The way this works as I understand the traditions and the structure of AA is that if you believe a meeting should be run differently, you should get involved with that group's service committee, or call a group conscience, to discuss all the things you think are wrong. If others share your concerns, maybe the changes you seek will be implemented. If they are successful in attracting more people to your group, that growth may have an impact on neighboring groups. If they are not, your group will fizzle out. But to suggest that you have insight into what ails all of AA, and that all groups need to follow your lead, sound a bit like the bleeding deacon Bill writes about in the 12 & 12.
You seem to suggest that I start "my" own meeting and
then critize me for doing so. ANONYMOUS
The meeting I started will celeberate its sixth
anniversary in May. We have a daily dozen and have grown
slowly. We do no chanting, and do not read HIW at the
meeting. We do not assign sponsors, nor do we hold hands
and pray. I have called group conscience meetings at
two other meetings and we have eliminated all readings
except the preamble. We are there to share, not to read to each other.
These changes (reversals) must be made or A.A. will
eventually fizzle out. But I am only one person and
have limits. Those who understand what I am talking
about have to stand up and speak out. The sad part is
that most of those who have been affected have just
walked away. Most will never be reached.
I may not have all the answers, but I have a lot
of them. I have learned a lot from the messages
posted here. I previously had not understood why today's
concept of sponsor is so harmful. It took a traditions
workshop and messages on I-SAY for me to understand that.
Today I believe we need to eliminate the lable "sponsor"
from our A.A. vocabulary. Today's concept makes A.A.
a cult or sect. ANONYMOUS
Anonymous writes, "We do no chanting, and do not read HIW at the meeting. We do not assign sponsors, nor do we hold hands
and pray." etc. etc.
Just a wild guess, but I'd say you've made a lot of rules for "your" group.
Don't you find it strange that meetings which read, chant, hold hands, pray, etc. are still going on?
In the early 1970s I attended meetings in five different states and three foreign countries. The only custom I've seen added since then has been the "Keep coming back" addition to the Lord's Prayer and the hugging.
Our group follows guidelines. We conduct the meeting in
the manner in which all A.A. meetings were conducted in the
1970s. At least that is the way of the meetings I attended.
And I attended meetings almost daily.
If we had kept meetings the way they were, they would
still be growing as they did. But we allowed personalities
to overcome principles and the meetings morphed into other
customs and rituals.
No, I don't think it is strange that read,read,read,
hold hands and pray and chant, shout hoot and holler,
meetings continue. Today's members seem to enjoy these
rituals and customs.
These meetings continue, but are they growing? They
can continue for several more decades and pick up enough
members to replace those who die or drop out. But I
believe we either grow or go, the same as individual A.A.
Have you given any thought to the membership numbers
developed by the General Service Office for the year 2010?
Only ONE group out of FOUR could claim ONE new member for
the whole year! (US and Canada). I believe alcoholics are
still approaching A.A. by the hundreds of thousands every
year. We are failing them. Their families and friends are
suffering. We have a method to help them, but we are not
using it. The method has been so distorted that most A.A.
members don't even know what that technique is. It can
be found in Dr. Silkworth's IDEA. And there I go again.
And the answers can be found on I-SAY! No EGO problem here! ANONYMOUS
"Our group follows guidelines."
And what do you do if someone doesn't follow your 'guidelines'?
If a member of "my" group doesn't "toe the line" I call
the A.A. POOlice. They do it my way, or they are out the door. Actually the group does nothing and says nothing when someone doesn't follow our guidelines. The new member
soon realizes how ridiculous chanting sounds when they are
the only one who is chanting. Atheists and agnostics are
relieved that they do not have to hold hands and pray
with us. And newcomers are relieved when they understand
that we will not make a spectacle of them. We discourage
them from making a spectacle of themselves, by simply
going around the room. No sharing by "show of hands".
Everyone is treated as an equal. I hope this answers
your question. ANONYMOUS
You make the statement:
"We conduct the meeting in the manner in which all A.A. meetings were conducted in the 1970s. At least that is the way of the meetings I attended. And I attended meetings almost daily."
You make the common mistake of judging the entire world on what you see in your immediate vicinity. I have no reason to believe that meetings you attended in the seventies were conducted the way you say. But that is not proof that meetings throughout the world were conducted that way. As I've stated in other posts, between mid 1971 and mid 1973 I attended meeting in five states and three foreign countries. The only things I've seen added since those days are the hugging and the "Keep coming back it works of you work it!" chant.
