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I got sober in the San Francisco Bay area in the 70's. Chapt 5 HIW was read from the first meeting I attended. Over the years I have seen small changes in meetings. I travelled over the US for work and attended meetings on both coasts. Yes there were some minor differences but HIW was read at all meetings. Gone are the smoke filled rooms that I remember and there were some changes when Fr. Martin became popular, alcoholism wasn't as "back room" as it had been and people who had spilled some white wine on a Saturday night cocktail party started showing up at some of the most popular meetings. It was disturbing to some but as with all things in AA we tolerated everyone who attended and tried to extend AA to all. Then the religious (not spiritual) movement appeared and many of us were again asked to be tolerant. Then came the "thank you" after someone spoke which never happened that I can remember in the early days, you just spoke and then passed and that was it. I think the one thing that has been consistent over the years is AA groups ability to stay true to the principles and move through the trends. I still attend 4+ meetings a week and have AA to thank for my life.
I assume the Fr. Martin mentioned in the above post is Father Martin®, the chap who claimed he was an alcoholic and dressed up as a priest to give 'AA'? video lectures. These videos are now posted on the internet as a public face of Alcoholics Anonymous, along with an online store selling a variety of products. I wonder how many AA members know Fr. Martin® is an outside enterprise; a registered trademark of Ashley Inc. This information can be found on the Hazelden website and Father Martin’s Ashley website. I think AA has a problem with a number of outside enterprises interfering in AA affairs. The claim made on the Father Martin’s Ashley website that Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. granted permission to refer to the Twelve Steps of A.A. in these films concerns me. Because I understand this to be a misuse of the AA name which gives an implied endorsement to an outside enterprise. It seems to me the root cause of the concerns about cult like behaviour and religious fundamentalism in AA can be traced to a number individuals and organizations who have exploited AA in order to gain money, power, or prestige.
It is great to hear your tolerance :-). I am glad that AA is open to all who have a desire to stop drinking. I did not drink nearly as much as some, but drinking nearly ruined my life and the lives of others many times. I was obsessed and could not always drink without getting drunk despite not intending to. I am not religious, but do not worry about the Christian influence. I just try to learn from it. I am comfortable using God as a shorthand for my own conception of a higher power. Without AA, I was unable to stay sober. With AA, my last drunk is now nearly three years in the past. I understand the concerns about what to include in meetings and agree that keeping it simple is good. I know for me I was desperate and motivated to come back regardless of some of these small things that sometimes cause concern.
I believe this to be a topic of great importance and
urgency. Mort J. started an A.A. meeting in Los Angeles'
Cecil Hotel in early 1940. Mort insisted on a reading
from Chapter five at every session. Info. from page 93 A.A.C.A.
The preamble had not yet appeared. Mort used a reading
from Chapter Five to open his meetings. I do not believe
that the first two and a half pages of HIW. was read
at every meeting. I have found nothing in A.A. history
to indicate that he read the HIW of today.
The reading of HIW began at meetings on the East
Coast around 1980. I had attended meetings regularly
for ten years minus the reading. When it was suggested
at my home group, I made a feeble atttempt to prevent
the reading. It was time consuming and after all it
was chapter five, not chapter one. But I accepted it
and probably read it at meetings a hundred times
in the 1980's and the 1990's. I would sometimes stand
saying loud and clear, "This is how it works".
I seldom questioned it or thought much about it
for those 20 years. It is a beautiful reading, one
of the most beautiful readings in our literature.
In 2007 I found out that our fellowship had lost
about half a million members in the 1990's. No one
told me. I had to inquire.
My investigation has revealed about ten changes
at the meeting level since 1980. I believe they are
all mistakes, serious blunders, using one of Bill
W's words. I believe that the reading of HIW from the
podium at meetings is the most horrible mistake we
have ever made. My conclusion came after reading about
Bills first six months of sobriety, and the approach
he was using. I call it the How It Works approach.
That approach did not work for Bill W. and seldom
works for us today. Dr. Silkworth's IDEA offers
further explanation. Read pages 159 and 160 in
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. Bill explains
where he placed HIW and why. Reading HIW places
the "cart in front of the horse".
