Burning Desire to Share
I belive it was Morty who moved to california and started an AA group in 1940 or so that insisted on the reading of "How it Works" to start the meetings there. It's in AA Comes of Age. Reading those pages from the big book has been around almost as long as the big book itself. Yes even during the booming times of early AA.
Corey, Take a closer look at this reading in AACA. It says that Mort insisted on a reading from Chapter Five at the
meetings. He was the boss. He paid the rent. I doubt that
the first two and a half pages were read over and over.
Remember the preamble had not yet been written.
A reading from chapter five was probably used to open
the meeting. This eventually evolved into reading of the
HIW reading at today's meeting.
Why do you think that Bill W. waited until chapter
Five to write How It Works? Bill wrote that it
worried him to death, where to position HIW. Why did he not
write HIW in chapter one?
Today I believe that Bill placed How It Works in
chapter five for an exact timed effect. It never was
meant to be read from the podium to all and sundry.
In my opinion, it is a horrible mistake. ANONYMOUS
If a speaker at an A.A. meeting opened his/her talk with a prayer,
I believe I would get up and leave. We are not a prayer
group. Pray on your own time, not at an A.A. meeting.
I would hardly call it a resentment, just a serious
When I state "My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic"
is that not an admission that I am an alcoholic, part
of step one?
Admitting that to the group is part of step five.
Something is wrong when our groups do not grow.
We are responsible to make needed corrections. Of
course we have to first investigate. ANONYMOUS
"If a speaker at an A.A. meeting opened his/her talk with a prayer,I believe I would get up and leave. We are not a prayer group."
Obviously you've never been to meetings in Eastern Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania.
"I would hardly call it a resentment, just a serious
A better word might be obsession.
I cut myself off from religion at the age of eighteen and haven't gone back. While drinking I tolerated numerous arrests for public drunkenness, sessions in front of commanding officers being thrown out of places and all the other things that happen to drunks. these were just part of the price I was willing to pay for the right to drink. Desperation got me to AA and allowed me to tolerate prayer, hand holding, chanting and sitting on a hard steel chair for long periods as part of the price I have to pay for recovery. It was suggested to me from the beginning that I focus on what I could gain from a meeting rather than try to see how many tings I could find to dislike about it.
"When I state "My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic"
is that not an admission that I am an alcoholic, part
of step one?"
See page 30 in the Big Book: We learned we had to fully concede TO OUR INNERMOST SELVES THAT WE WERE ALCOHOLICS. THIS IS THE FIRST STEP IN RECOVERY."
Anyone can admit to anything in front of a crowd. That doesn't mean they believe it themselves. at nearly any of our local open meetings there will be someone(with an attendance sheet) who will admit to being an alcoholic.
"Admitting that to the group is part of step five."
The Oxford Group held public confession, admitting one's 'sins' to the entire group.
Step Five in the AA program has us admitting only to God, ourselves, and ANOTHER (just one) human being.
Well, it wasn't for me. I respect the more religious members but, I found it not necessary to have a belief in God to stay sober. Luckily, I lived in an area where there were members staying sober without god or prayer. These AA approved groups saved my life. What would of happened to me if I lived in an area where God was forced on me? I would probably be dead.
These loving AA'ers were the happiest people I had every met in my life. I wanted what they had..or didn't have. I was told AA was not a religous program although there are religious members as there are non-believers in AA. I learned that alcoholism is not a moral disease but a brain disorder/disease. My sins did not make me a drunk. The important thing for me was to go through withdrawal and let the mind settle down without alcohol and to be careful not to switch addictions. Losing my license for a year was a good thing because I had to ride my bike or walk everywhere. This kept me physically healthy and it helped manage my early recovery crazy thinking brain.
Even the devil belives in God -Whats the real issue for going against the sole purpose of the Big BooK?
Thank you for your post. I'm trying to start an agnostic / atheist meeting in my area and I'm finding it difficult to find literature or guidance for this. Have any ideas?
If you live in NYC this is a list of AA approved meetings.
If you live in the Bible belt, well good luck.
If you are an atheist and agnostic like I am, than you will have to grow a thick skin. I was 15 years sober when I moved from an open-mined, all-inclusive area to a downright religious AA area. I kept a low profile and hid my atheism. Because I was not authentic, a part of me started to die and I became depressed. One day a stranger appeared and rocked our men’s group. He was an atheist in AA sober 49 years and never said one pray. I remember a foolish younger member challenging him, "There are no atheists in foxholes" He laughed out loud and replied, "Look, I was in plenty of foxholes in WW11 and never said one prayer!" He was in town for a week and we spent plenty of time together. He returned to the Bronx and I never saw him again. He was a true guru for lack of a better word. The wisdom he shared has kept me sober another 15 years and yesterday I celebrated 30. Of course, my Christian AA friends will tell me god sent him to me. Living in the Bible belt you will experience hostility, rage and hatred, which may come in a silent form by being ignored. It’s challenging for newcomers because we go to AA for support but, in some areas you will only get support if you believe in god. Just to let you know, if you stick around you will find another non-believer. There are more agnostics in these areas then one would think. As I experienced, pretending to be something one is not is not healthy recovery. Hang in there, don’t pick up the first drink and you can take a stand against the fanatics by staying sober quietly one day at a time.
