Sorry, misquote. I was thinking of the original manuscript of the big book. On page 60, just before it says being convinced we were at step 3, it says something along the lines of “if you are not convinced of a,b, and c, reread it up to this point or throw it away!
I had that mixed up with chapter 7, at the bottom of page 91, It says, “Show him the mental twists which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.
I apologize. I should have said what I do is ask them to reread the chapter on alcoholism again, or if they want, I will read it to them. If I have ask him before we start, if he wants to quit for good and will go to any extreme to do so (pg 90) I also refer to that. Also on page 95 it says to ask them to read this book in the interval. After that he must decide if he wants to go on. If he has read this book, there should be no surprises.
I also like to refer to Page 94,” Outline the program of action…….” At the bottom of page 94,”If he shows interest lend him your copy of this book”. Also on page 96,” 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 12 steps of the program of recovery.
Again, sorry for the misleading information.
Too many of today's members have returned to the
origional manuscript. We have a local group who read the
manuscript version of How It Works. They read "on your knees" and "throw the book away". The worst mistake is
following our directions instead of following our path.
I am curious if you teach the steps and the big
book as an elder. I think it is the responsibility of
the group to teach, not one on one as a tutor or
Personally when I approach a newcomer, I offer a
copy of the third edition of the Big Book and suggest
reading some of the stories. If they want to read
further, I suggest that they begin at the front of
the book with the Doctor's opinion.
I would never tell a newcomer to open to chapter
five to start reading. Bill W. placed How It Works
in chapter five for a special timed effect. I believe
that reading this material to the newcomer is a
terrible mistake. Yet we do it all the time. Even
Overeaters anonymous has followed our lead and it
has become a part of their format.
My concern is A.A.'s loss of half a million members
since 1992, and our current stagnation. Our mistakes
have caused our loss of effectiveness. We must admit
our blunders and correct them if A.A. is going to
survive. If the newcomer says he is prepared
to "go through with the steps", give her/him a copy of our
12&12. Bill W. tells us how to do the steps. Just be
there to answer any questions the newcomer may ask. I
usually suggest a weekly step meeting where the group
can teach the steps. This is a lifetime practice. I don't
believe they are meant to be taught in a workshop setting.
I agree with what you say. I assume “the original” manuscript referred to here is not in fact the original but a copy of a pre-publication multilithed draft of the Big Book which I understand is now being published by organizations outside AA. Before the Big Book was published in 1939, 400 pre-publication multilithed copies of the draft manuscript were distributed to alcoholics, non alcoholic AA friends, (psychiatrists, clerics, etc); for their suggested amendments. (Pass it On, pp 200-205) The chapters “Bill’s Story” and “There Is a Solution” were also multilithed and circulated by Bill W. before publication of the Big Book, to raise money in 1938. (Pass it On, p193)
These multilithed pre- publication draft manuscripts were yet to be finally edited and approved by the fellowship’s group conscience. Therefore, to call any of these multilithed drafts the “original” manuscript can only be described as the dishonest rationalizing of half truth into deceit. The only manuscript which can honestly be claimed to be the original manuscript is the final draft edit, approved by the fellowship and published in 1939, the first edition of the Big Book “Alcoholics Anonymous”. We can all see this re-printed in the first 164 pages of the current edition. These pages remain unchanged from the original. Some of the original stories in the section at the back of the book were taken out in later editions in order to make way for newer stories. These are now published in “Experience Strength and Hope.”
As for the getting down on your knees, protests in the fellowship at the time caused the kneeling suggestion in the draft multilithed manuscript not to be printed in the original Big Book (first edition). This was the New York group’s response, as recalled by Bill W:
“… In one of the steps I had even suggested that the newcomer get down on his knees.
When this document was shown to our New York meeting the protests were many and loud. Our agnostic friends didn't go at all for the idea of kneeling. Others said we were talking altogether too much about God. And anyhow, why should there be twelve steps when we had done fine on six? Let's keep it simple, they said.
