Why are some folks so heped up about How It Works being read aloud at meetings? Nothing in the BB is going to hurt the newcomer. If it does they aren't ready. If the word God or the 12 steps scares them off then AA isn't for them.
That is really reverent: Writing the name of God, after one
of the worst foul words in the obscene language.. Sure, God is mentioned in the Big Book many times. No I don't know how many times. I have never counted them. But I do care why the 24 hr book was turned down. I think we all need to know.
"Therefore should not be used in an AA meeting unless group
If the group conscience is going to decide, don't you
think it should have as much information as possible? It ought to know why the group conscience of Alcoholics
Anonymous rejected it, not once but twice.
Yes, I sat silent for many years, seeing changes
which I questioned. I had this feeling that they were
wrong, but now I know. I have done the research. Now
I do speak up, mostly here on I-SAY. The most difficult
part is trying to convince you, in a paragraph or two,
what took me 35 years to learn. I just do not want
to lose another generation of alcoholic sufferers.
Read again pages 197, 198, 199 and 200 in Language of the
Heart. Study them. Manny Q.
I don't get it Manny-are you pro or con the 24hr book. One post you say it says God too many times and the next post you are upset because you don't know why it was rejected.
Thanks for taking my inventory on the F.....
I guess you just assumed it was a cuss word. You may want
to check out the first page of the first tradition about judging the way other people talk. Anyway enough about that.
God is mentioned at least 138 times in the big book. That doesn't include Christ, Creator, Power greater than ourselves, Higher Power or all the capitilized pronouns. I think it is a God program but the good news is it is a god of your own understanding.
My psychologist asked me if I had trouble making decisions.
I replied, well, yes and no. #1. I love Hazelden's 24 hour book. But it should never be used in an AA meeting. #2 The first two and a half pages of chapter 5 contain perhaps one of the most important and most beautiful reading in our AA literature. But reading it aloud at AA meetings from the podium to all and sundry has been AA's worst mistake of the past three decades. Some may say, "we don't have a podium".
We are taking up a lot of time and space, but I believe this
is an important topic. I will try to explain this again. These are my conclusions ( for this hour)
The 24 hour book is a wonderful tool which has helped
millions of alcoholic in their spiritual progress. I have
always loved the book and I still do. I am sincerely
grateful to Richmond Walker for writing it. I have often wondered if he wrote the meditation or if it was done by
someone else. The tone seems to be a bit different, but
that is neither here nor there.
I do believe I know why the book has been rejected
by our General Service Conference, not once, but twice.
Bill W. refused it in 1954. In 1972, after Bill died,
many who had wanted it approved, tried again to get it
passed. Note: In 1972 I personally would have
strongly supported accepting this book as Conference
Approved Literature. I simply did not understand why
it had been rejected.
Today I understand why this book was not approved
as appropriate for Alcoholics Anonymous. It is too
religious, too demanding, loaded with themes of shame
and guilt. To have welcomed this book into AA
would have made AA look like a religion. In my opinion
the religious approach sends the still suffering
alcoholic for a stiff drink.
But the sad part is that AA members and AA groups
through much of the country have welcomed this book
into our AA rooms. AA has become a religion at the
group level. You probably already know that. I suspect
that most of the two million members in AA see nothing
wrong with that.
The religious approach to helping the suffering
alcoholic has been around for a long time, centuries
before the Washingtonions. It does work for some alcoholics.
But Dr William Silkworth developed a method, technique,
which almost always works. Treating Bill W. and working
with Bill after his recovery, Dr Silkworth developed this
IDEA. Bill wrote some years later that without this idea,
AA could never been born. It is the "cart before the horse
IDEA." I would tell you where it can be found but I am just
too tired to look it up. If you counted the number of
times God is mentioned in the Big Book, you will find it.
Sobriety for me was a gift from God. All I had to do
was ask. He was the only One that when I asked to help me,
He helped me. There only seemed to be one important
condition: That I try to help other alcoholics. Bill W.,
obeying the advice of Dr. Silkworth, discovered an approach
which seldom fails. Explain the allergy, obsession theory
describing what an alcoholic is, Share how I got sober and
share this exactly. Do not even imply that the prospect
has to accept anything, or do as I did. Leave that decision
entirely up to the new individual. Attraction, not promotion
is still the key. Make sure he/she knows how to reach AA
and exit. And thank God for my own sobriety given to me
as a gift by His Grace.
