The term keep it simple is a good way for me to live.
Yet when I grow in sobriety there is nothing wrong with that growth having more depth as I go along. Lets not confuse the two words and there meenings. KISS is fine but growth in AA is important to me. I would like to have a discussion on this at some point.
I have been to meetings from NY to Hawaii, I have held hands, showed up 15 minutes early and left 15 minutes late, I have shown up late for meetings and been on time to meetings. I have heard chanting, drug talk, mention of other fellowships and seen people get sober both with and without a sponsor. I have been to meetings with 2 people and meetings with 2500 people. I have met sane people who have never completed the steps and crazy people who go through the steps once a year. I have heard suggestions, demands, advice, character assassination, gossip and "The R-U-L-E-S". I have also heard love, laughter, joy, hope, praise and comfort given to newcomers and old-timers alike. I have seen people share for a really long time and some folks so nervous they hardly get out their name. I have seen arguments over which way chairs should face and debates over a meeting providing childcare. I have been told I was working the program wrong, I was working the program right and just about every other variation.
At my first meeting I felt welcome and wanted by the chant "Keep coming back". I don't know who else needed to know they were wanted but I sure did.
I have a sponsor. I want to have someone light the path ahead of me; maybe I will trip on fewer rocks that way. I believe in sponsorship as described in the Working with others. It amounts to a respectful, loving friendship. Not a demanding dictatorship.
As for praying and it scaring away some newcomers. It might, however it's far more likely that once they hear the actions suggested in the steps. That is the truly scary part. Another member once said to me that when it comes to AA, "To those who really want it you can say nothing wrong and to those who don't want it you can say nothing right."
Why are we not growing like we used to? Chances are there is more than just one reason. I offer this for consideration,
A.)When our program was founded there were no treatment centers and very little outside help for anyone suffering from an addiction. Mostly they were locked up in jails or nut houses. Starting in the 1980's the treatment industry has really blossomed both for treatment centers, church based recovery and licensed addiction therapists. Now, 20 years later a person has more options as to how they want to approach recovery.
B.) Relapse, old age, accidents and death. Lots if people relapse and don't come back. Lots of people die sober every year, we are sober not immortal.
C.) Every organization reaches a point where they go from growing membership to maintaining membership. Most everyone who is interested has already tried it or is currently doing it. Why would AA be exempt from this pattern?
D.) Rigidity AKA "The unwritten R-U-L-E-S!" Over the years that I have been sober the only thing that has ever turned me off has been the folks who go around trying to remake AA in their own image. The ones who imply that if you are not doing the program the way they think it should be done then your sobriety doesn’t count, who tell you what meetings you should be attending, who tell you who your sponsor should be and treat sponcees as errand boys, maids, children or beings who are lesser than. Etc.
I suppose that whatever mountain top you are standing on tends to look like the center of the world.
Thanks for reading -CK, Hawaii
the bleeding deacons in a club, rarely attend 12x12 step and tradition studies. As one who has seen a lot of bleeding deacons come and go, As a certified "old timer,hopefully elder stateman" I've often felt compelled to remind some of the younger blooming deacons that attendance in a few studies of the traditions might be in order.
We have no rules. Groups can set their own format, but autonomy is different than rules. A person is a member of AA when they say, not when they meet some membership objective.
I've seen meetings, where they have attempted through a guru to laid down guidelines for things, and often find myself not returning to that meeting, eventually to hear that the meeting collapsed due to non-attendance.
Rules and Alcoholics don't mix. It is part of how AA has evolved.
"I have a sponsor. I want to have someone light the path ahead of me; maybe I will trip on fewer rocks that way. I believe in sponsorship as described in the Working with others. It amounts to a respectful, loving friendship. Not a demanding dictatorship."
Something is not of A.A. here
1. A.A is not a dark place the path is well light
2. If not sure A.A. invites one to go out and trip
3. A.A believes in God not your sponsor
4. Working with others does not mention the word sponsor nor is it even mentioned in the 164 pages of the program but superstition, illusions and delusions are.
5. A condition laid upon anyone is not respectful
6. will agree with dictator not the demanding part as we are all powerless.
When all else fails try God not a sponsor.
