You are everywhere on these forums! Chillax! Nobody wants, needs, or is helped by your conspiracy theories or your accusations. Try living in the solution instead of the problem.
In reading some of the posts here, I noted that there seems to be a lot of people taking "issue" with things they see in the meetings. I also saw a few where people said they go to 12 meetings a year but still carry "the message". I can't help but wonder "what message"? I need to be around my own kind (alcoholics) and hear the message of AA. If that message isn't present then I need to go to God (as I understand him, not as you think I understand Him!) and bring forth that message. Talking about God isn't religious; talking about my religious practice is. Praying together isn't religious; praying together under a religious banner is. People want to hold hands and pray? It isn't wrong because YOU don't like it. When I was new I did everything I was told unless I was certain it was illegal! I tend to think that membership has dropped because people allow the whining and sniveling to drown out the message: Without God (that you design, build, and ultimately trust completely) and the 12 steps, which ARE the program, you will die an alcoholic death! No thanks!
Right on and no one can say it better. I think it's rather funny to see, hear, or read about people whining about prayer and talk of God. Obvisiously these people are missing something and I mean a higher power that we can rely on without any doubts. Lack of trust means we are insecure, and insecurity is a result of not working program. My message is, STOP USING EXCUSES, STOP BEING EGOTISTICAL, AND STOP BEING SELFISH. ACCEPTANCE IS THE ANSWER; >
Your comment reflects what I would describe as terminal intolerance (aka, ignorance): "Without God (that you design, build, and ultimately trust completely) and the 12 steps, which ARE the program, you will die an alcoholic death! No thanks!" I am glad you have found what works for you, but do not suggest to me or anyone else, particularly a newcomer, what we need to do to get and stay sober. I know quite a lot of happily sober drunks who attend AA who do not share your opinion of what AA is, or what AA requires, in particular your view that belief in a god is required.
You comments reflect what I would describe as intolerant. Calling others ignorant is not a good conversation starter. You are acting like an AA forum troll with a very narrow agenda. You seem like a product of some questionable A.A. and seem very resentful about it. Well how about stop pouncing on your fellow AA brothers and sisters. Short and helpful suggestions or short and helpful stories about your experience would be greatly appreciated. I thought that we were trying to help each other here.
Belief in a power greater than yourself is required whatever that power is as long as it is not me. The book sugest the group could be your higher power for a begining. Open mindidness and willinfygness are the keys to open the door. I thought the program is the 12 steps and traditons that are sugested as your program for recovery, jails institutions or death may be the result for failing to follow them, unless your disease is not progresive.
Belief in a power greater than yourself is required whatever that power is as long as it is not me. The book sugest the group could be your higher power for a begining. Open mindidness and willingness are the keys to open the door. I thought the program is the 12 steps and traditons that are sugested as your program for recovery, jails institutions or death may be the result for failing to follow them, unless your disease is not progresive.
How can you claim to be sober using the AA program when you refuse to follow any part of the 'basic text' of AA, namely, the Big Book, "Alcoholics Anonymous"?
I have yet to find in AA literature the suggestion that we work our own program and call it AA.
The twelfth step clearly states that we have a spiritual awakening AS THE RESULT OF THESE STEPS (steps one through eleven), and that is the message we try to carry to alcoholics.
"Then we have a certain type of hard drinker. He may have the habit badly enough to gradually impair him physically and mentally. It may cause him to die a few years before his time. If a sufficiently strong reason ill health, falling in love, change of environment, or the warning of a doctor becomes operative, this man can also stop or moderate, although he may find it difficult and troublesome and may even need medical attention." (pages 20, 21) These problem drinkers have no trouble staying sober on the 'just don't drink and go to meetings' program. They don't need what Dr. Silkworth called "An entire psychic change". (page xxix)
I am curious. You comment: "I have yet to find in AA literature the suggestion that we work our own program and call it AA." Where exactly does it say what I have to do in order to get or stay sober? Where does it say I have to read the Big Book or follow any certain steps to be a part of AA? As I recall, the steps are merely suggestions. I know several people who have been sober for decades who regularly attend AA as they have throughout sobriety, and have not worked the steps. They would be the first to admit that they would not recommend their program to anyone. Similarly, the person who has worked the steps, meaning her understanding of what working the steps means (including what "thoroughly" means), if she has acquired basic humility through that process, would also not recommend her program to anyone. There is not one AA program, one way to work the steps, one way to stay sober in AA. To suggest otherwise is just silly. What exactly about "open-minded" are you struggling with? Thankfully, the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. So like it or not, we must accept one another as fellow AA members. I am an atheist, but I will pray for you.