We made many other mistakes in our generation.
The "thanks for sharing" chant is more than just
annoying and distracting. The Hi Joe! chant is
weird and startles newcomers. Chanting makes us
look foolish to the general public.
The sharing by "show of hands" presents many
problems having to do with EGO. We always did the
"Round Robin" until about 1980 in eastern states.
Another serious mistake is the "Hold hands and
Pray" closing, coercing everyone to join in the
ring around the rosy circle. In the 1970's we
simply stood by our chairs, not holding hands.
I suppose when you came into A.A. in California
These rituals had already begun. They slowly
moved through A.A. and now have reached around the
world. Reading HIW turned A.A. into a religion.
Chanting and todays concept of sponsorship have
turned A.A. into a cult. All of these distortions
could be reversed and will have to be reversed if
our fellowship is to survive. We have been
"spinning our wheels" for two decades now, and
could continue for several more decades before
collapsing completely. Thanks for reading. ANONYMOUS
Our group opens with the pre emble, we read pg 30 & 1/2 of 31 from the bb, so we all hear what alcoholism is. then we read a traidition in long form from the back of the big book. finally we read a portion of the first164 pg of th bb and discuss. works great!
I just wanted to put it ou there, we are starting a closed mtg and would like a kind and considerate way to express that you only need to qualify as an alcoholic to attend our meeting. any comments or experience would be great.
from aa.org website, card/statement that was made available to groups.
THIS IS A CLOSED MEETING
OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
This is a closed meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. In
support of A.A.'s singleness of purpose, attendance at
closed meetings is limited to persons who have a desire
to stop drinking. If you think you have a problem with
alcohol, you are welcome to attend this meeting. We ask
that when discussing our problems, we confine ourselves
to those problems as they relate to alcoholism.
(The 1987 General Service Conference made this statement available as an A.A. service
piece for those groups who wish to use it.)
Thanks for the comment. I was looking more for how groups proceed from that point.
Does the secretary speak up or ask them to leave? Do you quietly approach them after the meeting and explaine this is for alchoholics? Say nothing and wait for them to quit coming?
I recently read in the AA conference approved pamphlet "The AA Group" something that is interesting. It said non alcholics may attend "open" meetings as observers. Look into it. It is there in black and white. Even to participate in "open" meetings you should be at least an alcoholic.
I have observed nonalcoholics fully participating in "closed" meetings. I think it's another sign of us getting away from our primary purpose. Probably a cause of our meetings becoming less effective with helping alcoholics recover from alcoholism. After all, this is "Alcoholics" Anonymous. Better to to one thing good than many poorly!
It amazes me that Bill left us so much information.
We distort much of it by not thoroughly reading it. Of
course, that was the purpose of open meetings in the
earlier days. To allow interested persons to observe.
Meetings were clearly identified in order to protect
anonymity. Members knew that outsiders were going to
possibly be in attendance. But non-alcoholics were
only allowed to observe. This would allow a potential
member to attend without admitting to being alcoholic.
Open or closed meetings ought to be clearly identified
as such. AANONYMOUS
Drunk in A.A. is better than stupid in A.A drunks have a reason sober people don't.
Nothingness is the incubator of All That Is. The spark of an idea births a thought that attracts thoughts and a feeling or vibration ensues as the vision develops and a reality is created, a physical manifestation of a dream. It may entail a lot of physical work, but not always. The Big Book asks a great question, "Either God is everything or God is nothing. What was our choice to be?" To me, the Creative Life Force is Everything and Nothing, and the concept of a Godhead just does not work for me. There are people in AA who have been sober for decades not believing in a god. The ones I know exude serenity and confidence and never argue over what he Bible says or are inclined to support religious based laws or wars. I have never found them to be the devils described by believers.