Why are we not growing the way we used to? Yes there are more than one reason. I believe AA could have survived one
or two mistakes. Bill W. often expressed a concern about
mistakes we could make which could harm our fellowship. I saw many mistakes being made during the past four decades.
I did not know that these mistakes would harm AA as a whole.
I felt uneasy as the changes were being made, but could not
justify my feelings. I really had the same view that most
AA members have today. With two million members AA must be
"alive and well". It appears to be. After studying our AA
history, I understand now that we are failing, and the
reasons for our failure. Our worst most tragic mistake was
the introduction of the reading of "How it Works" at the
beginning of the meeting. Second was the introduction of
chanting at meetings, which makes us look like some kind of cult. The acceptance of the 24 hour book by AA groups,
has increased our religious reputation. The "show of hands"
sharing has several flaws. They mostly have to do with
the EGO. Todays role of sponsorship has been severely
distorted. It sets us up for hierarchy and patriarchy.
This system does much more harm than good. The practice of
a "moment of silence", followed by the kindergarten "ring
around the rosy, hold hands and pray closing", combined
with all of our other changes, distortions, blunders,
mistakes, has pushed away hundreds of thousands from
our rooms. ANONYMOUS
It's ceases to amaze me that after Bill W passed away in 1971 - how the public wanted to inject an outside system pamphlet
in A.A. and achieved it in 1976- Since then it has been revised and revised as they try to inject a square peg in a round hole removing and adding pages to the undermining of A.A's pertinent ideas, principles and promises. AMAZING
A.A. is not a dark place a sponsor has to shed light on - Outside of A.A. is if you be alcoholic - Let go and Let God - sponsors and spousees make God small and helpless in A.A. for it is humanly impossible to be true to thy own self when looking for the truth in another !!
The steps are good and belong to everyone and anyone
The Traditions are great and only belong to A.A.
I can understand the reaction of the poster who dislikes being read to and having the group respond in unison to some things that happen in meetings. I have been around awhile and I, too, found these practices odd and corny when I first encountered them.
Yet I would have to disagree that this is what is causing stagnation in AA. On the contrary, many of the groups who have these customs are large, enthusiastic, and full of young people. And, oddly enough, other nearby meetings with the old style bare bones approach also have a large and devoted following of young people.
So I would propose that the format of the meeting is NOT what makes people come back or not come back. With respect to meeting formats, I think the guidance given by the Fourth Tradition is the right answer: each group has the right to conduct its meetings as the group itself sees fit.
Quote: "I think the guidance given by the Fourth Tradition is the right answer: each group has the right to conduct its meetings as the group itself sees fit."
Try Tradition 1,2,3 first,provided that they are an Alcoholic not a want-a be /and-a
Tradition Four actually says:
4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.
4. With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole without conferring with the trustees of the General Service Board. On such issues our common welfare is paramount.
From this it follows that it is NOT the case that each group "has the right to conduct its meetings as the group itself sees fit". This is probably the most misquoted and most misunderstood Tradition in AA
Thank you. Upon close investigation, most of our traditions have been misunderstood and violated. Bill W violated tradition 11 by allowing himself to be filmed as the spiritual leader of AA. I believe Bill's alcoholic EGO reared its ugly head as he grew older. Alcoholics Anonymous
declares itself to be self supporting, yet many groups meet
in meeting halls at the expense of the generous public. Our
group contributions do not fully pay expenses of our service structure. Our AA grapevine "strives" to be self-supported by subscription sales and the sale of books and other items but continues to use money from the prudent reserve fund, which was origionally an emergency savings account for the General Service Office. This is done legally and above board due to the distortion of the purpose of the Reserve Fund.It was altered to place the AA Grapevine on the same level of importance as GSO, approved by the General Service Conference in 1977.?
Yes the first one third of tradition four is often
quoted, ignorning the two "storm signals".
I believe if a group conscience (fully informed) decides
to use the Lords Prayer to close a meeting, approved by more
than half the group members, then it is acceptable. To coerse, require or force all members to join in the "ring around the rosy" circle, holding hands praying, is plainly wrong. But try to confer with the trustees of the General Service Board of today. What I get is "distance and silence".
