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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
Please do not underestimate the value of Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, and Language of the Heart and the others: Pass it On, Dr bob and the Good Oldtimers. These
books are as important to our fellowship's survival as the
Big Book and 12+12 are to our personal recovery.
You will have to read and study Dr. Silkworth's cart before the horse IDEA in these books.
In Lang on page 199 Bill wrote in a letter to the Grapevine July 1953: In the middle of the page Bill writes
the words of Dr silkworth: Quote The point is that alcoholics won't buy all this moral exhortation until THEY CONVINCE THEMSELVES THEY MUST. (CAPITALS ARE MINE). END QUOTE. I believe this is important: We can seldom convince
the newcomer, nor ought we try. They have to convince themselves. Attraction, not promotion. Buy and study those
books. But I have no way of making you buy
those books, any more than I can make a newcomer read the
Big Book. Let liquor be the enforcer. We need no others. I
think it says that great love and great suffering are
to be our only discipliarians in 12+12. ANONYMOUS
I checked out the Traditions forum , and found little discussion about our principals contained in our Traditions.Most of the conversations were about local customs in nearby meetings. How about our principal of Anonymity in the digital Age or how we can cooperate in our communities so that people understand what A.A. is and what we are not.
As members of our groups we need to take responsibility to insure that newcomers have the same chance we had when we wondered in from the cold.
I like the 12x12 description of how if the steps are practiced as a way of life they will expel the compulsion to drink and make you happily and usefully whole. Thats pretty much all I ever wanted!
Also I am not very popular in my AA community right now. At a closed meeting last friday someone introduced themselves with there name only. I explained it was a closed meeting and it was limited to alcoholics or people with a desire to stop drinking. I don't enjoy making that statement, but felt someone should since the meeting chair didn't. The attendee said he was sober for seven months.
Yesterday after a meeting a lady called me some names and said anyone can go to meetings(refering to what i said last week). after she finished yelling i said again only alcoholics or people with a desire to stop drinking are allowed at closed meetings.
In the town i recently moved to there are meetings usually twice a day and all but two are open so everyone in the recovery community can attend. I guess we need to start reading the blue card at each meeting so everyone knows alcoholics anonymous if for alcoholics. Hopefully we can slowly get back to our primary purpose.
If you want everyone in AA to like you, try being a
chameleon or what Bill W. called a politico. I read an
article in the grapevine a few years ago where the
writer of the article wrote that most AA members adored
Bill W., but there are some who despised him.
I have found that AA members can react with hostility,
when their basic beliefs are questioned. I believe wars
have been fought.
I have lost favor with many in my effort to inform our
membership that we are losing or have lost most of our
effectiveness in helping suffering alcoholics. I did not know this until a decade after it began to happen. I believe our leaders and trusted servants just did not
want to give us that bad news. Politicos just give
people what they want, or tell them what they want to hear.
Asking attendees if they are alcoholic can be a very
delicate subject. Suppose a new member is an alcoholic
and is just not certain enough to call himself/herself an alcoholic?
Do we demand that the new member conform? When a member
states "I am Joe and I am an addict, do we ask her/him to
leave the room, even if there is no addict's meeting
nearby? I personally know several addicts who attend AA
meetings stating they are alcoholics. They share about
drinking, not drugging.
It just seems that on the District, Area and GSO level
they find all kinds of other topics to fill in the time
allotted. No meaningful discussion is allowed as to the
real reasons for our lack of growth. Our traditions are
ignored. I don't believe any effort is being made to
reach our goal of self support. Our two traditions on
anonymity are being watered down. Two thirds of our fourth
tradition are ignored. Many believe it reads: "An AA group
can do anything it pleases".
So welcome to the club. I am called many names, bleeding
deacon is one of the kinder ones. Caterwalling or Caterwauler and relentlessly negative are others. I have kind of
gotten used to it. I like to think I may be gaining a
glimpse of humility. ANONYMOUS
Is the outside sponsorship system killing A.A through there personalities - Personality is simply another persons reality not always Gods.
