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I'm enjoying the latest edition of the Grapevine and it reminded me of what my friend Larry W. used to say over 30 years ago. "Neil he said people will be into your life and out of your life for the rest of your life." Today I realize the truth of that and how precious those relationships are.
Wouldn't imaginative people like Bill W. and Dr. Bob be open to small revisions in the Serenity Prayer every century or so?Here is a "modern" version in 12 lines:
STEP-WISE SERENITY PRAYER:
My higher power,
the things I cannot change,
to change things
as much as I can,
to know the difference,
and the patience
to receive wisdom.
I love the translation. Nothing wrong with the original. Which I also love to hear followed by a whisper of "thy will not mine be done," as it appears in the step book.
I traded in a punishing God for a loving God. My Higher Power does not cause earthquakes or make people sick. My loving God did not give me the disease of alcoholism, but my God has helped me to deal with it...One Day At A Time in AA. God did not give me a teaspoon more than I could handle so that I would turn to him. But, my God has been there for me - helping me to deal with it.
I believe that many alcoholics have been sexually abused
by the time they reach AA. I can understand why they may
find the practice of holding hands and praying repulsive.
An AA friend with 20 years sobriety shared that he went
on cruises in his early sobriety and attended AA meetings
on the cruise liner. He stated that a noted elder conducting
meetings insisted on this ritual before the preamble was
read: Everyone stand in a circle. Hug the person on your
left. Then everyone hug the person on your right. Do you
say: So what? What is your point? These meetings took
place in the mid 1990's, as membership in AA was starting
to decline. I find this practice appalling, and no longer
Hold Hands and Pray. If someone I know wants a hug from
me, that is certainly acceptable. But it is harmful to
the newcomer and to AA to force anyone to Hold Hands and
Pray. Did you ever try to not join in the kindergarten
ring around the rosy circle? I know it is not mandatory.
But how would someone at their first meeting Know this.
In the decade of the 1970's, we simply closed the meeting
with the Lords prayer. No moment of silence was announced.
We did not hold hands forcing everyone to join in. Again,
I personally find it repulsive and no longer take part
in this ritual. If your daughter or sister or wife came
to AA looking for help, would you want old men like me
hugging them? Think about it. Anonymous Please.
When I came to AA at the age of 25, I hadn't said "I love you" to a family member since I was a little boy. None of my 7 member family every showed love or affection. In AA I learned how to express brotherly love. I was off-put the first time my sponsor hugged me 3 years ago, but each time he does gets a little easier. I'm gradually breaking down the protective walls I built to sheild me from the pain of rejection.
Friendship hugs are good. Men with men, women with women. Keep it about recovery!
I believe our primary purpose is to stay sober and to help
other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Helping other sufferers is the way we maintain our own sobriety. How do we help others? What does the Big Book tell us to do? Does Bill tell us to cram the steps down their throats? No!!!
On page 92 of the fourth edition Bill writes in italics:
Tell him exactly what happened to you. Stress the spiritual
feature freely. Again tell the new person about your own
spiritual experience. Don't tell him what to do. Do not make demands disguised as suggestions. Just share your own
personal experience. If the newcomer wants to know more,
let him/her ask the question. If the newcomer does not identify with you, she/he is sure to identify with someone else. Allow them to listen and learn. We push newcomers
away by telling them to find God and find Him now!: At least let them become addicted to our fellowship and AA coffee first. Again I believe that the custom of reading HIW
aloud at meetings has been our worst, most tragic blunder
of the past three decades. What really works is allowing
every AA member to follow our path, not our directions.
The only enforcers needed are great love and great suffering
One of the traditions tells us this. Our membership is
diminishing. What is the solution? Just do away with the
three year survey? Anonymous.
