Two wrongs don't make it right -Take a closer look instead of finding excuse even to be wrong.
Tradition 3: long form
Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcohol. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought AA membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an AA group, provided that as a group, they have no other affiliation.
Tradition 3 short form: The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
I feel the spirit of tradition three is inclusion. I am a member if I say so. Al l that is required is that I have a desire to stop drinking. I don’t need money or have to conform to anything. We let alcohol enforce conforming to the steps and traditions. If I or my group don’t conform, I will surely drink. If I drink, I will certainly die. Also any group of people can call themselves an aa group as long as it is not aa and this or that, ect.
I also need to remember the difference between an aa group and an aa meeting. An aa group exists outside of the meetings.( AA pamphlet the group). That same pamphlet states the sole purpose of an aa group is the teaching and practicing of the 12 steps. AA groups hold meetings so newcomers can find the fellowship they seek.
This is my experience, thanks for reading.
Bill W and Dr. bob were drug addicts. Bill used drugs and attended AA.
I do not believe that Bill W. or Dr. Bob ever called
themselves drug addicts. The experiment with LSD that Bill
agreed to take part in, was just that, an experiment.
Bill writes about that in the literature. Bill's use of
medication to come off his alcoholic binges could hardly
be called drug abuse. I suppose Dr. Bob was able to prescribe his own medications as he felt he needed them.
In my opinion, calling Bill W. and Dr. Bob drug addicts
borders on stupidity. What is the point? Are you trying
to justify drug addicts becoming members of Alcoholics
Bill and Bob were not drug addicts. It is absurd to make such a statement with no basis.
I used lots of drugs, but am not an addict. While reading the Doctors Opinion and the first few chapters of our Book, I learned what an Alcoholic is and found out that I "are one".
Used to attend NA meetings, studied their literature , and found out that I " aren't one". Don't identify at GA, EA, OEA, or Alanon either.
I'm just a garden variety alcoholic, what a blow to my ego. When I take a drink, the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes me. Pretty simple.
Lots of other problems plauge me , but if i don't drink , i grow. I do choose to refrain from using drugs to alter my perceptions , but not every AA does. That's none of my business, It's theirs and God's.
The qualification or only requirement is that you have a desire to stop drinking. All you have to be is an alcoholic. It doesn't matter what other afflictions you have. You just have to have a desire to stop drinking.
If you are not an alcoholic, you cannot be a member of AA. See the pamphlet "problems other than alcohol".
If you have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend.
If you have a problem with alcohol and other problems you are welcome to join.
If you are not an alcoholic and you have other problems, find an anonymous organization that applies to your specific problem.
In your comment you contradicted yourself. The only requirement is the desire to stop drinking. I dont have to claim to be an alcoholic, I just have to have a desire to stop drinking.
Tradition 2 “For our group purpose, there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.
When a group of drunks gets together while working the program of action in aa (12 steps) The feeling of the presence of a Higher Power is incredible. When combined with an informed group conscience, I rank the experience right up there with a successful 12 step call.
When a group of people has lost interest in selfish things, as a group they can make the best decisions for the group. I don’t mean good decisions, I mean the best. What I find amazing is even when grave mistakes are made. The group is humble enough to laugh at ourselves and chalk it up to experience.
I have to keep in mind that I am a servant. That means I am here to serve the group, not govern it. With this attitude I have made many friends along the way. I haven’t had a drink since August of 1992. I spent a good part of yesterday morning with a newcomer with less than a day of sobriety. I want my home group to be there for him as he trudges the road to happy destiny.
This is why I am thankful for tradition two. That I belong to a group that has an informed group conscience and mostly trusted servants with only a few governors!
Thanks for reading.
The highest rank in A.A. is sober but please don't tell your sponsor that truth
Your sponsor might be upset if you take away his/her power.
They would lose their position of preacher, teacher and
Tradition 1: Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.
Just like all the steps, tradition 1 goes against my basic personality trait of selfishness and ego. It reminds me that if there is no group, I may not have contiunued sobriety.
It helps me to clean up my act. I have to think whats best for the group. That usually means tonning down my aa talks a little. It also means I need to speak up when my group is flirting with breaking traditions.