Going by your logic, we should go back to the way meetings were conducted in, for example, 1936. We'd hold Oxford Group meetings, rather than AA meetings. Or we could do it like they did in Richmond in the early forties, and drink beer between meetings.
Why would my logic indicate that we ought to go back
to the OG method? That technique was highly unsuccessful
for alcoholics. Bill found that alcoholics just did not
respond well to that approach. Not one sobered up. Bill
finally changed that approach, obeying advice from Dr.
Silkworth. I have written many times explaining where
to find that advice. Page 70 in AACA is just one location this IDEA can be found.
Bill separated what was to become A.A. from OG around
1937. This was a vital decision. Dr. Bob remained with
OG until 1940 (in Akron), and he left the Oxford Groups.
His friend Henrietta was angry with Dr. Bob for following
Bill and leaving OG.
I believe that Alcoholics Anonymous was at its most
effective in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. We were doubling
in membership about every ten years. DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT
THAT MEANS?? Suffering alcoholics by the hundreds of
thousands were recovering every year. Their families and
friends were relieved. The reputation of A.A. was better
than our actual character. We had no enemies, except maybe
the liquor industry, and the for-profit rehabs.
We slowly have returned to the OG method. This started
with the reading of "How It Works" being read at the
beginning of A.A. meetings. (1980 in the east). The
acceptance of the 24hr book into AA tradition further
moved us to a christian religion. The ritual of chanting
started (again around 1980 in the east). This makes us look foolish in the eyes of the public.
No, I do not want to return to the A.A. of 1036.
I think that is what "Back to Basics" members were trying
to do. I obviously do not like the strange religious cult
A.A. of today. We have changed from a fellowship of men and
women to a Twelve Step Program Fellowship.
We can continue to spin our wheels, helping a few, or
we can return to the proven method which worked for
wholesale recovery for alcoholics. It is really up to us.
In Richmond, Va. Members drank beer AT the A.A.
meetings. I read this in AACA. I don't know how long they
drank beer at their meetings. I suspect it lasted until
the wives found out.
I hate to be critical but I do have following your
"logic". I think you meant to say disbelieve, but I make
mistakes often. I have heard that the best way of avoiding
mistakes is to do nothing. Obviously a few of us are not
remaining silent. I remained silent for too many decades
watching the fellowship which saved my life and my
brother's life almost destroy itself from within. ANONYMOUS
Dr. Bob was a member of the Oxford Groups for two
years before he met Bill W. The Doctor wrote that he got
tight every night. How effective was that movement in
helping alcoholics? Rowland and Ebby found sobriety
there. I think Roland held on to his sobriety. Ebby did
have periods of sobriety, between relapses.
Do you know why Bill placed "How it Works" in chapter
five? Bringing this reading to the podium was one of our
worst blunders of the past three decades, followed closely
by the chanting and the introduction of the 24 hour book
at meetings. Alcoholics are experts at rationalizing and
justifying: The Richmond A.A. members said that beer
was OK since it was fermented and not distilled. Please
don't ask where I read that. Manny Quinn
You said it!!!
I feel if I work on myself and be a good AA and do my part things will improve if they need to and if it is God's will!
It's funny but in Bill's last message he didn't say Dr. Silkworth's IDEA was the key to AA growth, he said anonymity was!!
You may have a recording of Bill W's last message. I
don't have a copy yet. Bill did write in the 12 & 12 p.187 that:
"We are sure that humility, expressed by anonymity, is the
greatest safeguard that Alcoholics Anonymous can ever have.
Bill wrote that sentence before 1953. But was that his last
message to us?
Anonymity may be the key to the growth of A.A. but Bill
wrote many times that without Dr. Silkworth's "IDEA", Alcoholics Anonymous could never have been BORN in the
first place. I again ask you to investigate this "IDEA".
... bears reading daily, as does Dr. Bob's, adding "restraint of keyboard" to the list of things I need to remind myself of daily. Bill's last message to me reflects the same powerful message he set out in the 12 tradition (long form) and his discussion of that tradition, that anonymity as synonymous with humility is vital to the individual as well as the group. As I celebrate another sobriety birthday, I can only marvel at how little I did to get here, but also how important each individual is as a part of the whole.
Telling a newcomer to work the steps is harmful because it
goes against the "IDEA" offered to Bill W. by
Dr. Silkworth in the spring of 1935. Bill writes many times
that without this idea AA could never been born. ANONYMOUS
Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 2012-04-05 06:04.
