From the May 1989 magazine.

The Kingdom Within

By the grace of God, I haven't found it necessary to take that first drink since Christmas morning 1983. For this I owe the program and the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. I belong to the world's best home group; sponsor people and am sponsored; have been active in general service as a GSR (general service representative) and DCM (district committee member); and attend five or six meetings a week. These meetings, like the ones in the other two states I've lived in, have opened my eyes spiritually and deepened my trust in God as I understand him. The only problem, for what is apparently a sizable majority of AA members I know, is that God as I understand him is a loving Christian God--and that seems to make many of my AA friends uneasy!

Before you get the wrong idea, I do not use the meetings I attend or my sponsorship opportunities as occasions for "Bible thumping." When I share, I try to convey my experience, strength, and hope in a way that will be of the most benefit to the most people--including the atheist or agnostic newcomer whose teeth are still chattering. I believe our Third Tradition means what it says: "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking." My own sponsor, a Christian, was an agnostic his first three years in AA--and he's been sober sixteen years now. I respect the right of other AAs to believe in the Higher Power of their own choice, even if that's only the group. As our co-founder says in As Bill Sees It, "Honesty with ourselves and others gets us sober, but it is tolerance that keeps us that way."

-- John M.

Lexington, Kentucky

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