Does it get any uglier? Do you think it's the part of yourself that you just can't forgive? Shouldn't we lend extra support to anyone that shares the same affliction? So many questions...but, there's one thing I know - When you join hands and repeat "Keep coming back", there are NO time or condition limits.
back home again slowly gaining back what once was, same ole song and dance that i seem to know all to well, anyhow, my dilema..female companionship i am an alcoholic native american from the U-P did very well while sober 7 years but out of the blue....now that i am here and she is not...i'm scared its been a long hard 18 months, i'm lonely i live in a somewhat remote area there are meetings, but because of the "village" like atmosphere..i cannot open my inner most feelings..i know there are some who continue to use and still come to meetings i don't know at my age what my options are, i do know that i do not want to drink...ever..i am sure i need someone to share my time with..i'll talk to the creator
What do you do when a AA member comes to the meeting drunk? Do you run him off? Let him stay as long as he keeps quiet?
Well this week this happened in our group. A member came in drunk. No-one, including the chairperson, knew what to do.Some wanted him to stay, as long as he kept quiet,and some wanted him to leave.
When it came to the guy's(drunk) time to share, the chair-person let him speak,but tried to cut him off,by saying "thanks for sharing" ,before he was finished.
That went over well. Telling someone who is drunk to shut up, is like cleaning dynomite with a blow torch.Next thing you know members are up in arms. Some for the drunk and some wanting him to shut up and leave.
So what do you think? Do you allow someone to come to a meeting drunk, as long as he behaves himself or not?
I attend Pills Anonymous as well as AA meetings. At the beginning of our PA meetings, we ask that "if you have used in the last 24 hours, please refrain from sharing." it seems to have reduced issues from somebody who is under the influence tying up the floor with long winded rambling. All with the desire to stop using are welcome as long as they are not disruptive.
What better place for someone who is drunk, than an AA meeting? The only requirement is a desire to stop drinking. If nothing else, it will reinforce to those sober members at the meeting, what they looked like drunk and also that it doesn't get any better "out there".
I HAVE ALSO SEEN PEOPLE DRUNK IN MEETINGS .THE ONLY REQUIREMENT FOR MEMBERSHIP IS A DESIRE TO STOP DRINKING, I ALWAYS PRAY FOR THESE PEOPLE! THE COURAGE TO ACCEPT THE THINGS WE CANNOT CHANGE AND THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE ITS SAD BUT IT HAPPENS AND PLEASE LET THEM BE HEARD OR ELSE WE WILL SCARE THEM OFF .
I wouldn't have a problem if an active drunk came to meetings. I would let the new member know that sometimes meetings make more sense when I don't drink before I go.
I had a sponsee that went to meetings drunk. I was grateful that she was willing to go to meetings.
We all get sober in our own time. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. If the active drunk does not identify as an alcoholic, I would object if s/he came to a closed meeting.
Yeah, it happens. My club allows them to stay as long as there is no disruptiion of the meeting. I just remember that was me and now I have let my higher power take over and enjoy a life I NEVER thought I would have.
And sponsored people aren't ?
You never give up do you? Thanks for your observation
and your relentless focus on this topic of sponsorship.
Bill W. wrote about the lack of proper sponsorship.
Today's concept of sponsorship is far from being
proper. Sponsorship of the past 10-20 years has
caused our reputation as a cult.
We must "lose" the title sponsor in A.A. If this
lable "SPONSOR" is deleted, then the real sponsor
or mentor will re-appear, without the hierarchy
or the title.
Thanks for your continued persistance. I have
found a lot of mistakes which have been made, but
I never picked up on this one. You have enlightened
me and many others,I am sure. ANONYMOUS
Ultimately it is up to the group. One of the groups I attend regularly decided at a group conscience to allow the intoxicated to sit in a meeting as long as they are respectful and not disruptive, but does not allow them to share. Thus, if someone is obviously intoxicated, they are told this at the beginning of the meeting. If it only becomes apparent after the meeting is started that they are drunk, then the chairperson or someone else needs to interrupt the meeting to explain the group conscience. When someone started their share by indicating they were drunk, they were interrupted and told of thee group conscience, told they were welcome to stay. They did not. The nice thing about having the policy in place is that there is no room for debate, and debating the intoxicated is a waste of air.
