How long are we going to wait to make the needed changes to stop the bleeding of our membership? Our numbers have decreased by 1/2 million in the past 2 decades (these are not my numbers but GSO's). In 2010 on average only 1 in 4 AA groups in North America gained 1 newcomer. In the past decade only 5% of newcomers stay sober more than 5 years down from a recovery rate of 75% in the 1950's. How many more must leave or die before we wake up to these facts?
If our numbers doubled every 10 years as they did in our first 5 decades AA membership should be nearing 8 million. With a present membership of approximately 2 million, it is reasonable to assume we have potentially failed nearly 6 million alkies.
While the number of alcholics in society continues to increase our membership declines! Anyone who thinks all is well in AA should get their heads out of the sand. These things will not pass without the vast majority of members and groups adhering to our Traditions and Steps. That is where our problems started with the new "anything goes" AA.
Continuing to ignore the Steps in recovery and the Traditions in unity will in my opinion spell the demise of our fellowship. Our society is seriously threatened from within and our reputation with outsiders (treatment,detox, correction centers, medical and other professionals as well as the general public) may have been tarnished beyond repair.
If the majority of AA's insist on remaining in their comfort zones and fail to take corrective action to preserve our fellowship then IMO it is already too late to turn things around.
Prior to AA's beginnings in 1935 most alcoholics died of their disease. Are we going to wait for that scenerio to play out again with AA?
AA has saved my life and I for one will continue to do what I can to keep our fellowship alive and working not only for my own sobriety but for future generations as well.
This can only be accomplished through the Steps and Traditions.
The reading of the first two and a half pages of chapter five, HIW, at the beginning of AA meetings has been a tragic
mistake. This was the approach used by Bill W. during his
first six months of what he called violent exertion. His
success rate was zero. Obeying the advice of Dr Silkworth,
Bill changed his approach in his meeting with Dr. Bob.
Basically, Bill stopped reading How It Works, and Dr. Bob
got sober. This is somewhat difficult to understand, but
please do the investigation prior to contempt.
Opening and closing with prayers, reading How It Works,
holding hands, etc. have cost us dearly in human suffering.
The effectiveness of Alcoholics has been diminished over
the past three decades. Membership numbers show this to be
true. AA may not fold for several more decades. What we do
today is much worse than vanishing. Suffering alcoholics
are still approaching us by the hundreds of thousands every
year. We fail them by the way our meetings are conducted.
We must stop telling alcoholics at AA meetings all that is
demanded in the first two and a half pages of chapter five.
If Bill W. had intended How It Works to be the first thing
read to, or by, an alcoholic approaching us, he would have placed it in chapter one. Bill explains in AACA page 159
and 160 where he placed it and why. AA membership today
should/could/would be eight million. We are like an eight
cylinder engine running on two cylinders. The two pistons
could continue for several more decades. Alcoholics all around us are suffering and dying. Their families and friends are crying out to us for help. We tell them to Find
God and Find Him now!!, and the rest of HIW!
Angry? Yes I am angry. And have been for four years now.
My friend and next door neighbor died four years ago due to
the distotion and dogma of today's AA. I know the comment: She just wasn't ready. Very few alcoholics are "ready" when
they arrive at our door. It is up to us to help them and let them become ready.
Reading HIW at AA meetings has been our very worst blunder, followed closely by the incessant chanting. Using the 24hr book as part of the format sets us up as a religion. The other blunders have been covered over and over on the old I-Say forum and on the new I-SAY FORUM.
I will not repeat them here. I am grateful that I have been
able to express my concerns through I-SAY. Comments and
rebuttals assure me that someone is reading them. And I am
encouraged by the comments of those who understand the meaning of all this. There are very few of us who have
stayed. Six million have come through our rooms and have walked away. And I cannot fault them. Who wants to sit and
listen to How It Works being read day after day for forty
years. By the way, do you remember what year they started
reading it in your area? It started in the northeast in the early 1980's. By the mid 1990's our membership was
down over half a million. I clearly see cause and effect. ANONYMOUS
Sounds to me like someone is looking for a reason to go have a drink. If when I got here people would have been disorganized and debating this kind of issue I would be dead.. I see so many peole young and old staying sober, and living very useful lives without being part of this debating team.. I think it is a great place to write, but AA works.. It is the outside issues like this debate that drive people off.. Most people have access to internet,, they go read about AA online, and this is what they see.. Wonder which came first the hen or the egg... How much are the newcomers hurting when they get here.. Are they really Alcoholic? The only real problem I have ever had with anything in the book is where they say "We had to raise the bottom where it would hit them".. Thats God's job, not AA's.. we should have left this at low bottom drunks.. We would not hear all this complaining from desperate people grasping for the whatever works..