If the sponsor can be considered the "keeper of the steps," and the GSR is the "keeper of the traditions," than who is the keeper of the Concepts? Would it be the Delegate or Past Delegates? Thanks!
I have never heard of a sponsor as being "keeper of the
steps", or the GSR being "keeper of the traditions". I do
know that the guardianship of our Traditions lies in the hands of our 21 Trustees. And they continue to violate our
seventh tradition by spending more money than we send them.
Spend what we send! Not a penny more. Sell books and literature at the exact cost of printing. Let the Grapevine
be supported by those who want it. The Past delegate is
designated as a Grapevine salesman.
The responsibility for the welfare and future is in
the hands of A.A. members, our fellowship. But they are
unaware of that fact. They do not accept that responsibility, and it seems that our members, leaders
and Trustees have their heads in the sand. "Nothing
wrong here!". ANONYMOUS
Whoever's face we see in the mirror.
Is a district regularly buying cases of Big Books to give to treatment facilities or individuals in treatment facilities during an H&I commitment - a violation of any of AA's traditions?
Short answer is no.
But each District has its own financial policy that may have something to say about this. If you want more info, contact District 8, Area 36, Treatment Committee. Our area has hashed this issue over a few times in the last two years.
By getting Big Books into the hands of the sick and suffering alcoholic, I believe that we are using all of A.A.'s three legacies of Recovery, Unity, and Service.
A home group member who sells Avon brings in her wares in a big tote and sets up in the back of the room every week. Money and product change hands, orders are placed. Is this a violation of Tradition 6? It is an "outside enterprise," and potentially diverts the group from it's primary purpose. Thanks
Does she conduct her business during the meeting?
Does she advertise during the meeting?
Does the chairperson or anyone else announce that her products are for sale as part of the meeting?
At every conference or convention I have ever attended there is a special table set up near the speaker's platform for the purpose of recording the speaker, and CDs are sold immediately after the meeting. The people doing the recording and selling the CDs do it as a business. How is selling Avon products before or after a meeting any different from selling CDs?
Avon Products will not keep an Alcoholic sober.
Our primary purpose is to help the alcoholic who is still suffering.
There are many businesses that would try to make a profit out of AA. We need to guard against that.
We need to be vigilant to make sure our focus is on helping the alcoholic who suffers.
We sell books, and CD's that are AA Conference approved at meetings. At Conventions and Roundups where there are non meeting activities, we allow the sale of recordings of AA speakers at other Conventions and Round Ups.
Anything outside our primary purpose endangers our Unity.
IMO, it is as disrespectful and selfish to sell Avon in a meeting as it would be to set up in the back of a classroom or church to sell it.
"At Conventions and Roundups where there are non meeting activities, we allow the sale of recordings of AA speakers at other Conventions and Round Ups."
The people making and selling those recordings do it as a business, the same as the person selling Avon or any other product. The ones announced and promoted by the meeting chairperson are the ones in violation of Tradition Six.
Sure sounds like it. Her sponsor needs to have a "sit-down" with her, and soon!
I am a firm believer that AA groups that follow the traditions make it and those that don't - don't (make it). But can it be an AA Group and not to follow the traditions - or take the traditions "cafeteria style" as many members do with the steps? Are the steps "suggested" to the group? While there are no AA police or enforcers; does the lack of following the traditions automatically terminate it as an AA Group? Please send source(AA conference approved book/page) with comment. Thank you
re "automatic termination as an AA Group"
The only human authority over an AA meeting that does not follow our traditions is the Area decision not to list it in the regional meeting schedule.