Every person at an meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous ought
to be given equal time to share. If I had been told at
my first meeting: "Be quiet, you are drunk", I doubt that
I would have ever come back. We come to AA meetings as
absolute equals. We need the drunk as much as she/he may
need us. The problem here is not someone being drunk
at an AA meeting. The problem is sharing by a "show of
hands". Asking if anyone has a burning desire is, for
lack of a better word, stupid. Alcoholics always have
burning desires, drunk or sober. Simply going around
the room, allowing each member equal time to share
is the best way. Yes, I have done years of research,
although not scientifically, just observation. I spent
ten years in our AA rooms using what is sometimes
called "round robin". In that ten year period our
membership tripled. We gained about 600,000 new
members in that decade. Then started the "Anyone
new or just coming back?" ritual. We started to
read "How it Works", turning AA into a religion.
We started chanting, turning AA into a cult. With
todays concept of sponsorship, the cult nature of
AA is complete. Holding hands and praying at
meetings completes our religious nature. It really
surprises me that AA has survived as long as it
has. But today we are spinning our wheels, churning,
only holding a few new members. We can continue that
way for decades, actually failing most who come to
us for help. Or we can stop all chanting, stop all
praying at meetings. Stop reading HIW aloud at meetings.
Remove all redundant readings. The preamble says it
all. I just wish it read public controversy, instead
of just controversy. We have always had squabbles in
AA and hopefully we always will. Sorry so doom and
gloom. Sometimes I fear that our fellowship is
doomed. But my delegate says that we may still be
able to "turn this ship around". He says to keep
sounding the alarm, someone might eventually hear.
So obediently I continue. And I am eternally grateful
for the supporting messages. ANONYMOUS
I think you need to call for a group conscience meeting, either after a meeting or at your group business meeting to discuss this. Your guide on this question should be Tradition 1 & 4 in the long form. Tradition 1.- Each member of AA is but a small part of a greater whole. AA must continue to live or most of us will surly die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.
This tradition argues for both sides but I think it comes down on the side of the group survival so if the intoxicated drunk threatens the groups unity then he needs to be dealt with.
The first sentence of Tradition 4.-With respect to its own affairs, each AA group should be responsible to no other authority then its own conscience.
So your group may choose to ignore the problem and hope it doesn’t occur to often.
Your group might ask that the obviously intoxicated not share but listen only
Or if disruptive or threatening a member may be asked to leave.
As you already know these matters can deeply divide a group and any decision needs careful consideration just remember to always place principles before personalities.
I learned awhile back that people generally learn in 3 ways. Some by reading, some by doing, and some by listening and whatching. Usually a combination of the three.
I personally learn mostly by reading. Throughout my life I have had the ability to read a textbook or manual and put into practice what was written.
I have a friend that learns by doing. He learned the aa program by doing what was suggested.
I have another friend who learns by whatching. He would go to meetings and along on 12 step calls and observe what was going on and later apply it.
Some people learn by a combination of the 3. They can study the big book, practice what its says, and observe other AAs trying to practice the program.
In my experience with newcomers, I have found it is important for them to attend a variety of meetings. In doing so they will meet a wide variety of people who learn and work the program in a way that might fit them best.
After pondering the diversity in AA, I now have a deep appreciation for it. I now embrace it instead of fight it. I have a new attitude toward the whole situation. I guess you could call it a change in feeling and outlook!
I have been in AA for 23 years. I got sober in the San Francisco Bay Area in the AIDS fueled '80s when AIDS treatment seemed to send millions of gays and lesbians into the rooms of AA. The flavor of AA in coastal California reflected the progressive culture of the area and the tolerant feeling of the LGBT community. As politics and culture swung from one polarity to another, during the 90's religious fundamentalism started creeping into the rooms of AA and the Lord's Prayer began making a resurgence in meeting and "Jesus is my Higher Power" seemed to be heard more and more. As an agnostic, I had some tolerance for religiosity, since it is at the root of the AA history. I learned to work my program on the basis of "take what you need and leave the rest." When I approached the 20 year mark, I felt more intolerance at meetings for a message that did not include christian tenants - and I don't just mean the word "god." There is so much more to a christian overlay onto our recovery program. I started a series of "god-free" meetings that we lovingly called "The Godless Heathens." We attracted the buddhists, wickens, crystal worshiping agnostics and athiest that are the core of my program today. It was glorious! Our meetings were deep and profound and amazingly supportive of real transformation and sobriety. We were not trying to "get saved" we were trying to "live sober." Now I am in Maryland and I feel as if I have gone back to the bad old days. Are there any "godless heathens" out there who would be interested in working a non religious AA program with like minded people?? I'll do the legwork if there are other kindred spirits out there?