YOUR CONCERN ABOUT WHY THE GROUTH OF AA HAS SLOWED DOWN IS CLEAR TO ME.THE EXAMPLE OF HOW TO GET SOBER AND MAINTAIN SOBRIETY IS FOUND IN THE BEAUTY OF THE STEPS AND THE AND WHEN WE SHOULD BEGIN TO TAKE THEM WITH OUR SPONSOR.BILL WILSON COMPLEATED HIS STEPS IN SIX DAYS.THEY WAS A GREATER URGENCY IN THE 1930S THEN EXIST TODAY FOR MANY SOCIAL REASONS.AA IS A SCOREBOARD REFLECTION OF WHAT IS GOINING ON IN OUR SOCIETY AT LARGE AND AS A ORGIANATION THAT IS GIFTED IN THE ART OF SAVING LIFE THE IMPORTANCE AND VALUE OF THAT LIFE HAS BEEN ERODED TO A DEGREE. AS DRUNKS WE ARE DROPING LIKE FLIES.I BURRIED TO OF MY GOOD FRIENDS LAST YEAR AFTER THEY TOOK THERE LIVES.BAFFLING CUNNING AND POWERFULL IS THE ENEMY OF AA DENIAL IS ITS GREATEST WEPON TRUTH IS ITS GREATEST STRENGTH ROOTED IN HUMILITY ITS ALL IN THE LITITURE OR YOU COULD SAY THE POWER OF WORDS LOV YA. AXIOM JULY 777
AA EXIST TODAY ONLY BEACUSE OF THE SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE FOUND IN THE FIRST TRADITION WICH GIVES US OUR FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND CHOICE. PLACING ANY PERAMITERS LIMITING OUR FREEDOM INJURS AA AS A WHOLE. REMBER AS LONG AS THE TRUTH WICH IS FOUND IN HIW IS PRESERVED AA WILL CONTINUE AS LONG AS GOD ALLOWS.I CAN NOT ASSUME THAT I KNOW A THING ABOUT WHAT THE NEW COMER BELIEVS AND OR WHAT THEY ARE THINKING. WHAT MADE ME A LITTLE UN EASY WAS THE WORD HIGHER POWER.AS LONG AS THE WORDS WE USE IN THE ROOMS ARE SINCERE FROM THE HART AND ROOTED IN TRUTH NEWCOMERS HAVE NOTHING TO WORRIE ABOUT.THE BIG BOOK CLEARLEY STATES THAT WE ARE GOING TO TALK ABOUT GOD.AA IS A THERAPUTIC COMMUNITY THAT HAS GRASPED THE BEAUTY AND POWER OF THE SPOKEN WORD THEY LIFT OUR SPIRITS AND GIVE US HOPE AS WE GROW SPIRITULLY.THE SPIRITULLY LIFE IS NOT A THEORY WE MUST LIVE IT.OR WE DIE LOVE YA. AXIOMS JULY 777
It is good to see that new members are finding this FORUM. I try to spread the word. But there is so much on line today
about AA, members are reluctant to search for yet another site. I love this method of sharing our opinions, concerns
and joys without any face to face confrontations.
If you have been sober since 1977, God has truly
blessed you. Me too. AA was by far the greatest gift of
I well remember my first days as a newcomer. I have
posted some of my concerns here. I was especially sensitive
to criticism (I still am). I still recoil when anyone tells
me what to do. If someone is paying my salary, I readily
say "Yes Sir!", That is why AA works so well. No one is in
charge to tell me what to do. Each AA member just tells
me what they did and what happened to them. And they end
it there, PERIOD!
The traditions assure ever newcomer and every potential
newcomer that the only requirement for membership in AA
is a desire to stop drinking. We don't require that they
pay anything or believe in anything. Bill W., in the pamphlet "Three Talks to Medical Societies simplifies this
even further. Bill writes that the only thing that we ask of the alcoholic approaching us is a desire on
his part to get well. Bill also writes "You might ask,
How does AA work. Bill answers his own question. Bill W. our AA co-founder says that he can not fully answer that question. (If Bill were alive today he could simply order
a copy of HIW from GSO). Bill says that we only share what we do and what seems to happen to us. We follow a "few
simple rules" left for us by Dr Silkworth and the thirst
for alcohol leaves us. For those who do not know, those
simple rules are not the twelve suggested steps. I trust that you have read AACA and language of the Heart. They are loaded with information every AA member ought to know.
Thanks to I-Say for posting your letters in CAPS. ANONYMOUS
The power of the WISDOM to know the difference
Don't fall into the trap of similarities while at the end of the meeting praying for the wisdom to know the difference, guess it all depends on what you listen to - Your sponsor or God
Sure glad everything is not the same today - boy did that get boring
If I were to share exactly what happened to me, that would include the fact that the obsession to drink was completely lifted from me at 3 months of sobriety when I got a sponsor and launched into the steps. Would my sharing of my own experience constitute "cramming" the steps? When many of us share our experience it will include steps & sponsorship. Sorry if that offends some people. Kind of a sad day when one feels the need to apologize for sharing about sponsorship & working steps.