It also reminds me that I might be the only picture my community sees of AA. I should carry myself in town in a way that makes AA look attractive. Nothing too serious, just stop lying, cheating, and stealing. Easy to say, hard to do. Especially the lying and cheating part!
Thanks for reading.
I do not want to be a representative of Alcoholics
Anonymous in my community. If I were to get drunk, the
whole community could say, he was in AA, and it didn't
work for him. This exposure is just not worth the risk.
Personally I was not, and am not, a liar, or cheat. Maybe I stole from my employer by not working up to par. Alcoholism is not a moral issue. We of A.A. need to gain a better understanding of the immense spiritual significance of anonymity. Bill warned that spiritual pride may spoil us. ANONYMOUS
I hate to break the news to you.... but you are a representative of AA. Every problem drinker that knows you quit is watching you. Everyone that knows you used to drink and stoped that has a loved one that is dying from alcoholism is watching you.
At least this has been my experience. I drank after 9 months of dry time. No less then 5 of my old drinking buddies commented on how let down they were. I couldn't believe it. They had been whatching me the whole time!
So whether we like it or not. We are a representative of AA in our homes, offices, and communities. We might be a good example or a bad example. Either way, we are an example.
Thats just my experience.
If we adhere to the two traditions on anonymity, we will
be neither good nor bad examples, anywhere except in our
groups. Keep it Alcoholics ANONYMOUS. ANONYMOUS
An interesting turn of events at my meeting this evening: It is a gay mens stag. A female non-alcoholic visitor arrived to watch someone take a cake. It is listed as an open meeting, but there was much hoohah about a non-alcoholic, straight women being present during the sharing portion. Is there an 'offical' AA Tradition response? My understanding is that an open meeting is open to everyone, although only alcoholics may share, thus there is no men only, women only. A closed meeting can designate itself as men only, women only. Would someone please clarify for me?
Simply put, a closed meeting is limited to alcohics only. An open meeting, anyone may attend, and share if they share about their problems with alcohol.
An AA meeting can refuse service to no alcoholic or will be in Violation of the Third Tradition & hence,not an AA meeting.
There is no such thing as a "Men's" or "Women's AA meeting.
mustafa former DCM
One primary theme of the Traditions is that groups are autonomous and that they follow the guidance of their own group process ("... a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.")
Designations like "open" and "closed" are just for convenience sake; they have no "official" definition. The General Service Conference at one point authorized a piece ("the blue card") that groups could use if they wished, but I don't believe it was ever intended to be a formal definition - that would be too much like governance.
In a large area like the one where I live, it is usually understood that the ordinary meeting format is suspended for an anniversary meeting. (Here, it is customary for the celebrant to lead off by telling their story.) But it's up to the group what they want to do, which probably would include some consideration of local customs and expectations.
Also in my part of the world, it is usually understood that "gay" meetings are open to all. The "gay" identifier is just so that someone coming to the meeting is not surprised by who is there and some of the sharing. Practices will differ in other places.
And when things come up that haven't been previously worked out in a group conscience, the group just has to wing it. Here we need to trust that the group will act with inspiration. But whether they do or they don't, such an occurrence usually leads to a fruitful discussion about the Traditions afterwards. Nothing is wasted in God's economy.
Open and closed has no official definition??? Where do folks come up with this stuff?? A closed meeting is for members of AA only, an open meeting is open to anyone who wants to learn more about alcoholism. In my part of the country anyone can share in an open meeting. I don't particularly like that. I know in other parts of the country only members can share at an open meeting. Let's not forget there is another tradition that says we need to consider AA as a whole when we make decisions on how a meeting is to be run.
Making derogatory comments about those who attend meetings, telling jokes in bad taste, arguing, making leud comments or using foul lanquage and so forth isn't being a very good copy of the Big Book is it??? Some are sicker than others and I suppose some, (myself included because I am far from being a saint), have a long way to go spiritually. Just this year I am turning away from gossip when I hear some. It took me a long time to learn but if I am really interested in spiritual progress and a spiritual way of life I can always improve!
It's refreshing to see posts from an informed and openminded member.
