Attraction with no promotion. Once again, become a fellowship instead of a Fellowship. A fellowship which
offers a program in a suggestive manner.
Bill wrote that without the doctors advice, A.A.
probably would not have been born. I say that if we
keep ignoring that advice A.A. will eventually die.
My greatest concern is that we are turning away so
many who could easily be saved. But they continue to
suffer and many are dying while we chant and pray. Their families and friends are suffering, needlessly.
You may say, "I am only one AA member", what can I do.
You can do what I did, and sit quietly for 35 years,
or you can investigate and get busy, I warn you, it will
not be easy. It may take years/decades to reverse our
mistakes. Bill called them blunders and I believe he
warned us about nearly all of them. We have to start somewhere. ANONYMOUS
Does anyone have any experience they can share about the Reading of HIW at meetings? Does anyone
understand why this custom has to stop? When I try to bring it up at meetings, it is like I am
trying to change everyone's religion. I am certainly not an agnostic or an atheist (not that there is anything wrong in that). But I don't try to cram my religion down anyone's throat. We have made
several blunders in AA over the past three decades. The reading of How It Works aloud at meetings
as part of the format was our most tragic mistake ever. I made that statement to our General
Service Office manager, and she gave me a blank stare. Reading "How It Works" aloud at meetings
changed the dynamics of A.A. and certainly not for the better. We have been stagnant for over
two decades now. Does anyone know the gravity of that statement? Alcoholics are suffering and
dying. Many are turning to drugs, when they find that AA doesn't work for them. We hold in our
hands the most effective tool ever for the "cure of alcoholism". And it is not the twelve steps.
It can be found in Dr. Silkworth's "cart before the horse IDEA. Most AA members today have no
idea what that technique is. Stop preaching! Reading HIW is preaching. Alcoholics are dying; their
families are suffering while we read HIW and chant. "Keep Coming Back". ANONYMOUS
The program of AA has many suggestions. It's important that old or new members know how the program works. It's also important that an informed member or group let the new comer know the GOD in how it works is still a name for a higher power of each members choice. Call it higher power , the group, the buddha, jesus christ, ect. It's just important to know it isn't the aa indivisual with 24 hrs or a 100 yrs.
I keep reading this opinion over and over in the forum. OK. I get it. You don't like the reading of How it Works, chanting, holding hands, Lord's Prayer at meetings. I don't agree with some of those things either. Though the door to AA is pretty wide, I too would prefer that it be wider- that there not be anything in AA that would make an alcoholic want to run for the exits.
That said, if I want to make changes in AA, I go to the monthly business meeting of my home group, as I did yesterday, and offer my suggestions. Yesterday, we agreed to make changes to our preamble and in how we chair meetings. (some members think others share too long and go off topic...imagine that!) Over the years, we've made significant changes to our meeting & group.
Another option is to start a new meeting. Some folks in my home group thought we needed more focus on the steps so we started a Step Meeting that met in an adjacent room each Saturday. After a couple of years, that meeting petered out. No problem, our main meeting is still going strong and there are other strong step groups in our area.
I've seen members start an entirely new meeting based on whatever they think AA should be. Our local meeting for "Atheists, Agnostics and All Others" seems to be doing very well. I doubt they are holding hands, reciting the Lord's Prayer or leading off with HIW.
As the Tradition says, "each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole". So have at it.
Here's a bit of wisdom from the 12&12....
"Over the years, every conceivable deviation from our Twelve Steps and Traditions has been tried. That was sure to be, since we are so largely a band of ego-driven individualists. Children of chaos, we have defiantly played with every brand of fire, only to emerge unharmed and, we think, wiser. These very deviations created a vast process of trial and error which, under the grace of God, has brought us to where we stand today.
When A.A.'s Traditions were first published, in 1946, we had become sure that an A.A. group could stand almost any amount of battering. We saw that the group, exactly like the individual, must eventually conform to whatever tested principles would guarantee survival. We had discovered that there was perfect safety in the process of trial and error. So confident of this had we become that the original statement of A.A. tradition carried this significant sentence: "Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group provided that as a group they have no other affiliation."
I assume that part of this comment is directed to me. I
have no objection to using the Lord's Prayer to close our
meetings. It is the holding hands in the "ring around rosy"
circle, coercing everyone to join that I object to.
Bill W. wrote a letter to his friend explaining why
the Lords Prayer is an appropriate way to close our
meetings. Google The Dear Russ letter, Bill W. Alcoholics
anonymous. I agree with Bill's opinion.
Every A.A. meeting I attended in the decade of the 1970's closed with the Lords Prayer (without holding hands).