I would like to suggest to you the pamphlet the AA group. www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-16_theaagroup.pdf You will find most of what you need within that pamphlet. After your group establishes itself, regiser with GSO and they will send you a binder of material free of charge with all the information and requirements to be an AA group.
If you are an agnostic or atheist, I would also suggest study and use of the book Alcoholics Anonymous. Chapter 4 "We Agnostics" was written for us to use. Chapter 4 is only 14 pages. The guidlines for step 2 are found entirely in chapter 4.
I wish all the best to you and your efforts with your AA group.
Feel free to chuckle at Chapter 4 and carry on in your recovery.
Some people say that the only thing they need to know is that there is a God and they aren't it. I just say that I don't believe in God, so I obviously don't think I'm it!
I have a lot of ideas. Start your meeting if you must. That
may be an acceptable temporary solution. You may not find
any A.A. literature designed for that particular type of
A.A. meeting. Would it really be an A.A. meeting if those
who believe in God are excluded?
I see two tradition violations already: Tradition one, separating believers from non-believers. and the only
requirement tradition. It would imply that a member must
be an agnostic or atheist to attend the meeting.
I believe that the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous
was designed to accept any alcoholic who wants to get
well. What if a suffering alcoholic attends your
meeting at random? That person could be a believer
of God, or could have my personal belief in Christ.
He/She might find your non-beliefs unacceptable. It seems
that would be prejudice in reverse.
That is my main concern. How is the alcoholic new
comer going to respond to the message found at the
Alcoholics Anonymous was never meant to be a
religion. Of course it has become one, a strange new
type of religion. Any alcoholic approaching A.A.
ought to be allowed absolutely to keep her/his belief
in the God of their own understanding. They can develop
that understanding, or improve on it. Or they have
complete freedom to ignore the God concept totally.
A.A. does not demand that an alcoholic believe anything,
or pay anything. The Big Book and the twelve steps were based of course on religion. The early members used what
was available. But the few agnostic/atheist members
fought to make the steps suggestive. And Bill wrote
that the Big Book was meant to be suggestive only.
To suggest something is just to mention or instill an
idea for that person's consideration, without any coercion.
Whether that idea is rejected or ignored, is not none
of our business.
I suppose that Hank and Jimmy could have just left
the group and started their own A.A. but they stayed
and fought to make our fellowship all inclusive. It
was not easy. Bill wrote that those "discussions" went
on day and night, but those men left us a fellowship
(not Fellowship) which is all inclusive.
So start your own meeting (as if you need my blessing)
LOL. But continue with our other meetings and make every
effort to return A.A. to a fellowship. Remove the 24hr.
book from the meetings. Stop reading How It Works aloud
at meetings. They are just too religious. Be prepared
for some resistance (again LOL). Bill often mentioned
the value of the minority opinion.
I suppose that everyone but me knows that LOL is
laugh Out Loud. Group Of Drunks be with you. ANONYMOUS
You mentioned, "Would it really be an A.A. meeting if those
who believe in God are excluded?" To answer this let me say I think your assuming agnostics and atheists groups are excluding people. This is not correct thinking. All Agnostic and Atheistics AA approved groups welcome believers and non-believers.
In our group occasionally a more religious AA speaker will share their experience strength and hope. If the word "God" or "Jesus" comes up we don't extend the cane and pull them off the stage. Our format is simply not God laden. Our group closes with, "Live and Let Live" We provide all AA approved literature and books at a table. Our purpose is to provide a safe place for the newcomer and to inform them sobriety can be attained by anyone with the help of the A.A. fellowship and principles, without relying on a Higher Power.
From the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” page 34 reads, “For those who are unable to drink moderately the question is how to stop altogether. We are assuming of course, that the reader desires to stop. Whether such a person can quit upon a nonspiritual basis depends upon the extent to which he has already lost the power to choose whether he will drink or not”. From my personal experience and those I have witnessed over the years this is true. High bottom or potential alcoholics seem to be able to stop or moderate. The low bottom alcoholics, like myself, have lost the power to choose whether they will drink or not. I got sober through identification with alcoholics. I stay sober by growing spiritually through working AA’s 12 steps as outlined in the book “Alcoholics Anonymous”. We should take notice that we only mention spiritual not religion or church. Also notice God as I understand Him is in italics in step 3 and 11. I think italics suggest it’s important! In AA it truly is God as you understand him, not how everyone else does!
On page 44 it says, “If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you MAY be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer”. It goes on to say something like half of us thought we were atheist or agnostic. For me the MAY part of the paragraph is the key word. We can only decide for ourselves by trial and error. Is what I’m doing working or not?
I found I couldn’t leave alcohol alone for any period of time (mental obsession) and once I started to drink I couldn’t stop (physical allergy). I tried going to meetings and not drinking using a nonspiritual basis. I could make it 6 days up to 9 months. Alcohol beat me into a position where I was willing to try the spiritual basis. I think that's practicing the 12 steps of AA.