I enjoy seeing groups discuss their format, especially weather to consider their meetings open or closed, and how to define this. It's also wonderful to discuss how to inform newer attendee's and how to address it when attendees don't identify as an Alcoholic at a closed meeting.
My home group has monthly "Steering Committee" meetings that give us time to discuss this and other important things that affect the effectiveness and health of our group. It's almost like our group " continues to take it's own inventory" and stays flexible. In our group Archives, we can see that these topics are revisited over the years. This helps to inform our new members and allow them to participate while the elders can explain how our format has evolved.
Far from rigid, our format continues to evolve , but careful consideration is taken , sensitive issues are given ample time for discussion , with respect for the "minority opinion".
The pamphlet "The AA Group" is a great rescource , and a healthy group should be connected through a General Service , Central Service , and Hospitals and Institutions Rep. that can share what other groups are doing, and how it's working for them. Heck, why not call the General Service Office and see what our employee's have to say about this stuff, They will have no opinion, only share their experience and that of other groups, setting a sterling example.
It took me a long time to learn but if I am really interested in spiritual progress and a spiritual way of life I can always improve! That why I attend meeting for alcoholic individuals of men AND women not group based unprincipled clubs that keep a man or women OUT!!!!!
When I first tried to get some information on AA on the internet several years back, I eventually found my way to our local website, which was in its embryonic stage at that time. I was very confused by the open/closed designations, and it was far from clear whether I would be welcome to attend a "closed meeting" since I was not a "member." I was also looking at meetings with strange titles: "A Bill Sees It," "Big Book Study," "12 and 12," etc. I figured Bill must be some local nutter who has a following, the "Big Book" was a cute name for the Christian bible, had no idea about the "12 and 12." It was not a great first impression, but I eventually found my way to a meeting anyway. I have since shared my initial confusion locally, and I think our website now explains at least the open/closed designation, that open meetings are just that, while closed are for those who have a desire to stop drinking.
Good points on open and closed meetings. Its very simple and you are right on point. But I will tell you this from years of experience in A.A. Gossip is way worst then foul language. Many a member has stayed away from AA due to gossip which is really breaking anonymity. I have seen it happen sad. I try to tell them that AA is not what people say it is the principles that can be found in AA approved literature. Read it live it and you will fall in love with it to the point you will want to spread the message.
Hey all all
I'm planning to travel to Canada swiftly, and I have been thinking which province should I see first ? Because I've no idea if we'll be able to visit all of them ... What a shame
I'm more a wildlife guy, and I'll be with my friends.
Any advice appreciated, thanks !
Welcome to Canada if you are already here.
I have lived and traveled in most parts of Canada and the USA. I live in the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia (small town of Oliver) and highly recommend BC and Alberta our neighbor province to the east. These 2 provinces have everything; mountains, rivers, lakes, ocean, desert,lots of friendly people and AA.
Since this is an AA site I can tell you from personal experience (I have been to AA meetings all over North America) that the AA in British Columbia is the best I have attended anywhere. At least in my humble opinion :-)
Safe travelling. No matter where you go the hand of AA will be there wherever you reach out.
You probably want the Automobile Association of America, Triple-A. This is AA, Alcoholics Anonymous.
Currently there is much discussion about a Confrence Agenda Item to adapt our 11th Tradition to address digital media.This tradition is rather specific in it's short form, and the discussion has been good for the groups and members in our neighborhood.
Some interesting ideas have been shared around our meetings, and the result has been informing to all. It's amazing how much of our literature would have to be changed if we go through with this.This would be very costly, but can we afford not to do something. We could develop a pamphlet, but few of us read them anyway.
Maybe the discussion is what is most important, but we must insure the future of AA. The Conference process takes time, maybe we should start to take some action.
How do others feel about this?
As usual it almost imposible to get a staight answer out of an Alcoholic.
I wasn't asking if Bill was perfect. I'm certainly not.
This may far reaching inportance to the future of our fellowship.
Maybe we should have a history lovers or a Bill W.'s personal / moral inventory discussion topic elsewhere.
You asked, so I will give you my opinion. Bill W. seriously violated this tradition when he agreed to be
filmed teaching the steps and traditions. I would not
believe it until I saw it for myself. I think we ought
never advertise AA at all, not even the Public Service
Announcements. We should never have to promote ourselves.