I believe that if all of our twelve traditions were
understood and obeyed to the letter, Alcoholics Anonymous
could be restored to our previous rate of growth. For anyone who does not know, we lost over 20% of our
membership in the 1990's, after doubling in membership about every ten years for the first 57 years. We continue to "spin our wheels at the two million membership mark today. How can we say that AA is still effective if there is no growth? With all the money we spend, and all the work we do, it seems we are only helping ourselves. I guess we continue to be self-centered in the extreme. ANONYMOUS
A group responding in unison is chanting. Chanting is a cult
ritual and has no place in AA. Much of the general public sees us as some kind of foolish joke. How does chanting benefit anyone? If you are of the opinion that chanting a
new member's name helps us remember their name, consider that the second half of our fellowship's name is Anonymous.
Anonymous means "with no name acknowledged". Why do you
personally think our membership has been stagnant over
the past twenty years? I ask that question in all sincerty.
Or do you just discard the numbers or ignore them. For
the first 57 years our membership doubled about every
decade. We haven't grown at all over the past twenty years.
One chant I have not heard recently is "each one reach one".
If each of us helped one other alcoholic every year, JUST ONE, we would grow continuously. Again, why do you think
we as a fellowship are no longer growing? ANONYMOUS
Why do you
personally think our membership has been stagnant over
the past twenty years? I ask that question in all sincerity.
Simply due to the outside sponsorship system that think God can't and they Can - Not sure who is sicker the one that believes it has to be administered or the illusionist who get suckered in not aware it's a free gift.
If I understand you correctly, I agree that today's AA
sponsorship system, is one major cause of our stagnation.
Origionally the role of sponsor was that of a servant. Today
a sponsor is teacher, preacher, counselor, or some kind
of director. If we return to the origional effective way
of helping other alcoholics, today's role as a sponsor would diminish. That technique (Bill calls it a gadget in
Three talks to medical societies) is simply sharing
exactly what happened to me. Just my own story. Being
sober does not qualify us as teacher, preacher, or any
other superior. We are not experts. We are simply victims
of alcoholism, trying to get and stay sober. Thanks for
acknowledging our stagnation. As long as alcoholism exists
our membership should always grow. ANONYMOUS
A.A should would and could grow if the outside sponsorship institutional system could just get out of the way and let go and let God then people would stand a chance to get a "true friends" list up and it would not be just one always trusting in God.
Each group should be autonomous has two exceptions: EXCEPT
in matters affecting other groups, or AA as a whole. Do you think that practices which you find odd and corny might
affect other groups or AA as a whole?
What do you think are the reasons people come back or
not come back? Do you think alcoholics come to AA, get
well and just go on with their lives and forget about AA?
There are some who do that I am sure. But I was so grateful to find Alcoholics Anonymous, I couldn't wait to try to
help others to find what I have found. The thought of not
coming to AA meetings would have been foreign to me.
I saw what AA was like in the 1970's, at least in the
Eastern states. I have been to AA meetings in at least
six states in the past ten years. They barely resemble my
earlier meetings. So far one item which remains the same
is the preamble. Even that was altered in meetings in the
Northeast. The preamble still reads "fellowship", but I
am sure it will soon be changed to Fellowship.
Do you honestly believe that the membership numbers
mean nothing? I consider our loss of half a million members in the past two decades to be shameful. If we get sober, and
in turn help others to get sober, our numbers will always
I believe the odd and corny rituals and practices not
only drive alcoholics away, but also prevent them from approaching us in the first place.
If it is not the rituals, what do you think AA is
doing wrong? Most AA members today think AA is "alive and well". It is obvious to me that we are failing, and have
been spinning our wheels for two decades. ANONYMOUS
The A.A. Traditions were wrote to protect newcomers inside A.A. from the outside sponsorship system. Take a closer look
At last I am beginning to understand this. Maybe I ought to
submit this under "a moment of clarity". The eleventh tradition prevents any alcoholic AA member from becoming a
"big shot". The tradition reads: our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films. Most of know what a film is. But how many of us understand what is a public relations policy is? I believe in our case this means that we want the general public to always look at Alcoholics Anonymous in
approval and favorably. "Send you friends and family
members who are suffering from alcoholism to us, we offer a solution". Absolute personal anonymity protects the newcomer
, our fellowship and the recovering alcoholic.
In our history, Bill W writes about going out in the
general public, stumping for AA. It seemed like a good idea.
But it was decided that this was one of those time when
the seeming good was the deadly enemy of the best. "On the anvils of experience these traditions were hammered out."
