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Alcoholics Anonymous, Now Available Without God

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If I were addicted and wanted help, I might rather suffer the consequences of abusing drugs or alcohol than pretend that the required verbal ablutions in Alcoholics Anonymous meant anything to me at all.

Six or seven of the famous twelve steps refer to God or to prayer. The final step is to achieve sobriety and experience it as a “spiritual awakening.” Through it all, prayer is a staple at almost every AA meeting.


No thanks. The only AA I’ll ever join willingly is this one.

But things are changing, as the New York Times points out.

The boom in nonreligious A.A. represents another manifestation of a more visible and confident humanist movement in the United States, one that has featured public figures such as Bill Maher, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens. Yet this recent trend within A.A. also marks a departure from the organization’s traditional emphasis on religion.

“A.A. starts at its core with honesty,” said Dorothy, 39, who heads the steering committee for the We Agnostics and Freethinkers International A.A. Convention. “And how can you be honest in recovery if you’re not honest in your own beliefs? If you don’t believe in the God they’re praying to, that’s not honest practice.”

[A] religious tone [had become] the norm within A.A. What it meant for alcoholics like Vic was an anguishing choice between sobriety and hypocrisy. To participate in a typical A.A. meeting felt to them like hiding, if not violating, deeply held secular beliefs.

Over the past dozen years, non-religious AA groups have begun to mushroom. Another AA member, Glenn, found

… “a fellowship of concerned, loving people,” … a secular version of the “Higher Power” to which A.A. literature refers. Humanist A.A. groups also have drafted their own nontheistic versions of the 12 steps. Instead of needing divine assistance for recovery, for example, one step states that “we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity.”

Thanks to the Internet, it’s now easier than ever to for people who need help with addiction to find an AA group that doesn’t force them to pretend to believe in gods. In New York, the website that lists those meetings is at agnosticaanyc.org. Meetings in other locales, including some non-U.S. ones, can be found here.

Previous Alcoholics Anonymous posts on Friendly Atheist here, here, here, and here.


http://www.patheos.com/...

by on Feb. 26, 2014 at 6:12 PM
Replies (151-158):
LindaClement
by Thatwoman on Mar. 9, 2014 at 6:33 PM

If you're asking me why you can't stop responding in spite of having said you were going to multiple times now, I don't have an answer for that. Not that I'm surprised, I just mean that I can't explain it either.

It still doesn't make me hostile, just as it doesn't mean you're not supplying your own interpretation to what I'm writing: the word is 'transference.'

I'm not talking about my 'unique and superior' anything: I'm talking about branch of human study (that I'm not claiming to have invented, or even to have named) called rhetoric.

It was what I was talking about the first time I wrote it and you read it as hostile and it is what I was talking about when you read 'unique and superior' from the inside of your own eyelids.

Quoting joyfree:

Put down the stick--- why don't you start your own post about your unique and superior critical thinking skills if you want to talk about them so much? I said I was done, can your critical thinking help you to understand that statement? 

This is getting way too strange for me. Why can't you just WALK AWAY???

going crazy

Quoting LindaClement:

Just because you're convinced you're right doesn't make you right --about my intent, my feelings, my experience or my skepticism about the evidence of effectiveness of 12 Step programs. There is a word for that, which is a psychological term, but I'm sure I don't need to tell you what it is. No, this is NOT hostile, is it? 

The fact that most people have never learned to think critically is just that: a fact. It's not hostile, it's an observation of reality.

Have you learned to think critically? As in: have you actually studied rhetoric? Do you know what the logical fallacies are? Can you identify them in your own arguments? Do most of the people you know have this knowledge and use these skills?

Specifically: does your observation of the people around you refute my statement 'most people who have never learned to think critically offer unrelated personal anecdotes, make unrelated accussations and run for the defensive position'...?

Quoting joyfree:

I'm REALLY tired of you telling me that I am "misreading" your "critical thinking skills".

Example:

"Or, you could do what most people who have never learned to think critically do: offer unrelated personal anecdotes that don't really address the issue, make unrelated accusations, and run for the defensive position (which is a form of bullying: 'YOU are mean, my feelings are hurt because I intentionally misread what you're talking about')"

So that is not hostility? 