With the outside menacing force system around A.A. there is always a YET!
1st Tradition- no one is to make anyone believe or conform to anything.
Why does the outside sponsor ship system and their clone right away violate this tradition?
2nd Tradition - There is only but one ultimate authority that is a loving God as expressed in our group. we are never to praise our self's.
Why does the clone and the sponsor praise themselfs ?
Can some one please explain to a newcomer that the outside system use to bring people here before hospitals did and it was never intended to divert people from ?
A.A. will not fold any two left can call themselfs an A.A. group. How many has the outside institutional sposorship system ran off? Millions and millions there will always be a few sick ones around.
As long as they let go and let God and not sponsor each other.
Did I read this correctly? "This was the approach used by Bill W. during his first six months of what he called violent exertion. His success rate was zero."
Impossible! Bill's first six months began in November, 1934. There was no "How It Works" until he wrote it in 1938.
"By the way, do you remember what year they started reading it in your area? It started in the northeast in the early 1980's. By the mid 1990's our membership was down over half a million. I clearly see cause and effect."
Personally, I have no idea when it started in this area. I know it was read at my first meeting in Philadelphia in 1971, and according to Chuck C. in "A New Pair of Glasses" it started long before that in California.
In the mid eighties the treatment industry wanted to increase profits by cutting expenses and announced that alcoholism was an addiction. They began sending addicts and anyone else to AA, the courts jumped on the bandwagon and used AA as a dumping ground. Meetings became overrun by 'alcoholic/addicts', discussion meetings turned into group therapy sessions and speaker meetings began with a fifteen minute description of the speaker's dysfunctional family.
Along with all of that 'sponsorship' turned into ownership. We tell newcomers today they don't have a chance unless they make ninety meetings in ninety days, that they're too stupid to read and understand the Big Book and that they must turn their will and their lives over to the care of a sponsor who will make all decisions for them from this day forward.
Am I angry? No, I'm disgusted with untreated alcoholics who spend all their time thing up new things wrong with AA. It's been said for years that the only thing needed to start a group is a resentment and a coffee pot. Take your resentment against Chapter Five, buy a coffee pot, and start your own meeting where there are no prayers, readings or chants. Who knows, it might catch on.
God can and does work miracles through alcoholics - AS LONG AS THE OUTSIDE SPONSORSHIP SYSTEM DON"T CLAIM THEM !!!
It is evident to any serious researcher that the Big Book's soul purpose is here to introduce you to a power greater than them-self, a Higher power and that one is not your selected sponsor - that one is God may you find him now.
Do I detect a bit of "CONTEMPT prior to investigation"? These things that are wrong with AA are not new. They are
blunders we have made in AA at the group level during the
past three decades. The reading of HIW at meetings, the
use of the 24hr book at meetings, the prayers, the chanting, todays distorted view of sponsorship, and the
hold hands and pray closing have all harmed AA.
I have no resentment against Chapter Five. In my opinion this is a most important chapter. But it has
a special place. That place is NOT reading it aloud at the beginning of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. This is explained in Dr. Silkworth's "cart before the horse IDEA"
It is really not all that complicated. ANONYMOUS
I believe we are making progress. I hope I-SAY will continue this dialog. Of course there was no Chapter Five
in DEC 1934. The basic steps of Alcoholics Anonymous were
just being formed. How it Works only existed in the mind of
Bill W. This was the approach Bill used when trying to help other alcoholics he found in the missions and in Towns'
hospital. Bill calls that work "violent exertion", which he
also called spectacularly UNSUCCESSFUL. Active alcoholics
just did not respond positively to the How It Works approach. Bill used this approach for about six months until
Dr Silkworth advised him to change the approach, and simply
stay with the allergy theory, and simply tell his own experience and stop there. Bill wrote several times that without this advice from Dr Silkworth, AA could never have been born. Bill followed this advice when he met with Dr. Bob. And you know the results.
The first mention of reading "How It Works" appears in
Los Angeles in 1940. I don't believe that only the first
two and a half pages were read over and over. Mort J. insisted on a reading from chapter five at his meetings,
(Mort paid the rent for the meeting.) This information is
found in AACA. The preamble had not yet been written. I
believe Mort simply used a reading from chapter five to
open his meeting.
Sure, your explanation of our stagnant membership could be accepted by many AA members. There are several other excuses, which make sense to members, including our leaders.
I agree with your view of sponsorship (if I understand you correctly). I would go further and say that I believe that the title of sponsor in AA ought to be abolished.
A sponsor should be an AA friend who shows the new member
around. Not to be a teacher, preacher or advisor.