Does the outside system undermined the 3 pertinent ideas of A.A. itself? LOUD YES
Does the outside system undermined the promises of A.A. to intuitively handle situations? LOUD YES
Is the outside system miss used inside A.A - Take a closer look victims.
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.
The only righteous alcoholic around is called a sponsor, the rest humbly understand only for the grace of God there go I. There is no humility in an outside sponsorship system here in A.A and that's the CHEIF reason many leave. Personality = another persons reality = a sponsor!!!!
As a sponsor for many years I REMAIN A HUMBLE SERVANT ! Forgive me.....as a sponsor, I am a messenger of the solution!..these are merely suggestions!...
I have a testimony as to the value of AA in my life. I can share my story to help others.
We ask God for that mentor,sponsor, to come into our lives. Step 3 says God`s will NOT mine. I recommend a sponsor that is grounded and spiritual and is at peace with life. These are the qualities that can most benefit the struggling alcoholic. That is my experience.
We are humble before God and of service to others. Bill W clearly stated that this humbling, through service, was key to his spiritual walk.
Principles NOT personalities.
So many questions... There's one thing I know- I don't understand your questions.
There were no time or condition limits on "Hold hands
and chanting", until "It works if you work it, was added.
Find God and find Him NOW! certainly has a time limit.
Chanting has harmed the public image of AA. Prayer is
a wonderful practice, but the AA group is not a prayer group
Pray in church and on your own time. ANONYMOUS
It might be worthwhile getting a discussion going on the subject matter contained in this report. (It has not been accepted in its current form for this year but the Conference Question committee concerned have asked for it to be resubmitted in an amended form for 2013 (primarily because it contains references to outside organisations)). It deals with quite a few of the issues raised in other parts of the I-Say forum. Unfortunately I can't include the link to the document directly (I-Say policy) but if you are interested you can find it easily enough by using the search terms: AA Minority Report 2012 (in any combination and in any search engine).
It is indeed good to know that there are many others who share my concern about the present state of Alcoholics
Anonymous and fear for our future. I have read much of Bill
W's writings and concern for AA's future is often expressed.
To sum it up, AA has morphed from a fellowship of men and
women, to a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM, only one of many. The changes at the group level have been subtle. I was aware
of the changes, which today I call distortions, but was not
aware of the grave consequences. The price has been human
suffering, unnecessary suffering. We are failing the very
population we are supposed to help, alcoholics and their
friends and families.
Despite our failings, much of the general public still
recommends AA for their alcoholic patients. Almost everyone
in America has heard of AA. The alternate programs are not
that well known. Although many have heard of our dismal
success record, they are aware that AA does work for a few.
Alcoholics Anonymous in its pure form, offers hope for
wholesale recovery of alcoholic sufferers. Even as a strange religious cult it still works occasionally. Some
alcoholics respond to that approach, get sober and stay
sober. I believe that "trying to help other alcoholics"
keeps many alcoholics sober, even if they are spectacularly
unsuccessful, as Bill W. was in his first six months. Bill
called his effort "violent exertion".
Once again I will list the blunders we have made in
AA at the group level. Our worst mistake was the start of
reading "How it Works" aloud at meetings to all and sundry.
This may be a little more difficult to understand than our
second worst blunder, the introduction of chanting. This is
the "Hi Joe! chant, and for lack of a better word, this is just plain stupid. Chanting of any kind is a cult ritual,
and has no place in AA.
The acceptance of the 24hr book at the group level has
been a mistake. This book has been rejected twice by our
general service conference as being inappropriate for AA.
Yet in many parts of the country this book has made it to
the AA podium. The theme is still ingrained in regions even
where the book itself has been "banned". Many of our leaders
have no idea why the 24hr book was rejected by Bill W. and his friends in the early 1950's.