Bill W. seriously violated this eleventh tradition
in the last years of his life by allowing himself to be
filmed as the spiritual leader of AA. I only recently saw
the films of him teaching the steps and traditions of AA.
I was saddened that after all those years that Bill W.
himself, would still agree to be filmed.
Today I believe there are many historically significant
AA members who have violated this tradition by allowing
themselves to be filmed as AA members. Whether these are
home movies or private videos, they seriously violate the
deep meaning of tradition eleven. It does not say "private
films" or "public films". It says and means any films.
We obey these traditions because we want to protect
our society. We owe that much to the fellowship which
saved my life and the lives of so many.
Some may be asking, "who are you to be telling me
whether I should not make a private video of myself,
as an AA member." True, we have no AA police. We are
all responsible to monitor ourselves.
I listen to audio recordings occasionally, and many
of these speakers could be stand-up comedians. I suspect
that many of them have allowed themselves to be filmed. ANONYMOUS
Could you explain in detail what you mean by the outside
sponsorship system. Do you mean an advisor or paid councelor
outside of the AA group? Or do you mean the separation of
newcomers from superiors in the group itself. A friend in Texas describes a beginners meeting there in which the
meeting is set up in two circles of chairs, the pigeons sit
in the inner circle and oldtimers and sponsors occupy the
outer circle. I don't know how the meeting itself is conducted. When Bill W. met with Dr. Bob they met as equals.
Bill needed another alcoholic to talk to, because he knew
he was going to get drunk if he didn't find another
alcoholic to talk to. Why Dr. Bob agreed to give this
rumhound from New York fifteen minutes of his time is
still an unanswered question (at least to me). It could have been his Doctor instinct or his fondness for
Henrietta Siberling. Dr Bob needed what Bill had to offer,
although I doubt that he knew it at the time. Bill needed
Dr. Bob to save his own life and sobriety. They came together as absolute equals, and both achieved sobriety.
The fellowship of today has simply lost this concept.
The traditions were written as points to assure AA's
future. If we had followed the traditions to the letter,
AA would be solid and formidable today. In my opinion we
have prettymuch violated all of them.
Your comments about the steps working without them
being administered by sponsors interest me. I personally
believe that the role of sponsor has been twisted or
distorted over the past two or three decades. The twelve
steps have been of great value to me personally. I am
grateful that no one pushed them on me when I came into AA.
At about three months a born again Christian "nailed me"
and kept me captive for fifteen minutes, but an elder saw
what was going on and rescued me. He took me for an ice cream and I calmed down. Who would have believed that I would stay sober and eventually become a born again
Christian myself? But I don't bring that belief into
AA tradition. I believe that if we save alcoholic's
lives, their souls have a chance of being saved. ANONYMOUS
A.A. is an inside job and we pray for the wisdom to know the difference - then intuitively we are able to handle situations that use to baffle us this is A.A.'s PROMISE.
The outside sponsorship system diverts people from A.A. by prying on them i mean claiming they are a friend until someones spirit dies.
A.A path is easy to follow it's a path for God's sakes, if one can't follow a path sober they may have a mental disorder thinking problems other than alcoholism.
I just recieved a text from another aa member saying he saw my father at an aa meeting ,my father has never gone to aa before.
Is this in violation of our tradition of anonymity
Submitted by mountainmike on Sun, 2011-08-07 20:55.
I just received a text from another aa member saying he saw my father at an aa meeting ,my father has never gone to aa before.
Is this in violation of our tradition of anonymity.
It should be common sense that either 1. He has a desire to stop drinking if he even does which is not against A.A. OR
2. He came to check on you which not sure how old or why
Bottom line depends on personal motive as A.A. is not allied with any outside sponsorship institutions. Open meetings are for the public to see- closed meetings is for the Alcoholic. Glad he is here
I regularly attend a meeting with a fellow whose wife I used to see at Alanon meetings. I have never discussed seeing her at Alanon with him, nor would I discuss seeing him at AA with her. I view anonymity as a sacred trust only to be broken with the express consent of the person whose anonymity is to be broken.