I do hope that I-Say will post this explanation. It
is the best I can do today. I am sober today through the
Grace of God and Alcoholics Anonymous. I hope to die sober,
just not today. I am concerned about my children and their
children of future generations. This disease is not going
away. We have an epidemic of alcoholism and drug addiction
in the world today. If we stay with our primary purpose,
alcoholics helping alcoholics, drug addicts helping other
drug addicts, great numbers can be saved from suffering
Most AA members including our leaders, cosider AA
to be "alive and well". I see AA as near death, on life
support. We could "spin our wheels" for several more
decades, helping and holding enough suffering alcoholics
to keep "two million strong". We are only helping ourselves
and very few others. We have the ability and knowledge for
the wholesale recovery of alcoholic sufferers. Almost all
of our mistakes over the past three decades have been
posted on I-SAY. ANONYMOUS
Thanks for the nice explanation. I know there were many factors involved in the birth of AA. Before Dr. Silkworth, Rowland H went to Europe for the purpose of seeking sobriety. He visited Dr. Carl Jung a former student of Sigmund Freud. Jung believed in God and Freud didn't a big reason for their split. Rowland was told that the only thing that could get an alcoholic of his type sober was a spritual "makeover". It worked for him and he carried it to the US to the Oxford members in particular to Ebby who took the idea to bill. The spirtual angle came before the physical angle. Probably Dr. Silkworth's greatest contribution was telling Bill W to quit preaching and give the drunks the physical aspect first.
If you had fifty people in a room and told them to think about God you would most likely get fifty different thoughts, ideas, conceptions or visions, whatever word you like, about what God is. This is spiritual not religious. When a person says "religious", what do they mean? Probably something from their past or upbringing. I believe you are your family of origin.
If you say the program has become religious what do you mean?
The chanting? I hate it. People sharing about their God without qualifying that it is the god of their own understanding or what? I wish people would quailify this.
Are the meetings in foreign countries religious?
I just wish people with good sobriety under their belts, (those who study the BB, follow the steps and traditions, work with others), would get to more meetings and not be afraid of a little controversy and speak up!
We have a morning group, where the chanting has almost
been eliminated. I am so grateful to be able to go to a meeting and make this statement: My name is Joe and I
am an alcoholic, without the group chanting, shouting,
yelling HI Joe! My name is Joe and I am an alcoholic,
is the first half of Step one and the beginning of step
five. It was never meant to be a greeting or salutation.
You may be referring to all the other chants and not
the Hi Joe! chant, but that is where it all started. It
came from the cults and from the Bob Newhart show, I
I wish Bill had written "public controversy" in the
preamble instead of just "controversy". We need to stand
up and speak out at times. But it wasn't Bill who wrote
the preamble. It appeared in the AA Grapevine around 1946, if I am not mistaken.
I regret not making more of an effort to prevent the
reading of "How it Works" aloud at meetings. I had this
ominous feeling that it was a serious mistake, right from the start around 1980. But I had no evidence of my
opinion. I honestly did not understand my own negative
feeling. But I have done the research and I am satisfied
and convinved that I am correct.
Bill W was a complete failure during his first six
months of sobriety. He was unsuccessful with alcoholics
he tried to help. And he worked with lots of them. In a nutshell, Bill was using the "How it Works" and the 24 hr book approach. It was Dr. Silkworth's advice which Bill
said "straightened him out". Bill's fear of drinking again
drove him to seek out Dr. Bob.
Sure, Ebby got sober in the Oxford Groups. But something
was missing. Ebby did not attain permanent sobriety. I
don't know if Roland H. remained sober. I think he did.
That missing link I believe had to do with the suffering
alcoholics need for each other. We come together as
absolutely complete equals. (in theory).
Did you know that religious and spiritual share the
same meaning? I believe that AA is deeply religious, but
we are not a religion (in theory).
I keep trying to come up with an explanation of what
works and what doesn't work when trying to help another
sufferer. I understand that to be effective, we need to
share our experience, strength and hope, not TEACH our
experience,strength and hope. The newcomer learns from the group, not from the individual. Individual reduction of
the EGO and humility are involved here.
I do believe that I should share exactly how I got sober
and that if God was involved, I ought to share that. The
problem arrives when I try to push my beliefs on anyone
else. I should not, in any way, imply that anyone else
should do it the way which worked for me. I should not say
piously, "If you want what I have, then you have to do what I did." Let the newcomer come to that decision all by
himself/himself. attraction not promotion.
In the final analysis I think what Dr Silkworth told
Bill was to stop preaching to the alcoholics, you are
pushing them away with all that religious, spiritual
stuff. He told Bill to quit preaching and give the drunks the physical aspect and to just share his own personal experience ONLY. Most of this message I guess is paraphrasing. Much of it is just my own feelings, beliefs
Try to understand that I do believe the membership
numbers provided by our GSO. We have 20% less members than we had two decades ago. Our fellowship grew continuously
for the first 57 years, and if we are really effective at
helping others, our numbers would always increase.
The tragedy is that these are suffering alcoholics
(human beings) we could be saving. Eventually AA will
have to change or die. By change, all we have to do is
to go back to the AA of the seventies decade, minus
the ash trays. ANONYMOUS
I have not looked the meanings up in a modern dictionary and don't care to as they probably do have the same meaning today. Like many words that have been destroyed. People don't seem to speak the English lanquage anymore!
