Burning Desire to Share
LAST YEAR ON THE 17TH OF MARCH WAS MY LAST TASTE OF ALCOHOL. I THANK GOD, MY BROTHER AND HIS FRIEND FROM AA
WHO CAME TO HELP ME QUIT THIS DEEP PAIN OF ADDICTION. A YEAR HAS PASSED AND I AM BETTER THAN BEFORE DUE TO FAITH AND THEIR SUPPORT.
I HAVE FELT THE TOGETHERNESS AND UNDERSTANDING OF ATTENDING AA MEETINGS AS I TRAVELLED ACROSS THE UNITED STATES AND WILL NOW BEGIN REACHING OUT WHILE LIVING IN FRANCE. THANK YOU.
I find it interesting that our A.A Service Manual has been revised/changed/
altered eight times in the past fifteen years. The Manual remained the same for thirty seven years: 1962-1999. I trust that all of these revisions have been properly approved by our General Service Conference.
One of the most recent changes was the deletion of the "in 1986" paragraph from
the manual. This was the warning from a past leader Bob P. concerning the
continued practice of using profits from the sale of books and literature to
fund our headquarters operation. This removal indicates our drifting away from our
goal to become self supporting through our own contributions. There are several
important reasons for our Tradition of self support: No outside interference in
our internal affairs; Greatly enhances our public image; Books and Literature
made easily affordable; Unnecessary or distracting books or literature would not
be published for profit.
Maybe we could return the "in 1986" paragraph to the Manual. But that in itself would be of no value. We must restate the goal and move toward it. Does anyone
on board have any interest in our A.A. Service Manual? I would be interested in
a list of the actual changes in the Manual in recent years. And reasons for those
changes. Bob H. Seymour, Ct.
Alcoholics Anonymous was born of the Oxford Group Movement, a return to basic
Christianity. It took Bill and Dr. Bob two years to sober up forty men and
one woman, who was "The Independent Blond" who later went back to drinking.
By 1937 Bill had discovered that the absolutes of the O.G were more than
most alcoholics could digest. Bill separated the New York contingent which was to become Alcoholics Anonymous from the Oxford Groups. Dr. Bob remained connected
to the O.G until 1940. Against the advice from Henrietta, Dr. Bob severed ties with the Oxford Groups in 1940.
It is reported that Henrietta Seiberling told Dr. Bob
"you'll be sorry". The fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous became strong and healthy.
The Oxford Group Movement sort of faded away. The decades of the forties, fifties
and sixties were years of healthy growth.
Some of us noticed that far too many alcoholics who came to A.A did not
"make it". Those who stayed a while, even a few years faded away. Personally I
suspected that those who left had just not worked the steps properly (to my
standards). I felt that we should place more emphasis on the "Program". So we
spent the next decade pushing the Big Book and cramming the steps down
everyone's throat. By the early 1990's we had pushed 600,000 members over the
cliff, many to never return again. I am sure some of them survived and joined
the many recovery groups which they developed. But A.A. is stagnant in it's
membership and still has fewer members than 1992. We seem to be growing slowly,
which gives the appearance that A.A. is "alive and well". This is far from the
truth. We are on "life support", spinning our wheels, churning and could remain
this way indefinitely. We have at our fingertips a solution to alcoholism. The
"path" really has little to do with the steps. Saving A.A. has to do with how
we administer the "medicine". The technique, method (Bill even calls it a gadget
in Three Talks). The meetings can return to being the medicine. The side effect
is the spiritual awakening. What a wonderful gift. ANONYMOUS
Are there miracles in AA? Depends who you ask. Are there coincidences in AA? This too depends on who you ask. I personally have seen miracles in AA but, ask my sponsor and he’ll tell you he’s never seen one. He believes in coincidences and I think there are no coincidences. I’m glad the rooms are big enough for the two of us or else I would be dead as a nail. The important thing is we welcome the new person and share our experience, strength and hope, which is what we are asked to do as stated in the Preamble. I feel it’s important not to complicate these simple instructions with selfish and insensitive motivations. The less we look like Sunday Church, the Elks Club or the PTA the better. Thanks
Bill W. wrote in "Three Talks to Medical Societies":
You may ask How does this thing, AA, work. Bill answers that
even he could not fully answer that question. That seems odd
for someone who wrote a whole chapter on "How It Works".
We can only describe what we do and what seems to happen to us as the result of what we do. I would add what we do
and HOW WE DO IT.
I believe that Alcoholics Anonymous at its inception was
a miraculous miracle (gift) from God. That has come to make sense to me. I don't believe Bill's spiritual experience
came from any other Source. Some may have the opinion that
Bill was hallucinating due to medications. Bill himself
questioned his own sanity, and called the doctor. The
little doctor assured Bill that he was not hallucinating.