When I was a child, my father would often disappear for an
entire weekend. Somehow I already knew that he was an
alcoholic. The true understanding came years later when
I, too, became an alcoholic. There was no text back then,
and actually we had no phone. But a phone call from an
AA member saying that he had seen my father at an AA
meeting would certainly have been welcome. I would often
dream that my father would find some way to get sober, and
that he would come home and take care of us.
Yes this is technically a violation of tradition
eleven. But most rules have exceptions. If no one was
harmed, no damage was done. Hopefully he wasn't pushed
away by the way the meeting was conducted. We fail so
many. Hopefully your dad will recover. Anonymous
Was your father's name published in a newspaper, on the radio or TV? Did you know your father was attending AA meetings? Do you know the difference between a violation of our anonymity tradition and plain old gossip?
"Do you know the difference between a violation of our anonymity tradition and plain old gossip?"
There is NO DIFFERENCE between violating a member's anonymity and plain old gossip. They are both very destructive!
I have a friend in AA. I also go to support my husband. Recently, a co AA acquaintance called and asked for a ride to a meeting. We went to pick him up, once int he car he started to talk about one of his sponsee's. He disclosed everything about this person. We are friends with the person whom he blabbed all about. We don't want to cause our friend any more strife, but his sponser was in the wrong by telling all. Any suggestions on how we should handle this? If we tell him, will it cause more troubles? Then again, we don't him to trust in his sponser as he has been, only for him to tell everyone what is going on in our freinds life.
Go right ahead and tell the indiviual that is relying others information, that you don't feel right about hearing someone elses priviet affairs. Tell them to look up the word anonymity and sponsorship in the Big Book. Sure the person spilling other's information will be pissed off. But, it better he hears the truth then get a punch in the face or sets someone off on a bender.
The out side sponsorship system sponsoring inside of A.A. helping them out.
Yes, gently - and with love, tell that sponsor that you are uncomfortable hearing about his sponsees and don't feel that it's appropriate. "If that happened to me, I would feel..."
I was on the sponsee's side of this tale at a year and a half sober. I followed the suggestions in the book about carefully selecting a trustworthy person to share my (2nd and much more thorough) 5th step with. Still pretty toxic and knowing that my 'picker' of people was out of whack, the sponsor I selected was just as toxic and shared much of my 5th step with others in the program and meetings I regularly attended. Needless to say, I found new meetings and a new sponsor and have done the work on my resentments, which I no longer have. Thank God! Only by working the steps can I now look at it as yet another opportunity to grow - and to better tune my people 'picker,' which has gotten better over the years.
On another note, I do believe that it is also my responsibility to continue to learn and live the steps and traditions. Today I can better 'walk' the anonymity talk by gently advocating for AA members not present when others (including myself!) start down the 'gossip' path. And believe this 'work in progress' when I say that my 10th step check list sure gets a workout, and not so daily either!
That's why I love the saying, "Progress, not perfection."
The concept of sponsorship in today's AA is distorted, to say the least. I personally feel that the term sponsor, and
the role of sponsor ought to be deleted from AA groups. I
certainly would not want other AA members to know my deep
dark secrets. Step four is a personal private affair, and
the fifth step needs to be done with someone who is sworn
to secrecy. This information ought not be shared with an
AA member who has raised his hand and volunteered to
listen to a confession. Really, WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE?
I think we can all say that we are only one drink away
from being drunk again. Inform your friend. His secrets
will probably be shared with others. He needs to know,
to prevent further damage. Lose the term sponsee and
sponsor. We all come together as equals. Bill W left
us all the information we need to do the steps, if
and when we decide to use them. And it is not in some guide
formed by a so called guru or expert. It is in the 12 & 12.
left for us by our co-founder. ANONYMOUS
"The concept of sponsorship in today's AA is distorted, to say the least. I personally feel that the term sponsor, and
the role of sponsor ought to be deleted from AA groups."
Someone who can REASON and understand rather than be understood.
AGREE WITH YOU 99% - 1% may need the institution to tell them what they need to do.
A.A's pertinent ideas are only 3 and pertinent not pertineeer
A. OUR lives drinking had
B. that no human power could relive us - Maybe comfort the weak but not relive the alcoholic -
c. that God could -
The Traditions ask us not to use labels in A.A., why do YOU?