Our membership tripled in that decade. 300,000 to 900,000
members. Alcoholics came out of their caves to join us. I
believe we can return to the AA of the 1970's and can
become even more effective. More certainly has been
My apologies if I was a bit strident about this. I agree with much, maybe all of what you say in regards to HIW, chanting,prayers and rituals. My primary point is that if we want to change things, there is a way at the local level through our group, district and area business meetings . I understand that it can be very difficult to enact change in AA - even at the group/meeting level. That said, another option might to start a new meeting along the lines you describe and see how it goes.
from what I have heard, it was Bill himself who started the "let's hold hands". it was at the end of the 1950 or 55 international convention that Bill asked everyon to join hands and say the Lords Prayer. I can't prove it, I think I heard it on an old speaker tape.
Clu1992, Surely you can do better than that!
Each AA group is autonomous and has a group conscious. A group has every right to read “HIWs” if voted on by members. Our group voted against reading “HIWs.” We open the meetings by just reading the Preamble and going straight to the topic. During group conscious we discussed how readings and other rituals where cutting into the meeting time and sharing our ESH is more important than pushing what we felt, after all, is a suggested program. Although everyone agrees the program works, it truly doesn’t reflect the diverse nature of recovery that we see. Some members pointed out that it could instill a narrow and misleading picture of AA and not show the complexities that come with recovery and living sober in the real world. We accept that not everyone works the 12-step program, which is their right and this doesn’t make us better because we do. Love and Tolerance
Thanks for the reply. My obsession with HIW began
4-5 years ago when I discovered that Alcoholics Anonymous
had lost most of its effectiveness. I found the passages
where Bill W. warned us about AA becoming a religion. He
wrote that nothing could be so destructive for AA's future.
Bill must have seen it coming in 1957 and 1963 when
those warnings were published. I believe reading that
reading HIW and the 24 Hr. book as part of the format makes
us look like a religion.
Our Saturday morning Traditions meeting is an hour meeting, but we voted to always stay until everyone had a
chance to share. We read the first two and a half pages
of chapter five and the page in the 24 Hr. book in
addition to the chapter on the Tradition of the week.
We had a strong group, usually up to forty members every
Saturday. We discussed deleting the extra readings for
about six months at our business meetings. We finally
voted on a new format and the vote was a very close.
We voted in favor of deletion, but we lost half of our
group. We have not increased to the forty count again,
after three years. We still pay the rent $75. monthly
but just barely. We seldom have more than twenty members.
I am deeply saddened by the hard feelings. Many of those
members were good A.A. friends. But I am convinced that
those readings have seriously harmed Alcoholics Anonymous.
We have made several other serious perhaps fatal mistakes,
All need to be corrected if A.A is going to be around for
the thousand years our co-founder wanted. ANONYMOUS
Thanks for sharing what happened to your group after changing your format to remove the HIW readings. I can imagine a similar reaction in our group. We had a huge disagreement and lost members when we changed from paper to ceramic coffee cups. Ultimately, we compromised and made paper cups available to restore peace.
I believe that most old timers and regular meeting attendees, including me, frequently check out during the first 5-10 minutes of readings. I am not sure how important and impactful those readings are to newcomers. Our weekday noon meetings are only 45 minutes long. Would the time be better spent on personal sharing? I will bring this up at our next biz meeting.
I love the idea of giving all a chance to share during a meeting and offered that as a suggestion at a recent business meeting where we discussed ideas for keeping shares shorter and more focused. My first AA group was an hour long meeting where all shared. A group norm developed where we usually managed to finish at about 5 minutes before the hour whether there were 5 or 25 people in the room. It seemed that folks just developed a 6th sense for managing the time. If someone went a bit long, others would keep it short. It was an amazing thing to see. During a visit to that town years later, I took my AA wife to that meeting and it was still working.
Below is the meeting format we use. 2 years ago, there were several meetings in the town I moved to that were not attended on a regular basis. I went to this saturday meeting listed in the directory 3 weeks in a row and was the only one there. I commited myself to the meeting. I used this format from my home group meeting from the town I had moved from. last saturday, we had 10 in attendance which is good for a town with 14k people. our group even began a second meeting on thurday nights using the same format, but staggered so it's halfway ahead of the sat meeting.It's been 2 1/2 months and we have 5 regular attendees we have good fellowship before and after the meeting. please look at the format and let us know what you think.
Welcome to the Saturday 10 AM meeting of the Big Book Group my name is ______________and I’m an Alcoholic. My only qualification for chairing this meeting is that I am an alcoholic and a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
THIS IS A CLOSED MEETING OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS. In support of AA’s singleness of purpose, attendance at closed meetings is limited to persons who have a desire to stop drinking. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend this meeting. We ask that when discussing our problems, we confine ourselves to those problems as they relate to alcoholism.
In ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS we generally open our meetings with the “SERENITY PRAYER,” all those who care to please join me.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength, and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership. We are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
Our 7th Tradition states, there are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions (Pass the basket).
