Burning Desire to Share
The Lords Prayer is said at the close of most of the meetings I attend in my area and I go to a variety of meetings. At each meeting before the prayer,the chairperson says, "For Those Who Will", let us join hands and say the Lords Prayer. It is not mandatory. If you do not feel comfortable with it for any reason, don't do it. You do not have to justify or explain your reason.
We have ceased holding hands to say the Lords Prayer at my parish. It is for hygienic reasons. Flu, elderly, children etc.
There are some younger and some newer members who want it stopped all together. The smugness and know-it-all attitude is turning people off. Stepping on toes causes resentments and members will retaliate over this.
Myself, I say it at church and at home. Will it bother me if it is not said? No. However, I know I want to stay sober, and grace fills the rooms when we are gathered there and share. I will take all the help I can get. We need not hold hands to do it. In fact I would prefer that we do not.
Last night at a meeting I was hugged and hugging some fellow members. Someone thought they should get in on the act. I didn't like that either. So back to hand shakes for me.
You remind me of the meetings in the 1970's when
there was very little hugging between members before
or after the meetings. I believe we should leave that
contact to the romantics. Many things changed in the
1980's. I relate those changes to our stagnation. We
stopped growing in the early 1990's. For the first
57 years we grew at the rate of doubling our membership
about every ten years. We have fewer members today than
we had 20 years ago. Way beyond sad. ANONYMOUS
To me, the reality is we live in a country where one religious group is the dominant force and some of its followers act with hostility towards people who have other points of view. Some members from this certain religious background bring this aggression into the rooms unknowingly. In many areas, certain AA rituals have been disguised unconsciously which I believe provides comfort to the ones who like them. To these members, AA is a gift from God who through the pens of two saints wrote the holy scripture with 12 commandments. They have adopted a holy prayer and a holy city Akron, where followers take pilgrimages. There are popular evangelic style speakers selling tapes and videos, as well as, a 12 commandment study groups, daily prayer books and rituals such as lighting candles, reciting the holy prayer and holding hands. My wife who is a Catholic pointed out the similarities. I personally do not feel comfortable with this style of AA, so I found a solid mens group which does not have prayer, rituals or holding hands. I try and remember in AA when I create an enemy I become an enemy.
You can always move to Massachusetts where they don't hold hands to say the Lords Prayer? Or you can let this resentment eat a hole in you. The program works and if we start tuning it up to our own standards some of the recovery may go with it. I feel the Big Book of AA is divinely inspired and it is the key to happy and fufilling sobriety which are found in the steps and the pages of the Big Book. Many people in AA have years of sobriety but not much of what I call contentment. Most of the time they have not gone through the steps (in order) with their sponsor and cleaned house. I personally like holding hands and saying the Lords prayer at the end of the meeting and saying Serenity Prayer at the beginning of the meeting. Why? It says in the bible that where ever two or more are gathered in my name I am present also. I think it is part of the magic of AA. If you have a resentment against the Lords Prayer in the Big Book it says to pray for the person, place or thing you are angry at to have everything good. Do it daily until the resentment goes away or 77x 7 times, which ever gets rid of it quickest. I hope AA stays the same because it saved my life and I may not like every part of AA but I can live with it because it changed my life for the better. Stopping drinking was a good start and the steps gave me tools I never had. I am very happy for the life I have today thanks to this wonderful program and my higher power. Anonymous
I have no resentment against the Lords Prayer. And I
see no reason not to use it to close our meetings, as long
as it is what the majority of the group members want. A
true group conscience ought to make that decision. It is
the forcing everyone to hold hands and join in that I
object to. No member ought to be coerced into joining
in a religious prayer circle. Not all A.A. members are
Christian, although if we are attractive enough hopefully
they will want what we have and join us. But it is not,
and never has been a requirement for A.A. membership,
unless you and other Christians make it a requirement.
I no longer "hold hands and pray" at an A.A. meeting.
And I go to a meeting almost every day. And I do not live
in Massachusetts, although I spent some time there in
my Army drinking days.
Practically all of the A.A. meetings I attend open
with the serenity prayer and close with the Lords Prayer.
I certainly have no resentment concerning either. We have
done it this way for more than the four decades I have
Holding hands can be nice and comforting for some
if not most members. But I am always concerned about
those who may be uncomfortable holding hands with old
men or strangers. We started the "hold hands and pray"
closing about 1980 in my area. It was accepted in
a story in the fourth edition of the Big Book.