This sort of heated discussion went on for days and nights. But out of it all there came a ten-strike for Alcoholics Anonymous. Our agnostic contingent, speared by Hank P. and Jim B., finally convinced us that we must make it easier for people like themselves by using such terms as "a Higher Power" or "God as we understand Him!" Those expressions, as we so well know today, have proved lifesavers for many an alcoholic. They have enabled thousands of us to make a beginning where none could have been made had we left the steps just as I originally wrote them….” (Bill W. Extract from “A Fragment of history: Origin of the Twelve Steps” The Language of the Heart p 201, AA Grapevine July 1953)
Here’s a newcomer’s reaction to the multilithed draft which had been given to psychiatrist Harry Tiebout M.D; the doctor decided to try it out on one of his alcoholic patients with spectacular results:
“…Indeed, its heavy larding with the word "God," so angered Marty that she threw it out her window, flounced off the grounds of the swank sanitarium where she was, and proceeded to tie on a big bender…” (Bill W. “In Memory of Harry” The Language of the Heart p 369, AA Grapevine July 1966)
After some persuading Marty M. did eventually read it, went to a meeting, achieved long term sobriety and became a notable AA member. She can be looked up in the indexes of “Pass it On” and “The Language of the Heart.”
If we want AA to continue to be inclusive to all alcoholics irrespective of their creed or nationality and for AA to grow worldwide, then it doesn’t make any sense to me that some groups appear to be trying to turn the clock back in order for them to repeat the past mistakes of the Oxford Group. The Oxford Groups and their methods in dealing with alcoholics were not early Alcoholics Anonymous groups and should not be confused as such.
Came to believe God could restore us to sanity.
Before I say anything. When I speak of God, I am refering to my own conception of God. Therefore when you speak of God I give you the same courtesy.
From what I have read in the big book, I have gathered that "insanity" is defined as the lack of ability to think straight where alcohol is concerned. Nothing more or less.
In chapter 4 We Agnostics, it states that almost half our origiional membership was athiest or agnostic. My understanding of an athiest is they believe there is proof therer is no God. My understanding of an agnostic is that they don't know either way. they are without knowledge where God is concerned.
On pg 45 in the bb it says "lack of power was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this power?"
"Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.
On pg 47 it says "we needed to ask ourselves but one short question. Do I now believe, or am I willing to believe, that there is a power greater than myself?"
I think an agnostic says they do believe, and an athiest says they are willing.
On pg 53 it says, "When we became alcoholics, crushed by a self imposed crisis we could not postpone or evade, we had to fearlessly face the porposition that either God is, or he isn't. What was our choice to be?
To me that is step 2. I belive this is why it is so important to use the big book with newcomers. If they are not willing, then let our greatest advocate and promoter "ALCOHOL" do its persuading untill they are ready.
Thanks for reading.
How do we use the Big Book with newcomers? Do we leave
the Book and the other spiritual tools at the new member's
feet, or do we cram them down their throats. Most of today's
sponsors, teachers and preachers are crammers. To reach them
at depth, we must allow the new person and all other members
to make their own decision, without any prodding or pushing
from us. Who are WE to ask "ARE YOU READY YET! We should
be saying "thanks for listening to me, that is how I stay
sober, by sharing my experience, strength and hope. Don't
ask, suggest, demand anything of the newcomer. If they
eventually show interest in the steps, offer them the
12 & 12. Allow every member do the steps when they decide
for themselves they are ready. Many of us work the steps,
some of us just practice them in our lives. They really
are suggestions. Honest! ANONYMOUS
Anonymous writes: "Many of us work the steps, some of us just practice them in our lives. They really are suggestions."
I got sober with the second edition of the Big Book, used the third edition to continue on the road to recovery and now use the fourth edition. Not a one of those said the steps are merely suggested. What they say is, "Here are the steps we took WHICH ARE SUGGESTED AS A PROGRAM OF RECOVERY."
From "The American Heritage Dictionary":
sug·gest (sg-jst, s-jst) KEY
sug·gest·ed, sug·gest·ing, sug·gests
To offer for consideration or action; propose.
To serve as or provide a motive for; prompt or demand."