Let’s have a round of introductions while the basket is being passed. In keeping with AA’s 12th & 3rd Traditions, please introduce yourself with your name if you so choose and that you are and alcoholic or have a desire to stop drinking.
Any AA related announcements? Feel free to borrow any of the literature on the table. Our group conscience meets the first sat of the month following the meeting.
Before we begin, this group would like to mention that none of us are AA or big book experts. When we discuss the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”, we are simply sharing our experience with the program of AA. Remember, this is an informal meeting, so feel free to ask questions. If you feel you need to share about other than today’s topic, we will be glad to listen after the meeting.
Our traditions are a guide to better ways of working and living. They are to group survival what the 12 steps are to each member’s sobriety and peace of mind. The long form of the 12 traditions are found on pages 563-566. We will now read tradition ____ and discuss briefly.(or the group or problems other than alcohol pamphlet)
We will now read and discuss a portion of the Big Book. Turn to page _____.
CONCLUDE the discussion at 10:55. We try to keep our meeting to an hour, if you need to share more than you were able to during the meeting please talk to one of us after the meeting, we’ll be happy to listen and to share with you what was so freely given to us.
Please remember that the opinions expressed here are strictly those of the individual. Remember also that ANONYMITY is the spiritual foundations of AA tradition. The things that you hear here and share here are spoken and shared in confidence. Let them be treated as confidential.
ALL those who care to please join me in closing with the “Lord’s Prayer,” OUR FATHER …
How it works is how it works...and it does very well.
Not everyone is going to have the desperation and willingness to do what is necessary to get into recovery no matter what we do.
My own inventory showed that my corrective opinions about how things ought to be were just uninformed and grandiose manifestations of intolerance, mywayism, and refusing to accept that everything is exactly as it should be. Check out what Dr. Paul said on pg 417. He was right about me...maybe you will find yourself there too?
I don't think there is any way to "stop" HIW from being read out loud at meetings. Each AA group is an autonomous entity and can do what it chooses to do, except for an outside affiliation (3rd tradition - long form). Reading HIW, holding hands in a circle, chanting, etc. are all things each group chooses to do.
But it would be helpful to newcomers to AA if there were fewer of these type of meetings where HIW was read out loud and more meetings where the format was welcoming to newcomers who are not ready to find God NOW!
Isn't our primary goal to be helpful to newcomers? The
format ought to be welcoming to newcomers, whether they are
ready to find God NOW, or they really don't know what they
are looking for. True, some alcoholics who approach us are
ripe, and ready for the spiritual HIW approach. But I believe that most are still searching. We offer them hope
by sharing our own experience, strength and, most important,
hope. We close the door by telling them what to do, instead
of telling them our own personal story.
The custom of reading HIW aloud at meetings certainly
can be stopped. It will take a lot of persistent work. A
group conscience meeting is the best way to start. If
your group has no group conscience, develop one. Call
for a group conscience meeting, or as a last resort,
bring up the topic at the regular meeting.
Bill placed HIW in chapter five for a special timed
effect. If "How It Works" were to be the first thing a
newcomer ought to read or hear, would Bill not have
placed it in chapter one? Bill was following advice
given to him by Dr. Silkworth. Bill details this advice
on page 68 in AACA. I am not going to copy the page here.
Perhaps someone else can "cut and paste" the material
which begins at the bottom of page 67 AACA. Bill writes
"Quote: Just before leaving for Akon, Dr, Silkworth had
given me a great piece of advice. Without it, A.A. might
never have been born". end quote. My conclusion is that
if AA could not have been born without that "cart
before the horse idea", then we will not survive or thrive
without it. Reading HIW as part of the format ignores
that IDEA. Again, there are some who are "ready" when
they finally get the courage to come to us. We must be
willing to help the rest of them to become ready. We
allow them to "Come to Believe". If we are attractive
enough, our hope is that they will stick around until
the miracle happens.
NOTE. "Each group is autonomous and can do what it
chooses to do" is only one third of tradition Four.
There are two storm signals. I believe that this
HIW reading aloud at meetings has all but destroyed
our life saving fellowship. Bob H. Seymour, Ct.
I consider myself a "newcomer" to AA, even tho I previously made an albeit short attempt at attending meetings. And I must say that the reason I quit attending meetings was due to the fact that one "old-timer" felt the need to force his views on how it works down my throat. I was walking thru the door of my third Friday night meeting, when he approached me, and decided to take it upon himself to tell me that unless I attended more than one meeting a week, and found myself a sponsor that the program would never work. Being the type of person that I am, I am hesitant to open up to new people and new experiences - both of which AA was putting before me. So, I decided that I would never succeed at the program and just quit going. I am proud to say that I didn't resume my prior insane thinking about alcohol, quite the opposite, my entire philosophy surrounding drinking has managed to change, in spite of the fact that I don't attend meetings as regularly as some. So, I guess, in this rambling, I guess what I am trying to convey is that the program works differently for each individual. Everyone needs to find their own path within the guidelines that Bill laid out for us in the 12 steps and 12 traditions.