A religion is something that is man made. I believe there are only so many "religions" recognized. The rest are considered sects. Spirtuality, to me, denotes a one on one or a personal relationship with my HP.
Again, like the word god it probably has as many meanings as there are people!
After your coment and suggestion to read pages 197-200, I fished the language of the heart out of the book shelf. Thank you!
after reading those pages, i also read tradition four from the same book. on page 81 is says "Nor could it assume to represent the whole of alcoholics anonymous by printing and distributing anything purporting to be AA literature.
This is very interesting to me, since the 24 hour day book begins each day with AA thought for the day!
Thank you for posting your comment.
Bill W. made many mistakes. And would have made many others if he had not been willing to listen to his friends.
Rejecting the 24hr book was one of his, and his friends best, most thought out decisions. This book is just not
true AA material. But the AA membership of today would
overwhelmingly vote for approval of this book for use
in AA meetings. This tide of approval shows how far off
track we are in AA today. The tide must be turned.
This per "Barefoot Bill":
"The second most popular A.A. author in total book sales, second only to Bill W. himself, was Richmond Walker. He was a man from the Boston area who managed to get sober in 1939 in the old Oxford Group. There was no AA group in Boston yet at that time. He stayed sober in the Oxford Group for two and a half years, before going back to drinking in 1941. After a year and a half of drinking, he joined the newly founded Boston AA group in May 1942, and finally found lasting sobriety there, never to drink again for the rest of his life. Rich died on Mar. 25, 1965 (72 years old) with 22 years of sobriety in AA.
He originally wrote this material on small cards which he carried in his pocket, to aid him in his own sobriety. In 1948, he put it together in the little meditation book called "Twenty-Four Hours a Day, " at the request of the AA group in Daytona Beach, Florida, which they printed on the printing press at the county courthouse and began distributing all over the country under the sponsorship of their A.A. group. For many years it was the basic meditation book for all A.A.'s.
The book sold over 80,000 copies during the first ten years alone, which means that over 10,000 copies a year were eventually having to be packaged and shipped out year after year, just to keep up with the demand. It did not take long for Rich to become totally overwhelmed by the task. In 1953, he asked the New York A.A. office if they would take over this job, but his request was turned down.
In their defense, New York was desperately short on money, staff, and space; they also already had their hands full with the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, which came out in April of that same year. They only just barely managed to cobble together a financial deal to get that vital book published.
Hazelden offered to publish and distribute the book in 1954. It is still widely used by A.A. members and groups today, with over eight million copies sold.
The little book became the second most popular book in AA history (exceeded only by the Big Book). It explained how to carry out the eleventh step, how to practice the presence of God, and how to attain soul-balance and inner calm. It explained how to practice meditation by quieting the mind and entering the Divine Silence in order to enter the divine peace and calm and restore our souls.
At the top of each page Rich lays out basic meat-and-potatoes information about how we used to behave when we were drinking, how we need to change our lives, and what we need to do in order to keep the A.A. fellowship together.
Then at the bottom of each page he tells us how to pray and meditate. This part of the book forms one of the ten greatest practical works on learning to live the spiritual life that have ever been written, in any century, including both the western world and the world of Asian religions. The eleventh step says "Sought through prayer and meditation (a) to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for (b) knowledge of His will for us and (c) the power to carry that out." Rich's little black book tells us how to actually do that.
His experience in the Oxford Group in 1939-1941 comes out strongly in "Twenty-Four Hours a Day," coming partly from Rich's own experience in the group, and coming partly from his use of an Oxford Group work on prayer and meditation, "God Calling," by Two Listeners. For those who would like to bring modern AA back closer to Oxford Group beliefs and practices, "Twenty-Four Hours a Day" is the most strongly Oxford-Group-oriented work written by an early AA author."
A little research will show that the reason AA turned down Richmond Walker's book was its heavy religious content.
Yes, it is a good book, and yes, it has and still does help a great number of AAs in their daily life. And yes, I did use it for many years, even though I was uncomfortable with it's Christian overtones.
GSO does not try to control what any individual member reads. It does, however, strongly suggest that groups not use outside material, in keeping with our Traditions.
By the way, I don't know how many times the word "God" is mentioned in the Big Book, but according to a Big Book concordance it is mentioned on fifty-nine out of the one hundred sixty-four pages which constitute the basic text.
should be "Barefoot Bob" not "Barefoot Bill."
When I came into AA, it seemed that every other new member
was Bob or Bill. The information about the 24 Hr bood is
easily available for anyone who is computer savy. I often
wondered if Hazelden paid Richmond Walker for the publishing
rights for book, which was already a good seller.