This has been my experience, how about you?
Good luck and God bless you!
You stated, "My question is this, if we are not carrying the message of AA as outlined in the basic text of AA, who’s message are we carrying?" Well, I should think we are carrying our own experience, strength and hope, which is wisdom acquired by staying sober one day at a time and living life on life’s terms out in the real world and not by hiding out in AA rooms memorizing and quoting pages of the Big Book, judging others and acting holier than thou. Knowledge and wisdom are two different things. There’s been a fundamentalist style of AA fueled by arrogance and self-righteousness creeping into many rooms over the years trying to cleanse AA of the infidels. Bill W. was afraid of this happening and was totally against it. This “Holy-man of the Hill” recovery attitude is not healthy for AA. It makes us look like a bunch of hoity-toity, highfalutin, pompous recovery snobs. I’ve learned to mind my own business in AA. I couldn’t care less how another AA brother or sister gets sober. To me, in a way, we are a family and love and tolerance is our code. Why do certain members insist they are better than others or have a need to defend a recovery path which is optional? It’s ironic the top five members of our group are all agnostics and atheists. (39, 32, 28, 25 and 21) I’ve learned so much from them. They opened my closed eyes to understand what recovery is all about. I try and embrace all members in my group with equality. Whether they believe or not believe in a higher power. Whether they read this or not, whether they sit in the back or in the front. Whenever I’m pointing my finger at someone there are three fingers pointing back at me. My sponsor used to say, “When you walk on water let me know my great pigeon”
Thanks for your post. It's comforting to hear other non-believers in AA share. It’s challenging not having a faith and at times I feel like a second class AA citizen in my group. I just don't understand why some people are trying to convert me. I don't try and convert them to agnosticism. I respect their belief in a higher power and would encourage them to continue their faith. I’m not trying to rebel against the founders of AA. I wasn’t raised with any concept of god and I can’t pretend to believe just so people will like me. Anyway, I understand right from wrong. My parents raised me to treat people with respect and to accept diversity. I felt love growing up and it was no fault of my parents that led me to drink. There is not even an alcoholic in my family. I developed an anxiety disorder at an early age and self-medicated with alcohol to help take the edge off being in social situations. Eventually in my late twenties alcohol turned against me and blackouts became frequent. I started waking up in strange places with my head bashed in. I enjoy being a part of our home group. I like to volunteer for clean up, greeting and coffee duty. Once about a year and a half ago when I was opening up a coffee can a member said sarcastically, “You won’t find god in that can.” I replied, “I wasn’t looking for him. The man retorted, “You have an attitude problem. I think you won’t make it.” I just smiled and repeated my manta, “Whatever happens today, never pick up the first drink,” over and over. A few months later he relapsed. Believe me I felt sad and had compassion. We haven’t heard of him since a member saw him drunk on the street. I really hope to see him back in the rooms. Somehow he helped me that night in the kitchen. I learned I have the capacity to forgive and love even towards someone who seemed to be attacking me.
I’m curious as to why discussing AA conference approved literature is disturbing to you? Our literature has maintained the integrity of the AA message……(big book 4th edition page xxiv) I have not said one way of sobriety is better than another. I just like talking about the way described by AA literature because that is the model I use for my personal recovery. Just like any other arena, most people want to discuss what they are familiar with.
Over the years I have met many people who have stopped drinking using a variety of methods. Most of the people I know in my small world that are happy, joyous, and free have stayed sober by working the 12 steps of AA. Regardless of what our opinions are, the 12 steps ARE the foundation of personal recovery in AA (the pamphlet “the AA group”).
I wish you all the luck in your sobriety
Bill W. warned us about turning A.A. into a religion.
Pages 345 and 346 in The Language of the Heart, April 1963,
AA Grapevine, contain the warning. Bill repeated a previous
warning printed in A.A.C.A. He warns that nothing could
be so unfortunate for A.A.'s future.
My concern, reading your message is Tradition One.
Believers and non believers ought to be accepted
equally in an A.A. meeting. A good start is to remove
the 24hr book from meetings, and stop reading HIW
aloud at meetings.
A friend claims that he can walk on water, but
only when it is very cold. ANONYMOUS
I am very curious as to why my faith in the program of AA and the conference approved literature that accompanies it is so offensive to you? I am a member of AA and a believer in AA. I don’t believe in AA because I am smart or special. I believed in AA because alcohol almost beat me to death and I had no other choice. I believe AA literature maintains the integrity of AA’s message. The Washingtonians and Oxford Group had little or no universally approved literature to maintain their message. I have read all I could find for the Oxford Groups.
When I speak of my Higher Power, I am speaking of MY Higher Power. Not yours or anyone else’s. My Higher Power is God as I understand Him. I have not now or anytime in AA spoken specifically to what my Higher Power is exactly. It could be anything that makes sense to me. I could be an atheist or an agnostic, but you can’t know that because I have maintained my story to “God as I understand Him”, which could be no God at all!