I believe that because there are many formats, readings are good; However each group serves to the best of their ability do carry the message of hope! It was one of the first forms of service work within the groups that I attended1! The best meetings were the meetings after the meetings. It has been a few years that I have had physical issues along with a speech problem, but whatever works is good! P.S. the best way to change things is attend the groups business meetings!
I was raised in a family with no religion. At the age of around 12 I started looking for something but I didn't know what it was now I realize it was the Holy Spirit. At the time though I didn't now this and I got side tracked and on the wrong path inside I started to drink. The Latin word for alcohol is spiritus coincidence probably not. Now In AA I've gotten back on the right track and found what I was looking for all this time not spiritus in a bottle but the the right kind of spirit. Maybe the Greeks thousands of years ago new something.
I know that worldly things won't provide the solution to the depth of my alcoholism. Yet I am jobless, practically homeless and I worry about things not getting any better. I have been asking God to remove my fears, but I find myself struggling with fear of the future and of economic insecurity. I want to be helpful to others, but I can't do that if I'm caught up in self-centered fear. This is my second real shot at AA. I had a few years once, then went back out for a few. It's harder this time around. My situation is more desperate and I feel stuck.
You just have to believe God is removing your fear.
I have heard many times that it is easier to stay sober
than to get sober. There are multitudes who are struggling
with fear of the future and of economic insecurity. Contrary
to "the promises", many sober alcoholics are among them.
I hold the belief that those who are always smiling are
either on something or up to something.
But if you don't spend that eight dollars for a pint,
you can use it to buy food. Maybe someone near you is
hungry: you could share it with them. You also have access
to God's greatest gift to the alcoholic sufferer, Alcoholics Anonymous. I believe Ebby was in your
shoes when he approached his old friend Bill W. He
stayed at Bill's home for a period of time. Ebby never
regained his fortunes, but did have periods of sobriety.
Fear can be a great motivator. Just don't numb it
with liquor. I fear that my house will be cold in the
morning, so I bring in the wood at night for the wood
There are many who are caught up in self-centered fear.
You can be helpful to them. Listen to them. Offer them
a little of your time. (not advice! time!) You will learn
how to really care about others.
But I cannot resist offering advice to you. "Don't take
that first drink, and stay close to AA." It has worked for
me for several decades. It will work for you. ANONYMOUS
Hang in there! It WILL get better....
We have a wonderful resource for dealing with fear right in the 4th step. I often recommend that my sponsees do that part of the 4th step first. That prayer is so simple and both parts are equally important.
But the lists of the fears is is the number one thing to do. I recommend that folks write one fear per line and don't leave out any thoughts that come to mind. Don't say 'that is silly, I'm not going to write it." Be honest and write what comes to mind...every fear that comes to mind. Probably you will have pages and pages...I did. That list will help you recognize fears and that the prayer needs to be said every time a fear pops up. 'Take away my fears and direct my attention to what you would have me be." BTW, I had to give my imagination something creative to do.
First, thanks for sharing with us. It's not easy. I need to be reminded what it feels like to be in your shoes, so you are helping me and others. I think fear is a natural response to your difficulties and I hope both end soon. It isn't unusual to find people miserable in mansions and happy in halfway houses. The program of recovery spelled out in "Alcoholics Anonymous" altered my attitude to enable me to find the good in difficulties. Can you honestly look at that sign on the meeting room wall and say that AA failed you the first time?
"I was told by a sober member of AA that if I wanted to stay sober I would need to do three things: get a sobriety date and don't change it, get a sponsor, and get a home group."
I'm hopelessly confused and hope someone can help me out. In my years of AA membership I have used the second, third and fourth editions of the Big Book, have worn out a few copies of the 12&12, and have lost or given away a few copies of "As Bill Sees It". I have searched on line and asked dozens of long time members, and cannot get an answer to my question, Where in our AA literature does it say we cannot get sober without a sponsor and a home group?
I was told many years ago I should put my faith in some kind of Power greater than myself. All my Big Books say,
"But there is One who has all power - that One is God. May you find Him now." (page 59)
"No human power could have relieved our alcoholism." (page 60)
You wrote, "No human power could have relieved our alcoholism." This is commonly misquoted in the rooms.
The correct quote is "That PROBABLY no human power..." People who use it conveniently leave out the word "PROBABLY." This is too much of an important word to omit because without it we would be a religious program. Let's quote AA correctly and not take AA into our own hands. This word widens Bill W.'s hoop and permits the agnostic or atheist member the right to remain a non-believer or a not-sure if that is their choice. I have known people in my group who rely on human power and they seem to be just as joyful as the next person or myself.