I have been sober for almost 30 years and I have not perceived any change in the number of discussions involving religion over that period of time. Maybe it is a choice of meetings and I am just fortunate, but on the rare occasion someone "rambles on" about specific religion or relgious practice an elder member of the group usually pulls the person aside after the meeting and has a loving constructive chat with them - explaining what AA is and is not. This usually works for all but the belligerent ones, and there will always be a few of those.
lol i used to live out west and knew alot of people in recovery who were not religiuos thats why i try to leave it out as much as possible even though i am in my first thirty days when i had some time before in the program i learned alot about other people and respecting them and not running the new commer off that may not believe in jesus i must admit i have done it a few times because i do believe in jesus but i try my best to just call my higher power god wheather it be a bible god or a door knob or a shoe lace or anything else so i hope you find someone to help today is my thirty day birthday keep writing and posting love ya
Believe it or not, the Alcoholics Anonymous of the 1970s
was a-religious. But it must have been seen by Bill W. that A.A. was becoming a religion, as early as 1957. Bill
wrote in AACA (bottom of page 232), that nothing could be
so unfortunate to A.A.'s future as an attempt to turn our
fellowship into a religion. Most of us know that has happened. Bill repeated that warning in an April 1963 article to the AAGRAPEVINE. I personally feel that this
was due to the 24hr being introduced into A.A. tradition.
Any alcoholic approaching A.A. anywhere, ought to find
meetings basically the same. The meetings I went to in the
seventies were all basically the same. All members were
treated the same and each was allowed to speak her/his
own monologue. The God-fearing lover of Jesus was
accepted as well as the A.A. member who had no belief in
God at all.
Today's A.A. member believes that in order to get
sober and stay sober an alcoholic has to believe in God.
It can be the God of the individual's own understanding.
And there is plenty in the Big Book to support that
belief. But my understanding today is that the Big Book
is the story of how many thousands of Men and Women have
recovered from alcoholism. That is what I read on the
But the book was meant to be suggestive only and
so much more has been revealed. Numerous changes were
made at the last minute before the Big Book went to press.
The corrected manuscript is available for about $75.00.
I haven't seen it but I believe one of the most important
changes was from directions to path, as in those who follow our path. There is a tremendous difference in following a
path instead of directions.
And many more changes could have been made if there
had been time to do so. But in my opinion, the Big Book
is adequate as it stands. The book offers hope for any
alcoholic who wishes to get well. Even a slight desire,
or even a need to get sober qualifies any drinker for
membership in A.A.
Alcoholics Anonymous offers membership to any
alcoholic, whether they believe in Christ, or no God at
all. Until we return to that belief, alcoholics by the
thousands (millions) will continue to suffer, along
with their friends and families.
True Alcoholics Anonymous as hammered out on the
anvils of years of experience works its best as a non-
Many of the blunders we have made in A.A. have led
to our becoming a religion. The blunders have been listed
on I-SAY many times. Even the simple practice of sharing
by "show of hands" has harmed us severely. The sincere
believer in Christ has to get his/her point across, and
will always have a hand up.
I believe that God (of my own understanding) will
understand if we "Go easy on the God Stuff". I believe He
gave us this technique in the first place, through Bill W.
and Dr. Silkworth.
Welcome to the East Coast. Just don't stop coming
to meetings. I believe that we can return A.A. to a
fellowship of women and men. Be patient, but be persistent.
My area delegate tells me to keep sounding the alarm, and maybe others will hear and we can turn this ship around.
It became a religion in 1976 as the outside sponsorship pamphlet was promoted and administer by the outside system !
it seems to me that meetings which appear to have a religious basis have given up the 'spiritualism' that bill w. and others talked and wrote about. they're mostly about people pushing doctrine. well we have a doctrine. it's called the 12 steps. and we have the traditions. there's no more room in the boat I'm afraid.