I do not consider any edition of the Big Book to be
"sacred text". To compare it to the Big Big Book is
what Bill W. called a heady wine. ANONYMOUS
I am one of the old men that you single out as one of those some individuals may be uncomfortable about taking my hand in theirs. I have a firm, dry grip, and am manic about personal hygiene. Age is not a factor in the quality of someone's grip or handshake. Many youngsters offer sweaty, dirty palms, and I find that most unpleasant. Having said that, I would prefer not to hold hands for two reasons. One, I do not enjoy it. And two, I came in at a time when closing the meeting meant a few moments between oneself and one's higher power. The hand holding came about as a result of what Ernest Kurtz calls the "touchy feely concept of group dynamics" originating in the profitable treatment center business that sprung up in the late seventies. I do not care for the manly "bro hugs" either. I protested this for a long time, and simply decided it was not worth all the rancor and ill will I gathered over the issue. At the amen, I just let my hand go limp and do not engage in the enthusiastic hand pumping and chanting that follows. When I get to the car afterwards I surreptitiously go for the bottle of hand sanitizer I keep in the center console. Then I feel better.
I try to respect the group conscience of whatever group I am visiting even if I don't agree with it.
If you are visiting a group, how would you know what the
group conscience is? Have you ever taken part in a truly
informed group conscience? Just because everyone else
chants and holds hands and prays at meetings doesn't
make it any less wrong. These rituals are repulsive to
some of us. Would you suggest that we just stop attending?
I prefer to just not chant and stand alone. You would
not believe the number of members who have joined me.
An earlytimer just last evening approached me saying
"now I understand why reading HIW at meetings is wrong".
He has been reading about Dr. Silkworth's advice to
Bill W. Bill wrote many times that without this advice
from Dr. Silkworth, A.A. could never have been born.
Bill wrote that he almost ruined the whole thing by
his preachy approach to helping other alcoholics. Yet
we tell alcoholics every day "That one is God! May
you find Him NOW! We are failing hundreds of thousands
of suffering alcoholics every year by this practice.
Usually I can get a pretty good idea of the group conscience of a meeting I'm visiting by listening to the script that the chairperson reads. In addition, I can ask questions to the home group members who attend the business meetings and group inventories.
For a long time I have known that it's the AA Programme that I need, not meetings. Some so-called "AA" meetings seem a long way off the AA programme. It was, and is, practising the AA programme that got and keeps me sober.
I try, as a sober AA member, to practice the AA principles in all my affairs. So I guess it is my responsibility to carry the AA message wherever I go, and particularly at AA meetings. It doesn't make me popular though!
I have been sober for 37 years and have run into all kinds of personalities, and observed all manner of oddball behaviors. And there is no question I have been guilty of thinking and doing some strange things. But, until recently, I have never been genuinely afraid of someone. There is an individual who turns up at most of the meetings I attend. He claims to have had 20 years of sobriety at one time, but left and now has about 4 months. He talks at meetings about having violent fantasies, the most recent one involving the use of a chain saw. I have given him rides to meetings several times, and he has told me that he enjoys talking to me. He has shared things with me that I really do not want to know about him. But, more and more, I find myself keeping my distance. Others think his tales amusing and laugh at his stories, but I have actually become frightened of him. Anyone ever run into this sort of situation?
AA is and always will be about anonimity. We should not be afraid of sharing in a meeting with the fear of what we have have shared inside the walls of AA, will be brought to the publics eye.
I'm not sure how this addresses my concern. No one's anonymity has been compromised.
I'm in my third decade of recovery and I think you have a real concern. There are a different breed of alcoholics coming into the rooms. Safe estimates suggest 75% of alcoholics have an underlying mental illness. The healthier I become the crazier people seem. Despite the majority of sincere people in recovery there are sociopaths, severe mental cases, voyeurs, rapist etc. The group I've been involved with weeds out these individuals tactfully. We have a responsibility and an obligation to make the rooms safe for the newcomer which is our primary purpose.
The Only requirement for membership is a disire to stop drinking. The practice of the 12 steps depends on the individual. It seems to me that those who accumulate time in AA and do not study and practice the steps, are in the process of relapse. Maybe not drinking, but in the character defects section. The Dry drunks are of the worst kind. They start to critizice the new members, or start doing inventories of other AA Groups. The best advice I have for Every member, including myself is to look first at the man in the Mirror. Only then, can I see What, or how should I change my own Personality.