Let our friends recommend us. Any exposure to the general
public that I am an alcoholic, who no longer drinks,
and attends a self help program, is in violation of
this tradition. To defend this exposure, saying that I
didn't mention AA is nonsense. This has to do with EGO
deflation, explained further in Tradition Twelve. We do
not need a new pamphlet. We need to encourage the
study and understanding of all of our traditions. ANONYMOUS
Maybe you misunderstood the Question.
Do you feel that our 11th Tradition needs to be altered to include our modern ( digital ) media give the cost of duing so and the lenghth we as a fellowship will have to go to do so?
Whether or not any member has personally understood and followed the spirit of this tradition, is anther topic.
I don't think it should be altered because if we start altering the original writings where do we stop? There are always alcoholics who want to rewrite the BB, 12/12, etc.
I think if a person reads and studies the 12/12, (and another useful tool is Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age), they will understand that breaking anonymity at a public level, any public level, is not the right thing to do!
Using the internet but not using your full name would not be a violation of the tradition, right? Why would there be a need to use your full name on the internet when you are in an AA meeting or anything to do with AA? If you are asked to sponsor someone I suppose you would somehow trade personal emails wouldn't you?
The Grapevine recently had an edition on this very subject.
Hope this helps!
I think the topic IS whether today's A.A. membership has
a full understanding of the true meaning of our eleventh
and twelth traditions. No A.A. members ought to, in any way,
expose to the general public that they are members of A.A.
We ought to be willing to sacrifice any of our desires for
personal distinction for the protection of our fellowship.
Bill W. set a bad example of this by appearing on film as
the spiritual leader of Alcoholics Anonymous. He wrote the
traditions, I think with the help of Jack Alexander, and
seriously violated them himself. The A.A. bashers have a
field day with this one. They use Bill's indiscretions
to discredit A.A. We can forgive Bill for his mistakes.
He was old and ill, and more than likely, was encouraged
by his friends. What are our excuses today? Self-centered
pride pretty much covers it. The traditions are adequate as they are written. We need to follow and obey them to the letter and the spirit. ANONYMOUS
Bill W appeared on those films for the edification of AA's. These films were not intended to be used at the public level so therefore there was no violation of the traditions.
It's the same for an AA speaker who allows themselve to be taped. As long as the tape isn't for public use it is ok.
I have heard that the road to hades can be paved with
good intentions. Manny Q.
Honest to God, (of my understanding), to antagonize is not my purpose of posting on I-SAY. I enjoy a little humor once in a while, but my real goal is to try to "save AA".
I find the greatest obstacle is convincing our members
that AA needs saving or fixing. I believe most AA members
truly think that Alcoholics Anonymous is "alive and well". From all appearences, it seems to be alive and well. But appearances can be deceiving, and in this case they are. From the inside everything may look fine. But there are
many on the outside, some alcoholic and some non-alcoholic who are really AA bashers. Some say that Alcoholics
Anonymous does more harm than good. Anyone with computer
skills can find many who actually hate AA. Some say that
AA prevents alcoholics from seeking real help.
But I truly believe that Alcoholics Anonymous is God's
greatest gift to the suffering alcoholic. God gave us
a solution. He gave us this gift through a chain of events
which are documented in our History books. Ebby T had the
gift and passed it on to Bill W. Our co-founder tried to pass it on to other suffering alcoholics. To use Bill W.'s
words, Bill was spectacularly unsuccessfull at helping
even one. But Bill was determined. For six months he
continued trying. Thank God Bill never gave up. I think
Lois was the one who first realized that at least all
the effort was keeping Bill sober. When Bill found himself
in Akron, on the verge of relapse, he realized deeply
that he needed another alcoholic to talk to, in order to
preserve his own sobriety and survive.