I try to read and understand what is written here. I suspect that this message has great meaning. I just don't
understand what it is. Alcoholics Anonymous is one of the
most religious groups that I know. But it was never intended that we form a new religion. Bill wrote that nothing could be as bad for AA's future. Religion requires
belief in something. AA does not. At least that is what
I read at a step meeting last evening.
If we follow the traditions, there will always be
plenty of room in the boat for any problem drinker
with a desire to get well.
Religious and spiritual share the same meaning. My
friends in AA are the most religious and spiritual
people that I know. ANONYMOUS
I sobered up in 1992. most meetings i've attended start the meeting with the serenity prayer,read how it works, and close with the Lords prayer.
I had a close friend who died about ten years ago with 52 years of sobriety. he told me one day that he remembered when they started saying the lords prayer at the end of meetings in the 70's.
Does anyone have information pertaining to when groups started reading how it works, closing with the lords prayer, or other local customs?
Thanks, looking forward to your responses!
The way a group closes its meetings should be decided
by a fully informed group conscience. Of course, members
need to know what a group conscience decision is. This
process has been covered in previous messages and in the
12&12. If the majority of the members of the group
agree to close the meeting with the Lords prayer, that
is certainly acceptable. Holding hands in the "ring around
the rosy circle", practically forcing everyone to join in,
is what we are doing wrong.
If these decisions are made by the majority of the
group's members, each group would naturally operate
according to its local customs. This does require strong
leadership, not just a few power drivers. This same
principle should be used in all group decisions. Special
interest groups would simply evolve, without any formal
lable. If the majority of the members of a group are
young people, then the group would be a young peoples
group, without designating it as such. Unity is our
first tradition. KISS needs to be "Keep it Simple",
without calling anyone stupid. ANONYMOUS
Bill W. wrote How It Works, and Working With Others
in 1939, using experience up to that time. It was not
until 1957 that Bill finally tells us exactly how to carry and not to carry AA's message. This he made clear (at least to me) on page 70
in the History of AA, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age.
It is only two paragraphs, and soon I will post it for
those who don't have a copy of AACA, and may be interested.
In Dr. Bob's story as afterwards written for the AA book, and years later in his last full-length talk at
Detroit, he made this point very clear: it was not any spiritual teaching of mine, it was those twin orges of madness and death, the allergy plus the obsession, that
triggered him into a new life. It was Dr. Silkworth's
idea, confirmed by William James, that struck him at great
You see our talk was a completely MUTUAL thing. I had
quit preaching. I knew that I needed this alcoholic as
much as he needed me. THIS WAS IT! And this mutual give-and-
take is at the very heart of all of A.A.'s twelfth step
work today. This was how to carry the message. The final
link was located right there in my first talk with Dr.
I copied this from Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age,
A BRIEF HISTORY OF A.A. Page 70. ANONYMOUS
Who cares when it was read, what matters is alcoholics understands it. If not an alcoholic someone else will have to try and explain it to them.
I care! And today I know there are other members who care.
But I have heard a few say "Who Cares?", I've got mine. If
they want it, they will have to do what I did. Bill W. took much care in placing "How It Works" in the fifth chapter. Bill wrote in AACA, that where to place HIW "worried the life out of me". Bill W. disguised the
four absolutes and concealed them in Chapter Five,
trusting that the alcoholic would find them at the
appropriate time. But today we read it to all and sundry,
from the podium (lectern). This was and is the worst
mistake we have made in the history of AA. ANONYMOUS
The outside sponsorship system that is now outside of hospitals and inside A.A. walls
"This was and is the worst
mistake we have made in the history of AA. ANONYMOUS"
We have made a lot of mistakes at the group level in
the past three decades. I did not consider the "outside
sponsorship" until you kept repeating it on the forum. I
attended a traditions workshop where I developed that
understanding. Ironic it was not from the study itself,
but the way the workshop was conducted. It was run by
that element in AA who fight for their positions of
power. I was not too popular at the workshop, due to
my concerns and comments.