"Telling a newcomer to work the steps is harmful because it
goes against the "IDEA" offered to Bill W. by
Dr. Silkworth in the spring of 1935. Bill writes many times
that without this idea AA could never been born." ANONYMOUS
The "idea" Dr Silk worth gave Bill was to quit preaching that they must have a religious experience like he had. Reading AA literature rather than listening to misinformation will show that from the very beginning Bill and Dr. Bob recommended a program of (then) six steps. See page 263 in the Big Book.
In Chapter 7, "Working With Others," we are told,
"Tell him exactly what happened to you. Stress the spiritual feature freely."
"Outline the program of action, explaining how you made a self-appraisal, how you straightened out your past and why you are now endeavoring to be helpful to him."
"Suppose now you are making your second visit to a man. He has read this volume and says he is prepared to go through with the Twelve Steps of the program of recovery."
Egads and gadzooks!! On the second visit? Won't that scare the newcomer away??
No--It won't scare the newcomer away because as you just wrote from the book he will have read this volume by then---If he/she has read the book he will know what he/she is in for and hopefully has made a decision he/she wants to be sober and is willing to do anything to get sober!!
The way A.A. works is attraction not promotion. We really
don't want the newcomer to know what she/he is "in for"
until the addiction to our fellowship has a firm grip on
them. This is one of the messages written in the 12&12 on page 25. "Look what you people have done to us!" We want
to have them over a barrel before we let on what they are "in for". You may have to "read between the lines".
We push alcoholics away (both young and old), by
cramming the steps down their throats before they have
become ready. We must let them become ready on their
own without any pushing or prodding from me or anyone
else. How much more simple can I explain this method?
Give the newcomer time to become addicted to our
fellowship and friendship first. Have a cup of coffee
(I still find A.A. coffee the best in the world), a quality never before tasted. Have a seat and listen. We will
protect your identity. We thank you for coming and listening
to us. That is how WE stay sober. Thanks for your time.
you can join us any time you wish. No cover charge.
This is that the technique(call it a trick if you wish)
that attracts the suffering alcoholic soul. Not: That One
is God! May you find Him now! ANONYMOUS
I think it's attraction not promotion at the public level. However I have read that we share our exerience,strength, and hope, then ask the newcomer if he is willing to go to any length to have what we have. Obviously if what I have is not attractive, no one is gonna go to any lenghts for it (work the 12 steps).
How about if we just share our experience, strength, and
hope and then ask the newcomer NOTHING? I believe that is
the true A.A. method. Let the newcomers decide all
by themselves without any pushing or prodding from anyone.
Does this sound ridiculous? ANONYMOUS
Dr Silkworth advised Bill to stop preaching, PERIOD. The little doctor had treated drunks for forty years, and knew
that alcoholics don't respond well to the "That One is God, may you find Him now! approach. Rose
The vital advice Dr. Silkworth gave Bill W. was to
stop preaching, period! Reading "How It Works" and the
24 hour book to newcomers is about as close to a sermon
as any I have ever heard. ANONYMOUS
We are reading from chapter seven. Allow me to make some
slight adjustments. "Tell him/her exactly what happened to
YOU. Stress the spiritual feature freely." "Outline the program of action, explaining how YOU made a self appraisal,
how YOU straightened out YOUR past and why you are now
endeavoring to be helpful to her/him. Why are you trying to
be helpful to the new member? So you can have another notch
on your AA belt? Or are you doing it to save your own life?
Let me ask you this: when was the last time you made a
twelvth step call as described here? Ever? How many
potential members read the Big Book by the second visit.
Are you going to order this new member to get down on his
knees beside you and turn her/his life over to God? Is this
the way Ebby presented the solution to Bill W. I don't think
so. There is a special technique which best reaches the
soul of the suffering alcoholic. We tell him/her what we were like,what happened, and what we are like now. We do not tell any alcoholic, new or old, what to do. We make
NO DEMANDS,not even disguised as "suggestions". What
worked for you, worked for you. What worked for me worked
for me. But when A.A. was working for me in the 1970's,
thousands were recovering every year. We increased from
about 300,000 to about 900,000 in that decade. I believe
what worked for you worked for you, but what about all
the other suffering alcoholics who are not being helped
by 1990's A.A. I believe that you could have gotten
sober in the fellowship of the 1970's. I am equally
convinced that today's A.A. would have failed me. I
hope some of this makes sense. I am still trying to
figure it out. ANONYMOUS
Don't worry! In no way would I tell anyone in A.A. or
any other program that they don't have to do the steps. I
still believe Alcoholics Anonymous is God's greatest gift
to the alcoholic and the alcoholic's family and friends.