Before Bill's journey from New York to Akron he had
received advice from Dr. Silkworth. The doctor advised
Bill to change his approach. In his desperation, Bill
followed that advice. Bill wrote several times in our
literature that without that advice AA could never have
been born. This was what Bill called the "Cart before
the horse IDEA. Bill did not preach to Dr Bob. Bill
simply shared his own story and left what we call the
spiritual tools at Dr. Bob's feet. He did not try to
convert Dr. Bob. He did not try to cram the tools down
Dr. Bob's throat, like we do today at meetings: That One
is God, may you find Him now! Bill gave up his previous
role as preacher, teacher, sponsor, counselor. He
was just a sick soul trying desperately to save himself.
Dr. Bob responded favorably to that simple approach. Most
AA members know the rest of the story. Very few members
fully understand the path which led up to that approach,
or method, of truly reaching a suffering alcoholic at depth.
Why did Bill "water down" the description of his
spiritual awakening, when he wrote his story in the
Big Book. I believe it was because he did not want to
scare away the reader away before the reader got to Chapter
Five. I am comparing Bill's description in the Big Book
to the rendition in AACA, which was written almost twenty
years later. Pages 62,63,and 64 in Alcoholics Anonymous
comes of Age. If no copy of AACA is available, it is
also written in "The AA Way of Life", a reader by Bill,
renamed "As Bill Sees It". For those who consider these
concerns just fears from an angry old man, or writing
with a poison pen, I ask (beg) you to reconsider or at
least investigate. I have nothing personal to gain,
other than trying to fulfill my deep obligation to
the fellowship which saved my life over four decades
ago and saved my brother's life over two decades ago.
You see, I believe the statistics from the
General Service Office showing that out of approximately
60,000 groups in the US and Canada, we increased only
15,000 new members in the entire year of 2010. That
averages only ONE group out of FOUR, saving one
suffering soul in a whole year. In my opinion that is just shamefully dismal. It is unacceptable. ANONYMOUS
same old drum beat, don't you ever get tired of being wrong
Dennis, there are many times that I truly wish that I
were wrong. But the evidence is far from being circumstantial. We are ignoring a tried and true
method left to us by Dr. Silkworth and Bill W. You
may never understand or agree, but hopefully there
are some members left who are willing to at least
consider investigating. I keep hoping that you, Ray
and oliver will somehow come to agree with me. You certainly have the passion necessary to "turn this ship around". As I have
written many times, it took me over 35 years to
"figure this out". And my concerns are really based
on the membership numbers. If the numbers mean nothing,
then my concerns and ideas don't amount to a mound
of Mule Muffins. ANONYMOUS
The long form of tradition 11 on page 192 in the 12+12
clearly states that our names and pictures as A.A. members
ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. There is never need to praise ourselves. I believe that films
means films. If the tradition meant public films, it
would say public films.
On the video which I saw, Bill mentions that the video
is being made for AA members, not the general public. It
is still a serious violation of the tradition.
Do you really believe that it is OK for A.A. members
to allow themselves to be videotaped declaring that they are A.A. members as long as it isn't
intended for public use. You obviously do believe it.
That is what you wrote. Mule Muffins comes to mind.
How about on facebook, Titter, Email's and the digital world, we have no guidence in the Tradition itself?
Many of us understand the spirit of the tradition, but what about the newer members texting away and updating their Facebook Page during our meetings?
This is my question.
Yes I do believe it. If you read the long form of Tradition 11, (and I am assuming you read out of the same book I read), right before the part you wrote about it says "publicly". It also says a couple of times in Tradition 11 public level. What about speaking to a non AA group. I can't show my face?? Did you ever give your last name to another AA member?? Bill W wrote back in the 1950's that he felt education was a big part of the soulution to the alcohol problem. Where is this education?? Shouldn't some of it come from people who know what they are talking about?? Did Bill give his last name on the film??
You know there is something called the spirit of the law and something called the letter of the law. It may behoove someone to think about both! If he made the film for ego or personal gain like the tradition says then it is wrong but how the heck can prove that!
Recently at an AA meeting a member shared that he spoke at
a school assembly where his son is a student. He shared his
full name and his son's name, when he spoke.
My personal opinion (I have several) is that speakers at
these events ought to be members from another location.