These blunders, as Bill W. called them, are costing
human lives, suffering alcoholics who could be saved.
Our blunders at the group level have been covered
over and over on the I-SAY FORUM. We have made serious
mistakes in Alcoholics Anonymous from top to bottom.
Our entire AA structure has been distorted and is
seriously flawed. My immediate concern is at the group
level. That is the point where the suffering human
being is accepted or rejected; at the meeting. Most
newcomers today are rejected due to the conditions we
present to them. Are you ready to do anything? Are
you willing to go to any lengths? Why ask them those
questions if the only requirement for AA membership
is the desire to stop drinking? ANONYMOUS
A great deal of information has been posted over the past
year. Thanks to the I-SAY team, these messages remain for
AA members to read. And we can make further comments on
almost any topic or concern. Welcome aboard! ANONYMOUS
The reading of a portion of chapter five from the Big Book
was first started by an AA member, Mort J. a Denver resident who had bought the Big Book in Sept. 1939. Mort then went on a spree that lasted several weeks. He finally came to himself at Palm Springs and discovered the AA book in his luggage. Shaking violently, he began to read. This was sometime in November 1939, and Mort never drank again.
Bill W. writes : Mort was a book convert pure and simple.
In March,1940, Mort moved to Los Angeles.
At his own expense, Mort hired a meeting place at
Los Angeles' Cecil Hotel. (This information is found in
our AA history book, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of age
Page 93.) I beg you to get a copy of this History Book
available from AA World Services. It is loaded with vital,
critical details about the origin of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Mort insisted on a reading from Chapter Five at the start of every meeting. The rest of this posting is my
"opinion". The Preamble had not yet been written.
Mort used readings from Chapter Five to open his meetings.
The reading of a portion of the fifth chapter began in
1940 in Los Angeles. It took forty years for this custon
to evolve to reading the first two and a half pages at
meetings on the East Coast. We red it and still reed it in addition to the preamble, serenity prayer, the 24 hr book, and sometimes the promises.
Upon investigation, I have found that reading HIW from the podium is in direct conflict with Dr. Silkworth's
"cart before the horse idea" offered to Bill W. in the spring of 1935. Bill wrote that without this IDEA, AA
could not have been born. I believe that this reading
at AA meetings to all members, new and old, was and is
one of our worst most tragic mistakes in the life
of AA. Chapter Five must be returned to its proper
position, after Chapters one, two, three and four.
I have been caterwalling about this blunder for
about five years now, since I found that AA lost
half a million members in the early 1990's and
membership continues to stagnate at around two
million members. Take the time and investigate. Read
the other postings on I-SAY about this concern.
Just dug out my AACA book and found the part about Mort. This got me thinking about what may have happend around 1992 to cause the decline on membership in aa.
the first thing that comes to mind is the daily reflections hit the scene in 1990. Maybe aa members began to think a daily reflection alone would keep them sober.
The second explanation would be the deaths of many oldtimers. If you sobered up during the boom of the 50's at the age of 40, you would be in your early 80's in the 90's.
So maybe since then, as old timers die they are replaced with a newcomer, contrasting to prior to the 90's when less old timers were passing away.
Just a thought.
Our primary purpose is to help others to recover. And of course to help each other stay sober. No one is going to
live forever. But living sober and living a sober life
is giving me many more years of productive. In my
opinion, Daily Reflections is a watered down, conference approved version of the 24hr book which our pioneers rejected. I don't believe Bill and His friends would have accepted Daily Reflections in its entirety. Most of today's
AA members probably think that is a stupid opinion.
Look at the numbers this way: If each member of AA
helped save another's life every year, our membership
would double every year. Let us make adjustments for deaths and dropouts and help save one every ten years, which I think would be a reasonable rate of effectiveness. That
was our rate for the first 57 years. Our membership
doubled about every ten years. AA has been altered over
the past three decades, distorted. The changes at the
group level have been posted on I-SAY many times.
Members and our leaders who believe the numbers
(there are very few) come up with all kind of excuses
for our lack of growth. These excuses satisfy and justify. I believe that is just easier to blame causes we can do
nothing about. It is "their" fault. Not our own fault.