You shared, "It seems to me that those who accumulate time in AA and do not study and practice the steps, are in the process of relapse. Maybe not drinking, but in the character defects section." First of all, what evidence do you have to pronounce such a claim? The steps are suggestions. Many members have found a peace of mind and spirituality without the steps. They are helpful to some but, not a magic potion. The steps will not cure an AA member with mental illness who's behavior may be miscontrued as being on a "Dry Drunk". There are many paths in recovery that will help one achieve sobriety. I've seen members find sobriety in diet, church, exercise, counseling, medication, yoga and love. Who am I to judge others recovery? I try to keep an open mind and focus on the things I need to do to stay sober for one day.
"The steps are suggestions."
False! Popular idea but false. the steps are a suggested program of recovery, just as a recipe is a suggested method of cooking.
While 'suggested' in many forms is used often in our literature, the idea is stressed throughout that they should be followed in their entirety.
A few examples from the Big Book:
"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path," (Those don't know the definition of the word 'thoroughly should find a dictionary."
"Half measures availed us nothing."
"We beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start."
"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
:Obviously you can't transmit something you haven't got."
And from the 12 & 12:
"A.A.'s Twelve Steps are a set of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life,can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole."
"More sobriety brought about by the admission of alcoholism and by attendance at a few meetings is very good indeed, but it is bound to be a far cry from permanent sobriety and a contented, useful life."
Apparently, you are passionate about your ideas, however what works for you may drive another to drink. Its helpful to keep an open mind in the rooms and "Live and Let Live"
We are not in the business of selling spirituality or bullying and controlling others. AA is a fellowship not a program. Suggestion is defined in the dictionary as
"An idea or plan put forward for consideration."
Not all AA members consider the big book or steps.
Anyone who does not consider this way is not inferior to me because we are all equals in AA. And not to break you heart but, many people who haved worked the steps or read the book haved relapsed.
I am here to say hello to every body.
Glad to meet you here.
I believe that our fellowship should be entirely self supporting at all levels by funds
contributed by A.A. members. One local group was offered meeting space in an old school
owned by the town. At a town meeting our group was offered the space free of charge.
The First Selectman and the town leaders appreciated the work we were doing.
Our group insisted on paying an appropriate rent and was directed to send the rent
money to a town function. Sure, some members wanted to accept the free rent and use
the money for other purposes. But the group conscience decided what I consider obedience
to Tradition Seven.
Our GSO headquarters, moved to 475 Riverside Drive, in 1992, and remains
there today. Are we accepting support from outside our fellowship, by using rental
space at a reduced rate "because we are A.A."? I do not claim to know the details
but I was told that is the reason we stay in New York city. John D. Rockefellow Jr,
refused to donate any substantial money because he felt that money could spoil
this thing. He insisted that we support ourselves, although he could have
given us vast amounts of money.
Is our headquarters today (and for the past 20 years) violating the
seventh tradition? Are we indirectly accepting that outside help
from Rockefellow, although he refused to help us over seventy years ago.
Using membership numbers from GSO, I see that our membership numbers
took a dive in 1992, and today remains below the level of two decades
ago. I will add this to the list of reasons Alcoholics Anonymous membership
has remained stagnant over the past twenty years. ANONYMOUS
TO ANONYMOUS; I told you once before: John D.'s last
name is Rockefeller, not Rockefellow. Rose
We had same problem. Was a cabin behind the church. Pastor refused any money, and the cabin was empty anyway. We figured the water,gas,electric, ext. for 2 hours per week x's 4. A fairly good guess plus a little extra in case we goofed and were low.Came to very little amount. It did not cost the church for our meetings, we were not beholding. Still he did not want it. Late after a meetings at night we would put it in his mail box or the house door slot and leave signing it only Anonymous. He may have known where it came from not, hoped it just appeared from heaven someway, didn't care where it came from, we didn't care where it went. Everyone was happy. Don't know if the church made money on us, could care less. We knew they did not loose money on us, nor paid for us to be there. Also I think he preferred not to know where it came from, hope he felt good for his generosity. Ta,Ta,
Many share your concerns about our self support or lack there of, mine centers around the fact that contributions fall far short of what our services cost,only about 42% of groups contribute at all, the shortfall is made up with profits from our literature sales a goodly portion coming from outside the fellowship.