On page 93 of the big book it says, “When dealing with such a person, you had better use everyday language to describe spiritual principles. There is no use arousing any prejudice he may have against certain theological terms and conceptions about which he may already be confused. Don’t raise such issues, no matter what your own convictions are”.
To be sincere, your language about atheism and agnostics may be as offensive too some as one who declares Christianity, Paganism, Hindu, Muslim, Budism, or the Great Spirit as his Higher Power.
In AA, the everyday language of a Higher Power fits the bill. AA is a spiritual program of action. No one said anytime in any AA literature, that I am aware of, that spirituality and religion or lack of religion, is one and the same.
In closing I hope I have made clear that speaking or talking of anything other than a God as I understand him could be depriving suffering alcoholics of a life here in AA. Whether it’s an atheist professing his beliefs or a bible Baptist professing his. So when speaking of God, we should always state “God as I understand Him or Higher Power”.
Thank you for the opportunity to be of service,
Thanks Core, I agree there can be fanatics on both sides of the god-not god issue. As Bill W. mentioned earlier, the rooms are big enough for everyone. We have to “Live and Let Live.” There’s never been an issue in my group. We are very tolerant of others. It’s great because it helps the newcomer feel welcome and it erases any excuses they may have for not coming back. I believe why this happens is the old-timers of our group have set the tone. The more religious elders don’t fight with the more agnostic elders. They have learned to lower their egos and act loving and kind towards each other. Newcomers soon learn there are no opponents in the room and it’s safe to leave their boxing gloves at the door. I personally love hearing different points of view when people share the things they do to stay sober. It is all inspiring to me. Occasionally an intense person with god-not god issues will come in to our meeting with a chip on their shoulder but, they quickly realize there is no one to knock down to the canvas.
I just watched a video on youtube where a physicist talks about how within the next 5 years, science will be able to grow a human liver, kidney, and pancreas for implantation into a human being as replacement organs. He specifically mentions alcoholics. The video was uploaded on December 15, 2009. The video is an hour long. He speaks of human replacement organs about 25 to 30 minutes into the video. The title of the video is "The World in 2030" by Dr. Michio Kaku.
I am thinking about making up some buttons that read, Save The Humans Dont Shake Hands. This to me is a very disgusting ritual that should go away. I am in Health Care and we use hand sanitizer constantly to protect others and ourselves. I too have issues with the joining in a circle and holding hands, feels a little too
creepy and churchy to me. I quit going to church mainly because I could not tolorate the "everybody turn around and shake your neighbors hand" Really , I don't think we show the love in our hearts by doing this.
My sponsor sent me a text that read " No one can meet all your needs but Jesus" I was very upset by that. She did not even know what my personal higher power was, she just assumed that since I am in the bible belt that I follow all that. I finally called her and talked to her about this. It was very powerful to me to admit that I was not a follower of Christ even tho that was my upbringing. I am so very blessed and yes I can say blessed even tho I am not a christian, that I have this program. As with any tool we are given in life I will take what works for me to keep me sober and leave the rest at the door.
the wonderful part of aa there are no leaders, nothing one has to do except NOT TO DRINK.
NO ONE WOULD ORCE YOU DOWN ON THE FLOOR, CHOOSE TO SIT OR LEAVE THE ROOM GIVE ME A BREAK I HAVE 34 YEARS AND I RESPECTICS EACH PERSONS CHOICE. PLEASE BE RESPECTIFUL-
GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR PROGRAM
With 34 years in A.A. you ought to know there are leaders
in A.A., although today they are few and far between. Read
the Grapevine article Bill wrote for the April 1959 issue
of the Grapevine. You can find it on page 287 title:
Leadership in A.A.: Ever a vital need.
True, we must not drink alcohol. But I have found so
much more in our blessed fellowship. Just not drinking
may be good enough for you and you can remain a sober
member of A.A. Did you ever try to "not hold hands?"
I ask you to try it sometimes. I shake hands with one
and all. I don't like hugging men, but I never refuse.
The spread of germs is of no concern to me. I do a
lot of handwashing. I will not use hand sanitizer which
contains alcohol. I don't want that stuff absorbed into
my skin. I do not hold hands because it makes us look
like a strange religious cult or sect. ANONYMOUS
Faith opens the door to understanding...
Unbelief closes it...
We need faith in God to overcome our illness
My comment is regarding the article Why So Rigid printed in the January 2013 Grapevine. I understand that some new people need to be gently eased into the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, however I was not one of them. I was told "Get a God or go back where you came from." Since I would have done anything not to go THERE again, I started praying. God and I hated each other! I was also told that if I didn't do the steps, especially the fourth and fifth steps, I would get drunk. As much as I hated to do it, I did. I interpreted the Big Book an the Twelve and Twelve to say the very same thing as I was told. Now, 11 years later, my relationship with God is the most important aspect of my life. I thank God for bringing people in my life that weren't concerned about "being nice". They were concerned with saving my life!!