Bill W. was always concerned about AA's future. I think
it was Bill who said if AA is ever destroyed it will be
from within. When I finally understood why the 24 hr book
was not considered appropriate for our fellowship, then
I understood why the reading of How It Works has been
so devestating to our fellowship. A full explanation can be found in Dr. Silkworth's cart before the horse IDEA. Keep
You still ain't said where the cart b4 the horse idea can be found. I think openmindedness is important, to put blame on one thing for AA fails is silly. Bill W did say that about AA destroy from within and I think he based that on the Washingtonians.
People can get sober on a spiritual awakening only but very few is sober on medical cure only!
Open up that good mind you have!
Bill W. wrote about Dr. Silkworth's cart before the horse IDEA, several times. I will have to make another study and
provide the list for you. One location is in an AAGRAPEVINE
article by Bill written for the July 1953 issue. It appears
in Language of the Heart on page 199. Read pages 197,198 and
199. On page 197 Lang. I will copy a sentence Bill wrote
regarding Dr. Silkworth: It was he who was soon to contribute a very great idea without which AA could never
have succeeded. Read the entire article. Bill covers this
a number of times in our literature. The conclusion I have reached is that Silky told Bill to "Go easy on the God Stuff.
Save that for a later time." That is the source of my belief
that reading How It Works and the 24hr book at meetings
from the podium is harmful. I look forward to your understanding of the readings. Someone out there may have
a list of the places in our literature where Bill describes
the "cart before the horse IDEA." Or maybe my understanding
is just "mule muffins." ANONYMOUS
You still ain't said where the cart b4 the horse idea can be found. I think openmindedness is important, to put blame on one thing for AA fails is silly. Bill W did say that about AA destroy from within and I think he based that on the Washingtonians.
People can get sober on a spiritual awakening only but very few is sober on medical cure only!
Open up that good mind you have!
One explanation appears in The Language of the Heart book
pages 197,198 and 199. This article was written by Bill W.
for the July 1953 issue of the AAGRAPEVINE. Bill also writes about Dr. Silkworth's idea on page 90 in Alcoholics
Anonymous Comes of Age, page 70. Bill writes on page 70: THIS WAS IT. THIS WAS HOW TO CARRY THE MESSAGE. Bill
called it the final missing link.
The "cart before the horse IDEA" advice from Dr.
Silkworth is simply: Go Easy on the God Stuff. This was
printed on The cover of an AAGRAPEVINE about 10 years ago, in the form of a question: SHOULD WE GO EASY ON THE GOD STUFF? Trial and error tells us yes.
Personally, I understand the IDEA repeatedly, written
by Bill W., is his warning to never start an AA meeting
with the reading of material such as How It Works or
the 24 hr book. We do not want it to appear that AA is
some kind of religion. We do not want to push new suffering
alcoholics from our rooms by pushing religion on them.
We don't want to have a reputation as twelve step pushers.
This may prevent potential members from even approaching
us in the first place.
To put the blame on this one thing may be silly. But
I believe that this was our worst blunder. We have made
several other mistakes in the past three decades. These
are posted numerous times on I-SAY. In today's AA we are
only saving enough drunks to replace those who die or leave.
Something is horribly wrong. Sincere thanks! ANONYMOUS
So HIW has been read at the opening of meetins since 1940 but it took until the 1990's for AA to start losing members!
I don't think anything read from the BB will hurt anyone who is in an AA meeting and has the desire to stop drinking.
Refresh my memory on the Cart Befor the Horse. Does this refer to giving the drunks the physical aspect of alcoholism befor the spiritual? Maybe we should read something from the AMA befor the meetings!
If newcomers would read the BB they would learn about the physical aspects of alcoholism. Doesn't anyone read the book anymore? All these other books are fine as a supplement to a person's program but the BB was written to carry the message!
The custom of using a reading from chapter five reached
the East coast in the form of reading the first two and a
half pages in today's How it Works. From its beginning in
1940 to nationwide in 1980. I only hope and pray that it
doesn't take four decades to send it back where it came
from. This reading from the podium is killing us. ANONYMOUS