The simple custom of sharing by "show of hands" has been
another mistake. Until the early 1980's, we simply went "around the room". I have heard this called "round
robin". This is asking for all kind of EGO problems. Making
a spectacle of newcomers or allowing new members to make a spectacle of themselves is also an EGO issue. For anyone
who doesn't know, EGO deflation is key in recovery from
addiction. Allow each member to enter and exist in AA on
an absolutely equal basis. No one is "more important" than
anyone else. THAT WAS IT! Dr Bob wrote about his first
connection with Bill W.
Another grave mistake was the introduction of praying
at AA meetings. In the 1970s we opened the meetings with
the preamble. We cited the serenity prayer for "those who
wished to join. We closed the meetings, standing by our
chairs, without holding hands forcing everyone to join in.
No one was made a spectacle of if they did not join citing
the Lords prayer. Most of us joined in but it was not
mandatory, as many meetings are today.
Today's concept of sponsorship is another reason that
AA is considered a cult. Taking control and running another's life, basically without taking any personal
responsibility for the person, is one indication that AA
has become a cult. Combined with the chanting, which is
shouting, yelling, hooting and hollering in many parts of the country, sponsorship and chanting, makes us a cult in
the eyes of the public. It is imperative that the general
public look on AA favorably.(public relations).
The "Hold Hands and Pray" closing has already been
mentioned, as an indication that we have become "too religious" in AA meetings today. This was accepted by the general service conference, upon approval of the fourth edition of the Big Book. I wonder how many who voted for it had actually read it.
Most of this material has been posted over and over on
the I-SAY FORUM. I am ever so grateful for this method of
reaching others who are concerned for AA's future. Much of
our loss of effectiveness is due to our lack of true
understanding the "cart before the horse" advice given to
Bill W. By Dr. Silkworth in the spring of 1935, just prior
to Bill's trip to Akron. If we can somehow understand that
vital ingredient we may be able to "turn this ship around"
using the words of a trusted servant, my area delegate.
These concerns may eventually be discussed at the
conference level, but the ultimate responsibility for AA's
future lies with the AA group and the individual AA member.
We must somehow develop the courage to stand up and speak
out. Trial and error has ended. AA is diminishing. I
just yesterday picked up a 2002 issue of box 459, listing
our membership at over 2,200,000. We have fewer members than
that today, a decade later. ANONYMOUS
I love A.A. and yes we had lost quite a lot. but why?
A.A. is simple clear and precise in the 3 pertinent Ideas
not pert-in -near ideas - Why cannot people understand B and C? as they are conned through fear into running to an outside sponsor instead of A.A.'s ideas? why do people fall for fear and are so easily diverted by people, places and things instead of Easy does it.
why isn't there a meeting where we can go to socialize, play cards, etc without drinking instead of just listening to a sad story we all have!!!!! What the hell?????Here just trying to help someone not kill themselves & yes it is all the same!!!!!
I felt ill at ease and out of place, as far back as my
memory will reach. Initially I was very fearful, but eventually it turned into anger. I found out early in life that "people" would hurt me, so I avoided them as much as possible. Living life alone is not really living.
Liquor was the answer for me. I was no longer fearful
and I found others like myself, so I was no longer alone.
After attending her first AA meeting at Bill W.s home
these were the words spoken by Marty M. to her drinking
friend, "Grenny, we are not alone any more"
Yes, it is much the same. I need a place to mingle with
friends without alcohol being involved. Many AA members
play cards, go bowling and socialize outside of AA
meetings. I doubt that these activities can take the
place of AA meetings. AA is like the iceing on the
cake. I have gone to thousands of AA meetings, but the
meeting last night was the best ever. How often I
sincerely feel that way.