A miracle had happened. A miracle which led to the formation
of A.A. And any alcoholic can join A.A. and get sober,
without even believing in the Miracle. Wonderfully Strange.
You have every right to believe that Alcoholics Anonymous at its inception was a miraculous miracle (gift) from God. I hope in turn you have the ability and humbleness to allow others the same right to have a different belief of what AA means to them. Because if you do that would indicate someone who has moved past belief and into action. I found my beliefs alone won't keep me sober but, make me an irritating and bothersome member.
I’m grateful there are atheists and agnostics in AA and in my home group. Bill was right. Without their input, AA would just be another Oxford Group. Instead of trying to force the more religious elements of the 12-Step program on non-believers, we should embrace them and welcome their experience, strength and hope. Not all wisdom comes from God. Those non-believers I’ve come across bring so much richness into our meetings and they have helped me grow tremendously in my faith. Their wisdom continues to be crucial in my spiritual and religious development. I’ve learned to be tolerant and open-minded while discovering that sobriety does not exactly evolve out of what I believe; it’s more of a by-product of what I do and sometimes what I don’t do. How I live my life is more important than how I say I live my life. Some people are mature enough in recovery to not worry about if a member works the steps or not or believes in God, higher powers, the troll under the bridge or other mystical phenomenon. I bring this up because I have seen subtle antagonisms towards non-believers in meetings and have read posts here, which are very disturbing. Although these views are flat-out against AA principals, apparently they are certainly not against the principals of the self-righteous, ego-narcissistic driven member whose ideas of recovery are tiny and consumed with narrow-minded loathing pointed at anyone who doesn’t think like them. One last thought, when we repeatedly exclaim that AA is not a religious program then lets mean it. Because truthfully spirituality has nothing to do with what one believes or does not believe and we say we are a spiritual program. Are there other believers who are grateful for agnostics and atheists?
I consider myself very much a believer. Why would I
be grateful for agnostics and atheists? I am glad for
any individual sufferer who finds sobriety in Alcoholics
Anonymous. In its purest form there would be no distinction
between the believer and the non believer.
To say that AA is not religious is just not true. I
believe AA to be more religious than most religions. The
beauty of AA is that we are not a religion. We welcome
all faiths or no faith at all. As long as an alcoholic
has a desire to get well, and wants to join us he/she
is welcomed with open arms. ANONYMOUS
"Are there other believers who are grateful for agnostics and atheists?"
Depends. Are you talking about those who are willing to study the chapter in Alcoholics Anonymous written specifically for them or the ones who want AA to take dictation for them?
Your question is obviously your answer. I can relate to the original post. In AA we have to provide the time and space for every member to evolve spirituality or to develop a stronger sense of humanity. Unless individuals are blatantly disruptive or threatening people, we should provide them patience with a little love and tolerance to boot. Although, I am religious, I have compassion for any person struggling in recovery. The chapter you are talking about is not helpful to non-believers because of its conversionary tone. We aren't here to convert anybody but to share our experience strength and hope as stated in the original post and the Preamble. The instruction manual is a suggestion. It is everyone's right to accept or reject it. Either decision does not make them better or worse. There are people on both sides of the jerk coin but, we have to allow them their behavior patterns because people do get restored to sanity in AA and one of our tenets is "Principals before Personalities."
What specific actions do you suggest that we take? Just
discussing the issue here on the forum does little good. What do we do at
the meeting/group level which makes us look like a religion.
What positive steps can we take? I once asked our General
Service Office manager to remove the item with "How It Works"
from the literature catalog. Let the groups know that this was done and tell them why. HIW was never intended to be a
stand alone item. It is part of chapter five and must
be returned to its place in the Big Book. Adding this reading to the preamble has created the image that we
are a religion, a strange religion. Add Richmond Walker's
24 hour a day book and the vision is complete.
My greatest concern is how the new person and the
public view us. Add the incessant chanting and we have
become a strange religious cult. ANONYMOUS
My thoughts are very clear and were written to share the gratitude I have for the non-believers in AA for helping me develop a richer recovery and stronger faith. Do I really have to spell that out to you? What is there to discuss? I hope more people will embrace the recovery diversity that I am grateful for and to develop a stronger sense of unity with our code “love and tolerance.” Perhaps my criticisms and descriptions of certain individuals who attack non-believers and disrupt meetings with bullying tactics with fundamental ideas of recovery could be read as being too harsh. On the other hand your post to me seemed fragmented a bit and over pre-occupied with changing AA, which has nothing to do with my post because I love the AA Fellowship the way it is, as well as, my home group. AA is never the problem; it’s the people who have to mind everyone else’s business or spend a lot of energy trying to change AA, instead of working on their internal stuff which I see as the real problem. It never hurts to start another fourth step when limited by this frame of mind.