Thanks for paying close attention to detail. Leaving out the word "probably", closes the door for far too many alcoholics. We have dropped the word and have dropped
the ball. We have become known as a strange religion.
Another phrase "We are not a glum lot" is used to justify
the incessant chanting. Being serious and reverent does
not make us a glum lot. Chanting makes us look like a
religion or cult. ANONYMOUS
God 1st 4 me
Did the useful/helpful/hopeful experiences of AA members stop after publication of the big book or 12 x 12, or with Bill W's death? I absolutely believe that there is no wrong way to stay sober, and the most unhelpful thing I could have been told when I walked into the rooms a while back would have been that I had to get a sponsor, had to work the steps, had to find a god of my understanding. However, I have come to believe in the advice of Rumi: "It is necessary to have a guide for the spiritual journey. Choose a master, for without one this journey is full of trials, fears, and dangers. With no escort, you would be lost on a road you have already taken. Do not travel alone on the Path." Bill W considered Ebby to be his sponsor, but also obviously helped and was helped by Dr. Bob, and sought advice from Father Dowling. Basically, I can become "overcome by the spirit" and forget why I am on the Path, which is why I need someone, or several someones, to call me on my B.S. No god ever speaks to me directly, which is why I need the guide. But that is just my program at this moment in time.
I don’t think I have ever read anything that says you must have a sponsor to stay sober, but lots that suggests it’s a good idea. Mostly from the 12x12, see below.
... advisers the guidance they feel they have ... 12&12 Step Five, p.60
It is worth noting that people of very high spiritual development almost always insist on checking with friends or spiritual advisers the guidance they feel they have received from God.
... sponsorship for ten newcomers, and was gently ... 12&12 Tradition Eight, p.168
Then we saw that if a hardworking secretary answered the phone dozens of times a day, listened to twenty wailing wives, arranged hospitalization and got sponsorship for ten newcomers, and was gently diplomatic with the irate drunk who complained about the job she was doing and how she was overpaid, then such a person could surely not be called a professional A.A.
1.... sponsors? 12&12 Step Twelve, p.112
Can we have the same kind of confidence and faith in these people who have been infected and sometimes crippled by our own illness that we have in our sponsors?
2.... sponsors come to the rescue. 12&12 Step Four, p.46
At this stage of the inventory proceedings, our sponsors come to the rescue.
3.... sponsors declared that we were the victims ... 12&12 Step One, p.22
Our sponsors declared that we were the victims of a mental obsession so subtly powerful that no amount of human willpower could break it.
4.... sponsors of those who feel they need ... 12&12 Step Four, p.46
The sponsors of those who feel they need no inventory are confronted with quite another problem.
5.... sponsors or spiritual advisers that we first ... 12&12 Step Five, p.58
Often it was while working on this Step with our sponsors or spiritual advisers that we first felt truly able to forgive others, no matter how deeply we felt they had wronged us.
6.... sponsors pointed out our increasing sensitivity to ... 12&12 Step One, p.22
Relentlessly deepening our dilemma, our sponsors pointed out our increasing sensitivity to alcohol -- an allergy, they called it.
... sponsor already has the advantage of knowing ... 12&12 Step Five, p.61
Besides, your sponsor already has the advantage of knowing something about your case.
2.... sponsor, but not necessarily so. 12&12 Step Five, p.61
This person may turn out to be one's sponsor, but not necessarily so.
3.... sponsor continues, "Take, for example, my own ... 12&12 Step Two, p.26
The sponsor continues, "Take, for example, my own case.
4.... sponsor's ear alone. 12&12 Tradition Twelve, p.185
Enthusiastic over the spectacular recovery of a brother alcoholic, we'd sometimes discuss those intimate and harrowing aspects of his case meant for his sponsor's ear alone.
5.... sponsor, "is a very good question indeed. 12&12 Step Two, p.26
"That," agrees the sponsor, "is a very good question indeed.
6.... sponsor or spiritual adviser, earnestly asking God's ... 12&12 Step Nine, p.86
Do we lay the matter before our sponsor or spiritual adviser, earnestly asking God's help and guidance -- meanwhile resolving to do the right thing when it becomes clear, cost what it may?
7.... sponsor or spiritual adviser, we make a ... 12&12 Step Ten, p.89
Then there are those occasions when alone, or in the company of our sponsor or spiritual adviser, we make a careful review of our progress since the last time.
8.... sponsor points out that our friend's life ... 12&12 Step Three, p.39
Of course the sponsor points out that our friend's life is still unmanageable even though he is sober, that after all, only a bare start on A.A.'s program has been made.