What usually happens when groups do not follow the traditions is a lot of disagreement and chaos at meetings that causes step working folks to go to another meeting.
Eventually, the meeting will fade away or explode. I have seen both.
I have seen AA groups led by active street drug users, running a recovery house, who kicked out and banned anyone who spoke of the traditions. Finally, the funding source shut them and the "meetings" down. It was quite an explosion of emotions.
It is best to get out of the way and pray and start another meeting when something like that is coming.
Bill once explained how traditions are enforced. He said "Alcohol handles our enforcement for us".
Don't have the source handy but if I can find it anyone can and learn a lot while looking.
Is there anyone who understands and could explain how AA services are provided outside the US / Canada? It’s my impression that the AA Grapevine serves all members of the Fellowship in all countries as the International Journal of Alcoholics Anonymous. But it’s not clear to me if AA World Services also provides AA services across the world or if its focus is on providing services to members of the Fellowship who reside in the US / Canada.
A post on this forum mentioned the Irish General Service Conference and its Service Handbook for Ireland, published by Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Conference of Ireland. Do these non-US / Canada Conferences ask AAWS to provide services, such as publishing their service manuals and pamphlets, or answering letters and questions from members of the Fellowship who reside in their countries? Do these non-US / Canada Conferences make recommendations to AAWS, similar to how the US / Canada General Service Conference advises AAWS?
How does the AA Board fit into this? It seems like all the Trustees who serve on the AA Board are located in the US / Canada. Do other countries have AA Boards with Trustees who are located in their country?
I'm disappointed that a recent post was removed from this Traditions section. I was going to reply to the poster's question regarding the problems in his/her group, with suggestions relating to relevant Traditions, Concepts and General Warranties of Conference. This could possibly have helped them to resolve the situation. Can the removed post be re-instated please?
No postings have been removed by moderators.
Oh? What happened to the recent post criticizing the cover on the October issue?
Covers of Grapevines - October 2013 cover came up at Area meeting last weekend. Whether "good" or "bad" it brings up discussion of how we as individual and groups carry the message. We all learn and grow through discussion.
I think the October 2013 Grapevine cover is “good.” Well done to whoever designed it.
Seeing alot of AA speakers on youtube with advertisements attached before the talk begins. IN particular I am seeing this with alot of AA celebrities ( Circuit speakers etc...) Obviously there is no AA police, but as sponsors, do we discuss with folks we sponsor about affiliation? There is one individual who lists all his speakers as AA speakers on a public forum with an advertisement. Is it just me that sees this as wrong?
No, it is not just you that sees this as wrong, I do too. I think there are many others who see this as well. AA speakers on Youtube, AA celebrities and circuit speakers represent the very antithesis of Tradition Twelve. They are destroying the foundation of our unity and good public relations.
In 2010 the General Service Conference (Great Britain) gave the following advisory action: “The Committee would like to draw attention to Conference recommendation of 1995 which reads: “that the practice of inviting speakers from overseas and paying their expenses is in breach of Traditions 4 & 12.” (AA Service News 143 Summer 2010, p 24, Committee 4, Question 3) http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org.uk/members/Document-Library#
The Irish General Service Conference has advised that the “Big Book Study Movement is outside the structure of Alcoholics Anonymous in Ireland.” (A Service Handbook for Ireland, published by Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Conference of Ireland, page 12, THE GROUP: What is an AA Group?)
Where did the "tradition" of hold hands at the end of the meeting come from and when did we start this practice. Thank You........David A
Has anyone on this thread introduced a motion at a home group business meeting or group conscience to eliminate or make optional the hand holding lords prayer closing? If so, what was the group reaction?
A lot of posts on these forums sound like the old alcoholic mantra, "I like/dislike it, therefore everyone else likes/dislikes it."
To be honest, I don't remember whether my first few meetings closed with hand holding, prayers, or hugs and kisses. All I remember is the hope I got from the sober AAs, hope that I could also recover from my 'hopeless state of mind and body'.