You love the Fellowship the was it is. I want to return
the fellowship to what it was before it became a Fellowship.
As long as you see A.A. as alive and well, as it is today,
our fellowship will never be very successful again.
We have the potential to grow at the previous rate of
doubling about every ten years, until all thirty million
sufferers in our country are reached. I mean really reached
as Bill was able to reach Dr. Bob in 1935. Sure, we offer
them a Twelve Step Program, but do we offer them ourselves.
Are we the altruistic society we were initially to be?
How can you possibly be satisfied with an increase of
less than 15,000 new members per year? We are not even
scratching the surface any more.
If you can't see that it is broken, you will never
see any need to fix it. And today's A.A. is so solid
and self-contained that it may never grow again. We
have closed the doors and soon they will be locked.ANONYMOUS
I am not so sure there are 30 million alcoholics who want to recover. AA is for those who want to recover and beleive they need some help.
You want AA to grow? That would require more alcoholics and that would mean increased safety risks for communities and families. Fewer alcoholics in the rooms could indicate a positive sign. Just because AA is not doubling doesn’t mean AA is falling apart and in peril. It just means AA is not doubling. It’s a complex issue. There are several obvious reasons AA is not meeting your expectations of growth. I don’t think it’s because of any internal lack. What are you talking about anyway? Taking over the world of spirituality and recovery? Just because AA saved my life and I love the Fellowship doesn’t mean the person walking through the door behind me will automatically feel the same. Every big thing has a golden age and AA had its time to shine. You want AA to return to magical Eden but, that place doesn’t exist anymore; the solution you seek is not in the past. AA does not have a monopoly on an alcoholic audience. There are other treatment modalities available, which are equally effective. To me, I am happy there are alternatives available because alcoholics that don’t fit into our system can plug in somewhere else and where is it written that alcoholics can only obtain a sober state in AA. In that way, with more variety of treatment options, there are better chances families and children will not be harmed or experience daily or unpredictable rages of explosive violence. Another way to look at it; AA works too well. People get healthy again and return to life becoming productive members of society. I’ve heard this from many ex-AA patriots that meetings become a negative and depressing experience after many years because it’s stuck in the beginning levels of sobriety. I also know many members who get treatment by attending church. This is all good. I’m just speculating that AA’s growth numbers also became over-inflated when the baby boomers started to take to meetings in the seventies and early eighties. Many were sent in by the courts and were not true alcoholics but people who abused drugs and alcohol, got in some trouble and were sent to AA. I also feel the many public health advocacy groups have helped lower the numbers because of community awareness campaigns which directly affected policies that deter drinking recklessly. When I was a kid the drinking age was eighteen. This was a disaster and thanks to advocacy groups, 21 is the universal drinking age today. One last thing, drugs are more fashionable today and perhaps people view alcoholism as “Your Grandfather’s Addiction” I hope this helps, thanks for asking.
We had a great discussion on this very subject at our sat morning big book study. A visitor to our group who has been going to other meetings for about 17 years asked “why don’t we have a picture of God on the wall’’? We discussed “God as we understand him” and turned in the big book to the last paragraph of page 46 and first paragraph of page 47. We discussed how in AA, when someone speaks of God, it’s their understanding of God. This is part of what makes AA so great. Each member chooses their own conception of God, whatever that may be. A religion says “this is God and believe as we believe” AA says start where you are at and as long as we try to lay aside prejudices against spiritual terms or religions, we are on our way. Read those paragraphs on pages 46 & 47 next time you are at a meeting and someone gets too religious.
I once was blind but know I SEE, that everything that AA is I want to BE. I once was blind but know I see, that when I listen to God I can truly be FREE.
Not a Bible or Big Book thumper, just inching towards my understanding of my higher power. Working on some quotes--
God, to me, is much like a prominent cardiologist who only takes walk-ins:
You may have to wait a long time to see Him. Sometimes He’ll give you good news, sometimes bad.
But, if you don’t go to His office or step out of line, you’ll be left to your own de-vices to mend yourself.