I just don't tell anyone in the fellowship that they
have to work the steps. At least I don't any more. I was a
twelve step pusher and Big Book thumper more years than I
care to remember. That was before I realized that AA had
lost half a million members in the 1990's, and remains
virtually stagnant today. I did not know that this was
the method used by Bill W. in his first six months of
what he called "violent exertion". Bill describes this
method as spectacularly unsuccessful. This is the same method
used by most AA members today.
I had never read what Bill W. wrote on page 8 in Language of the Heart. I just did not know about the
advice Dr. Silkworth gave to Bill just prior to Bill's
venture to Akron in the spring of 1935. Bill W. gave
up his role as preacher, teacher or adviser. Bill W.
was just a desperate alcoholic trying to save himself.
Dr. Bob responded to that approach with a story of
Today I share my own story of my experience, strength
and hope and STOP. I don't make any demands disguised as
suggestions. I don't have the power to make anyone do
anything. Today I obey the attraction NOT promotion theory
For example, I share how the steps have helped me to stay
sober. But I do not ask "when are you going to do the same?
I still do the 90 in 90 and have been doing so for the
past dozen years. But I do not tell anyone that they have
to do 90 in 90 in order to get sober, or stay sober. That is just not true. I don't tell anyone that they have to do the steps.
The steps are suggestions. The A.A. member, new or old
can use them or not. I let them make that decision themselves. Bill used the words "the power of his full
consent, willfully given". See Lang. Page 8.
I truly appreciate and understand your concern. A.A.
is my life-line. We have something worth more than the
world's gold. A solution to alcoholism which almost
always works. (when we follow the path).
And, thanks for not making it a "personal attack". (smile).
Look, I love AA history. It is interesting and important.
But Bill, (with input from the group), wrote the BB first.
Then, if I am not mistaken, wrote the 12/12. After that came the other books you keep mentioning. AACA, Dr. Bob and The Good Old Timers and so forth.
Bill owned most of the rights to the BB and could have amended it, changed it or even rewritten it if he wanted to at any point! If he thought these IDEAS and other solutions were better for AA and the still suffering alcoholic, WHY WOULDN'T HE MAKE THE CHANGES! Most of your arguments make no sense if you think of it in this way! The BB is our road map, our basic text, our program to recovery!
For someone who loves AA history, you seem to know very
little about it. Of course Bill W wrote the 12&12 using his own experiences and the accumulated experience of other AA
members and non AA friends.
The ownership of the first edition of our Big Book was
turned over to the alcoholic foundation in 1940. The debts
of the Big Book were paid off, and around 1942, the Foundation became the sole owner of the AA book and put it
in trust for our society for all time. This
information can be found on page 15 of AACA. I would
strongly suggest that you buy this book, along with the
others, especially LANGUAGE. If you have them please
read them, (study them).
Most A.A. members know that we eventually lost the
copyright for the big book. Don't ask me to explain that
blunder. We simply dropped the ball. I guess this could
be considered a personal attack. Slow down and research
this information before you post it. Mistaken information
can be harmful. How are you succeeding with cutting down
on the chanting at your groups? ANONYMOUS
I'm finished. It started out with a few ideas on how AA might improve itself and it has gone to who knows more about AA history. I have already agreed on some topics but now you are brow beating. For 75+ years the program has basically, (not saying for eveyone but most), been read the big book, get a higher power and work the steps. Now it has to be leave the newcomer alone but have them read every book approved by AA so they can make a decision if they want to get sober but not work the steps or heaven forbid having a higher power.
No more from me on your subjects, go ahead and carry the banner. I don't think arguing on this web site for all the world to see is the best thing for AA. I am taking the high road and responding positively to the folks who want to get sober or have questions about the program as outlined in the BB. Adios.
Before I apologize, and I am sincerely sorry that I
have hurt your feelings, let me make one last correction.
The shares of the Big Book were turned over to the Foundation, later re-named The General Service Board of
Alcoholics Anonymous. This ownership change took place in 1942. The
board of trustees could change the wording in the BB
if they decided to. Bill relinguished his shares to
the Trustees, to the fellowship.
The shares mentioned in Bill W.'s will were shares
of the royalties Bill received from his work. If I
found this information, anyone here could find it. But
I hope that the Big Book is never re-written, although
there were some changes in the wording on the dust
cover which was changed, and is now being challenged
at this years's General Service Conference.
Again, Ray C. I am sorry I hurt your feelings. I
am saddened that I have lost another friend. I had hoped
that we would someday be on the same page. I feel we are still in the same book and maybe in the same chapter.
I look forward to reading your messages, although they
may not be written to me.