Richmond Walker seems to have been a very spiritual and
dedicated sober alcoholic, but the book rights must have
been worth a lot of money. It was already selling by the
thousands. I sincerely believe that Bill W. and his
friends refused the offer of the 24 hour book because of
its religious content. Bill knew from his own experience
that most alcoholics just do not respond well to the
religious approach. Bill did not want to see AA evolve into
a religion, as he explained in AACA page 232 in 1957 and
in Lang. page 345 in 1963. But as most of us know, that
has happened despite Bill's warning. I believe the 24 hr.
book contributed greatly to that slow drawn-out evolution.
We have become a religion, a strange cult-like religion.
Accepting the 24 hr book into AA tradition by AA members
and groups has proven to be a tragic mistake. The only
real evidence is in the membership numbers. Otherwise this
is just my opinion. ANONYMOUS
Bill's last book was to be a replacement for the 24 hr book.
It was to be a daily reader, titled: The AA Way of life. I believe Bill was tired and it was never finished. He ended
it after about 330 messages and each day was not dated. It
did not sell very well and the title was changed to As
Bill Sees It, just before Bill died. Anyone with any interest, please write to Rick W. at GSO. I believe
this book could be completed by dating the pages and
adding enough messages to make 366 days. But this is
just another of my minority opinions. Some posters call
it B/S. Anonymous
No need to finish ABSI it is a great book as is, plus we now have the new AA meditation book. I read ABSI, the 24hr and the new AA book every morning during my prayer and meditation. I can get something from each. The 24hr is a great book but it is slanted. Where do you draw the line with approving these books! What about Stool and Bottles, The Holey Bible, (this one outsold 24hrs.!) etc., etc., etc., I don't think you can just start approving these books willy nilly. There is a long process to go through and who is to ultimately decide? The next wave of Alky's may have a whole new opinion and change everything again!
I know old timers who call the 12/12 BS!
You can use anything you want in your program but let's keep AA meetings AA!
The waves of alkies who came into AA in the 1980's were
responsible for our DAILY REFLECTIONS book. Upon close
examination, this book is a slighly watered down version of
the 24 hr book. And it is Conference approved. To me it
appears to be a Conference Approved copy of the 24 hr.
book. By 1990 the AA as a religion had already made an
appearance. I will go way out on a limb and state that in
my opinion, Bill W. and his friends would have had trouble
approving the Daily Reflections. ANONYMOUS
I have heard that As Bill Sees It is under consideration
for a revision to include the 12 concepts. I would love to see it extended to 366 readings, with the traditions and
concepts woven into the readings. Maybe the origional title
could be returned: The AA Way of Life, with the nice
grey color. It will be a best seller.(all my opinion).
Do you have a position in your community where you
are in contact with all of the newcomers coming into AA.
ALL AA meetings should be appropriate to all newcomers.
No suffering alcoholic anywhere should be excluded. Rose
Is there any value or purpose for the conference approval process. Certain literature is approved as
appropriate for Alcoholics Anonymous. Many have
the belief that no book or literature is non-approved.
This just does not make sense to me. I see material as
appropriate or non-appropriate. If it is approved by
our conference it is deemed appropriate. If our conference
rejects an item it ought to be considered inappropriate.
The mistaken belief that "Each group can do as it pleases"
invalidates the conference process.
The 24 hour book was rejected in 1954 by Bill W.
and his friends. On page 57 of ADVISORY ACTIONS OF THE
GENERAL SERVICE CONFERENCE OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
1951-2009 is written: 1954 It was recommended that: The
publication rights of Twenty-Four Hours a Day not be accepted. (Floor Action). In the same book on page 61
in 1972 It was recommended that: The Twenty-Four Hour
Book not be confirmed as Conference-approved literature.
The book has been rejected twice by our pioneers, and
yet we have brought it to the podium of AA.
Personally I love this little black book. I have
carried it in my back pocket for over four decades.
I was critical of Bill W. for not accepting it. It certainly would have been a money maker for AA. I
thought Bill didn't want it because it was not his
own work. Let this be my public apology to Bill W. Today
I understand clearly why this book was deemed inappropriate
for Alcoholics Anonymous. The reason, and this will shock
many AA members. IT SIMPLY HAS TOO MUCH GOD IN IT. How can
that be! Isn't God the core of AA. That would be like having a girl too pretty or a car too fast. To understand
this, a true understanding of Dr. Silkworth's "cart before
the horse IDEA is essential.
The first printing of the 12+12 was in April 1953. I
do not believe this had anything to do with Bill's rejection
of the 24 hr book in 1954. Although the 24 hr book was and
still is used widely by individual members, it has in fact
been wisely rejected as proper for Alcoholics Anonymous.
With the direction of AA as a religion, todays General
Service Conference would probably accept the 24 hr book
as approved literature. If not today, it will happen in
the near future. Add that to our list of blunders.