As to the building in N.Y.it is my understanding it is indeed owned by a foundation that provides rent to non-profits(we are one of many occupants)at cost. That is whatever the total cost to operate the building might be that cost is simply divided equally among the tenants. We are given no special consideration just because we are AA. We qualify to share the space due to our "non-profit" status. Thank you for your concern,Mike
How do we qualify as a non-profit, when we earn million
of dollars annually from our Book and Literature sales
business? These materials should be sold at the cost
of printing, without profit. Manny Q.
4th edition chapter 6 into action Promise step 11 page 86 staring at On Awakeing I found this Promise 11 start at p86 Under these conditions we can employ our mental faculties with assurance for after all god gave us brains to use . our thought-life will be place on a much higher plane when our thinking is cleared of wrong motives.What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind.Nevertheless;we find that our thinking will as time passes be more and more on the plane of inspiration.. we come to rely on it as we go though the day we pause when agitated or doubtful and ask for the right thought or action .We constantly remind ourselves we are no long running the show humbly saying many times each day THY will be done" WE ARE THEN IN MUCH LESS DANGER OF EXCITEMENT'FEAR'ANGER'WORRY'SELF-PITY' OR FOOLISH DECISIONS.we become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily,for we are not burning up energy FOOLISHLY as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves. my frist sponsor use this with me would have me read it that way evertime i saw him he has past on now and i have 10yrs sobrirty i have had to write this down many time for it fades in my billfold but has help me though many times of weak spots LIFE i call them i have cents past this on to guys i sponsor for the most i just ask to give it a try for a week 5 times a day !!!!!@ you know i now have 7 guys that can use step 11-10-12 in all our affairs...pray and medititation has been the conner stone of my sobrirty i feel pray and medititation has help be stay inn balance with the god of our understanding
I spent 21 years of my almost 24 in Memphis, 200 miles away from where I got sober. Those were 21 relatively happy years, but I felt all alone in AA because my father had the most sobriety of anyone in the area. I never managed to sponsor anyone who stayed sober, but I did. I smoked for a long time and was diagnosed with emphysema. I prayed that God would relieve me of the desinre to smoke (just as I had with booze). He took away the desire. I developed prostate cancer; again I prayed that His will, not mine, be done. I was cancer free for several years.
I moved back to the city where I got sober and found many of the people I got sober with were still going to the meetings I had gone to years earlier. Old friendships were renewed. I began to sponsor men who needed help and found a greater love of AA. The cancer has returned and I went back to my Higher Power for help. I am receiving the help I need to help me either live with the cancer or have it cured.
All this, I owe to the simple things I learned in AA. Dont drink, go to meetings, read the book, work with a sponsor, work the steps, and pray. These are the things my first sponsor told me at my first meeting. I added several to his list. Get a home group to grow in; get involved in service work; start sponsoring others and showing them the path. This is the most rewarding 2 1/2 years of my sobriety that I have experienced. I can give back to others what was so freely given to me.
Congratulations on the 24 years by the way. I got sober when I was 25 and I find myself approaching 60- I have had similiar living challenges as you. However, I've also received two Masters degrees, obtained steady employment, and live debt free and have the best of friends. I am getting married for the first time in 8 days. I find drinking is never an option. If I don't pick up a drink today then I will have one day sober. We get one day in the rooms that's all. My life didn't turn out the way I expected it to but, even better than I could have imagined.
Thanks for sharing your experience strength and hope.
Theres enough wisdom in the rooms to help anyone stay sober for one day if they choose to do so. Best to your health.
I'm writing this because I do not know where else to turn. Myself and my best friend are both United States Marines and he is an alcoholic. He quit drinking on his own and has not had any since but he's afraid of what might happen if he goes near it. His command literally teases him and makes fun of his disease and he can not do or say anything about it because it is his senior leaders doing it. I can not speak my mind because I'm not in his command and all I've been able to do is support him. He is trying very hard to go home to see his mom because she is sick but they are denying that because he must attend the Marine Corps Ball. If you have never seen one it literally is peer pressure to drink at it's most extreme. Officers and Senior staff non-commissioned officers will force drinks into the hands of Marines and as they are drunk themselves will not take no for an answer. Age restrictions will even typically go out of the window at this event and even 18 year old kids who are new to this will be forced to drink. I have devoted so much of my time and life to helping him overcome this and he's done an outstanding job but now I am afraid it will all go down hill. On the 26th he is ordered to start the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program and he is trying hard to spend one last Thanksgiving with his family as he has not in many years. His faithful service has been completely disregarded and his command has literally said they do not care. This event will occur on November 16th and I'm hoping I can get him out of this event but as of now they will not budge and his attendance is required. I don't know if anyone can help but I'll be watching and listening for advice or support.