The steps are not a list of things we might do when we feel like getting around to them, they are "A Program Of Recovery."
Knowing and admitting I am an alcoholic means nothing unless I believe there is a solution to my problem.
Knowing there is a solution means nothing unless I'm willing to take the treatment necessary to solve that problem.
Being willing to have my problem solved means nothing unless I take the necessary action, which is the remaining nine steps. ("Though our decision was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless AT ONCE followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us." page 64)
The belief that the twelve steps are merely a dozen suggestions keeps far too many suffering alcoholics suffering.
Here are the steps we took, WHICH ARE SUGGESTED AS A
PROGRAM OF RECOVERY. How can you say that not a one of
those said the steps are merely suggestions? It is there
in black and white. You wrote it in capitol letters. I
personally do not like the phrases "mere suggestions",
or "only suggestions". They are suggestions. I think what you are missing is the true meaning of suggestion. This is the first definition in my dictionary: 1. To mention, introduce, or propose an idea for consideration, possible action. We keep far too many alcoholics suffering by trying
to cram the dosen suggested steps down their throats. And all at the same time in "How It Works". ANONYMOUS
I hope you still have your copy of the second issue
of the Big Book. I often wonder how many times "fellowship"
has been changed to "Fellowship". In today's A.A. it
has been changed almost everywhere except our preamble. The
preamble still reads fellowship. But that will evolve into
Fellowship soon. ANONYMOUS
That definition of "suggest" interests me. Bill W. wrote
later in our 12&12, first printing 1953, Page 26. I copy:
First, Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe
anything. All of its twelve steps are but suggestions." The
sponsor of that era says relax, take it easy. Today's
sponsor says: That One is God, may you find Him now!
Alcoholics by the thousands were joining the fellowship
of the 1950's. Have you looked at our growth recently? The
result of todays approach is Nil!!
The definition of suggest which I feel fits A.A. is :"to indicate indiretly or without plain expression. Another definition is: the process of inducing a thought, sensation, or action in a receptive person without using persuasion and without giving rise to the reflection in the recipient. This is a far cry from: These are the steps we took! Are you ready to take them yet? Find God Now or forever be darned!! ANONYMOUS
It just seems to me that you are making the twelve
steps requirements, instead of suggestions. Our early
members Hank and Jimmy fought hard day and night to
get the steps labled as suggestions. But I believe this
fight was fought after most of the Big Book had been
written. I also believe that is why the whole book
was described as suggestive only, as written on page
164 of the book. Hold on to that third edition. That
was just the best! Of course that is pure opinion.
In Pass it on, they say Hank Drank again. Check it out.
That indeed is a sad story. After all the work Hank did
for us, he did drink again, and did not recover. I believe
it had to do with a relationship. I think Jimmy remained
sober. I think fifty percent is acceptable. Hank and Jimmy
did not want to see A.A. become a religion. They insisted that the steps be labled as suggestions, and that God be
a higher power of each member's understanding. Without
those changes, I don't believe A.A. could have been
effective for as long as it was. Ignoring those changes
is what is killing us. I wish I could explain in a way
that could be understood. Someday maybe I will be able to
do so. It has to do with the the alcoholic's nature. We
do not respond well when someone tells us what to do. If
someone just tells us what they did and what happened to
them, then we are more likely to follow that path. Tell
an alcoholic what he must do and he rebels. The true
method which works is to let the alcoholic decide all
by himself, in the light of his own circumstances, what
he wants to do. Let him ask the questions if he is
interested in what we offer. Attraction, not promotion.
This may still not make any sense. It is based on my
understanding of Dr. Silkworth's IDEA. ANONYMOUS
If you had what I wanted, and I asked you to show me how u got it,how would you show me?
I know what I do. I take the newcomer through the steps in the bb just the way my sponsor did with me in 1992. Just like his did in 1981. And just like his did in 1972.
I have done it this way because that's my experience. The 2-15 newcomers I work with a year do It the same way. And guess what? Almost everyone has stayed sober! The 12 guys that worked with me and that I worked with through the steps in1992 are all sober today! The bb works!