And I am almost done. I have written my concerns over
and over. I am elderly and have a lot of "loose ends"
to clear up. I may see very little reversal of the
blunders we have made. And these corrections may never
be made. The A.A. Fellowship of today could continue for
several more decades, stumbling along, spinning our
wheels, churning. Pride and the alcoholic EGO are
indeed powerful. But someday I hope to go to an A.A.
meeting and hear the chairperson say: We no longer read
"How it Works" here at the meeting; we have discovered
that it can be harmful to newcomers and other members.
And it goes against the advice given to Bill W. in the
spring of 1935. Bill writes many times that without
this advice A.A. could never have succeeded. And I fear
that if we continue to ignore that advice, Alcoholics
Anonymous will eventually vanish completely. Even
worse, we could continue churning, gaining enough members
to replace those who die or drop out. We push away most of
those approaching us by the way our meetings are conducted.
Those who are already here and those few who stay make
it appear that Alcoholics Anonymous is "alive and well".
Our membership numbers indicate that is simply not true.
That's funny because Bill W. mentioned his shares of the BB in his will.
Please read chapter seven in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, especially pgs 94 and 95. The whole chapter outlines the best practices for 12 step work.
Chapter 7 is entirely devoted to step 12. If I am practicing something different, as I have done in the past, I am only fooling myself that what I am doing is 12 step work.
Thanks for posting so we can have these important discussions!
I used to think that I could manage my own life and no one was going to tell me what to do. That was a lie! Alcohol finally one and I was flat on my feet. For the last six years I have been in the program of AA and thought to myself several times "Yeah, I can fool these guys all I want, but I'm still going to drink!"
Now after moving several times in succession, I finally realize that by admitting my hopelessness in this disease, I am finally able to have some peace of mind and make the decisions that help me to stay clean. The only one in control of my life today is my Higher Power whom I choose to call God.
As i was reading pages 84-88 in the bb this morning, I started to wonder how many other AAs start there day by reading these pages? i particularly enjoy the 11th step and how it tells me what to do on awakening. anyway, i was taught to read these pages as part of my 10 and 11th steps. after just reading it for awhile, i soon began to practice it.
The proposition of Step 2 is that faith in a higher power = soundness of mind.
how simple it is to sit behind the screen and admonish,complain,berate and critisize what we cannot either accept even more so understand from the situations of others who become members of AA.While truthfully most of what has been commented here,is of pure opinion, the hostility [behind those wanting to portray themselves as having been more succesful than others,or that their concise interpretation of the Big Book is superior]...is just breathtaking.Nothing is ever without contreversy,of that I am certain,but one could only hope that because AA was established in order to provide for those in search and need of much needed help,that it will remain despite its' ups and downs over the years, the place where we can go to for support and the chance for a new start.
Is it pure opinion that the effectiveness of AA has
diminished, if it is based on membership numbers from our paid staff at our General Service Office? We are EXcluding
most alcoholics who approach us today. That most AA members
today can deny or ignore our lack of growth, is what I may
call breathtaking. A better word is appalling.
There were no "ups and downs" until the early 1990's
when the dogma and distortion of the 1980's began to take effect. AA membership grew continuously for the first 57
years. If "each one reaches one" we would always grow.
To accept a loss of over half a million members in the
1990's, and our current stagnation, is also appalling.
There are over thirty million alcoholics in the US
today. No, I haven't counted them. They are on the loose.
We boast of TWO MILLION STRONG, worldwide. How strong are we today? Really??. Only one group out of four groups in the US and Canada could claim one new member in the whole year of 2010. Do the research. Yes, just sitting behind the
screen is fairly easy. And a lot of information can be
found this way. Try telling a group that reading HIW aloud
at meetings is harmful, and most will chant you right the door. But I refuse to be bullied any longer by loud personalities at meetings. Here, I prefer to remain ANONYMOUS.
Your tiresome editorializing all over the different I-say sites is becoming a real boar.
Nobody in AA should be telling anyone what to do, and if they are they should be gently corrected, pointing to page 59 in the BB where it clearly states " Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery". Many of us have (like you) seen family and friends die from this disease and we are hurt every time it happens and it reinforces the deadly nature of this disease. Some people need to hear that these are just suggestion much like its only a suggestion that you pull the rip-cord of your parachute.
WE DO NOT push anybody away. They stay or they don't, their choice. They've hit bottom or they haven't. They want what we have or they don't. To do 90 in 90 IS useful in establishing a habit of attendance but it's still only a suggestion. Reading the Preamble, How it works and the 12 Traditions is something the newcomer need to hear and yes They are the most important person in the room (not you). Keep coming back it works are not chants and the Serenity prayer is that, a prayer
I don't know if your just a dry drunk or a bleeding Deacon or you just want every thing done your way. Read page 61. Do you see your self in there?