Sad that the outside sponsorship system does not believe the steps in A.A. will work without them administering it to ya, and what is sadder yet they got the weak ones to believe it.
Time to grow up and handle life responsibilities with God given resources rather than the need for a mommy or daddy.
Really embarrassing for A.A.'s big book especially after sobering up.
If we could only share our own recovery with other alcoholics (our experience strength, and hope) without
even implying that anyone else do the same, we would be
following the path left for us. That is why directions
was changed to path, before the Big Book was printed.
Just share how the steps have worked in our lives. Attraction not promotion. We come together in AA as
equals. Today's distorted concept of sponsorship promotes
a system of hierarchy and patriarchy. A suffering alcoholic
does not look for a sponsor, until we tell him/her that
one is necessary for sobriety. I think I am beginning to
understand what you mean by the outside sponsorship
This site is becoming more and more difficult
to access. I find that it takes me forever to find it
at times. I am concerned that many will just give up.
The old origional site is still being opened about seven
hundred times a day, even though it has not been attended
to since Apr.6, 2011. ANONYMOUS
Sad that the outside sponsorship system does not believe the steps in A.A. will work without them administering it to ya, and what is sadder yet they got the weak ones to
believe it. This is what Bill W was telling us on page 8
in Language of the Heart. Why would anyone need a sponsor
to show them how to "work" the steps. Anyone who enters
the rooms looking for help to stop drinking has already
done steps one, two and three. They have admitted that they
cannot stop drinking alone. If they could have they would
have. Hopefully they have come to believe that AA can help
them. They are already surrendering as in step three. How
to do step four and five is described in our 12 & 12.
And it was decided 70 years ago that the steps were only
suggestions available to those of us who want or need to use them. Again on page 8 Lang Bill tells us that the
steps are not to be crammed down anyone's throat. He
explains how important this to our public relations
policy. The prospective AA member must be assured that
if he/she comes to the rooms, the steps will not be
crammed down her/his throat. Yet we do that by reading
How it Works aloud at meetings, telling the newcomer
That One is God! May you find him now! One of our
I have by the grace of God, been sober since 8/17/10. In the beginning, I had a sponsor. Through time, her and I lost touch as I gave birth and she became involved in a relationship.
For the last 5 months, I have been sponsorless and without any deep connections to the rooms. My fear is staying the same without doing the steps and eventually drinking again.
However, I let fear rule my social interactions and keep much of this to myself. How does one get past themselves and be free of the mental limbo between not drinking and not changing through the steps?
For the last 5 months, I have been sponsorless and without any deep connections to the rooms.
Sorry you been diverted so long around A.A.
Maybe it's time to trust in God !
Don't work them showing off to a sponsor - Take the freely given steps instead and they will work you -
It is totally impossible to accept and surrender at the same time most cannot accept God he as they surrender to an institution of an outside sponsorship system others accept the A.A. pertenent ideas.
SURRENDER IS NOT A CHOICE accetace of God could be.
That is the best way to try to help any newcomer. We share
our own experience, exactly what has happened to us. But the secret to reaching anyone else, is to share our
story, without even implying that anyone do the same. If
they want to follow our path, fine; if not that is fine
too. We do not push what worked for us on anyone else.
Hopefully they will find someone they can identify with.
Bill W discovered this approach which works in 1935
when he met with Dr Bob. Bill explains this fully on
page 8 in Language of the Heart. This is not easy to
understand and may even sound absurd. But this is the
technique which works with the alcoholic, believe it
or not. ANONYMOUS I was granted complete release from
the desire to drink after two months of being dry. It
happened as the result of the first three steps.
When I speak I always share that part of my story.
Quoted "That is the best way to try to help any newcomer. We share
our own experience, exactly what has happened to us. But the secret to reaching anyone else, is to share our
story, without even implying that anyone do the same."
Give them the Big Book and leave them alone unless someone asks which they don't - stop diverting people with you personal BS as if you are A.A.