That's my experience.
I don't think I would be able to "show you". But I can
tell you what happened to me. Drinking alcohol almost
killed me. I reached a point where I feared that I
would die if I did not stop. I thought of drinking
constantly, fighting the desire to drink day after day.
I did not know that most real alcoholics cannot stop
drinking without help. I did not know that an alcoholic
is someone who cannot drink without danger, yet cannot
resist the craving for liquor.
I cried out to God to help me. (in the name of Christ).
There was no human around me. God lifted the obsession to
drink. That was over forty years ago and that craving has
never returned. No one "took me through the steps". I
have made a life study of the steps and practice them
in my daily life. I surrendered to God on Saturday and
entered A.A. the following Monday. Nothing was ever
required of me as an A.A. member. "Don't drink and stick
around with us", were the guidelines the elders offered.
You are certainly doing your part if you help 2-15
alcoholics each year. With approximately 60,000 groups
in the US and Canada less than 15,000 new members were
added in the entire year of 2010. If every sober member
of Alcoholics Anonymous helped just one member every
year, imagine how many we could help. Our membership
of two million would double every year. With 30 million
active alcoholics "on the loose" in the US alone, would
that be too much to expect. Do you understand what I
am trying to say? Alcoholics are approaching us by the
hundreds of thousands every year. We have half a million
members LESS than we had twenty years ago. I am convinced
that we are failing most alcoholics who approach us
today. Do you think we ought to be placing more emphasis
on the steps and the big book? Bill advises us in Lang
not to cram the steps down anyone's throat. Do you think
that was bad advice?
Alcoholics Anonymous membership increased for the
first 57 years continuously. Each one reach one. The
numbers doubled about every ten years, until 1992.
We lost about half a million members in the early 1990's
and have had practically no growth in the past 20 years.
I saw A.A. change at the group level as the decades
passed. I relate the changes directly to our lack of
growth. The changes or distortions have been listed over
and over on I-Say. Bill left us with many warnings about
securing the future of A.A. I see that we have ignored them. I ask you to at least consider what I am trying to
say. I honestly believe that all AA members have the
exact same goal or purpose: to help as many suffering
alcoholics as possible. I was going to write "as humanly
possible", but our power as humans is just too limited.
Thanks for your comment. Too bad we are not in the same group. Your sudden release from alcohol and my having to apply the steps as a way of life to stay sober one day at a time would be a great mix at the group level(or on I say).
I believe that is why the teaching of the steps and
the program is the responsibility of the group, not the
individual A.A. member. I explain what I was like and what
happened to me, and how I was helped. You do the same thing
and the sharing continues around the room. The newcomer is
sure to identify with someone's story and think: I was like that too. And she or he is staying sober, maybe I can too.
My sudden release from alcohol, although commonly
heard in A.A. meetings, is not the way the majority of
members "get it". And as Bill wrote somewhere, it doesn't
seem to matter in the long haul. I believe a spiritual
awakening is simply being willing to make progress in
spiritual matters. These matters have to do with honesty,
purity, unselfishness and love. And these are the things
I consider my sobriety to be a free gift from God.
Unlike normal gifts, this gift I had to ask for. And in
order to keep this gift I have to give it away. Strange
enough so far? In addition to the requirement that I
give this gift away, He also leaves me the instructions
on how to reach the heart of the suffering alcoholic.
These instructions came in the form of an IDEA left
to us by Dr. William Silkworth. Bill W. followed this
advice from "silky" and Alcoholics Anonymous, the greatest
gift ever to the suffering alcoholic, was born.
Bill writes about this advice many times in our
literature. I find the explanation on page 70 in
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of age fairly easy to
understand. I am to just share my own story, the bad
and then the good, thank the listener for listening
and end it there leaving a Big Book and a way to reach
us if they desire. Is that so hard to do? ANONYMOUS
We learned we had to fully concede to our inner most self that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery.
I have learned from my experience and that of others i have seen over the years that this is the one step that has to be done right. If I don't get this first step, I don't have the willingness to practice the other 11 steps of AA.