Looking for help? Trust in God and clean house - God is bigger than all the warmongers put together in the world, seek it !!!!!
Your friend should be given compassionate leave to be with his ailing mother. You might want to contact the Chaplains Office. They are able to exert quite a bit of influence and can work miracles (pun intended.) It also sounds like there are some UCMJ violations here.
My heart goes out to you, i hope he made it.
Seems to me there must be somoen else that won't drink..maybe not, but try & find out somehow & hang with that person all night. good luck!
Anonymous...I have attached a web link to our AA pamphlet about AA help and the military. It may help some..plus it has personal experience I have also sent an email to an individuall who is very active in an online group for military folks who attend AA meetings online. Hopefully one of them will contact you and your friend. I do not have the experience, but this is a start!
Here is the link to that online AA group: http://aa-intergroup.org/directory_specialty.php?code=mil
AA and the Armed Service, P-50
Personal stories tell how men or women in the military—any rank, any age—can beat a drinking problem through A.A.http://aa.org/lang/en/catalog.cfm?category=4&product=67
I hope that you have found some support for your marine friend. I know a lot of service men who are sober now. I wish I could be of more help and service to you. I am responding because I want you to be commended not only for your service to our country, but for your service as a friend. The support you give him is life saving too. I wish there was more I could do, but know that I will pray for you and your friend.
Marine needs help or friend needs help?
Hello Friends, Just taking it one day at a time, enjoying sobriety.
Im sitting here with over 24 years sober,been crying all day.Ive watched my sister for the last 2years slowly die from enfisema.after years (like me)running away from a.a. she got sober a little over 5 years ago. Out of three childred all of us landed in a.a. and have been BLESSED by the gift of soberity. all three of us have walked in the SUNLIGHT OF THE SPIRT,and for this I THANK GOD FOR THIS SOBER DAY
My name is Sam and I am an alcoholic. I am grateful to be sober today thanks to AA. Today I woke up without a hangover. Today I am not sick to my stomach. Today when I got up I drank some water and not an alcoholic beverage. Today there is food in my fridge instead of alcohol. Today I got up early and didn't have a headache. Today I got up and was not dehydrated. Today I have a little cash on hand because my money didn't go to booze last night. Today I woke up at home instead of in a hospital. I used to go on drinking benders, drink for a week and eat little, then be on the rocks and check myself into a hospital mental ward. They would try to put me back together but only AA can keep me sober from alcohol. I am grateful to be sober one day at a time.
Thank God I am still a drunk and do not have AA members stealing my stuff.
Thank God I'm an alcoholic who has been restored to sanity. I'm no longer a drunk. I'm no longer afraid of the word alcoholic.
When I was new to recovery we shared by giving everyone a chance too pass as we went around the table. This gave the new ones a chance to say pass or to share even if they think they are stupid about what we are discussing. Now we went to random instead of going around the table in rotation. I need to hear from everyone even if they pass. It seems AA has gone the way of group therapy that started in Treatment facilities. My heart goes out to those who come & don't even get a chance to pass.
I too don't care for the random type meetings. But i'm sure there are those who love them who hopefully voted on the decision in a group consciounce meeting. Generally I just don't attend those with the random format, once in awhile i'll be in one when traveling or catching a one off meeting. I don't dwell too much on it, I just chose a home group that has a format that fits my preferences. I've even been in meetings which are not only random but they read and someone interrupts and shares anytime something inspires them. Like I said nothing wrong with that as i'm sure those who voted in the format love it. For me its just too chaotic and like you I like everyone to just go around in order. Call me OCD :) I always tell new people, meetings are like dating, some you'll love, some you'll be neutral on and some will bug you. You just need to try new ones until you find that meeting you have "chemistry" with and make that one your home group. Then you won't take the others so seriously.