I'm done with this. I told you before that I was only trying to help  by offering my own experience, strength, and hope, which fortunately for me does not include rape, incest, etc.

All you have done is bash me under the guise of your superior critical thinking skills. If you are an example of what you consider someone who has "freed" herself from scarring physical/emotional trauma, I don't want anything that you have to offer.

You apparently feel the same way, except for some ODD reason, you keep returning to tell me how stupid I am.

Let it GO, Linda. I will respond to you on this subject NO LONGER! Have the last insult if you feel that you must, but I will not respond.

The sun is shining, and I have more important things to do than continue beating a dead horse. Good afternoon!

Quoting LindaClement:

And what do you call uncritically accepting what you've been told by people with a vested interest in something?

You're misreading skepticism and critical thinking skills for hostility.

Quoting joyfree:

Well, God did for me what I apparently could not do for myself earlier--- I was trying to wade through your snarky criticism and answer your 'questions', but my Toshiba laptop decided to pull its rolling screen stunts. All my snappy comebacks went, "POOF!"


I'm glad, because I see that it was pointless trying to share things that I thought would be helpful to you... At least three other women on here posted their agreement that you are very hostile towards AA for someone who claims to be 'FREE'...

“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.


—Herbert Spencer


The last paragraph reminds me of this entire exchange... Have a nice day.

Quoting LindaClement:

I didn't refused to allow it, it's never come up. I object to it on principle. I can do that: same way all kinds of people feel free to object to the death penalty without ever knowing anyone who's ever faced it...

Your 'spiritual awakening' speech makes you sound like you've got religion and need to convert the masses, which is an inherently disrepectful position no matter what it's advertised to be.

It may well be what you see as your duty, but take a look at how people feel about the Mormans and the Jehovah's Witnesses trying to accomplish the same task. Do you appreciate being told that they've seen the light and their lives won't be complete until you agree with them?

Or you could refute what I said... 

For example: you could demonstrate which benefits there are to the victim to having someone from their past intrude on their present lives, in the perpetrator's time, for the perpetrator's purposes.

Or, you could do what most people who have never learned to think critically do: offer unrelated personal anecdotes that don't really address the issue, make unrelated accusations, and run for the defensive position (which is a form of bullying: 'YOU are mean, my feelings are hurt because I intentionally misread what you're talking about')

An adult apologizing for participating in a heated argument isn't really the same kind of thing as an 11yo being raped, now is it? It's also not at all the same thing, in a continuous work relationship, as dragging it out of the past 4, 8 or 27 years ago.

You think being apologized to by an adult who was once the child who--while behaving like a child in a supervised environment--did or said things that the adults supervising did nothing at all to stop would make a difference? To what? 'Sorry I was immature'? 'Sorry all the adults were oblivious to what was going on'?

Or perhaps you'd like the immature child to take responsibility for not being adequately supervised? 'Sorry I wasn't in charge of the adult:child ratios'? 

Quoting joyfree:



Quoting LindaClement:

You're getting really excited about this.

Yeah, I'm REALLY getting excited,sitting here on my couch...

Are you Bill Wilson's grandchild or something? No, but if I was, I would be proud of the fact.

Instead of claiming that I have some kind of resentment you clearly can't deal with(it's not ME who can't deal with it, it's you), perhaps you could refute my statements, at all. You could start by answering these questions:

What business is it of yours, that someone (who is not a part of your life) needs to resolve their feelings? It's none of my business at all. I only have my own experience, strength and hope that I have gleaned from my years of sobriety. I had no idea when I started posting here that I would be so attacked because the steps worked for me and many people I know and love(and many that I don't know or love). The 12th Step says: 

"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs."

Therefore, as a spiritually awakened person, it is my duty to TRY to carry this message of recovery and use it every day in my life, because it helps to honor the people who came before me and shared it with me.