9.... sponsor probably points out that the newcomer ... 12&12 Step Four, p.46
The sponsor probably points out that the newcomer has some assets which can be noted along with his liabilities.
10.... sponsor probably says, "Take it easy. 12&12 Step Two, p.26
His sponsor probably says, "Take it easy.
11.... sponsor promptly proves by talking freely and ... 12&12 Step Four, p.46
This the sponsor promptly proves by talking freely and easily, and without exhibitionism, about his own defects, past and present.
12.... sponsor sold me one idea, and that ... 12&12 Tradition Five, p.154
Years later, this tough Irish customer liked to say, "My sponsor sold me one idea, and that was sobriety.
13.... sponsor usually laughs. 12&12 Step Two, p.26
At this juncture, his A.A. sponsor usually laughs.
... adviser. BB How It Works, p.63
We found it very desirable to take this spiritual step with an understanding person, such as our wife, best friend, or spiritual adviser.
"I don’t think I have ever read anything that says you must have a sponsor to stay sober, but lots that suggests it’s a good idea. Mostly from the 12x12, see below."
You've given a lot of quotes without answering my question so I'll repeat it. Where does it say in our literature that we can't get sober unless we get a aponsor and a home group?
The late Chuck C. states in "A New Pair of Glasses" that he never had a sponsor. He died with 38 years sobriety. I have a number of friends with 20+ years who have never had a sponsor. I was on active duty in the Navy when I got sober and in my first two years the longest time I spent in one place was ten months aboard ship in the Pacific. I wasn't any place long enough to get a sponsor or home group. In fact, for a good part of those two years I wasn't any place that had a home group. Last July I had my 42nd AA birthday.
That does not mean I'm anti-sponsorship. I believe sponsorship is important for both the sponsor and the pigeon, but I don't think any alcoholic has the right to tell another alcoholic he must or must not do something. To quote "A New Pair of Glasses" again, "In AA we share, we don't tell."
Now back to your first sentence, two things jumped out at me. First, you haven't been avble to find the answer to my question, either. And second, if the 'suggestions' concerning sponsorship are so important, why don't we put the same importance on the 'suggested' twelve steps?
The 20 quotes from the 12x12 are where sponsorship is discussed. I thought you might like to read up on what your missing if you don’t have a sponsor. You probably won’t find anything that says you must find a sponsor, just lots of how good it is to have one. That is the answer to your question, no requirement, just suggestions.
I don’t know for sure about chuck c having a sponsor, but I have heard speakers who he sponsored that were glad he sponsored them, just listen to Johnny H. After listening to tapes of chuck and johnny, I would have to say chuck did a lot of telling. You can get an earful at xaspeakers.com. they have the talk chuck c did that they wrote “a new pair of glasses” from.
I think being sober in AA is a combination of experiences. Few stay sober for long without working the steps, however some do. Few stay sober without going to a regular home group meeting, however some do. Few stay sober without a sponsor to lead the way, however some do. Many stay sober by working the steps, home group membership, and sponsorship. You may be able to get by with 2 out of 3. My life is important to me, that’s why I’m using all three. Steps, home group, and sponsorship.
You still haven't addressed my question so I'll try again:
Where in our AA literature does it say we cannot get sober without a sponsor and a home group? To put it another way, Where does the AA literature tell us we MUST have a sponsor?
More to my point, where are we told (In AA literature) that we need a sponsor to explain the Big Book to us? That we must let a sponsor make all our decisions for us? Or that each and every alcoholic who comes through the doors of AA is too stupid or brain damaged to get sober without a sponsor?
I had to be stuburn my whole life and learn the hard way one mistake at a time. I even did it with AA years ago and never asked for help and I made mistakes and relapsed. This time I decided to get a sponsor and learn from him and his mistakes and his sponsors mistakes rather then having to make them on my own,many minds are greater then one no matter how smart you are. I also believe having to swallow your pride and ask for help is a big step in EGO reduction and isn't this what it is all about. No where does this program tell you, you have to do anything the suggestions will just increase your odds.
nothing says you must get a sponsor. there are 103 "must" in the big book, but nothing about a sponsor. Sounds like you have had or know somebody that had a dominating sponsor. my sponsor simply took me through the steps in the big book. he said the book would protect me from him and that If i couldn't reconcile what he said with AA liturature to disregard.
the grapevine has a nice booklet of stories on sponsorship along with AA's pamphlet questions and answers on sponsorship.