Vikki R. - Yuba City, California
Corey, I have a question for you. Do you think it is acceptable for Alcoholics Anonymous to
continue to use profits from the sale of books and literature to support services? A considerable
amount of this profit comes from outside sources, as Bob P. wrote in 1986. The paragraph on page
74 in the Service manual, describes this practice as dangerous. By the way, this paragraph was
removed from the 2012 Manual. It seems that our leadership has accepted that they have two
ligitimate sources of income, member contributions and profits from our literature and book
Our tradition of self support gave Alcoholics Anonymous a tremendous boost in the eyes of
the public. How the public views Alcoholics Anonymous is extremely important. Imagine that!
these alcoholics insist on completely supporting themselves with their own money, actually
refusing outside contributions when they are offered. Our reputation became better than
our actual character.
Our goal has always been to support ourselves at all levels with our own money, and to
sell books to everyone at the cost of printing. We can obey Tradition Seven, and claim self
support, eliminating any chance of outside influence. But we have moved further away from
that goal instead of toward it.
Please do not think that alcoholics are still "tight as the bark on a tree". Sober alcoholics
are generous to a fault. I see members who are on food stamps dropping two dollars in the
We have about a million and a half members in the US and Canada. AA members attend an
average of two meetings a week. If every member put one dollar in the basket, that would
generate three million dollars a week. Multiply that by 52 weeks and it equals 156 million
dollars annually. That is a lot of money. Where does it go? It is our obligation, as leaders,
to insure that this money is spent wisely. Members who donate depend on us to monitor where
their money goes.
We are looking at a shortfall of $700,000 for 2013 and a million dollars for 2014. How
could that possibly happen when we collect over 150 million dollars from our members?
Some may complain that members come into the meetings with their fancy expensive
coffee and put nothing in the basket. I am aware that some members do this. But in
my experience, the collection usually averages a dollar per member.
Corey, you are obviously a dedicated, informed member of our fellowship. What are your thoughts on this issue?
Thanks for your dedicated service. ANONYMOUS
In response to your question if I think AA should continue to use profits from book sales to support our services? Personally my opinion is NO, we should not.
I am not sure of the numbers exactly, but I think AA printed the 1 millionth copy of the big book in 1970. I believe last year the 30 millionth copy was printed. That’s a lot of money coming from nonmembers, when I think of the treatment center boom in the late 70’s through the 90’s where large numbers of the big book are bought and given to patients.
I am also not sure of exactly what AA’s profit from the big book is. I know in 1939 it cost around $3.50. I bought mine for $5.00. My group just bought some for $8.00 apiece. Personally I think the book and literature should be sold at cost only and our service centers should be supported by group members. If we don’t have money, we shouldn’t spend it. (Advise from my sponsor, “if you spend less than you make, you will always have money”).
As far as group donations, I no longer attend a local group due to use of 7th tradition contribution spending. First the uninformed group conscience voted to donate $100.00 to a new group and $100.00 to another group that could not make rent. I spoke up and mentioned what the 7th tradition long form states on page 564 of the big book (4th edition) “The AA groups themselves ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of their OWN members”. I said if you want to support that group go to it and put your money in the basket and that we should be sending money to district, area, and GSO. They gave the money to the groups anyway. Then in November they voted to buy $100.00 in gift certificates from the 7th tradition for the Alano club Christmas party. I asked what AA purpose are the gift certificates? They said that they can spend the money however they want and proceeded to do so. I no longer attend that groups meeting.
I think much of the money you described that AA meetings should have is spent in the manner I have just described. It’s really too bad. I have decided that poor sponsorship in my local is to blame. So to do my part, I am devoting more time to the traditions with those I sponsor.
Thanks for the thoughts and discussion topic!
We passed the 30 million BB sales in recent years. I believe
that almost all of those books were placed in the hands of
suffering alcoholics or their friends and families. Thirty
Million!!! Where are the results of all those books? I
don't believe they are in storage at some non A.A. facility. Those thirty million books have been given
to alcoholics with an invitation to join us in our
fellowship. Millions have come. Out of those millions,
very few alcoholics have stayed with us. If you care
to understand why, read the messages on this Forum. Most
of our mistakes are pointed out by others and myself.
Our General Service Board is the worst violator
of Tradition Seven. "Spend What We Send" gets my vote.
Our reputation is tarnished by continuing to accept
money profits from outside sources. ANONYMOUS
"...Our reputation is tarnished by continuing to accept money profits from outside sources. ANONYMOUS"
Thanks for your comments. I was against members of my home group being paid $20.00 to hear "Fifth Steps" at a treatment center. The rationale was to cover gas. We had a group conscious and it was voted on members were to donate the money back to the treatment center. A year or so later I went and volunteered to hear a few "Fifth Steps" and to check out the situation. When I was leaving I refused the money. The counselor thanked me and said I was the first person in my group to not accept the money. Not one member of my group had offered the money back to the treatment center. At our next group conscious I brought this up and members denied it. So much for honesty. I left the group never to return. Sometimes progress not perfection can be an excuse to continue old behavior.