They would not be known and would not be recognized. First names only ought to be used. Anonymity, humility, EGO
deflation and self-sacrifice are involved. ANONYMOUS
Again, the long form on page 192 of our 12+12. The only
publicly I see is where Bill writes: (Our names and pictures
as AA members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly
printed.) Do you have any proof that Bill did not make that
film for personal gain or ego? Of course it can't be proven.
You were the one who brought it up. Tradition Twelve is of
immense value in explaining this.
Some members give their last names when they admit that
they are alcoholics at meetings. They justify it by
saying, "If someone needs me in the middle of the night,
I want them to be able to find me in the phone book." I
personally don't think that I am that important. The "hand
of AA" does not have to be my own personal hand. I believe
anyone looking for AA at any time of the day should be able to look up AA in the phone book and locate someone to talk to. My responsibility is to make sure that the AA number
is available, and someone is there to take the call.
We have no AA police to enforce any of our traditions.
We all share that responsibility. They were written to
assure our future. If we don't understand them and obey
them, AA has no future. ANONYMOUS
At some AA groups the use of last names is common
when sharing. Half of the name for our fellowhip is Anonymous. Who I am is just not that important. First
names ought to be optional, but today at meetings
someone will demand "who are you" if no name is
given. I think anonymous means without name, or
no name given. This has to do with the alcoholic EGO,
mostly what got us into trouble in the first place.
Alcoholics Anonymous has become what it vowed never
to be. I have come to believe that the traditions
ought to be labeled D..ned well betters. Perhaps we
ought to read them at the beginning of the meetings
instead of HIW. Manny Q.
Quote:"At some AA groups the use of last names is common
when sharing. Half of the name for our fellowhip is Anonymous. Who I am is just not that important. First
names ought to be optional, but today at meetings someone will demand "who are you" if no name is given. I think anonymous means without name, or no name given."
First, this is Alcoholics Anonymous, not Secret Alcoholics.
Second, read Tradition Eleven. "....personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films."
Third, read "Doctor Bob and the Good Oldtimers," page 264. "The A. A. who hides his identity from his fellow A. A. by using only a given name violates the Tradition just as much as the A. A. who permits his name to appear in the press in connection with matters pertaining to A.A."
Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers was copyright in 1980.
The quote on page 264 was how D.S. of San Mateo, California
remembered it. I have little doubt that this was how Dr.
Bob felt about anonymity. I think it was Ray C. who wrote
that he heard it on an audio from Dr. Bob's own lips.
It was important that Dr. Bob. S. could be reached
by those who needed him. He was a medical doctor and
treated thousands of alcoholic sufferers. I don't believe
that this understanding of anonymous is best in today's
A.A. Anyone who tries to find A.A. today can easily
find us. If that is not true, it is our responsibility
to make it true. Bill, with the help of his A.A. friends
developed the permanent best, with regards to all of
our traditions, in my opinion.
In chapter XXI Group concerns and angry rumors,P268
is an article about Bill and Dr. Bob being accused of
stealing from A.A. I found it informative. ANONYMOUS
Was reading Merton's so called "prayer of discernment," which includes this insightful line: "the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so." This mirrors some of Bill's writings on the dangers associated with those who think they have a connection with the "divine will." And if I can never be certain of the divine will as far as my daily life is concerned, how can I ever be certain that I have any inside track on what is and is not best for AA as a whole? The discussion of the traditions and how they were pounded out on the anvils of experience (in the 12 & 12) suggest that those who were most sure and most vocal about what AA was or should be turned out to be most wrong. At least that is the lesson I derive from it. Dr. Bob's last words to Bill, "Don't louse this thing up" and "keep it simple" should remain at the forefront of discussions about what "ails" AA.
"the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so". For some reason this
line does not seem to be insightful at all. I find it is
irksome. Today I believe that I am doing God's will for me.
Each day I ask for knowledge for His will for me and the
power to carry that out. I try to align my will with what
I believe to be God's will for me. Am I always to be in
doubt, questioning whether whether I am doing the right
thing? That seems to undermine my basic beliefs.
Did not some of the members who were the most sure
and most vocal turn out to be right. Who insisted that
the twelve steps were to be suggestions. Who insisted that
that a higher power be a God of the individual's own
understanding? Bill wrote that the phrase "God as we
understood Him" may be the most important words in our
literature. And that means the God or Higher Power of
the individual's understanding, not the God of AA's understanding.