Personally, I am not a fan of "24-hour a day," for I find it to be too preachy, too western protestant theology based. However, I do take issue with the suggestion here and elsewhere that "AA conference approved" designation has anything to do with whether literature is or is not "approved for use at meetings." The General Service Conference does not, and it would be antithetical to the traditions for it to, screen literature for its doctrinal inerrancy. Rather, "conference approved" merely designates those few books AA has chosen to publish. My personal feelings about the 24 hours a day book apply as well to portions of the Big Book, the 12 & 12, As Bill Sees It, etc. The reason AA chose in the early 50's not to publish that book has nothing to do with its content. I have read books directed towards other 12-step groups at meetings I chaired that were well-received, particularly when those present were focused on the message rather than the messenger, the moon rather than the finger pointing to the moon. Admittedly, I did not pick readings from a book for Overeaters Anonymous that discussed their specific challenges, rather I chose readings dealing with the same struggles we all have living life on life's terms. MHO.
Thank you for your informed, intelligent, and respectful response to my questions and statements. Wherever your home group is, they are fortunate to have you!
Our second AA tradition reads: 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. In a true group
conscience, the topic at hand must be fully discussed and
understood, as well as humanly possible. Each member has
an opportunity and an obligation to share how they feel
or think about the topic, opinions welcome. After a thorough
investigation and discussion (which may take more than one
session) a vote is taken. If the vote is 20 to 15 in favor
of a motion, one person from the minority is allowed to
speak again explaining his/her view against the motion. Members are asked if anyone wants to change their vote.
If there are any members who have changed their minds,
a new vote is taken. Simple majority is honored unless
the group has approved another ratio.
A coin toss might be suggested by someone in the
minority, but this is not the process. The decision has
been made by a fully informed group conscience. I
believe that in most cases the correct decision is
made. It can always be brought up for further discussion
at a future group conscience meeting.
Every AA group ought to have a regular scheduled
group conscience meeting once a month or at least
quarterly. Is enough rent being paid? Is our group growing?
Are we helping and holding newcomers?
Bill W. first wrote the traditions as points to assure
the future of Alcoholics Anonymous. Unless we study,understand and return to obedience to these points,
AA will have no future.
The 12 traditions are written in black and white. They are not meant to be interpreted by the person applying
them. They were "hammered out on the anvils of experience"
Let us honor and obey them. ANONYMOUS
Surely there is someone out there who can pick this
message apart and prove it to be mule muffins. Rose
We all have the right to be wrong.We can't be compelled to behave in any paticular way.Heard at a Regional Assembly " Take it to the Steps first, then to the Traditions ". Sounds like a good suggestion to me. I also apply the principals of our Traditions and Concepts to my way of life, and find peace when I do, just as any group or committee does.
We don't need to enforce our Traditions or Concepts, " By example is the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.What he does speaks so loudly, I can't hear what he says"( Norm A.)
It starts with me.
Around here, there are a number of people who don't hold hands with other people as we pray at the end. They just step back behind the circle. There might be two or three at most large meetings. Nobody makes a big deal about it, as far as I know.
There's one meeting I go to where they end with the Serenity Prayer and the Lord's Prayer. I think everybody says the Serenity Prayer, but I'd say between a fourth and a third (out of about 70 attendees) don't say the Lord's Prayer. Even though there are that many people opting out of the Lord's Prayer, the group conscience has decided that they will keep on saying it.
Then there's a group that decided to stop saying the Lord's Prayer. They suffered a boycott by old timers (not group members) who disagreed with the group conscience decision. After a few months the group went back to saying the Lord's Prayer.
Not saying any of this is right or wrong; it's just to illustrate that there are many, many AA meetings and they do a lot of things differently.
Is there a difference in saying the Lords Prayer and
praying the lords prayer? Picky, Picky, Picky. Is there
a difference in citing the serenity prayer and praying
the prayer. I think we ought not pray at an AA meeting,
and still call it an AA meeting. Is it an AA meeting or
a prayer group? Church must be kept separate from AA,
although we often meet in church basements.ANONYMOUS
"I was to test my thinking by the new God-consciousness within. Common sense would thus become uncommon sense. I was to sit quietly when in doubt, asking only for direction and strength to meet the problems as He would have me. Never was I to pray for myself, except as my request bore usefulness to others. Then only might I expect to recieve. But that would be in great measure." Big Book page 23
To me common sense says prayers belong in a prayer group...uncommon sense to me says we're not really praying for ourselves in meetings but more for the newcomer or person coming back, so if you don't like praying, its ok to still pray because your doing it for someone other than yourself.
The most important person in the meeting is the new
member. I think we all know that, only we don't tell the
newcomer. We don't want to inflate his/her EGO. We just
allow newcomers to enter and join us quietly without any
fanfare (in theory). I put myself in the newcomer's
place. I would be confused. Do I hold hands or stand
outside the circle? My experience in my first ten sober
years was just standing by my chair and saying the Lords
Prayer to close the meeting. (for those who wish to
join). I have hope that all meetings will soon return to
that practice. Our membership more than doubled during
that decade of the 1970's. There I go again! ANONYMOUS
A meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous is not the place to pray. We are an AA meeting, not a prayer group. Pray elsewhere in church services on your own time, not at an
AA meeting. Why is this so hard to understand? We are not allied with any sect or religious denomination. ANONYMOUS
If it is in the BB it is ok for a meeting.