As per Bill W's writings in language of the heart page 222.
Our home group has seen a significant increase in "newbies" attending our meeting and saying that is so unlike other meetings in our community. We stick to our problems as they relate to alcohol or alcoholism.
Go figure..truth is our A.A. message has become very diluted here in our community. "Recovery" houses being the bane of so many meetings.Had " recovery" been around at the time of the compilation of the traditions. It is likely that they would be mentioned somewhere in those traditions.
Just a thought.
First thought wrong
I hear many statements in the rooms which I feel are misleading. They are accepted as "facts or truths" when in reality there is little evidence to support them. I think they can be harmful to the newcomer. For instance, "Meeting Makers Make It" In my experience, the only thing meeting makers make is a lot of meetings. Meeting will not keep one sober. Another false gem "The only thing between you and a drink is God" Says who? and "If you don't read the big book and work the steps you will drink again" Helpful to some maybe yes, but again, what about all the oldtimer athiest and agnostics in AA I know who do not read the book or work the steps. There's been an alarming closemindedness in my area at the meetings regarding the recovery talk. The hoop that Bill W. talked about as being big enough for everyone has been shrinking and we must not put ourselves in a positon where we are turning away newcomers with dogma and false statements.
The Big book is very simple and clear it's primary purpose is to introduce one to a power that can intuitively handle situation that use to baffle us, we come tyo call him by name -God. Take a closer look
It also states that some take it into insanity or death and their not talking about drinking – Drunks don’t read the Big Book sober people do, it’s talking about sober people in A.A that seemed to have been born that way !!! There is more to just not drinking and prying on people to sponsor!!
I try and remember the Big Book is not AA. The Preamble states what AA is, "AA is a Fellowship where ...share our ESH with each other...to solve our common problem..." And by doing this we hope to help the newcomer. Quoting the BB may make one feel bigger but, it leads to arrogance and snobbery. The Preamble does not say "AA is a program where people read the Big Book and quote pages. Hearing a blowhard never helped or impressed me. We simply share our experience, strength and hope and not quote ESH from someone from the 1930's with less than three years recovery. In my experience, people who have to rely on quoting pages has little sobriety experience or wisdom to offer me.
I appreciate your comments about the big book and the preamble. If you check into the history of the preamble, you will find it came mostly from the forward to the first edition of the big book. If you google “when was the preamble written” you will get the following information and more:
Service Material from the General Service Office
THE AA PREAMBLE: BACKGROUND INFORMATION
THE PREAMBLE was introduced in the June 1947 issue of the AA Grapevine magazine.
It was written by the then-editor, who borrowed much of the phrasing from the Foreword to
the original edition of the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous.
So as you can see, you have quoted a part of the big book. Like you said, did it make you feel bigger? Did it lead to arrogance and snobbery? Only you can answer those questions.
I agree with you that the big book is not the fellowship of AA. The big book to me outlines the PROGRAM of AA.
If you read the preface to the big book it says, “Because this book has become the basic text for our Society (I think Society used here is a synonym for Fellowship) and has helped such large number of alcoholic men and women to recovery……..”.
If you read the forward to the first edition is says, “To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book”. I know for me, I want to follow precise directions, but that is just me.
Towards the end of the forward to the second edition, the big book says, “Yet it is our great hope that all those who have as yet found no answer may begin to find one in the pages of this book and will presently join us on the high road to a new freedom”. This is obviously just my interpretation, I think the authors are suggesting too find the answer to my problems in the big book while we join the Fellowship of AA.
If you read the forward to the fourth edition, the big book states, “Literature has played a major role in AA’s growth……….in country after country where the AA seed was planted, it has taken root, slowly at first, then growing by leaps and bounds when literature has become available……. While literature has preserved the integrity of the AA message………”. My interpretation is this,after sharing our experience, strength, and hope, our literature is the key to our fellowship growing and maintaining the integrity of the AA message.
I hope I am not throwing too much at this at once, but since the preamble was written in 1947, I think you would like to read a line from page 17 of the 12x12 which was published 6 years later in 1953, “The book Alcoholics Anonymous became the basic text of the Fellowship, and still is. I think even the 12x12 is meant to be an enhancement to the big book, not a “stand alone” step study.
Finally, my last point comes from the chapter titled “working with others” from the big book. On the bottom of page 94 it says “On your first visit tell him about the Fellowship of AA. If he shows interest, lend him your copy of this book”. The third full paragraph on page 95 states “If he is sincerely interested and wants to see you again, ask him to read this book in the interval. After doing that, he must decide for himself whether he wants to go on. He should not be pushed or prodded by you, his wife, or his friends……”. I think each new prospect for the Fellowship of AA should have read the big book before joining the Fellowship, since it outlines the 12 steps which are the foundation of personally recovery in AA.
My question is this, if we are not carrying the message of AA as outlined in the basic text of AA, who’s message are we carrying?
As always, thanks for posting and God bless you,
My experience is that I was completely powerless over alcohol. I took the directions in the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous and found a connection to a power greater than myself. I agree with the Big Book that I suffer from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer. Today I get to experience freedom from alcohol and the joys of sobriety.