Dr. Bob's last words to Bill W. were "Let's not louse
this thing up; let's keep it simple." That has become a
bumper sticker: KISS, Keep it simple stupid! How very sad.
I suppose there are few things which can be proven
beyond a shadow of a doubt. But I believe much of what I
see. When I see men and women day after day admitting that
they are alcoholic, and yet living good productive lives,
this is proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Bill W. and
Dr. Silkworth left us with a solution that saves us from
the alcoholic misery and death. ANONYMOUS
One of Bill's Grapevine writings, I think, became the subject of a clip in "As Bill Sees It(p. 38, I think)" discussing the dangers of those who think they have figured out God's will. As you note, when Bill's wrote in April 1961 an article on "The Dilemma of No Faith," he suggested that "the phrase God as we understand him was perhaps the most important expression to be found in our whole AA vocabulary." Bill goes on to point out that while roughly 300,000 had recovered in the preceding 25 years, "maybe half a million more have walked into our midst, and then out again." He goes on to suggest that some of the fault needs was the "Do as I do, believe as I do - or else!" attitude of some well-intentioned but ego-driven members (in which category he included himself). He gives the example of a prospect being driven away by the spiritual arrogance of speakers, who were convinced that only through their faith could others recover.
I am an atheist, or at least a strong agnostic. I got sober going to meetings that begin with the Serenity Prayer, read the preamble and How It Works before whatever the daily reading is, and closed with the Lord's Prayer (holding hands, chanting when done - you all know the drill). I participate in the ritual. But I am quick to point out that a "group of drunks" constitutes a higher power for me and many others, that the mostly protestant theology oozing throughout the "AA approved" literature need not turn them off and send them away. I can only hope that a few folks with a similar lack of faith in a god or gods stick around when they hear of others doing the same with success. Bill's writings in later years reflect a growing awareness of what "true tolerance" actually means.
So should we pitch all the readings and chanting? That decision is all up to the individual group, just as what I choose to believe is up to me.
In my opinion, the article titled "without a higher power"
was one of the most powerful writings in modern AA literature. Bill W. made every effort to prevent AA from
becoming a religion. I understand that he even gave up
his desire to join the Catholic faith, to keep AA from
becoming attached to any religion. He had separated from
the Oxford Groups around 1937 or 1938. Dr Bob remained
with the OG until about 1940. Although Bill and Dr. Bob
both sobered up in the Oxford Groups, Bill discovered
that most alcoholics did not respond favorably to the
"on your knees" approach. Some did get sober this way
but most were turned away. Remember it took them
four years to save 100 members. True tolerance has a
much deeper meaning than I could ever try to describe.
The reading "I stand by the door" by Dr Sam Shoemaker or
his wife Helen, holds a deep description of what the
AA fellowship is all about. AA is much more than a
twelve step program.
Non-alcoholics enter the house of worship through
the front entrance. The suffering alcoholic, because of
shame, remorse, fear, and guilt just refuses to enter
this way. Alcoholics Anonymous provides a way in. We
welcome the sufferer to enter through the basement door.
All he/she has to do is to approach the door. The door
opens automatically. Once inside she/he finds many others
just like himself/herself. No longer alone, the process of
sobriety begins. Many members eventually find their way
upstairs to the sanctuary, and some down the aisle to the
cross. Some remain in the basement. No one is coerced to
go upstairs. It is entirely up to the individual member.
There is a path but there is no human being on the path.
It is just that, a path. Members who remain in the
basement are as much a sober member of AA as any other
member. Taking the steps is an individual choice. We
meet in the church's basement but we are AA members,
not allied with any sect or religion. All this is in
theory. We have indeed allowed AA to become a religion.
A strange cult-like religion.
The early atheists and agnostics were determined that
a non-sectarian fellowship would be left for the future
generations of suffering alcoholics which were sure to
come. They did their part and did their best. It is
now up to us to separate AA from religion and keep it
that way. It can be done but it will take a lot of
work and a lot of sacrifice. We have to sacrifice our
EGO's and get rid of our spiritual pride. ANONYMOUS