What benefits to the victims-now-strangers do you know of, or that you can you support with any kind of research, are there to entering their lives 'for your process'? How can I 'support with research' that it worked for me and countless others?  Your very sentence is loaded with contempt and sarcasm. Even so, I have cited two examples from my OWN experience in this post: A) Crazy psycho woman who tried to break up my relationship/marriage, and B) Crazy psycho ex-boyfriend who once told me that he was 'going to curse' me for the rest of my life, broke my nose and tried to strangle me.

Here is a third: A few years ago, I got into a loud, ugly shouting match with a coworker. We both said awful things. I allowed myself to cool down, did a quick inventory on MY PART of the argument. We inadvertently crossed paths a week or so later, and I just told him that I was sorry for the things that I said that day. He replied that he was sorry, too, and we shook hands. Two days later he privately told me that he thought I was a better person then him because I was willing to extend the spirit of forgiveness. He said he had been prepared to ignore me and talk crap about me from that point on but I had apologized, therefore offering HIM the same opportunity to do the same. That blew me away.

I know it's not even CLOSE to the same thing as your experience. Again, I just wish that you would allow yourself to see that the amends process can work.

The 'victim' may have thought that the 'perpetrator' was totally uncaring and thoughtless about the 'incident(s)', when actually, the 'perp' was eaten up with guilt and remorse. I would be glad if some of the bullies from school that tormented me would tell me that they were sorry that they made fun of me. However, they probably deliberately or actually 'forgot' because for most people, it's convenient to forget the ugliness of childhood when you are not the victim.

It's confusing, because A) the 'perp' has not tried to contact you. B) you say you refuse to 'allow' it.

Makes me wonder what came first, the chicken or the egg?






joyfree
by Silver Member on Mar. 9, 2014 at 6:34 PM
1 mom liked this

Thank you. It's nice to hear an opinion that's not laced with biting sarcasm under the guise of supposed "critical thinking".

bow down

Quoting PamR:

The twelve steps refer to a higher power. 

If people find religion helps them stay sober, great.  If they don't, fine.  Whatever works.


joyfree
by Silver Member on Mar. 9, 2014 at 6:52 PM
2 moms liked this

I apologize to those who I might have offended by hijacking this post about AA without "God".

It goes to show that this wonderful world has a lot of people who are continuing to be hurt by the effects of alcoholism. Some will seemingly fight to the death for their right to be "right".

My sponsor has a saying, "Would you rather be right or happy?"

I'm sure some would be respond, "I AM happy because I  AM right!", all the while displaying the fact that they are clearly not "happy".

I am just another "Bozo on the bus" as we like to say in AA. My AND your experiences do not necessarily reflect that of others.

For those of you who may have been turned away from AA because of the at times juvenile exchange I have had here with another CM, please do not let that turn you away from trying AA or Alanon, if you need help.

I am merely human, just like everyone else, with my own faults, eccentricities, and the like, but AA did help me save my life. I'm sorry that there are people out there who for some reason known only to them choose to badmouth this simple spiritual program of recovery because they do not agree with it.

That is very sad. 

Namaste.bummed_out

Goodwoman614
by Satan on Mar. 9, 2014 at 8:10 PM
1 mom liked this


Quoting joyfree:

I apologize to those who I might have offended by hijacking this post about AA without "God".

It goes to show that this wonderful world has a lot of people who are continuing to be hurt by the effects of alcoholism. Some will seemingly fight to the death for their right to be "right".

My sponsor has a saying, "Would you rather be right or happy?"

I'm sure some would be respond, "I AM happy because I  AM right!", all the while displaying the fact that they are clearly not "happy".

I am just another "Bozo on the bus" as we like to say in AA. My AND your experiences do not necessarily reflect that of others.

For those of you who may have been turned away from AA because of the at times juvenile exchange I have had here with another CM, please do not let that turn you away from trying AA or Alanon, if you need help.

I am merely human, just like everyone else, with my own faults, eccentricities, and the like, but AA did help me save my life. I'm sorry that there are people out there who for some reason known only to them choose to badmouth this simple spiritual program of recovery because they do not agree with it.

That is very sad. 

Namaste.bummed_out

Well, it is my post and I absolve you for your role in the hijacking, lol.