Most people when they arrive in A.A. are not looking for a Mommy or Daddy until the outside sposorship system diverts them through group will and fear. A.A. is a fellowship not an institutionalized follow-ship . It's better to be an example than to look for one - Question? not sure which one is sicker? Sponsor or the victim
Alcoholics Anonymous was never meant to be a follow-ship,
but that is what the alcoholic EGO has turned it into. Bernard Smith included a description of a fellowship
in the chapter "A friend looks at Alcoholics Anonymous"
in AACA. Rarely have we seen a person fail, who has
thoroughly followed our path. A path is not the same as
directions. Todays "sponsor" demands that the sponsee
follow directions. I believe the change from "directions"
to "path" is vital to our fellowship. This was a last
minute change just before the Big Book went to press. Yet
we have a meeting in our state which uses the origional
How It Works" in their format. It reads follow our "directions", and "on our knees". They still use it and
nobody even discusses it. Our history is vital. ANONYMOUS
Don't confuse a friend with a Foe - If a sponsor was a friend why have one? that's a real FOE my friend.
People who have sponsors are people who make God to small to rely on as the outside religious sponsor system work on A.A. from the inside out is not what A.A. means by an inside JOB.
I do not appologise for mentioning drugs in my lead just as Dr. Bob did not appologise for his use of them (see Dr. Bob and Good Oldtimers) page 28 and 32 to name just a few pages or better yet page 410 of the 4th ed. big book and page 411 if we are to keep our talk to alcohol only then why talk of all the car crashes ,this is not drivers ed.,or lets not mention how many times we were married or with a different partner ,this isn't marraige couselling,or our wasteful spending this isnt home economics 101,I will choose to live and let live or as Dr. Bob compares this phrase Judge not that ye be not judged.
Isn't A A great, we can talk about anything we want to, however; if we do not cleave to our single purpose.....we will not have a purpose! If we continue to give the impression to the general public we can help all addictions aa will cease to exist as we know it. So talk it up. By the way there are almost 550 12-step groups that use our steps with our permission, are we to fold all those into aa as well? I too can quote the founders "shoemaker stick to thy last" Mike
Before AA I always felt different, out of place, that I didn't belong. At my first AA meeting I found I wasn't different, that I was an alcoholic just like the others in the room. Referring to myself as an addict is just another way of telling you that I'm different, not like you common drunks. I'm special, and don't have to pay attention to the traditions.
When the addict/alcoholics learn that there is a difference between giving a 'drug-a-log' and mentioning drug use, as Dr. Bob and Bill did, perhaps the ongoing battle will die out. As the next to last sentence on page 142 in the 12 & 12 states, "Never did he trouble anyone with his other difficulty."
Without a doubt drugs are often associated with Alcohol. Dual addicts generally introduce themselves as "Alcoholic/Addict" at my home group. We had one member, G, that always introduced himself as just an alcoholic. One day it came out that he was NA too. I mentioned to him how very interesting it was that he was able to so separate these two. I was impressed by this, but who am I to approve or disapprove.
I had not special affinity at all for drugs of any kind. A meeting I was chairing took an odd turn when someone shared "A burning desire". It was all drug and no Alcohol. Luckily more experienced members were present to steer the meeting to the drug-alcohol link.
Another time a senior member and I did a 1st step meeting with a newcomer. We take someone totally new to AA/our group aside for some one-on-one. His concerns were entirely abuse of prescription pain medications. I could not relate at all. We share Experience, Strength and Hope but I had no experience in common with this man.
Definitely if drugs are part of someone's alcohol experience it seems nearly impossible to completely separate the two. There are those that their primary issue is drugs and really NA is where they need to be.
A.A = Alcoholics Anonymous
N.A = Not Alcoholic
The speaker at my home group yesterday shared about his recent experiences with pain medication after an operation and I spoke with a guy after the meeting, newly sober, who just had a back operation and was concerned with the same issue. I'm sorry the previous commenter "couldn't relate" to these issues, which are very real for some of us.
If you think you as an alcoholic can use prescribed pain medication without giving it a second thought, I hope you stay around long enough to listen to the stories of people who thought that.
I don't know what I expected at my first AA meeting, but it was more comforting than imagined. I was allowed to take a seat and given the space to just be. I could listen and not be pressured to do anything. The message came through to me at its own speed. I know there are others, probably in the majority, who appreciate trappings and rituals - finding comfort in them. But the pressure to conform and perform is something I still recoil from. Let's just tell our story and let the results speak for themselves without ceremonies.