All the issues I have read and witnessed in my own AA group and meetings I think come down to this first step. If I really have conceded to my inner most self that i am an alcoholic, I am faced with one dicision. to go on to the bitter end or accept spritual help, the choice is mine. When I choose spiritual help, I agreed to go to any lenght for sobriety. the troubles I have encountered along the way and all the troubles I have seen boil down to unwillingness to go to any length for sobriety.
That's just my opinion.
I love all this AA banter. What I would like to add is that we have so many AA meetings in my area that I have not even been able to go to all of them in over 16 years. AA is alive in well in NORCAL. peace Lisa
Most of today's A.A. members believe that Alcoholics
Anonymous is "alive and well". From the inside, it appears
to be. But stand back and take a good look. We had almost
two and a half million members in 1992, after growing
continuously for 57 years. We should have continued
growing. The supply of alcoholics is certainly abundant.
This is twenty years later and today we boast of having
TWO MILLION STRONG. Something is horribly wrong. I
could accept five or six million members, but we have
failed to grow for too many years. The true nature of
Alcoholics Anonymous has been changed at the level
of the A.A. GROUP. We have lost almost all effectiveness
in helping suffering alcoholics. Our mistakes have been
listed over and over on I-SAY.
Our membership numbers are an important indicator of
our overall success. They tell me that our success today
is dismal. I only ask you to consider, and investigate.
Alcoholics are suffering and dying while we delay. We
were given the method (technique) to help them. We
are not following the "few simple rules" mentioned by
Dr. Silkworth in The Doctors Opinion. Those "rules" are
not the twelve steps. ANONYMOUS
If AA helps one alcoholic to stay sober,then it has done it's job, and has proven itself effective. It's not the number of people helped,but the quality.
If each member of Alcoholics Anonymous helps one alcoholic to stay sober in one year, then A.A. has
done its job. Do you really consider our fellowship
to be successful if we are not growing. The theme ought
to be "each one reach one". Today it seems to be "I've
got mine. Who cares whether A.A. grows? ANONYMOUS
Please share your opinion of what those "rules" are.
My opinion is that most A.A. members mistakenly think
that the "few simple rules" are the twelve steps. These
are the same members who distorted Dr. Bob's Let's keep
it simple advice. ANONYMOUS
Again, Please state you opinion of what thes "rules" are. And please be as specific as possible. I am a little slow due to alcoholism ;)
You ask again, so Here Goes! Don't ask me to back any
of this up. It is the way I understand the true A.A. method
of helping suffering alcoholics. First we do not tell
any alcoholic what to do, not even as a suggestion. Let
the Big Book offer the suggestions. Offer the book to
those approaching us for help. Don't even "suggest" that
they read it. It is ok to tell them that I read it. If
they want what I got from it, maybe they will read it.
I think Dr. Silkworth's advice is to "Go Easy on the
God Stuff." I believe one of his rules would be to
never open an A.A. meeting with material such as "How
it Works", or the 24 hour book. These make our fellowship
appear to be a religion. Most alcoholics just do not
respond well to the religious approach. So why turn them
away by telling them "That One is God, may you find Him
now!? Explain the allergy plus obsession theory. The
obsession of the mind which compels the alcoholic to drink,
and the allergy of the body, which will eventually kill him. Let Her/Him decide what they want to do about it. Just tell them what we did and what happened to us.
Dr Silkworth worked with alcoholics, some sources say
forty years and found this "Easy Does It" approach through
working with Bill W. This approach worked well for over
fifty years. We have distorted it, ignored it and do the
contempt prior to investigation. Dogma and distortion due
to foolish pride and the alcoholic EGO. I will read and
consider your opinion. This is mine. ANONYMOUS
I won't ask you to back it up. In my opinion, I think each individuals opinion or at least the tolerance of each others opinions is one of AAs greatest assets.
If we all always had the same opinions, none of us would question our own beliefs. I find when I consider others conceptions and compare them to my own, I often change mine for the better.
Thanks for reading.