I have read this message several times and ask myself
if it is even worth a reply. I think not.
The membership of alcoholics anonymous has declined over
half a million in the past two decades. After continuously
growing at the rate of doubling about every ten years,for
the first 57 years, today we are stagnant at around two
million. We had that many members twenty years ago. What
happened? Did we run out of alcoholics to help? Hardly!
The need for AA is greater today than any time in history.
No one will argue that point. Why did we stop growing?
The answers will shock some members. Some will deny them.
I have found that the response by most members and groups
is "Kill the Messenger". In one sentence I can tell you
what has actually happened. It happened so slowly and
subtly that I missed it. I wasn't really looking for it,
as I thought AA was "alive and well". Actually we have
been on "life support" for the past two decades, with
enough spectacular recoveries to make it appear that we
are doing great. All of this would be just nonsense,
maybe just called rhetoric, if there were no answers to
this dilemma. But we have made mistakes, grave mistakes
in Alcoholics Anonymous at the meeting/ group level. I will
save the one sentence to conclude this letter. I will very
simply list the mistakes we have made. Our most tragic blunder was the introduction of the reading of the first
two and a half pages of Chapter Five, "How it Works", at
the beginning of meetings. Bill W. explains this many
times in his writings about Dr Silkworth's "Cart before the
Horse IDEA. Our second most harmful blunder was the adoption
of the cult ritual of chanting. This makes us look like a
cult in the eyes of the public, and not only drives members
away, but hinders them from approaching us in the first place. When I see this part of my letter on the I SAY FORUM,
I will continue, God willing. ANONYMOUS
Why must our antediluvian members always point to AA's present day numbers as a validation to their every argument. Would CV have us still reading and writing in Edwardian script as Bill W. did ?
There are three parts to every verbal transaction. The transmitter, the receiver and the message its self. As the transmitter and the receiver has evolved from the depression era babies to the boomers and now the Gen-Xer's and Gen Y the message of AA has evolved as well, always inclusive never exclusive. This is why so many different group types have evolved as well. Not just open and closed meetings but men's group, woman's group, gay friendly, meditation, step study, discussion groups, morning noon and night groups. If you don't like a particular trend in any meeting then call for a group conscience or find an Ole timy meeting that fits your need
If AA's numbers are down since the 1990's maybe that was when CV's generation dug in their heels and said NO MORE CHANGE FOR YOU!
Thanks for the advice. I opened an Ole timey meeting four
years ago. It is a one hour meeting which has grown to a daily dozen each morning. We have a format accepted by the
group conscience. We do not chant: Hi Joe! This ritual as a response from the group is a chant. We do not read "How it Works" aloud at the meeting. We do not share by "show of hands",we simply go around the room allowing each member equal time. We do not make a spectacle of newcomers, or
allow them to make a spectacle of themselves. All members
come together as equals. We do not hold hands and pray.
We simply close the meeting with the Lords prayer, for
those who wish to join. So we have an Ole timey meeting
where we have reversed many of the changes (I personally
believe they were tragic mistakes) made over the past
three decades. Although these changes may have had some
short term benefit: we chant names so we can remember
who you are; or, we read How it Works to introduce the
newcomer to the steps, or, we "hold hands and pray" as
a circle of unity, in reality these practices have led
us down a dangerous path. Bill W was often quoted as
saying sometimes the good can be the enemy of the best.
He also said that sometimes the seeming temporary good
can be the deadly enemy of the permanent best.
How well have these changes served us? A close look
at our membership numbers will reveal the sad truth. We
have made reversals at several other meetings locally,
but the process is slow. I ask you to do one thing:
contact GSO for a list of membership numbers from 1935
to the present. Take a look at the continuous growth
until 1992. I don't remember "digging in my heels" to
stop the changes. I thought that A.A. was alive and well.
it appeared to be. It wasn't until 2005 that I became
aware that we had stopped growing. Hopefully, God willing
you will live long enough to become a very old person.