My little town has over 50 meeting on any given day One of them is call the Happy Heathens, If you don't like the way things are being done in the meeting you attend then I SUGGEST you start your own and do it your way and see who comes. Just a thought
I don’t find the writer the least bit tiresome, quite the reverse in fact. I am enlightened by what he says. It is good for me to know that there are others who also share my concerns. If he reads this, then I say thank you.
It is easy to accept the truth and to speak it when it brings comfort. It is easy to resent the truth and to silence it when it brings discomfort. Truth, comforting or discomforting, will always come out in the end. The growth and well being of AA will always depend upon how well each new generation is willing to accept the truth, take inventory of itself and then to correct its faults.
I am grateful that I got sober in the days before the internet. Back then there was no coercion for newcomers to get a sponsor, or for them to take the steps before they were ready to. The 1940s AA slogans “Easy does it.” “Live and let live.” still meant something. Newcomers decided in their own time and manner. There was no conformity to ritual, yet all the meetings were more or less the same. There were no special purpose groups, no religious emotionalism, no outside literature, no speaker recordings, no greeters, no holding of hands; no question of unity.
People talked with humility, of their sordid drinking, of themselves, without exhibition. They did not talk of what their sponsor said, nor did they entertain; nor pride themselves with their knowledge of the Big Book. They did not pride themselves with their having had a spiritual experience, nor how they pray and meditate; nor did they pride themselves on how many years they had been sober. There was no sponsor worship, no old timer worship; no guru worship.
I have seen the changes in AA and I do not think they are good. These changes are producing emotional experiences instead of spiritual awakenings; dry alcoholics with half cracked egos, emotionally dependent on amateurish teachers and preachers; emotionally defensive of the dogmas they have been taught. They have not yet experienced the truly open mind, humility and tolerance that is associated with a spiritual ego deflation at depth. This writer gives me hope that AA still does have a good future, if it can but stay on its spiritual foundation of placing principles before the personalities who seek to gain power, prestige or money.
There is another alternative to being a dry drunk or a bleeding deacon and that is to be good leader. So, I hope the writer continues, regardless of those who, as Bill W. put it: “pitch gobs of rumors, gossip, and general scuttle-butt to gain their ends --- all for the good of A.A., of course!” Not all is in the Big Book. It is but a beginning.
(Bill W. quote from “Leadership in AA: Ever a vital need” Concept IX, The AA Service Manual Combined with the Twelve Concepts for World Service pp 36-40) http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/en_bm-31.pdf
Thanks for the encouraging posting. I knew there had to
be someone "out there" who understands what I have been
"catterwauling" about. You see, I do believe we should have
eight million members in Alcoholics Anonymous today. We
have failed six million sufferers plus their friends and
families. One of those who died was the child of my next door neighbor. It was her death that propelled this obsession in me. It was further fueled by the near-death of
my son from addiction. I have three grown children who have never seen me drink. But they have my bloodline. I fear that all three will need an adequate fellowship someday.
I find that our greatest mistake is ignoring Dr. Silkworth's
"cart before the horse" advice to Bill W. in the spring
of 1935. Most of our mistakes have developed out of
that one blunder. When I finally understood why Bill and
his friends rejected the 24 hr book, I also understand
why reading How It Works at meetings is so harmful to A.A.
as a whole. We have actually changed a fellowship of men
and women to a twelve step program, only one of many. But
I just keep repeating myself. Many thanks. ANONYMOUS
Wow, you must really be an oldtimer! I'm impressed!
No "...outside literature, no speaker recordings, no greeters, no holding of hands; no question of unity."?
I'm a bit of a newcomer, but I remember buying "The Little Red Book", "Stools and Bottles", "The Eye Opener" and Twenty-four Hours A Day", all published by Hazelden.
I have a copy of a (recorded) talk Dr. Bob gave in Detroit in 1948. I have copies of some of the (recorded) talks given at the 1960 International Convention.
In 1972 a friend loaned me two tapes of AA speakers to take with me on a ten month shipboard deployment to the Far East.
Between July, 1971 and June, 1973 I attended meetings in five states and three foreign countries. I don't recall a single one where I wasn't greeted by someone. Not all of those meetings closed with members holding hands, but a great many of them did.
I will agree, in my early days we had no computers or cell phones. On the plus side, we didn't have people calling themselves concerned AA members while complaining about what's wrong with AA.