I started a new meeting five years ago where we do
not read HIW, do no chanting, shouting, hooting or hollering. Often a new person shows up and chants HI JOE!
Soon they learn that we just sit quietly and listen to
each other. No "show of hands" No "moment of silence",
No "Hold hands and pray" closing. We did none of these
rituals at meetings I attended through the decade of the 1970's. We have an average of twelve members and are
growing slowly. Note: Only ONE AA group out of four gained
ONE new member in the year 2010, (US and Canada). Do those
figures mean anything? I consider them shameful. AA
membership doubled in the 1970's decade. We must have been doing something right. Each one reach one.
I really do know how difficult this is to understand.
For thirty five years I believed that our fellowship was
alive and well. Today I know how wrong I was. We have been
spinning our wheels on life support for two decades. Unless
we reverse our mistakes (blunders), AA could continue to
stumble along for several more decades, failing the people
we are supposed to be helping, suffering alcoholics and
their families. ANONYMOUS
They say teaching what you haven't learned is like coming back from where you've never been. It's a good idea to learn AA history before one tries to teach it.
Pages 132 and 133 of "Pass it On" say, "During the first months of 1935, Bill encountered one such frustration after another. In later years he was to explain the failure as being one of method: During this period, he said, he was preaching to the drunks. Also, he still believed that an alcoholic required a spectacular spiritual experience, similar to his own, in order to recover."
"I started a new meeting five years ago.......We have an average of twelve members and are growing slowly."
Twelve members in five years? I assume that's eleven including you. That averages out to 2.2 members per year, which doesn't strike me as phenomenal growth. Just a guess, but I think even Wally P.'s "Back to Basics" movement is growing a lot faster than that.
I remember in my childhood the saying, A little learning can
be a dangerous thing. I would like to ask why you abruptly
stopped in the middle of what I consider to be a very
important paragraph, with personal criticism of me?
If we can study and fully understand those two pages of
"pass it on", our AA effectiveness may be restored.p132/133
Bill W. offers us the same message on pages 198 and 199
in Language of the Heart.
Why would Bill place HIW in chapter five? Bill explains
where he placed it and why, on pages 159 and 160 AACA. If
HIW were to be first thing an alcoholic to read or hear, it would have been chapter one.
Alcoholics Anonymous has failed six million sufferers
plus their friends and families in the past two decades
because of our stubborn resistance to studying and
understanding this part of our AA history.
Our worst blunder of the past three decades was the introduction of reading HIW at the beginning of AA
meetings. This reading aloud at meetings gives the
impression that we are some type of religion. The
incessant chanting makes us look like a cult. The
description STRANGE RELIGIOUS CULT, appeared in a
public video INSIDE ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, A&E 1999.
An increase of 2.2 members per year would be
phenomenal growth, if compared with AA membership
growth in the year 2010. Only one group out of four
could claim ONE new member for the entire year, in
the US and Canada.
Does the "Back to Basics" movement still exist?
I tried to find them a few years back. I was offered
a "start up kit" for a price of about $60.00. ANONYMOUS
I followed the directions in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and I was truly rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence. Today I get to carry this message to other alcoholics.
Before taking Tradition three out of content one should understand Tradition ONE
Tradition were written for unity purposes not outside sponsorship legalities to be used on someone or something else.
Many non A.A's state may the sponsorship follow-ship be with you.
A.A says may the spirit of the fellowship be with you.
Some have the wisdom to know the difference others try a outside sponsorship institution system.
When all else fails - Try A.A.
Looking again at tradition ONE, I remember the odd feeling I
had in the mid 1970's, when young people in AA began to talk
about separating from mainstream AA (mostly older gray hairs). I was in my early thirties, and I am guessing that
the average age was close to 50. Very few members were younger than me. There were so many members named Jim that I was warmly called young Jim. I never felt out of place.
Today I believe that the separation of young and old
was a mistake. Bill W.'s hope for Alcoholics Anonymous was
that it would be here for a thousand years.
At what age are we no longer considered young people?