At a Big Book meeting where the Big Book is read as
part of the meeting, such as reading a chapter or a story
each week, is acceptable. Members new and old are exposed
to the entire Big Book. But I don't agree that anyone's
favorite paragraph ought to be read over and over along
with the preamble. If everyone's favorite reading is
read at the one hour meeting, a quarter of the hour is
spent reading. And this is the case at too many meetings.
I don't come to meetings to be read to. I can do my own
reading on my own time. Sharing, talking is most important
at AA meetings, not reading to each other. Simply read
the preamble, cite the serenity prayer (if approved by an
informed group conscience) and start the meeting according
to a format also approved by the group conscience. And
to repeat again, I believe that the reading of How It Works
at the beginning of every meeting is one of our worst,most
tragic mistakes of the past three decades. Does anyone,
anywhere out there, share this opinion?? ANONYMOUS
And I believe that reading "How it Works" from the podium at AA meetings to all and sundry, has been our most tragic
mistake of all times. How can two AA members, both with
the same purpose, to help as many suffering alcoholics as
possible, have such differences of opinion. I think it is
best to let the new member do the reading for themselves.
They can read chapter five when they get to chapter five,
not before. Bill W. disguised the Oxford Group absolutes
and concealed them in Chapter five, trusting that the
newly sober member will find them at the proper time. Let
them get addicted to our coffee drinking fellowship first.
I accept the fact that many alcoholics will go to the
grave with no understanding of what I am talking about.
My head was pulled down from the clouds and out of the
sand about five years when I discovered that our fellowship
of alcoholics was no longer "alive and well". ANONYMOUS
The idea that discussion of drugs is taboo in a closed meeting might be practiced in a particular group, but it's nothing that AA as a whole promotes or discourages. Each group can run its affairs as it sees fit (Fourth Tradition). So it's a local issue, hardly worth obsessing about. One thing I have found helpful is to visit as many groups as I can and to get involved with larger AA service opportunities involving many groups. Then I really got to see how the traditions work in practice. My experience in my home community is that meetings that make a big deal about being closed are often dominated by individuals who have their own take on AA.
I know I can't drink without getting into trouble and want to be sober, but I don't feel I belong in AA. At the meetings I've attended and in on line forums people talk about drinking and drugging. I only use alcohol and can't identify with anyone. Should I try church?
I am 58 years old. Been sober in AA since 10/07/1990. Alcohol was my playground. I have never even smoked marijuana! My father was an authoritarian and I was very afraid of him. I knew if you caught me drunk he would torture me but if he caught me with drugs he would kill me!
I am so thankful the first AA meeting I ever went to was a real AA meeting! The first guy talked about how booze made him feel like somebody, the second guy said when he started drinking he couldn't stop, the next lady said booze helped her cope, so on and so on. If they would have started out by saying I snorted coke, I used heroin, I used speed, so on, I probably would have turned my face to the wall and died!
I don't know how many meetings you have been to but I am sure there are some real ones out there. If you are new don't give up. If you have been around awhile start your own meeting.
I go by the book Alcoholics Anonymous. If drugs are part of a persons story and they need to mention it fine. Bill W. and Dr. Bob both mention drugs in their stories, briefly.
But in AA we deal with Alcohol. There are places to go to for other problems.
All of these other programs, to my knowledge, were started by AA's who had other issues. They use the same 12 steps. The reason AA works is because we can relate to one another. It is one alcoholic helping another. My whole life I felt different. My first AA meeting was the first time in my life I felt I was in a room full of people who understood!!
You have a lot of knowledge about AA and about AA History.
I knew very little about AA, even though I went to meetings
almost daily, except for a year when I was working
an evening shift. I bought the book AACA at about 15 years
sober. I read very little of it and gave it away, to a
priest friend who had an interest in the twelve step
programs. I discovered the book again 10-15 years later
and I could not put it down. About five years ago,
I found out that we our AA membership numbers
had become stagnant after declining roughly half a
million members in the early 1990's. This decline came
after 57 years of steady growth. In the 1970's decade
our membership more than doubled in numbers. AA changed
at the group level over the years. I saw the changes
as they were happening. Most of these changes had taken
place before you came in. You know the changes I am writing
about. I keep posting them over and over. Sometimes I
fear that I-SAY will say Enough Already!. But they continue
to post my concerns. Before I found this means of
communications, I simply mailed handwritten letters of
concern to the AA Grapevine, GSO, Box 459 and many others
at random. I have 12 rejection notices from the Grapevine,
and 18 acceptances. Two of my articles have been printed
in issues of the AA Grapevine.