Have fun, and help others to a life of joy. "The
joy of living".... ANONYMOUS
I have read through many of the posts on various topics, some of which I agree with, some of which I don't, many of which I have no idea what the writer is talking about. One keeps writing about an "outside sponsorship system." I honestly have no idea what he/she is talking about. What does come through loud and clear is that most of the posters have never read the 12 & 12, in particular the 12 traditions and their accompanying text, as many of the comments about what AA is and isn't are ones that were pretty much specifically rejected after they had been tried and failed in AA's early years, as recounted in the 12 & 12. Just as my personal history is a vital part of the story of how I came to be sober and how I stay sober, so too does AA's colorful history provide insight into how AA came to be, how it has developed, and how it stays vital for so many of us. And when I say "AA's history," I am not speaking to those made up bits of it, including the aa membership numbers, which are about as accurate now as they were when Bill W. wrote in 1939 that "we number hundreds," which at that time was a gross exaggeration.
Understand the ideas of A.A. and you will understand what how the outside system learn to operate inside A.A. instead of bring them in from the outside? This may be to simple of fact for a sponsor in themself.
I think you’ll find all the information you need to explain what people are talking about when they say “outside sponsorship” if you follow the suggestion in the "Minority report(GB)2012" post above. The minority report is titled “A call for moral inventory and leadership in AA”. There’s some interesting bits of AA history in it too. As mentioned in the above post, it can be searched on any search engine by using the search terms: “AA minority report 2012”
I am sure you can tell me where Bill W. wrote in 1939 that
"we number hundreds" which you consider to be a gross exaggeration. On page 180 AACA Bill writes : By early 1940
we could estimate that about 800 recoveries had been made.
He writes: This number was a big jump from the figure of 100 at the time the book was published in April of the year before. end writes. Do you believe the estimates on page 310 AACA contain any truth? Do you really think that the aa membership numbers are "made up bits" of AA"s history?
Bill wrote AACA in the mid 1950's, I personally have read and believe most of it.
Do you think that 2,000,000 AA members are about all we can expect? "TWO MILLION STRONG" was part of a Grapevine article. These membership numbers mean something! I ask you to write to GSO for the list of our head count from 1935
to the present. It is clear that we are "churning", helping very few new alcoholics to recover. Self centered we are
only helping ourselves, only enough to replace those members
who die or drop out.
Personally I think it is just easier to deny the evidence
contained in the numbers, than to face the real truth. The
truth is that we are failing hundreds of thousands of suffering men and women, plus their friends and families
every year by the way our AA meetings are conducted. The blunders I keep repeating here. I finally understand what
the poster of "outside sponsorship" is trying to tell us.
It took a traditions workshop for me to understand it. We
don't need a sponsor to practice the steps. They are God's
free gift to us. We only share exactly what happened to us.
No more, unless a question is asked. Even then we only share our own experience. Trust God, as each individual
understands, to do his miracle. Yes, make sure the new
member has a Big Book. Let her/him read it. Bill W.
explains the program of recovery. Give the new member a
copy of 12&12. Yes, I have read every word in the 12&12
"hundreds" times, at a regular weekly step
meeting and a regular weekly traditions meeting. "Hundreds"
is not an exaggeration. ANONYMOUS
I misquoted Bill - he did not say "hundreds" in 1939, rather he said "more than a hundred." (see Preface to 1st edition) One AA history buff puts the number at around 75, and of those probably 15 failed to achieve long-term sobriety, while the success of many others is unknown. So Bill's exaggeration may have been slight rather than gross. What is interesting to note is that some of those pioneers also chose the harder, more painful route (the old "in-out") before achieving any length of sobriety.
But I do take issue with this statement by you and others for which no empirical evidence exists, that "The truth is that we are failing hundreds of thousands of suffering men and women… every year by the way our AA meetings are conducted." Sounds like the rant of a bleeding deacon. Not only are the AA membership numbers folks cite very rough estimates (though probably as accurate as are possible given the nature of our organization as reflected in 3rd & 12th traditions), but your conclusion that lack of growth is due to how meetings are conducted is without any basis. Nearly every day I hear someone's story about being introduced to AA a decade or two earlier before finally making their way back and getting serious. Rarely have I heard anyone complain that "you people were too religious" or "I was turned off by the chanting and holding hands," rather the comment is invariably "I wasn't ready" or "I wasn't as bad as I thought you people were – yet." That they find their way back tells me we were not failing them then, nor are we now. But as this isn't a "one size fits all" program, and there is not "one right way" to sobriety, that some people don't want what we have is inevitable.