I regret to say that in all my years in AA I haven't achieved the wisdom to know what will keep the newcomer coming back or what will drive him away. I do know, though, that I wouldn't want to have much to do with an association whose members can see only what's wrong with it.
Thank you for your comment. I was too scared to notice what was read at the beginning of my first AA meetings or how we ended the meetings. I was glad to be doing something about my problem other that drinking myself into oblivion! I was grateful to be around others who professed they had the same problem as me. I didn't see the God stuff as being a deal breaker. I was too busy trying to stay sober at the age of 17. I was sick of being alone, feeling alone, feeling hopeless.
Lunchbunc1: Yes, at our Sunday step meeting I introduced a
motion that we stop holding hands at the end of the meeting.
I see nothing wrong in the use of(citing) the lords prayer, just the coercion for everyone to join in what I call the "ring around the rosy circle". Everyone had a chance to
voice his/her view. Although I used the feeble excuse of
"spreading germs", the vote was 11 to 1 to keep holding
hands. This ritual brings comfort to some members; never
mind those who find holding hands with strangers uncomfortable. So they still close the meeting holding
hands in the circle. I either stand outside the circle
or just leave after every member has had the chance to
share. I have observed that it only takes one or two
members to start the circle. No one wants to make a
spectacle of themselves by standing aside. ANONYMOUS
The ritual of holding hands came to my area in Great Britain about 2005, about the same time as reading “The Promises” and chanting “It works if you work it!” were introduced. This was a few years after speaker CDs began being passed around. Prior to that virtually all AA meetings that I have attended over the past 23 years have ended with a reading of the Traditions (short form) followed by the serenity prayer. I was quite shocked when I first saw how religious AA appears to be in US/Canada. I have not yet been to, or heard of, a meeting ending the Lord’s prayer in my intergroup. Around 2005 was also the time when the local convention committee decided it was a novel idea to get a few musical alcoholics to twang guitars and sing “Amazing Grace” at a “spiritual” meeting. The convention didn’t have a “spiritual” meeting before this. Standing in a circle holding hands, chanting “It works if you work it!” and singing religious hymns, aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, nor is a game of cricket.
AA membership doesn’t appear to have grown since 2001. It may have fallen, see membership estimates Box-4-5-9 summer issues 2001-2013. http://aa.org/lang/en/subpage.cfm?page=27 The estimated worldwide AA membership in 2001 was about 2,160,013. It is now estimated to be about 2,131,549 in 2013. I don’t think it’s too difficult to work out the reason why. Oxford Group style religion didn’t work with the majority of alcoholics 1935-1939. I don’t think its re-introduction is working for the majority of alcoholics in 2013.
There is nothing wrong with closing an A.A. meeting
with The Lord's Prayer. Bill W. explains this view in a
letter to his friend Russ. It is known as the Dear Russ
Letter and is easily accessible. It is the coercion for
everyone to join in which I see as harmful to A.A. as
What we lack today is the Group Conscience. God cannot
express Himself in our group conscience if we have no
group conscience meeting.
We have fewer members in Alcoholics Anonymous today
than we had twenty years ago. Something is horribly
wrong. What ever happened to the slogan "each one reach one?.
We have lost our effectiveness in helping suffering
alcoholics and their families. The reason can be explained
in two words: "dogma and distortion". ANONYMOUS
Each group can decide how they would like to close their meeting. Whether they choose to hold hands and recite the Responsibility Declaration, or if they choose to hold hands and recite the Lord's Prayer, it is their choice as a group.
However, the practice of closing a meeting by forming a circle, holding hands and reciting something in unison does create a negative image for the AA meeting, to both newcomers and outsiders who might want to recommend AA.
In addition to the image issue, the peer pressure to join in, in spite of the aversion some have to holding hands, is also harmful to the individual and to AA as a whole. There is no need to express AA unity through holding hands.
Individuals who are not comfortable with this practice should be able to forgo participation without having to face peer pressure to join in. I think if an individual does not want to participate they should not be made to feel badly about it. I do not participate in this practice, and if anyone asks, I have a number of responses that I can give:
It’s bad for AA's image.