This would indeed have to be an opinion. I do not
think a "list" was ever prepared. The best answer I
can offer is to come to an understanding of Dr. Silkworth's
"cart before the horse" idea. That old horse and buggy stuff
is How It Works. That is my opinion. ANONYMOUS.
I have read in this forum about how thw effectiveness of AA is on the decline. I am a newcomer to AA but have been to several meetings in the last few years at many different places. Unfortunately i am often ignored. I may get an occasional "Hello" now and then but for the most part I am never approached. I did reach out and ask for help but I am sure there are many who end up not coming back because of this. What ever happend to carrying the message? Maybe if old timers see a new face they can approach the new comer after the meeting and make them feel welcomed. We all remember how terrifying our first meeting was.
I think most of us forget how terrifying the first meeting can be, and how very difficult it is to just come
in the door. I was moderately drunk at my first meeting, and was with a friend who had been there before. So it
was fairly easy for me. Sitting there, I knew there was
something of great value in the room that night. I could
feel the concern that the members had for me and for each
other. It was something I had searched for, but had little
hope that I would ever find. I still remember the
freedom I felt. No one was there to boss me around. No
one ordered me to do anything, not even to "keep coming
back". Even the leader and speaker did not appear to
be "in charge". This is a delicate time and an alcoholics
life may be on the line. What is the best method of
approaching the newcomer, so we welcome her/him without
pushing them back out into the darkness. Do we smother
him/her or give them no attention at all. The answer
has to be somewhere in the balance. I believe Easy does
It is the best approach. The state meeting schedule
was vital to my entry into A.A., a year and a half
after my first introduction to A.A. by my friend. But
if my first meeting had been preachy, I doubt that I
would have ever returned. I believe I would have died
before I became that desperate. I had tried religion and
the churches several times before. They just did not work for me for very long. I needed the fellowship of women
and men I found here in Alcoholics Anonymous. ANONYMOUS
I have read several posts stating I would have this or I would have that when I first came to AA.
I can state that I did not know the difference in any meeting or format when I first came to aa. I didn't know traditions or steps. All I knew was the people in the meeting were attractive to me. I thought I was going to die and was at my bottom and willing to do whatever it took to not drink.
In my experience, If the group or meeting is not attractive to newcomers, the meeting or group will eventually die.
After being taught the 12 steps out of the big book, I learned why the meeting I attended was so attractive. as a result of the steps, most aa's at that meeting had a spiritual experience. I could see they were happy, joyous, and free instead of restless, irritable, and discontent like the aa's with untreated alcoholism.
I wish you could attend my home group. If you walked in the door and I have not met you before, I would knock over 2-4 people to shake your hand and make sure we had a short discussion pertaining to thinking about drinking till you drink and then not being able to stop once you start. Then I would give you the book Alcoholics Anonymous to read to see if you are interested in our program of action. If you were interested you could then call the number I gave you and we could then work the steps together.
If none of the groups in your area work this way, I would suggest you aquire the book Alcoholis Anonymous, follow the simple directions, then start you own group employing the program of action. Many people are book converts, that is the purpose of that book, so you can get sober regardless of anyone!
Thanks for your sharing, it's just what I needed to hear!
Most members today work this way. That is one reason why oureffectiveness has diminished. I am ever so grateful that
you were not at my first meeting. I doubt that I would
have come to a second. Welcome the newcomer. Show him
the way to the coffee pot and where the rest rooms are.
Introduce yourself by first name only. This way the
newcomer understands our anonymous nature. I believe more
alcoholics get sober by reading the Big Book, than by
the agressive approach you described. Ask the new member
to have a seat and listen. Let her/him decide all by themselves if they want what we have. If they decide as
time passes they want to "work" the steps, be available
to guide them to a step meeting and the 12+12. They do
not need you to take the steps. If you have worked all the steps, it is OK to tell the new member that you have done
so. But it is harmful to that member and to AA as a whole
to even suggest that he/she has to do the same. You may
not understand all this. Many AA members may consider this
as just nonsense. But I believe it is the truth. ANONYMOUS
I absolutely don't understand where your ideas are coming from! This is not a personal attack it is a legimate statement. This is AA. The program of AA is the 12 steps. To suggest or even think that telling a newomer to work the steps is harmful is against everything in the program. You are absolutely entitled to your opinion but I hope to God you are not going to meetings and telling newcomers or anyone else that they don't have to work the steps! Are you sober and are you an AA member or are you someone just stiring up some trouble? This is AA. In AA we work the steps. This is the road to recovery. If you or anyone else want to come to meetings, (as long as they have a desire to stop drinking), welcome. But please keep your mouth shut if you are contrary to the program or don't believe in the program! Please! You may be killing people!