I have no experience with sobriety without the 12 steps but I know there are some other fellowships out there that may be perfect for you.
You said, "I have no experience with sobriety without the 12 steps but I know there are some other fellowships out there that may be perfect for you." Let me get this straight, so according to you people who do not believe in God do not belong in AA. Ouch!
This is Bill W's own words on the higher power business.
"It's interesting to note that there is no such thing as a 'wrong concept' of a higher power. A.A. is a program of ACTION, not beliefs. Do the actions, discount the God stuff, and you will recover and have a spiritual experience." Some people find God in AA and some people find a new way of life without God in AA. I've been a sober non-believer in AA for 30 years. There's enough wisdom in the rooms for anyone who wants to stay sober with or without God. Love and tolerance is our code.
Initially we would ask newcomers to try A.A. for 90
days and if you find that it is not for you we will
refund your misery. Make an effort to attend as
many meetings as you can. Today we tell the newcomer
that have to attend 90 meetings in 90 days or they
will not make it. That indicates that if you do
your 90 in 90 you are more or less guaranteed sobriety.
Yes, dogma and distortion are closing that hoop
to the eye of a needle. ANONYMOUS
You will find no mention of 90 meetings in 90 days in any AA conference approved liturature. If anyone reading this post has seen it in AA conference approved liturature, please post where, so we can read it.
The origins of 90 meetings in 90 days, I believe comes from narcotics anonymous liturature, which I belive to be an outside issue.
There are many things that oldtimers say that cannot and will not help a newcomer. In early sobriety, when the mind is still in a fog, "keep it simple" would be great! Telling a newcomer that they must do 90 in 90 is completely ridiculous.
I recently met a person with 20 plus years who will no longer sponsor a person who will not agree to 90 in 90. Seriously??? Good thing the real AA oldtimers didn't treat each other like AA Nazis. lol
Cannot and will not help a newcomer? 90 and 90 worked for me, else I never would have made it. I share this as my experience, and I have passed it on to those who wished to try it for 28 years now. My experience is what I have to offer. If I invent new stuff to pass on, I would continue to lie by sins of omission. I would also offer that members try not to use offensive labels of others just because they don't fit into a particular mind-set. Such is what the 'oldtimers' taught me.
As I attend meetings, the sense of community is vanishing. Once I walk thru those doors i made it a point to remember people names and really be sincere about who they were. In the two and half years going to meetings, things have kinda off been a down hill. Rarely are there hellos or handshakes. Greeters are being pushed to the way side. Keep coming back and continue to be involved is difficult. Trying to not lose sight off my primary purpose to help other alcoholics, but it is becoming very frustrating. ANY SUGGESTIONS???
Maybe you could help yourself first. If you take care of your sobriety first, others will notice and then ask you for help. If you don't help yourself first, you won't have anything to share with others. Just a thought.
When I was a newcomer I attended an out-of-town meeting where no one made an effort to make me feel welcome. I did not like this and I don't believe any one else would either. I put this on my shoulders and I now say hello to every person at every meeting I attend. When any one shows up at my home group all of the members make sure they have welcomed that person; even drunk drunks. This easy action helps tremendously in relieving one of one's self and it gives encouragement to those attending. Do you have a message you wish to share with someone else? Have you found this program to have worked in your life in a way that makes you burn to see it manifested in another suffering drunks life? I myself want to shout it from the mountaintop that I am free of addiction ridden life and that I have found a way to live that is incredible. I welcome all people to these principles that can rocket them into the fourth dimension of existence. Try this at your next meeting and continue to do it until you see it spread like wild fire! It is only a continuation of that little talk between Ebby and Bill.
If Alcoholics Anonymous is not attractive to those
of us who are already here, how can we possibly attract
and hold new members?
Frustration often was the cause of my drinking. Do
not let this happen to you. Much of my frustration was
due to wanting things to change, but not knowing how
to effect those changes.
I see many alcoholics walking away from A.A. I have
been sober for many years, and often wish I could just
It is this forum that finally offered me the vehicle
with which to take action. I believe we can make A.A.
attractive again. My generation made a lot of mistakes,
Bill W. called them blunders. Studying A.A. history,
I find that Bill warned us many times of the mistakes
we might make. I believe we have made most of them.
Initally I was excited about getting sober and
finding A.A. but things became routine, after a
One of the things which helped me was taking a good
look at the steps, especially the fourth and fifth steps.
Doing those steps helped me and others have stated that
these steps were helpful to them.
Are there any particular practices which you are
aware of other than not having effective greeters. We did
not have "greeters" in meetings I attended, until the
1990's. The group collectively greeted newcomers, without
aggressively pushing them away. The group ought to be
warm and welcomeing.
I have found found several particular customs or
rituals which bother me. It may be members like me that
annoy you at meetings. When I complain about chanting at
meetings, some say," well it is a good way of remembering
names, and we're just trying to be friendly." I feel that
it is a cult ritual and is just plain stupid. How does
that make you feel? (I am not a counselor)
Sometimes the sharing at meetings is dominated by
certain members every week. Sharing by "show of hands"
invites this. We all come together as equals and ought
to be given equal time. Round Robin, going around the
room usually is a solution.