As far as being too brain damaged or stupid to get sober without a sponsor, for myself, yes. If I knew how to be sober and happy on my own, I wouldn't need AA. I could share my opinion on experiences I have never had. too me sponsorship is mutual. we share our 5th steps with each other, attend the same homegroup, go to roundups, even fish and workout together.
the person who really benefits from the relationship is the sponsor. nothing gets you current better than a sponsee who is ambitious about the program.
speaking of Chuck C, Saturday a sponsee and I drove 50 miles to hear clancy i, one of chuck c sponsees. we had a good time, enjoyed some fellowship, ate great pizza in a place that happened to also be a bar and drove 50 miles home. we have both recovered and where spiritually fit so we can go anywhere and do anything as long as we are spiritually fit.
when I think of the relationship ive had with my sponsor over the years, I feel sorry for you. there is one person on this planet that knows everything about me, and he still loves me. you sound like you could use a little unconditional love.
If someone gives you an unqualified answer that you want to hear, exactly what are going to do with that precious information?
I don't think you are confused at all. I think you know as well as anyone that a single member of AA is capable of saying absolutely anything. We see examples here frequently. Have a great day.
To stay sober you would need a fixed sobriety date. None
of these are in any way requirements for A.A membership The only requirement... I personally have
never had a sponsor. by today's AA standard. I have had numerous home groups. I have
held the same sobriety date since 08 Feb 1970.
All of my Big Books read the same, except for the
stories. I firmly believe that we ought to have stayed
with the Third Edition.
Bill wrote in AACA that where to place How It Works
in the book "worried the life out of me". He decided
to place it exactly where he placed it. IMO, that is where
it belongs. This chapter contains the truth, but must
be offered to other alcoholic sufferers with an equal
amount of Grace. There has to be a balance, to make the
message palliative to those approaching us.
We offer the solution in a suggestive manner.
A suggestion is different from a request or a demand,
Bill wrote plainly that "our Book is meant to be
suggestive only. We realize that we only know a little".
Too many A.A. members are satisfied with "a little".
There are thirty more years of experience and knowledge
available. Bill did not end it in 1939.
Thanks for not being an AA dropout. So many have
just walked away. I decided to stay. Bob H. Seymour, Ct.
There’s a myth in the rooms that suffering makes us deep and it predisposes us to be more spiritual and to say big things. Somehow it builds character and is leads us to think we are more celestial than religious people because we have been there in the fire. It's not that way in real life. Suffering can make us shallow, arrogant, greedy and opaque. Spiritual posturing is not the same thing as actually being spiritual. Of course it’s easy to pose than to do the actual work. After several years in AA, I decided to return to the Catholic Church and attend mass regularly as a counterpart to my recovery. To think that religious people are not spiritual and that they are less than are just ridiculous viewpoints. It’s difficult to sit through AA meetings when insults and jokes are thrown at organized religion. Take for instance this common assertion; “Religion is for people trying to stay out of hell and spirituality is for people who have been there” People continually pass on that pompous expression without questioning the validity of it. Just look around the world and tell me religious people have not suffered or have been in hell. Suffering is not a requirement for spirituality and there is no hierarchical system of spiritual organization. Whether a person is religious, atheist or in between, spirituality transcends “pecking orders” and resides in everyone equally waiting to be awakened if needed. Are there other members who feel uncomfortable with religion bashing during meetings? I am indebted to AA mightily because it provided me the time and space to rediscover a faith as I eventually segued from AA to the church. I also discovered that not all AA members find a need to disrespect religion because they have the intelligence to understand that AA borrowed ideas from various religious systems. Thanks AA
While I consider myself a militant agnostic, I agree with you that there is a lot of intolerance in AA - against those who have a faith that includes an organized religion or religious denomination, as well as folks like me. The "principles before personalities" idea applies equally to organized religions, where it is too common to equate the messenger with the message. I bristle when people insist that the Big Book was divinely inspired. It was in the sense that all writings are (including "The Communist Manifesto" and "A Study in Communism," to take two extremes), but is of course of human construction and therefore limited by its author's experiences and prejudices. Bill humbly noted "we know only a little - more will be revealed." I have come to respect those who have returned to the faith of their youth as you have, which most spiritual leaders recommend over a smorgasbord approach, which I fall victim to. In the end, we all need an open mind about all things, except of course about the propriety of having a drink.
I've only been in AA for awhile but I've noticed a lot of people getting upset (resentments) about people expressing there OWN opinions. Just because someone says something doesn't make it wrong or right. Getting upset and judging someone for making a judgement is like the old saying two wrongs don't make a right. I just try to be confident in my own beliefs I don't feel like I have to defend my religion. I just pray for them and love them that way I don't end up with resentments because we all no where that will lead me.