You may have misunderstood the writer's mentioning of
the 1940's slogans of Live and Let Live and Easy Does It.
I suspect he entered A.A. about the same time as you;
the early seventies. A.A. at that time was a fellowship of
men and women. Today's A.A. is a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM, only
one of many. Rose
These changes in Alcoholics Anonymous have taken place
in the past 30 years. I was well aware of the changes as they were taking place (and I did not like them), but I
did not recognize them as being so devestating to our
fellowship. Although I was uncomfortable with the changes,
I just did not understand why I hated them so much. So
I just accepted, and went along with the "herd". It
was not until about 2005 that I realized that A.A. was in
trouble. It was then that I saw the meetings in my area
not only not growing, they were actually shrinking. (Some
may say maybe it is your fault). And I am as much to blame
as anyone else, because of my fear of standing up and
The meetings of the 1970's were all basically the
same, unity, not conformity.
I believe that it is the duty of every A.A. member
to speak up (complain), when they question rituals and
customs which may be in violation of the other two
thirds of the fourth tradition. ANONYMOUS
I am glad you are sober today. I agree with what you said and you will grow by attending meetings in different locales, and by reading the Grapevine. In one spot the person writting says fellowship is the key and another says greeters are wrong! Folks who have this kind of thinking are either confused, senile, have Alzheimers or are trouble makers who just like an argument.
I agree the chanting is not appropriate as it sounds sect like and I don't want AA to be a sect.
But thinking that reading anything from the BB in a meeting or suggesting someone works the steps or finds a HP is harmful to them is rediculous. That is the AA program for crying out loud!
An automatic response by a group is chanting. This began
simply by one person, not the chairman, responding Hi. Joe!
when Joe states that he is an alcoholic. Joe is admitting
that he is an alcoholic and is admitting it to the group.
The one member responding soon became the group chanting
in unison; Hi! Joe!
Do you have any particular reason why you do not like
this ritual? Do you think it harms A.A. as a whole? Do you
think chanting ought to cease? If so have you made any
attempt at eliminating it in your groups. Do you still
attend meetings? Do you make your opinions known at the
group conscience level?
A.A. friends have told me that if I don't like the
chanting, to just cover my ears. But my main concern is
that this ritual makes us look foolish in the eyes of
the public. I have often written about the A.A. friend
who was watching a tv program portraying an A.A. meeting.
She said that her non-alcoholic husband actually laughed
out loud when the group chanted Hi! Joe!. He sarcastically
asked: Is this the A.A. that you are going to.
This one thing is important, and it seems to be the
only thing we agree on. So let's start here.
Dale Carnegie wrote about the importance of remembering
friend's names. One way is to repeat the name of the
person. That may have been the way it was justified in
the beginning (around 1980 in the Eastern States). Today
the repeating of ones name has become chanting, shouting,
hooting and hollering. This harms our public image. Some
members may think or say: what do we care what the public
thinks. Besides, the first tradition tells us that the
individual has the right to think, talk and act as he
wishes. So how do we stop the chanting? I know it can be
eliminated. No one at our AM meeting chants any more.
They realize how stupid it sounds. When someone who is at
the meeting for the first time chants, the rest of us
realize how foolish it sounds. The new member soon
catches on and remains reverent. We have to start somewhere
to "try to turn this ship around", using the words from
my area delegate. Let's start here. ANONYMOUS
A lot of folks are caterwalling about AA's lack of growth.
If AA's growth is lacking who is to say it's AA's fault??
There are so many possibilities out there it is astronomical. Maybe more people don't care if they die nowadays! Maybe more poeple don't have the fundamental belief in God that the BB talks about! Most say that numbers are down for church attendance. With the broken homes nowadays a lot of people have never been to a church or synagogue or whatever! A lot of young people have never given a thought to God. A lot of folks nowadays are left to fend for themselves and have the belief they have to do everything on their own! A master of my own destiny crap! Drugs and booze are much too easy to get now. Parents holding partys for their kids to teach them to drink. Drugs pouring into the country like crazy. Hell no one even reads anymore! How can you tell them the answers are in the book when the can't read or are too lazy to read it!
If an individual wants to sober up. If they are tired of their life and want to change they will do something about it whether it is AA, counseling, church, RR or some other thing that they think will help them they will do it. All we can do is be the best AA's we can be. Read and follow the BB and the steps and traditions. Always keep the newcomer in mind. Put the hand of AA out and be there. Then anyone who comes into the rooms will have a chance! No one person can make another one get sober. The individual has to want it! They are welcome in AA but if they think there is another solution they can try it! All I know is I wanted it and it worked for me but I took action. I did what I was told to do. I know this program will work for anyone who admits they are alcoholic, surrenders, becomes willing and takes action! Stop walking on egg shells and tell the newcomers the truth. You may hurt their feelings but you can save their lives!