I have heard that as long as we have growing to do, we are
welcome at young people's AA events. I personally believe
that some older members attends these events to establish
their positions as leaders, teachers, advisors or sponsors. But I question whether this is healthy for the elder or the young member. EGO deflation at depth is still the solution
to addiction. I believe we are harming AA by dividing into
special interest groups. All my minority opinion, I am
quite sure. ANONYMOUS
I am glad I found AA 70 years after it was started, as I suspect the religious intolerance of the early members (as directed towards some early agnostics and atheists, like Jim B) would have driven me away. However, fact is that the vast majority of the early members were in fact Christian and AA was more or less a part of the Oxford Group, which was wholly Christian, so it is not surprising that reading at meetings were from Christian sources. The meetings I found when I walked in started with the Serenity Prayer and ended with the Lord's Prayer. But I wanted to get sober, and soon found many others who were not of Christian faith or practice who had gotten and stayed sober in AA, which told me I needed to tolerate others beliefs and associated dogma while finding my own way within the framework AA provided. Not too long ago at a meeting I was chairing, I read the 11th step prayer (Prayer of St. Francis) along with the Metta Prayer (attributed to the Buddha). The two are virtually identical in my view. Now when I recite the Lord's Prayer, I think of how it is a plea to myself (and the universe at large) that I might surrender, clean house, and help others, basically a prayer that I might follow the tenets of AA as I understand them.
Having said that, I am conflicted, because my late brother was turned off by the very religiosity of which you speak, and I wonder if he might have made it had he found a group more openly a-religious. It is for that reason that I am open and vocal in my non-belief so that anyone new will realize they do not have to buy into any religion or faith.
There is no reason to be "conflicted". It was never the intent of Bill W orDr Bob to form any kind of new religion. See AACA page 232. bottom of page in fine print. Or Lang
page 345 beginning at the bottom of the page. All AA groups,
meetings were meant to be a-religious. Alcoholics Anonymous
in its true form is totally a-religious. And this does not
imply anti-religious. AA is not anti-anything. Praying at meetings is harmful to our AA society. Please do not spend decades in "contempt prior to investigation". You are
fairly new and can be a vital part of "turning this ship
"It is evident to any serious researcher that the Lord's Prayer is in fact Christian in origin and forms a central part of Christian practice."
Only half true, it has become a part of Christian practice. But the author of the prayer was a Jewish rabbi. There was no Christianity and no Christians when he gave the prayer to his followers.
Those who harbor fear and/or resentment against religion in any form are the loudest protesters against prayer.
I have absolutely no resentment or fear of religion. I accepted the Christian faith, when I entered Alcoholics
Anonymous. It proved to be the solution for me.
But I am one of the loudest protesters against praying
at AA meetings. We are not a prayer group. If you want to
pray, do it on your own time, as I do many times a day.
Simply open the meeting with the preamble. Cite the
serenity prayer, if the fully informed group conscience
has decided to do so. Close the meeting in a manner
chosen and accepted by the group conscience. I
personally do not consider either of these to be
praying. Do not imply that everyone has to join in. "For those who care to". Holding hands can be a real turn-off
to some, in my opinion. I find holding hands with strangers
to be repulsive, and no longer participate in this ritual.
What the traditions and prays have in common with each other is that they are 100% against a outside sponsorship institutional system inside A.A. That plays a GREAT FACTor
There are similarities between the Lord's Prayer and both Biblical and post-Biblical material in Jewish prayer especially Kiddushin (Babylonian). "Hallowed be thy name" is reflected in the Kaddish. "Lead us not into sin" is echoed in the "morning blessings" of Jewish prayer. A blessing said by some Jewish communities after the evening Shema includes a phrase quite similar to the opening of the Lord's Prayer: "Our God in heaven, hallow thy name, and establish thy kingdom forever, and rule over us for ever and ever. Amen." There are parallels also in 1 Chronicles 29:10-18.
My objection is not necessarily directed towards all prayer - simply that which is associated with a specific denomination (whatever their origins may be). I refer you once more to the relevant traditions. Are we to be a principled organisation or not?
The Lord's Prayer is definitely denominational in origin. Note the use of the word "Lord" in its name. And the version of the prayer said in most AA meetings I have been to is associated with only some Christian denominations. It is not the version said by Catholics, for instance, nor by some Presbyterians, among others.
Having seen my share of group discussions over the prayer, my observation is that the prayer is often retained primarily to satisfy the old-timers in the group - or to avoid their wrath - regardless of its effect on those coming through the door for the first time.
It's a useful ongoing discussion, because it touches several AA traditions as well as some of the concepts.
The 12 traditions promote unity and unity is one of the three legacy's of A.A. When I think of the legacy's I like to think of them in order of recovery, unity and service. I'm not sure why we choose to disect everything. Didn't Dr. Bob suggest that we shouldn't louse things up with froidian complexities and things of interest to the scientific mind. Tradition 12 in the 12 & 12 explains that anonimity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions and that the spiritual substance of anonimity is sacrifice. When I get out of self I can see that God is love and love is selfless action. Each day I try to become more humble through selfless action of carrying the message, helping the still suffering alcoholic (regadless of length of sobriety) and practicing the principals in all my affairs.
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