In over 26 years of "One days at a time" being sober, I have attended many AA Meetings and in many States. The Fellowship of AA is nothing short of a miracle! I have often marveled at how there is an inconsistency in stressing the importance of Sponsorship in AA meetings. There are many meetings that do stress the importance of getting a Sponsor and conversely, it seems, many meetings that do not. There are topics brought up in meetings that should be discussed with a Sponsor and not around the tables. Often, there are newcomers and relative newcomers, that are trying to sort out all this "sharing stuff" and either lose interest in the meeting or are obviously lost in trying to decipher what is being shared. As with most opinions related to proper AA Meeting protocols and decorum, they vary widely. I believe it is important to search for the AA Meeting that you learn from and gain support from but, my concern is that it seems there is an increasing level of being too open in AA meetings and sharing issues that need to be discussed with a Sponsor and not around the tables. Having a Home Group is vital to this need, for a Home Group should guide a regular member to either get a Sponsor and work with him or, if you are not Sponsoring someone, urged to get a "Pidgeon" soon. This is one of the most fundamantal practices of AA, certainly sharing in meetings but, not to be dimished, the need of aquiring and keeping a Sponsor to share more delicate topics with.
Practice makes perfect
Or does it?
When I was a kid, our school recruited a new basketball coach. He was good enough that he had played some semi-professional ball. He accomplished that being less than six feet tall so he was easily the best ball player that any of us had seen this side of a TV screen. He was absolutely awesome with a ball. We get the first day of practice lecture. In it he said something important that I never heard before or since.
Practice does not make perfect.
Perfect practice makes perfect.
He continued: About anyone can pick up a ball, aim, throw, repeat and get better but only so much better. If you learn the best possible way to hold the ball, move your body, breathe, look where you need to look and follow through and repeat and repeat and repeat you will get as good as you possibly can be.
Fast forward forty some years. I’m reading yet another book with “God” in the title. I have learned that being SNR (spiritual not religious) does not give me permission to sit on by butt and let spirituality happen to me. I invest some effort in it. My current read provides a history of man’s search for God through ritual, philosophy, and religion as well as the lack of it. A common thread among those who have searched and benefitted from it? Perfect practice. Tougher than shooting free throws; you don’t get to see whether you got it right instantly.
The author’s conclusion focused on spiritual growth through prayer, meditation and good works. I really enjoyed the text to the end but the conclusion left me with some feeling of dis-ease. I was locked in to thinking in terms of practicing spirituality in the book’s religious framework. It had been a tough read and I started with the introduction again slowly. Then I got it. My AA program fit her formula perfectly, I’ve been at it years and getting the results for years.
Perfect practice vs. just practice? For me it means application of AA’s twelve step program of recovery instead of trying to keep alcoholism in remission with the commonly heard just-go-to-meetings-and-don’t-drink formula.
I'm practicing being tolerant, loving and accepting of others inside and outside the meetings...even those who don't do my "perfect" program and don't work the steps the way I think they should do...even those who "only" don't drink and go to meetings. It's tough. I'm far from perfect.
One thing I've found is that if I step out of the way and let others be, they unfold to be the people they were supposed to be. We're all heading for the same destination anyway, right?
I remember at all meetings that everyone left feeling like it was your home group. They called them the mom & pop meetings.
I agree about cross talk not being from AA. I remember AA as going around the table in rotation. I feel that cross talk & random meetings are a product of treatment centers, Not AA. In rotation everyone had a chance to pass or contribute. No one left the meeting without being respected as a part of that meeting without being able to pass.
You make it sound like some format was invented outside of your group and you are stuck with it. The traditions posted on our wall tell quite a different story.
After reading many of the opinions throughout the year, it gave me the impression that AA has devolved into two opposing camps. This is far from the truth. I don’t see this in our home group. The majority of us view AA as a Fellowship as stated in the Preamble; a place with a primary purpose and a diverse cultural membership who embrace traditional religious, non-religious and spiritual or humanist points of view. In general, we share a good view of 12-Step recovery and believe it is helpful, however, we recognize that the big book reveals human confinements and cultural biases of the writers as it reflects the 1930’s. We see AA as a family with an egalitarian mission supported by a democratic group conscience. But for the devolved and rigid individuals, their focus has shifted from our primary purpose to defending recovery turf. The fundamentalists believe AA is a Program which contains a finished and unchangeable truth. A Big Book divinely inspired with a 12 step plan; the Word of God flowed through Bill’s pen one desperate night; a perfect book infallible and steadfast, which offers the only means to sobriety. The other not helpful point of view is the close-minded progressive who believes AA is religious and needs a total overhauling. They see AA using covert brainwashing methods which provide members a “Stepfordian” recovery of robotic bliss; however they must forfeit their individuality to do so. When either camp points the finger or claims superior recovery everyone loses especially the new person. We are to welcome everyone with support until the healing takes hold of them and not force our selfish and ego-driven viewpoints onto them. One of the first things I tell a sponsee is to keep an open mind and to have tolerance and flexibility.
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.