Your message brings me comfort. I often feel alone with my
concerns, although some members are beginning to understand.
The majority of those who remain may appreciate the trappings and rituals. The rest, a much greater majority,
silently walk away when the demands are read or given. We know what the demands are: 90 in 90, get a sponsor, work those steps and find God and find Him NOW!! I am ever so grateful that no demands (disguised as suggestions) were
given to me at my first meeting a long time ago. I would
have left quietly to live a pitiful life and an early
death. I was allowed to sit quietly and little by slowly
I got sober and stayed sober. I estimate that we have
pushed away six million "sick and suffering" in the past
two decades. Our membership doubled about every ten years
for the first 57 years, until 1992. What happened to
cause our loss of effectiveness? Someone previously wrote
"a creeping intrusion of ritual". Dogma and Distortion.
Numbers from our General Service Office show the sad truth.
We have over half a million LESS members today than 1992.
Hundreds of thousands of alcoholics are still approaching
us every year most as a last resort. We are failing them and their friends and families because of the way our AA
meetings are conducted. Thanks for sharing your view. ANONYMOUS.
the amount of chanting and ritualistic behaviour in meetings in our area is frightening. If at my first meeting on 4/28/1984 people said "keep coming back it works if you work it" after each person said their name, and if they had all chanted when reading the last line of how it works. "god could and would if he were sought" I would have left. Also in the area I live in there are 3 or 4 large mega-churchs that have co-opted our program. We have people who go to the "recovery support groups" then come to AA meetings and don't seem to "get" AA, they bring this evangelical taint to their sharing and their thinking is far away from one day at a time
I see the AA I grew up with fading away and being consumed by evangelical christianity. What is really sad is that their are oldtimers who recruit for their churches at meetings. Maybe this is the death-knell for our wonderful program. lanc.pa.aa
Chanting was introduced to our AA groups around 1980. One
member began responding HI! (persons name), to each member
who shared. He seemed to be saying "Look at me, I'm here too. No one even tried to stop him. I personally did not
have the nerve to say anything, although it annoyed me
imensely. I recently listened to a recording of a speaker,
made in 1988. I could hear the chanting in the background.
Within eight years chanting had spread through the Northeast. Chanting is a cult ritual and has no place in
An AA friend was watching television in the 1990's when a show protrayed a facsmile of an AA meeting. At this meeting a member said, "my name is Bill and I am an alcoholic." My friend said that her husband actually
laughed out loud when the group chanted HI BILL! She said her husband asked sarcastically, is this the AA that you
What does this mean? It means that much of the public
sees us as a joke' Our public relations are harmed,
therefore reducing the effectiveness of Alcoholics
An article was published in the September 2010
issue of the AA GRAPEVINE title: Why are we shouting?
This is one of the more obvious reasons for AA's lack or growth over the past three decades. We lost over half a million members in the mid-1990's. Actually for the year 2010 we regained almost 15,000 members. We have over 60,000
groups in the US and canada. Only one group out of four
added one member for the whole year. Today's AA is failing
the very people we are supposed to be helping. I estimate
hundreds of thousands every year. We have ignored and have lost the technique for helping other alcoholics. The "cart before the horse" IDEA offered to Bill W. by Dr Silkworth
in the spring of 1935 explains the technique. Like some
other special things in life, if we do not know the
technique, and refuse to investigate and learn, we will
seldom get the desired result. Chanting has no place in
AA. I believe this to be a tragic mistake, following our
worst blunder, the reading of How It Works aloud at meetings. Our AA history books explain these "opinions".
To Lanc.pa.aa: Thanks for the article. Try voicing these
concerns at the group level. Don't let "them" silence
you. Insist on steering committee and group conscience
meetings. Share your concerns for AA's future. We ARE
responsible for A.A.'future- Let it Begin With Us.
Expect the "kill the messenger" response at first.
We may never see the reversal of the mistakes we have
made in the AA fellowship. Bill W. called them blunders
and warned us many times. And it is possible that AA
will go the way of the Washingtonions. The alcoholic EGO
is powerful. It may destroy AA. But we have to try. We
owe that much to future generations of suffering alcoholics
and their families and friends. ANONYMOUS