A good source for the facts and figures can be found in Nell Wings (Bills secretary) book. She states that when Bill had 100 she asked him and he said that by the time it was printed, there would be 100.
I am not sure of the number, but it was around 75.
The way I see it, Bill was a dreamer, and that was good for A A, and Doctor Bob was the realist holding the fellowship together. When the book was written, using the 75 figure, Akron had a little more than 50 members and New York had a little less than 25. Also, most of the stories came out of Akron and a couple from Cleveland. Only a few came from New York.
Thanks for the correction. I hope I-SAY will continue this
dialog. The information from GSO about AA membership is
available upon request. It is a one page list of membership
numbers from 1935 to the present. "It is titled Worldwide
A.A. Individual and Group Membership". It shows continuous
growth until 1992, reaching almost two and a half million.
I an sure you know that today we stand at two million members worldwide.
When I first saw these numbers, my belief that AA is
"alive and well" disappeared. I remembered all of the
changes we had made at the group level over the past four
decades. The list of changes is about ten. In my opinion
they were significant changes (distortions). Those members,
the few who do believe the numbers, can probably come up
with ten reasons for our lack of growth. These reasons for our lack of growth may make sense to them.
Please, Write to GSO for the number and group list. I don't believe you can look at that sheet without viewing
with alarm. Yes I have been called a bleeding deacon several times, but, believe me I have been called much worse.
I have no "axe to grind". Alcoholics Anonymous saved my
life and my brother's life decades ago. But AA at the group
level barely resembles the AA of the 1970's decade. I have
listed the changes over and over on I-SAY. But very few AA
members read these messages, and even less understand them.
I do believe that Alcoholics Anonymous is a "one size
fits all" fellowship. Bill W. wrote in Three Talks to
Medical Societies "The only thing we ask of the alcoholic
approaching us is a desire on his part to get well.
Our AA membership today ought to be eight million.
We have failed a generation of alcoholic sufferers plus
their friends and families. Do we have the wherewithal
to reverse the blunders we have made at the group level?
Or will we fail another generation of alcoholics?
The not to worry, was in regards to members reading your postings. Some where the Web monitor reports 600 - 900 visitors per month. It was not clear as to whether it only accounts for those logged in, and if they come back to the forum a number of times.
Then they might use the I P Address to calculate.
Then you have that Anonymous Guy writing every second post . . . YOU WOULD THINK THAT THIS FORUM IS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS ENOUGH THAT IF YOU HAVE A POINT TO SHARE AT LEAST ADD YOUR HANDLE
Just curious as to the changes you have seen at the group level in your area, I have more questions than answers, most of our mistakes stem from our trying to be all things to all people giving the impression to the world at large that we can help the non-alcoholic, opening up our closed discussion meetings so all can come and now participate.
On average we sell nearly one million Big Books per year and have for many years, yet your membership stays flat. Who the heck is buying our book?! A fellow Bleeding Deacon
We gladly share the twelve steps to the world at large
so that all who want can use them. I believe the true AA
method is also freely given to all. The method or technique
is different from other recovery "programs". You might say
that our recover process is opposite other attempts at
recovery from addiction. Other programs tell their members
what to do. We only tell (share) what we did and what has
happened to us. No one can be left out or pushed away. I
believe that most addictions can be arrested by using the
true AA process. I like to say, "it is not really that
complicated", but it really is complicated and very
difficult to understand. ANONYMOUS
My first reaction to this post is that we cannot possibly
be selling a million books annually. But I think we gave
away the 30 millionth big book at the 75th AA aniversary.