You, hopefully, will be around for another 20-25 years.
I saw Alcoholics Anonymous change from a fellowship to
a Fellowship. Today we are just a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM,
only one of many. I trust that you will be a part of the
reversal. I know how difficult this is to understand.
Just convincing AA members that reversals have to be
made is nearly impossible.
I believe that AA membership ought to double about
every ten years. That would be reasonable if each one
reaches one. There are plenty of suffering alcoholics
out there "on the loose", who are waiting for our help.
Dr Silkworth worked with alcoholics for many years (some
say 20-40 years) with very little success before Bill W.
came along. I suspect he tried every approach possible.
He was called Silky, "the little doctor who loved drunks."
Working with Bill W, the doctor developed this idea for
the wholesale recovery of sick and suffering alcoholics.
Bill wrote several times in our literature that without
this IDEA, AA could never have been born. I believe as
long as we ignore this IDEA, most alcoholics will continue
to suffer needlessly. We do not need new and innovative
ways of reachingthem. Most have heard of AA. I suspect that
what many have heard makes us unattractive, so they hesitate approaching us. There was a time in our past
when our reputation was described as better than our
actual character. I don't think that is any longer true.
Attraction, not promotion. Today I believe that much of
the general public view us as a strange religions cult.
That view is more or less correct. True, much of this
message is pure opinion. You and today's AA leaders have
a lot of work to do. And it will not be easy. "kill the
messenger" will be the response of many. Bill wrote in
an article to the AA Grapevine April 1959, also in The Language of the Heart page 289: Leadership is often called
upon to face heavy and sometimes long-continued criticism.
This is an acid test. In all respect and sincerity, ANONYMOUS
Before I came to AA, I tried several churches. They seemed
to help for periods, usually short periods, of time. AA is
what I needed and was the solution for me. I just ask you
to please attend at least six meetings of Alcoholics
Anonymous. There are other options but I personally feel
that AA is best. Again, that is what worked for me as a
permanent (so far) solution. Just try to ignore the
shouting, yelling, hooting and hollering at some meetings.
That is less in some meetings. You don't have to participate
in the "Hold hands and pray closing. I just stand outside
the circle. And AA is not a religion so please tolerate
those of us who constantly talk about God. You can choose
any higher of your own choosing, or none at all. A belief
in God is not required for AA attendance. Please give AA
and yourself a fair chance. There is help. ANONYMOUS
In forty+ years in AA I have never, repeat never, heard a person at a meeting identify himself/herself as an 'alcoholic and overeaters or as an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler, yet I personally know quite a few who belong to AA and both the others. When I've asked them why they tell me they respect the AA Traditions. And possibly it's because they don't feel the need to be different or special.
I attended meetings of overeaters anonymous in the past.
Initally I would state that I was an alcoholic and an overeater. After several meetings, one member had the courage to tell me. This is an OA meeting, not AA. He
hurt my feelings but I learned a lesson that day. Let's
keep the fellowships separate. They will work best that
way. I know some members say that they want to be
totally honest and admit other addictions. Shoemaker,
stick to thy last comes to mind. Anonymous.
Bill W. explained that the Lord's Prayer became a tradition in the meetings and in his area the chairperson would say "we will close with the Lord's Prayer for all those who care to join in". It may seem like being forced to some people but it is optional. The serenity prayer starts out with the word "God" so what's the difference really. I have just re-read the big book and I don't even know how many times I have read it but it is more than alot. It is pretty obvious this is a non-denominational program but you do need to find a Higher Power or God of your understanding to work the program. Can you make spiritual progress (growth) if a doorknob is your Higher Power? I think you can if you stick around long enough as most peoples perception of a HP changes over the course of time. It is essential for us egotistical, self-centered, know-it-all, be-it-all drunks to get ourselves out of the center of the universe and believe there is something bigger than us.
Here is a question for you; if we are to pray only for the knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry it out why do we have the Lord's Prayer, Serenity Prayer, Prayer of St. Francis, Third Step and Seventh Step Prayer. All these prayers ask for specific things. I think that word "only" in the "only word in the entire BB I disagree with.
You wrote: Bill W. explained that the Lord's Prayer became
a tradition in the meetings and in his area
the chairperson would say "we will close with the Lords
Prayer for all those who care to join in".
Can you tell us exactly where to find that explanation
from Bill? I just don't remember reading that. What book?
Bill W. was not infallible. He made a lot of mistakes.
I believe that is why he wrote "we are not saints." Many
of his mistakes were corrected just before the Big Book
went to print.
Who was Bill W. to tell us how to pray? He certainly
was not a spiritual example. But maybe Bill is suggesting
that for those who do not know how to pray, at least try to pray for knowledge and power.