I ask you to share here,exactly why you are becoming
discouraged. With two plus years you have a lot to
offer. What better gift than to offer a suffering
alcoholic a new life, simply by talking or writing
Easy Does It comes to mind. Make an effort to attend
some new meetings. I went to an early morning meeting
today, and it was one of the best ever. We all need all
the help we can get, groups as well as individuals.
The effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous has diminished
over the past twenty years. The causes began about thirty
years ago. We may not be able to turn the tide, but I
am convinced that we can turn our ship around. The
effectiveness of our fellowship can be restored. You
can be and will be part of the restoration. ANONYMOUS
Yes, in my area it seems our primary purpose is to see who is going dancing or bowling after the meeting. Our group stopped greeting and the last person people want to talk to is the newcomer. It gets in the way of the thirteeth step. However, in many areas the reverse is true. The rooms are full of warm, sincere and loving people. I've personally developed lasting friendships in these places. I try and remember I have to due what I have to do to stay sober.
I'm currently looking for a new group. People who focus on other things then recovery get their "Just
Desserts" sooner or later. You can count on that.
People who focus on other things than recovery are not
the people who suffer or will suffer. The high price of
A.A.'s failure is paid by the millions who are pushed
away from their last source of hope. We have a solution
for the alcoholic, and the family of he alcoholic, which
rarely fails. But we are not using that sledge hammer
left for us which drives the message home.
Stop preaching at or to alcoholics. Stop telling
alcoholics what to do. Let the big book be the teacher.
Let the group do the teaching.
Let us as recovered, or recovering alcoholics talk
to those among us about our own recovery, what we were
like, exactly what happened, and what our lives are
The first and most important task is to remove the
reading of "How It Works" from A.A. rooms. This reading
drives newcomers away and becomes redundant to the
members who remain. It loses its value after hearing
it read day after day for a thousand times. Return HIW
to chapter five in the Big Book where it belongs.
Remove the 24hr book from A.A. rooms. The reading
of this book has turned A.A. into a religion. Bill
W. wrote that nothing could be more harmful to A.A.'s
future. And stop all chanting and praying at A.A. meetings.
Chanting is stupid and members should pray on their
own time, not at meetings. ANONYMOUS
You shared, "The first and most important task is to remove the reading of "How It Works" from A.A. rooms. This reading
drives newcomers away and becomes redundant to the
members who remain. It loses its value after hearing
it read day after day for a thousand times." My question is how can a reading drive newcomers away? I would bet its their alcoholism/addictions/brain disorders that are being untreated which drives them away. Last time I heard, each group is autonomous and the group conscious decides meeting formats. If you are bored with the reading, it may be you need to change and not the group. Or perhaps in my case, we started a new group that doesn't pray, read "How It Works" or hold hands. Our objection to "How it Works" was not all members followed the path of god or prayer as dictated by "How It Works" We felt by reading it, it sends a wrong message to the newcomer that there is only one way of getting sober. An earlier poster stated AA is about action. That's why we stopped whining and started a new group. After 3 years there are 40 members. Some people see AA as a fixed institution, others as a growing changing fellowship willing to adapt.
You asked me the question and then answered it yourself.
How can a reading drive newcomers away? Answer: Because We
felt by reading it, it sends the wrong message to the newcomer that there is only one way to stay sober.
If a reading is sending the wrong message, don't you
think it should be eliminated? I certainly do. I think
the reading aloud at meetings is the most tragic blunder
we of Alcoholics Anonymous have ever made. We started
that reading in Eastern states in the early 1980's,
and by the mid 1990's our membership had diminished
by half a million members. Add the 24hr book and we
became a religion. Obviously there are many who share
my concerns, if you have 40 members in the non-praying
non-hold hands group, where you have axed HIW.
My goal is to remove that reading from every A.A.
meeting, and have it removed from our GSO literature
catalogue, as a stand alone item. We push newcomers,
suffering human beings, away from what may be their
last glimmer of hope, by reading "How It Works" to them.
It seems to me that you just ran away from what
is a problem which must be addressed. ANONYMOUS
I agree. There are members who will just whimper and complain until no end. My sponsor told me early on that recovery is about growth through action. He said "Change" can be a scary word for addicts. "I'd rather stay here in my misery than do something about whats causing it."
"What does it take to start an AA meeting?"
Answer, "A resentment and a coffee pot."
Our group conscious voted to stop reading, "How it Works"
We just read the Preamble and open with a few notes about turning off the cell-phones, clean-up and parking. Why waste twenty minutes through rituals and reading? This is what the original poster was sharing I think. If you are reading this than I'm sure you are not the only in your group that is equally bored. If your Group Conscious won't budge maybe you can get the people who feel the same way to start a new group. We are responsible to the newcomer to provide a space where they feel comfortable enough to stay for at least one day.