Who IS buying the Big Book? I suppose most AA members bought
a copy when the fourth edition was printed. I just don't
believe that the casual reader who is not an alcoholic would
have much interest in our Big Book. Those million books are
bought by alcoholics or given to alcoholics every year. The
result of a million books in 2010 was 16,499 new AA members.
Observing our local groups in action, several of the larger ones are pretty consistent in giving a Big Book to every newcomer. I suspect that there is a landfill somewhere with millions of the Big Book, along with copies of "The Bhagavad Gita As It Is" distributed at airports a few decades ago. Not that either is unworthy of study, but neither is going to resonate with the reader unless they are ready for the message. After my second meeting, someone chased me down as I was leaving and thrust a Big Book in my hand, saying I had to read the first 164 pages, had to attend 90 meetings in 90 days. I stuck around in spite of this person. I did read the Big Book, but can't say it resonated with me initially. It was the stories of those in the rooms that made sense, along with the suggestion not to drink today and to keep coming back. I wonder if the "requirements" thrown at newcomers turns them off? Some of that "you have to do this" might be attributable to treatment centers, which I gather pretty much control the lives of their patients for the length of their stay. But I think the pioneers of AA were similarly demanding, so perhaps it is only natural for me as a human being to assume that how I successfully accomplished something is the only way to do it. Fortunately, the longer I am around, the more I realize that while there is only one way to stay sober, by not drinking, there are many ways within and without AA to accomplish that - though AA is the only one that has worked for me.
Quote "I wonder if the "requirements" thrown at newcomers turns them off?"
The Outside sponsorship system in A.A. UNDERMINES A.A's ideas!!!
How? Read A.A's 3 "PERTINENT" ideas.
The Outside sponsorship system in A.A. UNDERMINES Gods promises to A.A's
How? You will intuitively be able to handle situations.
The outside sponsorship system has been around a long time and so has evil
Simply DON'T DRINK is it possible any other way?
Many people believe that not drinking is what keeps you from getting bad feelings. However, changing how we act helps eliminate most bad feelings that made us drink. And changing the way we think helps us from drinking from the bad feelings we allow to cross us by. Don't believe the people who tell you life will be o.k. if you stop drinking. If you don't change as a person simply put you will drink again because you never took care of the bad feelings.
Simply DON'T DRINK alcohol and you won't get drunk. If I could have simply stopped drinking, I would have done so. I
certainly would not have to attend all these dreadful AA
meetings. (smile, I love AA). That was what was so puzzling.
I believed that I could stop. Others believed that I could stop. "If that stuff is causing you so much trouble, why don't you just leave it alone"? I did not realize how very
ill I was, at the edge of the cliff, and still dancing around.
I assume that the writer of this posting is a sober
member of Alcoholics Anonymous. Is this what worked for you?
You simply stopped drinking? How did you end up here? If you are not an alcoholic, and not a sober member of AA, I
don't believe you could have much understanding of why the
simple "DON'T DRINK" method is just not a solution for the alcoholic.
Sure, sobriety starts with never taking that first drink.
And we do that one day at a time. But it is usually a bit
more complicated than simply not drinking. Otherwise, why would we need AA? ANONYMOUS
"DON'T DRINK" method is just not a solution for the alcoholic"
Nor is the outside sponsorship system a solution
But a good SOLUTION not rea-lies-ing it is that we are ALL beyond human aid and need a power greater than OURselfs stated that God could and would if sought.
Subsitute reliance of God for your sponsor is not a smrt idea if you be Alcoholic.
im in serious trouble. I need help getting to meetings. i need support. I made the mistake of starting a serious relationship when I shouldn't have. I cant get to therapy, meetings or anywhere. Icant take much more of myself.
"why would we need AA? ANONYMOUS"
To discover the loving God that was down deep in each and every one of us - unless of course your God, i mean friend is a volunteer hand raising sponsor.
"Simply DON'T DRINK alcohol and you won't get drunk. If I could have simply stopped drinking, I would have done so."
So do it!! Simple Trust in God clean house and find a friend not some sponsor who volunteered.