The mistake we have made in AA meetings is holding hands
in the kindergarden "ring around the rosy circle", praying
for all and sundry. This practically forces every member
to join in. Did you ever try to refuse joining in the prayer? ANONYMOUS
Well I did misquote Bill W. slightly on his viewpoint of the Lords Prayer in meetings. I found the source for you. It was in a letter from Bill to a Russ dated April 14, 1959 a copy of which is in the NY archives but you can see a copy on Barefoots World web site. Hope you find it interesting.
I will try and find the quote from Bill W. for you. I believe it was in a pamphlet. I have read and re-read so much AA material over the years I can't remember where I read it all but I don't quote something unless I am sure of it. If I am not sure I will say so or at least qualify it
by saying I am paraphrasing.
The big book has a lot about prayer in it including specific prayers. If it's in the BB it's OK for a meeting.
No one is saying Bill W was infallable but the BB was writen to cary the message. Word of mouth can screw things up, the written word does not change. You will hear alot of BS in a meeting but you will find the truth about alcoholism in the BB. If a person doesn't like the BB or disagrees with it that is fine. How a person chooses to get sober or if they want to keep drinking is their business and no one elses.
I chose the BB and AA and it worked for me. I mean it sincerely; good luck to those that choose other methods.
I too chose Alcoholics Anonymous and it worked for me. And
I believe it can work for almost all alcoholics coming to
us for help. Thanks. Yes, please find that quote by Bill W.
I ask you a question: Would you hand a Big Book to an
alcoholic at his/her first AA meeting and tell them to
open to chapter five and read it? You have probably
given away many Big Books at your own expense. So have I,
not many fourth editions. I truly believe telling a new
member to read chapter five before 1,2,3,4,can be extremely
harmful. Even worse is to read it to them, as we do
at many or most AA meetings today. I ask you again to
study the meaning of Dr Silkworth's "cart before the
horse" IDEA. Bill writes several times that without this
idea Alcoholics Anonymous could never have been born.
Tradition Four does not read "each group can run its affairs as it sees fit". Read it again in our 12&12. Study
the tradition and make note of the two "storm signals".
The traditions are not laws. We have no AA police. We
are all responsible to assure AA's future. That was and
is what the traditions are all about. ANONYMOUS
"The idea that discussion of drugs is taboo in a closed meeting might be practiced in a particular group, but it's nothing that AA as a whole promotes or discourages. Each group can run its affairs as it sees fit (Fourth Tradition)"
"Except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole."
Read the pamphlet titled, "Problems Other Than Alcohol."
"Sobriety - Freedom from alcohol - through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of an A.A. group."
"I see no way of making nonalcoholic addicts into A.A. members. Experience says loudly that we can make no exceptions, even though drug users and alcoholics happen to be first cousins of a sort."
The old copout, "I talk about drugs because a newcomer might identify with my drug use," is a lot of mule muffins. How about the alcoholic newcomer who didn't get addicted to drugs? I notice the addicts don't care about him.
I see discussion of drugs at an AA meeting as nothing more that a way to show that you're different from the common alcoholics.
I supposed it depends on the prevailing age of the group members, but I'm over 60 and used drugs as well as alcohol. Most of the groups I attend have no problem with people mentioning their drug use, as well as their desire for abstinence from both alcohol and drugs (unless prescribed and even then with careful limits with painkillers). So at least for me, it's important in this century to talk about drugs to compare in. If you haven't abused drugs, just add "yet' - You're Eligible Too.
Why not let the alcoholics help alcoholics? Let the drug abusers help other drug addicts. The time has come
to separate AA from NA. They never should have been
combined in the first place, but let us learn from our
mistakes. There are plenty of alcoholics and drug
addicts to fill all rooms. And with the growing epidemic
of obesity, overeaters anonymous will continue to increase
in membership. Separated all programs win. Combined all
become very weak. All my opinion. ANONYMOUS
Why do people want to divide and dilute it?
Why did we allow Alcoholics Anonymous to be diluted and
moved away from its primary purpose. My excuse is that I did
not want to turn away anyone who might benefit from the AA
fellowship. Why did we allow AA to be altered to fit all
addicts, instead of staying with our primary purpose. Our
own kindness, concern and acceptance has become our tragic downfall. I believe AA and NA work, each in its origional
form. Everyone wins. Combining them weakens both fellowships
and everyone loses. If we begin now to gently, or not so
gently, remove drug addicts from Alcoholics Anonymous
they will have to help improve Narcotics Anonymous. I just
do not identify with "copping", or sticking a needle in
my arm. And I never spent time in a hotel room, spending
someone else's hard earned money to supply friends, some
I don't even know.
These things will actually never come about. Like it or
not the cross addicted, dual addicted have moved to the
majority. At least it is that ratio in my local. I have
heard of meetings in other states, where tradition three
and tradition four are honored. But not here. ANONYMOUS
We all know that the non-alcoholic drug addict can never
become a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Who are we fooling?
They are as much an AA member as any of the rest of us.