My ideas are coming from four decades of living the
A.A. way of life. I only regret that I have waited so long
to point out our mistakes. Bill W wrote about all this
stuff when he was developing Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill
was constantly writing about the blunders our fellowship
could make. In my opinion, we have made practically all
of them. Today we still have hundreds of thousands of
suffering alcoholics and their families approaching A.A. every year.
Almost everyone knows that our success is less than zero.
Eventually they will just give up on us. Let's
turn this ship around while there is still time. Stop
reading How It Works" at meetings. Remove the 24 hr book from A.A. meetings. Stop all forms of chanting. Stop making a spectacle of the newcomer. Stop allowing newcomers to
make spectacles of themselves. Delete the title of
sponsor from A.A. The origional concept of the sponsor has
been lost. Better to just drop it than to try to
reverse it. Begin now to separate addict's meetings
from alcoholics meetings. Stop the sharing by "show of
hands". This customs creates numerous EGO problems.
Stop the "moment of silence", praying for all and
sundry, while holding hands in our ring around the rosy
circle. A.A meetings are not the place to pray. We are not a prayer group. Pray on your own time, as I do often. All these blunders have been written about
numerous times on I-SAY. These may not be all the
mistakes we have made, but it is enough to reduce our
growth from doubling about every ten years to today's
stagnation, over a thirty year period. ANONYMOUS
You forgot to say don't read the BB and don't work the steps like you have said before in the posts here.
There are 16 prayers that I know of in the BB.
Praying is bad I guess. Bill W and the original 100 sure blew it when they wrote that book didn't they. I wish you were around then to straighten them out!!
Maybe then AA would have a billion members today and we would have solved all the worlds problems!!
I don't remember saying "don't read the BB". Maybe I am
growing senile, etc. I don't remember telling anyone "don't
work the steps". Could you point out where I wrote these
things? I read these messages over and over. And I repeat
the same concerns: Reading How It Works aloud at the
beginning of A.A. meetings is the most tragic blunder we
have made in the past three decades. This is followed
closely by the incessant chanting, which is something
many of us agree on.
A.A. meetings are not the place to pray. We are not
a prayer group. Pray on your own time. That is what I
Maybe in a thousand years we will have a billion A.A.
members. Today I would be satisfied with five or six
million; happy with eight million. ANONYMOUS
Thanks for not walking away. At least we can agree to
disagree. I personally would not change anything in the
third edition of the Big Book. I would not have approved
the fourth edition if I had been there. I don't agree with
the "hold hands and pray" story. There were changes in the
writing on the dust cover which were altered. That is being
considered in the Conference next week. I hope the wording
is returned to the previous one as it appeared in the
Prayer is a wonderful thing. I pray every day, sometimes several times a day. I would no more do without
it than I would refuse sunshine or food. But I don't
impose that belief on anyone else.
I have yet to find any fault with the first part of
the Big Book, the 164 pages and Dr Silkworth's opinion.
I have read parts of the book being criticized by A.A.
bashers, but in my opinion they just write their own
understanding between the lines. And I do believe there
are sometimes messages written there. I think the first
hundred members wrote the greatest story ever told. I
know it saved my life and my brothers life decades ago.
As I wrote before, our fellowship is worth more than
the world's gold. And from your obvious passion that is
something we really agree on. ANONYMOUS
I know, you did not say you were walking away from
I-SAY. Only from Manny, Rose and me.
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.