I understand where you are coming from. It’s common to hear negative remarks towards agnostics, atheists and organized religion. This issue is should not be taken lightly and it is more severe than just someone expressing an opinion, especially when the majority of the group laughs. It hurts AA as a whole and makes us look bad. The Preamble states we share our experience, strength and hope. There is nothing that states “We share our opinions.” Opinions about outside issues have no place in the rooms and should not be tolerated because then the natural progression would lead to which opinions are acceptable and which are not acceptable and who would be in charge of this judgment. Criticizing religion, politics, race, gender or culture harms AA and makes us look like that annoying drunk at the other end of the bar that just won’t shut up. We do not want to give the wrong impression to the person who just walked through the door. I am certainly welcome to share what helps me get sober but, when I start joking about the way you get sober and making comments about your God or political party then there is going to be a problem. We shouldn’t be naïve about this but, instead be more responsible and sensitive when sharing around the table or from the podium.
But you hit the nail on the head. It's the laughing that's the problem it's a form of cross talk that encourages the person sharing. Cross talk needs to stop the negative and also the positive kind. The nodding of the head,the ya ya ya's the laughing just feeds into the person sharings EGO or miss directed opinions.There is a lot of sick people that's why there hear hopefully trying to get better. As far as criticizing a race or religion I would talk to the person after the meeting and voice my opinion on the matter. Or I would at the next meeting bring up the topic intolerance and voice my OWN OPINION. Which is love not hate.
What is an opinion? I believe that the effectiveness of
Alcoholics Anonymous, in helping others to recover, has
diminished severely over the past two decades. If my
belief is supported by membership numbers developed by
our trusted servants, is it really just my opinion?
IMO, our failing is due to blunders we have made over
the past three decades. I saw, heard and participated in
most of those mistakes. I fought to keep the 24 hr. book
as part of the format. I loved that book and still do.
But today I understand why it was rejected and must be
removed from our AA rooms. Is that just my opinion or
does the fact that this book has been rejected by two
of our General Service Conferences make this more than
just an opinion.
I have come to appreciate "sharing sessions" where
each member has five minutes to voice an "opinion",
without fear of being judged or upsetting anyone.
In the A.A. meeting (official meeting) I try to share
from my own experience and of course strength and hope.
I believe that any discussion which may upset or offend
a newcomer ought to be avoided. ANONYMOUS
I was raised in a family that was strict atheist. It was driven in to me that people that believed in religion were brain washed and that the only will you needed was your own. For years my will run riot I tried to be god, I tried to control everyone and everything and when things didn't go my way I got upset. I thought I should be perfect and no one could live up to that standard. I think that might have been part of the reason I drank because I could never be happy it's exhausting trying to be god. I always new there was something missing and in AA I finally found it with my upbringing I was able to choose a higher power of my OWN and to change the things I can and give the rest to my higher power. Now I try to do his will not my own and I realize there is only ONE who is perfect and it sure isn't me. I've finally found piece of mind and serenity. Now I can only hope to carry the message of AA and to let people choose.
THAT is very true, when I found the long term answer to a long term disease I was one that tried to live sober without believing in a power greater then me (GOD as I understand him today)and the beauty of the fellowship was, nobody told me 1 had to believe what they believed, but to find something that I believed! Today by the (GRACE OF GOD AS I UNDERSTAND HIM STEP 3), inspite of having many health issues that make it hard to go to meetings, or even speak in meetings, my desire to not drink has remained strong, as well as not drinking for today! I am one them old timers that even though I am not as active now I am grateful! To quote a phrase from a good friend;" I am not what I could be, not what I should be but I'm not what I used to be!
Hi, is there an agnostic or atheist pamphlet for the newcomer? My group doesn’t have one and many newcomers have asked. I’ve recommended The Agnostic Chapter but, they seem to believe it’s not helpful. Some have communicated to me that they are offended and it reads more like a conversion story. Some think AA = God. I’ve ensured them this is not true and our doors are open to anyone who has a desire to stop drinking. We do not force god, religion or spirituality on anyone and to us AA = Sobriety. I can only do so much but, it’s still confusing to the newcomer. It would be extremely helpful to them if we actually had a pamphlet stating it’s quite alright to remain agnostic or atheist in AA if they chose to do so. My experience is limited to prayer and footwork so that’s all I can share with them. At least some of them get the footwork part. The others’ seem combatant for now and I wonder if they are this way naturally or it is because we are setting them up to fail with a lack of clarification, which would be in conflict with our Preamble and the Responsibility Statement. Any thoughts?
Jim B. was the early atheist in AA who was responsible for the qualifying language "as we understand god." In approximately 1969, the Grapevine published his story commemorating his 30 years of sobriety without belief in god. I found it helpful. I was also introduced a book by Laura S outlining a Buddhist approach to the steps. There are a couple of other in print as well. Most recently, a secular guide to recovery was made available through the AA Agnostica website, where I downloaded it to my Kindle. I highly recommend it for the god fearing as well as the godless.
Bill W's later writings show a lot more tolerance and maturity on spiritual matters than did his effort in the chapter "We Agnostics."