I see that your message appears in two categories: Suggest
a Topic and A Burning Desire to Share. I was surprised,
although there were some minor differences. ANONYMOUS
I remember the feelings that I had during the years when these changes in AA were made. I have always been reluctant to change just for the sake of change. The first time I heard HIW read aloud at an AA meeting, I questioned whether
this was the best use of meeting time. But I had no way of
knowing how harmful this be to AA in the future. Bill W
wrote many times that this approach did not work for him
in his first six months of "violent exertion". We have
returned to that approach which seldom worked. The steps
ought not be cramed down anyone's throat. The reading
of HIW does exactly that. Anonymous
Many meetings in my area have deleted the reading of HIW
from the meeting format, simply because it is just
takes up too much time. I find that very few members
understand the harm we have done, and continue to do
by this reading. Bill W. wrote on page 159 AACA "The
backbone of the book would have to be fitted in right
here." Bill continues on page 160 AACA: "This problem
had secretly worried the life out of me". Bill had
joined the Oxford Groups after his spiritual awakening.
He was aware that the Oxford Group Absolutes had aided
in his own sobriety. But he found that suffering
alcoholics had great difficulty swollowing the God Stuff.
Bill actually disguised the absolutes and concealed them
in Chapter five, trusting that the reader would
find them at the appropriate time. Yet at many AA
meetings today we actually read HIW aloud to the
newcomer "to introduce her/him to the steps. How
tragic! We push hundreds of thousands of suffering
alcoholics from our rooms every year by this approach.
People who rely on the outside sponsorship system who is already here miss the A.A. message and live in an institution always cowardly surrendering unable to accept that God can intuitively handle baffelingl situations . TO SURRENDER TO GOD ONE MUST LOOK INSIDE NOT TO
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.
Thank you for putting this so beautifully
The issue is not arguing over the existence of God. Nonbelievers have to accept AA statements like Nonbelievers are destine to a Alcoholic Death and other negative statements in AA Literature.
Even the devil believes in God, whats your point?
Can't rely on him? and need a sponsor ?
Almost all meetings I attend mention turning cell phones off or to silent or vibrate. Rarely is a ring heard at these meetings. However, I have noticed recently people texting during meetings, not always young people or newcomers. I'm considering asking for a group conscience at my home group to add a comment requesting cell phones not be used for texting during meetings. Does anyone else think this is distracting enough to bring up?
This has become a hot issue in my home group. Our group conscience has decided to announce at the beginning of meetings to "please put away cell phones and do not text during the meeting". We still have problems with people who play games, chat on Facebook and look up information on their phone's browser. They justify it by saying "We'll, I'm NOT texting..."
It's becoming a no-win situation. If anyone has any suggestions on how their group has handled this, please reply.
Happens here too...someone in my area of over 30 years "sober" regularly turns up and passes pics on her phone around to people whilst the chair is talking....Ive mentioned it, but she is "queen bee" and nothing gets done about it except to be told off myself for questioing her.
....yet another reason I dont go to many meetings anymore
At several meetings in our area the leader reads a brief statement at the beginning of the meeting. It asks that those who share keep their comments to Issues that relate to Alcoholism. It also requests we refrain from "Crosstalk". The statement defines crosstalk as; giving direct advise to someone else or talking while someone else has the floor. It also states "TEXTING IS TALKING".
Two regulars, with 35 years or more of "sobriety", who attend these local meetings do not feel they need honor the Groups conscience. The gentleman, I'll call Tom, loudly "chants" 20 or 30 times during the meeting things like: "THAT'S RIGHT", "YOU BET", "OH YEA" etc. I feel this is rude, annoying and distracting. Upon talking to other group members they agree that "We do not need to know Tom's opinion on every other sentence someone shares". Upon talking to Tom all hell broke loose and he loudly rationalized his conduct as being supportive. The Lady, I'll call Mora, doesn't think the "no texting unless you're on emergence call" request, applies to her. Many think she sets a poor example for the many younger newcomers in our Group who like to text. Most realize the importance of "really listening" to what's being said and one can't listen and text simultaneously.
I was told, early on, 3 things I still do many sober years later: 1) listen to everyone because you never know when someone might say something that will keep you sober. 2) Respect the groups conscience and 3) lead by example - a good example.
You are know better than Tom what gives you the wright to gather together other members to go against tom!! it sounds to me like you have started a little vigilante group against Tom.Why do you not confront Tom your self instead of getting other members involved sham on you
Tom could be the man, often present at our local club. He sits in the chair closest to the chairperson and commands
the center of attention. We have a Sunday nite meeting whic
was the best attended meeting with standing room only. "Tom"
started coming about ten years ago and became the group's
treasurer. Within five years the meeting had dwindled down to "Tom" and a couple of his cronies. I drive by on Sunday
and often his vehicle is the only one in the parking lot.