It drives away newcomers.
It’s not mandatory.
It's not a necessary expression of AA unity
I’m uncomfortable with hand holding.
I prefer not to.
I feel more authentic and honest when I don't participate.
I don't think it's that important to figure out where the prayer circle ritual originated. What's important is what's happening in today's world. The vast majority of the public perceives AA groups as religious. This includes the still suffering alcoholics who needs the peer support they can get in an AA group. Perceiving AA groups as religious deters alcoholics from seeking help from an AA group.
Why do do people outside of AA perceive AA groups as religious? Well, one reason is that meetings end by holding hands in a prayer circle and praying. Without any doubt, if you asked people outside of AA if this practice is religious they would say yes.
Why does it matter if AA is perceived as religious? Because AA says it is spiritual but not religious. When people hear this slogan, but see AA groups that practice a prayer circle ritual, what do they think? That AA groups are hypocritical. The AA group says it's not religious, but it practices a religious ritual.
I do not participate in the prayer ritual. I simply remain seated, fold my hands in my lap and meditate while the rest of the group forms the prayer circle. To anyone who cares about the newcomer and the future of AA as a spiritual, but not religious Fellowship, I recommend sitting out the prayer ritual.
The main reason I consider the time and place this
ritual began is this: I attended meetings in the Northeast
through the 1970's, and we always just stood by our chairs
and closed with the Lords Prayer. I found it structured and
comforting. The "hold hands and pray" closing began in the
We gained 600,000 members in the 1970's, tripling our
membership in that decade. From 1980 to 1990 we gained
a million new members, doubling our membership. We
stopped growing in the early 1990's and have fewer
members in Alcoholics Anonymous today than we had in 1992.
We have made several serious blunders, enough to
bring A.A. to the point it is today. Most members will
say AA is alive and well. That is simply not true. We
are near death, on life support. Yes we have morphed
from a fellowship to a Fellowship. Instead of encouraging
new members to find a Higher Power we tell them to "get
I hope you continue writing and continue to refuse to
"stand, hold hands and pray". I hope you are young enough
to continue for several decades, and that you go to a
lot of meetings. You don't seem to express the anger that
I feel about the changes we made in the past three decades.
Angry at myself for not having the courage to speak up,
and ignoring the real history of A.A. ANONYMOUS
David A. I call this a ritual. It reeks of religiosity
and cultism. These four words "hold hands and pray" appear
in the fourth edition of the big book, which, personally
I would have never approved.
I believe that many people are just not comfortable
holding hands with strangers. Sure, we get used to it,
and maybe enjoy it. But a pretty young female may
not be comfortable holding hands with old men like me.
IMO, it serves no purpose, and I personally no longer
"hold hands and pray". I stand by my chair, and try to
explain, if anyone asks, which they seldom do.
This "tradition" began in the Northeast in the
early 1980's. It is part of the reason for our near
collapse in the early 1990's. ANONYMOUS
around aa na since 1974 in pacific beach ca we held hands then really way of showing unity not religion as for as collapse never saw one yet been around 39 yrs sober 33yrs my ex has 48 yrs she'll tell you your crazy stop anallizing just use tools GOD gives us to live one day at a time with aout booze or any other type of chemical bruce r Sarasota fl
I believe that most of the changes in A.A. at the group
level had their beginning in the West Coast area. If
you are willing to look, I think you will find an
abundance of SMART RECOVERY meetings in that area today.
Members in that area distorted AA and now are walking
away from it. I suppose your wife would consider this
I have been sober in AA since 1970. The changes I have
seen are posted all over the "What's On Your Mind" Forum.
I posted many of the same messages on the previous "I SAY
FORUM". Before I found the forums, I simply wrote letters by hand to the Grapevine, and to any address I could get my hands on. Today I believe (hope) that all of that work is paying off. My memory is still clear. I know what I saw,
and participated in. Today I see the result of those
changes. Distortion and failure. ANONYMOUS
Holding hands at meetings is not a Tradition it is a local custom and not all meetings do this. Sometimes I hold hands sometimes I don't. I don't make a big deal of it and explain on the rare occasion someone asks.