Ray C, I am in total agreement with your content of your letter dated Feb 22, 2012! I could not have put it any better myself. The program works if you work it! Kelly J.
"A lot of folks are caterwalling about AA's lack of growth."
?? Where are they? Our chairman of the board of trustees
and our GSO manager have acknowledged our lack of
growth over the past few years. They are hardly caterwalling. Most who appear to be concerned seem to have
an "Oh, Well, attitude. We are not the only "game in town".
The truth is that hundreds of thousands of suffering
alcoholics are approaching AA every year. We fail them
because of the way our meetings are conducted. Our foolish
pride and the alcoholic ego refuse to let us admit our
blunders. I have been caterwalling about five years now.
Maybe someone will start listening soon. ANONYMOUS
I had to look that one up. As a high school dropout,
my vocabulary is limited. It is a perfect discription of
my persistant negativity. I have written about one of our
worst mistakes in AA in the past three decades, at least
a hundred times. I have yet to read a message from anyone
who agrees with me. Several groups in my local have deleted
the reading simply because it is too time consuming. No
one seems to understand the basic reason this reading at
meetings is harmful. If we can somehow develop an understanding of why the 24hr book was rejected by Bill W.
and his friends in the early 1950's, we can move closer
to understanding why the reading of HIW at AA meetings has
been so tragic. We are trying to feed newcomers with buckets
instead of teaspoons. Most of us elder statesmen are fully aware that God is the central core of Alcoholics Anonymous.
(I do consider myself an elder statesman, sometimes just an
elderly statesman). But in the true AA method, we share our
own experience, strength and hope, and explain our own
spiritual (religious) experience. We do this in a manner
which does not even imply that anyone else has to the same. If we are attractive enough, hopefully the new person
will want what we have. But we are not to cram anything down
anyone's throat. How could the truth harm anyone if we simply share about ourselves? No one's feelings could be
hurt, if we follow the true AA approach (method). We do not
need to walk on egg shells at all.
Yes you are correct. Very few people read these messages
and most do not understand them. But someday, sooner or later they will. By caterwalling, maybe it will be sooner,
and more suffering alcoholics will be saved. I am sober.
"I've got mine"! who cares? I have heard members say. I
have no "ax to grind". My life was saved by the origional
true AA fellowship. I have lived a wonderful life because
of Alcoholics Anonymous. And I do have a precious yellow
cat. Caterwalling certainly describes her at times.
I believe we share the same purpose as most AA members:
to help as many suffering alcoholics as possible. How we
go about that, will always be our concern. I suspect that
we are in the same book, and will someday be on the same
page. Ten years ago I could have written most of the
rebuttals I receive today. I had only skimmed over our AA
origination and history. I have spent the last years
doing the research. The turning point was the death of
a fellow AA member on her 24th birthday. AA failed her.
My obsession was further fueled by the near death of
my son, who was turned off by today's AA.
Some times I doubt that AA will ever return to any
degree of effectiveness. But Bill W. had faith that
faults in AA would be self-correcting. Bill often wrote
that we will remain as long as God needs us. Maybe our
time of usefulness has passed. I think NOT. ANONYMOUS
I have never seen a yellow cat. You must have meant
an orange cat. I guess we all make mistakes in our progress
not perfection. Manny Q.
Sorry about mispelling Caterwauling I type fast and mispell words sometimes. I don't get the harm in reading How It Works out of the BB. I don't see how anything read from the book aloud in a meeting would hurt anyone.
Some day you will see. Just never give up the enthusiasm you have for our fellowship. I didn't understand it until I was thirty five years sober. Please don't wait another 15
years. I see that everything has its proper place in the
big book as well as in the 12+12. The proper place for
How it Works is in Chapter Five. Bill placed it there
for a special, timed effect. Read pages 159 and 160 in
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. Bill wrote: The
backbone of the book would have to be fitted in right
here. This problem had secretly had worried the life out
of me. end writes. I am still amazed that Bill had the
insight to place it there. Bill W. had insight which
I believe beyond human. Dr. Silkworth and Bill developed
this unique technique of reaching the still suffering
alcoholic. All we have to do is follow the path left for
us. To do that we must understand that following a path
is not the same as following directions.
And thanks for the new word, however it is spelled.
It certainly describes me for over five years now. My
cat eventually gets my attention, by not giving up.