This reply has a purpose, not my usual venting. I see that
member at other meetings, and he is as quiet as a church
mouse. This Sunday meeting had no steering committee, and
no group conscience meetings. As with many meetings, there seemed to be no need for such things. My Sunday night
meeting is lost, for the time being, Hopefully your
meeting can be saved. My real concern is for the alcoholic
who may arrive there for her/his very first meeting. This
member retired and began attending other meetings, with
much the same results. Most of us just stopped attending.
One option is to stop all chanting. Chanting is a cult
ritual and has no place in AA. No, this has not always
been done. Just sit quietly and listen as each person
shares. But it must start with at least three interested
members. And the local police if necessary. If this
meeting is held in a clubroom the club can get a restraining order and have the man barred from the
building. He can attend other meetings of course. We
don't throw him out of AA. Occasionally a member like
Tom appears. There is a process to handle the situation.
It begins with a steering committee and a group conscience
Get him quiet or get him out of there! We are responsible.
Maybe others will recognize themselves here. Anonymous.
My Group recently decided that they would like to begin to pay to fly speakers in from different regions of the country to our meeting. I find it upsetting that they find this acceptable. I my self have never been re-reimbursed for any type of 12 step work and have spent lots of money out of pocket traveling to meetings to share the message. Any feed back would be appreciated on how to approach the topic.
Personally, I am sympathetic with your feelings. I believe that this practice, more common for large AA gatherings, violates the spirit of the Eighth Tradition (non-professionalism) and the Twelfth Tradition (anonymity is the spiritual foundation). While the person isn't being paid directly, a free trip and hotel stay in another city sure seems like compensation to me. Since only those with the most dramatic stories are typically invited to share, I think there's also an issue with the Eleventh Tradition (long form) injunction against "sensational advertising." But, as with any AA matter, it's up to the individual group conscience. The best I could do, as a member of the group, is to make my feelings known and try to inform the group conscience. Doing this effectively takes tact and time and can be a good exercise in practicing the principles in all our affairs.
I've never delved into what any of my sponsees believe in this area. It is none of my business and at this point I do not care.
Even if they are atheists, they can still work the Steps. If they have made a conscious decision to move away from what does not attract them in the form of a Higher Power, I have no problem with that. Blind faith does not work for me either.
As I understand my Higher Power, It does not care if I believe in It or not. I can be a good person and not believe in any god whatsoever.
When I stopped drinking in '83, I was told that if I wanted to get my soul saved, go to a church. But if I wanted to get my life saved, stick around. They never told me to believe as they believed. Never. And I have been sober since I first walked in.
Now, I do not believe I am God, but, since the Big Book queries, "Either God is everything, or God is nothing. What was our choice to be?" I have no doubt that the Creative Life Force is everything, of which I am a small part. I can believe what I am told to believe, or I can make my own investigation, which I have done and am still doing. I am quite comfortable with my relationship with God, Life, the Universe, All That Is, Rama, Allah, Buddah, etal. I do not believe the Creator cares what religion one belongs to, or even cares if they don't have a particular religion. I cannot imagine a creator being that narrow minded.
So, call me what you will, there is no reason to throw atheists out the door or condemn them in the name of any religion. We are here to help other drunks, not save their souls.
There are no elevators in A.A, I work at west coast elevators in California. If you find no elevator then take the steps please don't work on them even bad steps you can still ex-scape on.
I whole heartedly agree. If you do your best everyday that's all that matters. If there is a God he will shake things out for you. If not, you did your best when you were here.
Amen to that!
"Even if they are Atheist they can still work the steps". I
am sincerely puzzled by this statement. Why would an Atheist be concerned with working the steps? The steps are
suggestions for those of us who decide to use them. Many
Atheist and Agnostic alcoholics come into AA believing there
is no God, but later come to believe. But not all make that
conversion, and it certainly not a requirement for sobriety
nor a requirement for membership. I believe today's AA
has made it an implied requirement. I love the statement
"We are here to help other drunks, not to save their souls.