Being new on this I probably posted this twice for which I apologize. I know how to stay sober but am continually learning this new stuff.
How do you explain not holding hands, when everyone
else is joining? Do you follow the herd, or do you have
any convictions one way or another? I honestly feel that
the ritual, custom, "tradition" of holding hands and
praying at our meetings makes us look like some kind of strange religious cult. Although I joined in for two
decades, today I see it as a major cause of our loss
of effectiveness. If you see our fellowship as "alive
and well, this probably makes no sense. I no longer
"hold hands and pray" at AA meetings. The chanting which
is usually added, is, for lack of a better word, stupid.
I no longer participate in the prayer circle ritual at meetings. When others stand and hold hands, I simply remain seated. If someone on either side of me doesn't understand the visual cue and extends their hand to me, I simply say "I don't participate in this part." I meditate quietly while the ritual proceeds around me. I think my quiet meditation provides a spiritual, but not religious presence.
I've only been asked once why I don't participate. I responded that "I'm not very religious." I think there are many reasons that this practice in AA meetings is not a good thing. For instance, about a year ago a women remained seated when the group rose to form the prayer circle and said "group prayer is against my religion." I asked her about it after the meeting and found out that some religious people take to heart the words in Matthew 6:5:
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others."
Thanks for the Bible Verse. I consider myself religious,
and have been for a long time. I currently attend a
Bible teaching Baptist Church. I sometimes wear my
"dog tags" labeling me a Baptist.
When I am asked why I longer participate in the hand-
holding ritual I say "It is not mandatory". I am
convinced that this custom is harmful to A.A. as
a whole. I find holding hands with strangers uncomfortable
and sometimes repulsive. Our first tradition of unity
goes much deeper than joining hands. Reading your message
assures me that I am not alone in this opinion. More of
us need to speak up. ANONYMOUS
Thanks for sharing that when you don’t participate in the prayer circle that you say “It is not mandatory.” I think my response of “I’m not very religious” creates a false impression that everyone who is religious thinks these practices are appropriate in AA meetings.
Spirituality can be practiced without asking the entire group to engage in group prayer. Those who are personally religious can easily understand the difference between praying together in a church or synagogue and praying together in an AA meeting. Non-participation in group prayer is not an indication of lack of religious belief. That was really my point in quoting Matthew 6:5. There’s nothing wrong with group prayer in the appropriate setting, but in an AA meeting it creates an exclusionary environment for both those who are non-religious and those whose religion doesn’t allow it.
Like you, I also find holding hands with strangers uncomfortable. Holding hands with someone I’ve only met for the first time at a meeting is an unearned familiarity. Although some people apparently find this practice makes them feel more connected to the group, I’ve found this type of false intimacy to be alienating. Additionally, newcomers who don’t really want to participate but have poor self-esteem or a lack of assertiveness about their boundaries will not protest and will simply go along with the ritual. Later, when they think about doing what they really didn’t want to participate in, they may not feel better about themselves but worse.
Clean~ means I haven't drank alcohol or used any other mood-changing mind-altering chemicals. See story "Acceptance is the Answer"
Sober~ means that my Serenity and Spirituality are in tact today... I can think and act like a drunk, with or without drinking.
Our membership is defined as people with the desire not to drink, whether they call themselves "Alcoholics" or not... Tradition 3.
Anyone that thinks the AA's 12-steps is only for the alcoholic or only about alcohol probably hasn't worked all the steps and probably hasn't yet identified their own real problems yet.... they are still blaming it all on the booze. Being an alcoholic that came to the program with that "hopeless state of mind and body", I am grateful to have learned that my usage was but a symptom of my real problems. By doing an inventory, identifying my liabilities, I am able to grow closer to my Higher Power and those I love... to Recover.
Today, I can identify almost anyone suffering from that same hopeless state as an "alcoholic" whether they've ever had a drink in their life or not. So long as they have a desire not to drink today, they are a welcome member of our group. The message is the same and the Steps will benefit them... Step 12-... carry the message and practice these principals in all our affairs.