"Your heart goes out to those who come & don't even
get a chance to pass." That sympathy is not going to
help anyone. This topic will take action and may not be easy. Share your concerns at the group level. Very few
A.A. members know that this forum exist, so this information
often goes nowhere. Initiate discussion at the group level
at group conscience meetings. Change the meeting format
to read: We will simply go around the room for sharing.
Speak up! Many members may agree with you. Do not be
intimidated by the ever-present power driver. Again, this
will not be easy. It takes courage and character to
speak in spite of the fear you may have. I am convinced
that we will help and hold more sufferers by going
around the room. ANONYMOUS
Around the horn [table] for 36 years we go every Thurs. But there are not many of these, but enough to get us by. Only suggestion is let the newcomer know that it is no problem to pass. No big deal. Thank them for coming. Some times I wish old farts like myself would pass more often. When you get a lot of years and get older hopefully you realize you really do not know very much at all. Some may call that serenity.
"not big on Power People either
As I remember, in the decade of the 70's we always went
around the room for the sharing part of the meeting.
Going by "show of hands" opens us up for all kinds of
EGO problems. Notice me!, Look at me!, Listen to me!
is rampant in today's A.A. meeting. The drug addict fresh
out of rehab is usually the first one with a hand up. That
is what they have been told to do at the Treatment center.
The person who has a desperate need to share, may be
the last person to put her/his hand up.
If I raise my hand I feel I ought to have something
profound to say. Going around the room, if I say something
that is "weak", then that is OK. I personally hate having
to raise my hand to share, but I usually have a desire or
need to share, so I go along with the charade.
While chairing a meeting, I sometimes will ask if there is anyone present who does not want to share. I have had only one no, and one undecided. I am convinced it is just
better to go around the room, even if it is a large
gathering. As I have written many times in the past
our A.A. membership tripled in the 70's decade. I
believe that our growth is related to the way our
meetings are conducted. Membership has been stagnant
for twenty years.
Thanks for the message from another earlytimer. ANONYMOUS
I am so glad you brought this up. I am going to recommend this for my home group at the next meeting of home group members. I had forgotten, and I have been in AA for quite some time. Thank you.
I have been bored and mistook it for loneliness, and I have been lonely as well, in, not around AA. But I had to learn that my feelings are, and to feel them as feelings. They are but a state of mind, which can be changed at any moment as long as I am in recovery and not drunk. I have that option today, toward change instead of the endless cycle of drinking wheteher it be in the day, a week or longer. Change is a requirement, growth is optional. I aim toward growth as a daily goal. But one thing is constant, HP, as long as I have an HP in my life I am never lonely, alone maybe, but not lonely. Constant vigilance and contact with the fellowship and the program make a spiritual connection which will give a daily reprieve from drinking and then I have the opportunity to be alone, lonely and bored. When I drink, it is slow suicidal drinking and, may have a smaller range of feelings; depression as alcohol is a depressant, anxiety-I will look for the next drink or withdraw and anger possibly...I love AA! It lets me feel human and be, just that be, wow, we are truly miracles to be here on earth at the same time, in and out of AA, alive and not as the living and walking dead! I lost soul, with no spirit, now that is lonely, as I once looked on the mirror, at dead looking, spiritless eyes and thought I was the devil herself come up from the grave-now that is lonely.
Is there anyone out there who understands why the reading of "How It Works", aloud at A.A.
meetings, has been so devastating to our fellowship? ANONYMOUS
I didn't know it was so devastating, but then, I'm fairly new to AA.
My sobriety date is July 25, 1971, and I remember someone reading it at my first meeting. At that time there were 31 meetings/week in this locality covering seven cities. Today there are roughly 300. Is this devastation? Looks like growth to me.
Personally, I think the only problem with reading How It Works is with those who for some reason resent it.
I hear people with similar complaints about the serenity prayer and Lord's prayer being recited at meetings. As a non-believer, I have found in each a form of prayer to myself to be at peace with others as well as myself, to be accepting of whatever life brings whether I like it or not, to forgive myself as readily as I forgive others, in short to be less selfish and more inclined towards compassion for others. I read a nice daily reflection from a sister program concerning rote recitation without thought of the serenity prayer. It was a good reminder to think about it, about the Lord's prayer, about the preamble, about how it works, in other words to listen to them each time they are read lest I forget the important reminders they provide and think I have all this sobriety and spirituality figured out.