At the last minute before the Big Book went to press, the
word Heaven was changed to utopia. Our primary purpose is
to help save lives, not to save souls. We help other
alcoholics by sharing what we were like, what happened (EXACTLY), and what we are like now. We do not tell
any alcoholic what to do. We tell them what we did, without
even implying that they do the same. Simple, but maybe
difficult to fully understand. Why does that approach
work? We don't even have to understand it. We just need
to be obedient and follow the path. It worked when Bill W
met with Dr. Bob, and will work today. We have lost 20%
of our membership in the past two decades. Alcoholism
is epidemic in our country today. AA should be thriving.
But according to estimates of AA membership, we are
stagnant. These estimates are from our General Service
Office. Is anyone listening or does anyone even care?
We should be careful in making genealisations about AA membership figures. A tree does not reach the sky and it's unsurprising that the rapid advance of the first few decades have levelled off.
Would a tree reach the sky if there were no resistance? Just wondering. Why would our trusted servants at GSO lie
to us about membership figures? We pay them to gather this
information. Every year these numbers are published in the FINAL REPORTS issued by our General Service Office. Our
lack of growth has become a matter of concern by our
general service board chairman. Our manager at GSO has
acknowledged our stagnation.
Do you accept the figure of 30 million alcoholics in the US today. Are they going elsewhere for help? Before
AA became just another TWELVE STEP PROGRAM, it was very
successful. In 2010 only one group out of four gained
ONE member for the entire year. Do you think it is best
that we just ignore those statistics? Or is it just to
appalling to even think about?
I have heard of other programs, but where are they?
How successful are they? Really? Our success rate today
is around zero. I honestly believe we could return to
an acceptable rate of growth (effectiveness) by reversing
some of the changes made at the group level.
Our greatest mistake was the introduction of reading
How it Works aloud at meetings to all and sundry. The
cult ritual of chanting began in the 1980, in my area.
If you still go to meetings, listen to the group responses.
Sometimes it sounds like barking. Chanting and praying
have no place in an AA meeting. We are not a cult nor a
prayer group. Pray on your own time, as I do many times
each day. We must stop making demands on newcomers and
others: 90 in 90, get a sponsor, work those steps, etc.
I believe if AA members can somehow come to understand
why the 24hr book has been rejected by our General Service
Conference, not once but twice, hope for AA can be renewed.
I fear that it may eventually be brought to another vote
and be accepted as suitable for AA, even though we do not
We lost over half a million members in the mid 1990's
after growing continuously for 57 years. Our membership
doubled about every ten years. We have "leveled off"
at a number of two million. We had two million TWO DECADES
AGO. But if the numbers mean nothing, then this means nothing. How do we sleep at night?
Another indication of the health of Alcoholics Anonymous
is the level of our PRUDENT RESERVE FUND. But that is
another story for another day. ANONYMOUS
I would suggest that you look further into the first step. Have you accepted to your innermost self the conundrum that is alcoholism? Do you understand the effect that the allergy of the body coupled with the mental compulsion dooms you to always return to that first drink? Are you aware that each passing sober day through which you live will involve increasing psychic and emotional (spiritual) pain until you off yourself or drink again? If you have not had the realization that the above is the affliction we all share as alcoholics, then you can afford to hang on to your ideas about the cosmos. But upon understanding the true nature of our malady, you might want to consider a reassessment of your views. What do you think it means when the book says "the result was nil until we let go our old ideas absolutely"?
The biggest surrender I could possibly make when I came to AA was to accept the possibility of a Power Greater Than Myself. That process began when I came upon the following quote in a book, one character says to another, "do there might be some part of the universe you don't comprehend completely?"
Is there a possibility that there might be a power in the universe that cares about you personally and wants to help you through to a better life? Is the Group or your sponsor a power greater than your self?
Embark upon the process. Make Truth, or Principle, or Conscience your higher power. But whatever you choose to submit to, pray to that power.
Yours in service
I'm looking for a AA member to go on a vacation with or a safe lace to stay in a sunny/tropical atmosphere.
Any suggestions would be appreciated
Try Cuba - search "a a + Cuba" and ask the webmaster to put your e-address on the Bulletin Board with your request to members + tell him I told you to contact the site.
I'd love some tips to get through weddings. Got any ideas?