As a personal reflection, having survived being raised by a family with substance abuse issues (among other disfunctions) I am not alone in having developed very good skills of perception. Especially for certain types of people or people who have particular personalities. Or paticular *unresolved issues.*

To say that this thread confirms that is like saying the Towering Inferno confirms the neighbor was correct in calling the firefighters. I've gotten used to seeing what others miss in people like this.

In the end, I will say again that the gifts of this thread for me were to see again (and appreciate) the true healing and progress I've been able to make in my life, and to hone my sense of compassion for those who, so clearly in pain, have not.


Proud2baMuslim
by Member on Mar. 9, 2014 at 8:43 PM

 

Quoting Goodwoman614:

Is there anyone in this group (non religious) who found the higher power stuff in AA to be an obstacle?

 I have a friend of almost 30 years who is in AA for about 10 years now and I can't hardly stand to be around  him every since he has been in AA. It's like he has been brain washed by some kind of cult or some thing. He is so brain washed by AA that in his mind anyone who ever had a drink in their life is a drunk. I can 't even have a conversation with him any more because anything and everything the conversation is about he has to incorporate the 12 steps or the ideology of AA into the conversation some how.

I flat out told him once that they are full of shit when they say they do not endorse religion in any way. He then went on to give me that famous AA bull shit about it not being about religion but a "higher power" ..... Duh what the fuck do you think embracing a higher power is? And what's up with holding hands and reciting The Lords Prayer at the close of their meetings? Sounds like religion to me and the fact that they try to deny it and give it another name like "higher power" instead of just being honest screams "CULT"

joyfree
by Silver Member on Mar. 10, 2014 at 8:46 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting Proud2baMuslim:

Some Alcoholics Anonymous can go overboard in their endorsements, like your friend. They are NOT the norm. The group is a "spiritual" program because it does not endorse a particular religion and I don't think that Jesus Christ is referenced at all in the first 164 pages, which is the actual program of recovery.

The fact is that Bill Wilson, one of the two co-founder, was an agnostic for many years himself. For that reason, the founders attempted to keep the emphasis on no particular entity in general.

My own sponsor has opted out of the Lord's Prayer at the end of meetings for many years, because she feels that it conflicts with the ideals of the program to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

In the meetings that I personally attend, we do not endorse any particular religion because many of us grew up as church outcasts in that we never felt that we "belonged" there. We HAD to be "bad" people because we had done such bad things to others as well as ourselves. Most of us remember this and try to shut down the "Bible-thumpers" because we feel that they drive away newcomers.

However, the search for a higher power IS the purpose of the Alcoholics Anonymous book, and I do agree that it is tricky ground. Still, It works for me and countless others who attend with open minds and hearts.

Quoting Goodwoman614:

Is there anyone in this group (non religious) who found the higher power stuff in AA to be an obstacle?

 I have a friend of almost 30 years who is in AA for about 10 years now and I can't hardly stand to be around  him every since he has been in AA. It's like he has been brain washed by some kind of cult or some thing. He is so brain washed by AA that in his mind anyone who ever had a drink in their life is a drunk. I can 't even have a conversation with him any more because anything and everything the conversation is about he has to incorporate the 12 steps or the ideology of AA into the conversation some how.

I flat out told him once that they are full of shit when they say they do not endorse religion in any way. He then went on to give me that famous AA bull shit about it not being about religion but a "higher power" ..... Duh what the fuck do you think embracing a higher power is? And what's up with holding hands and reciting The Lords Prayer at the close of their meetings? Sounds like religion to me and the fact that they try to deny it and give it another name like "higher power" instead of just being honest screams "CULT"


Proud2baMuslim
by Member on Mar. 10, 2014 at 6:09 PM
1 mom liked this

 

Quoting joyfree:

 

Quoting Proud2baMuslim:

Some Alcoholics Anonymous can go overboard in their endorsements, like your friend. They are NOT the norm. The group is a "spiritual" program because it does not endorse a particular religion and I don't think that Jesus Christ is referenced at all in the first 164 pages, which is the actual program of recovery.

The fact is that Bill Wilson, one of the two co-founder, was an agnostic for many years himself. For that reason, the founders attempted to keep the emphasis on no particular entity in general.

My own sponsor has opted out of the Lord's Prayer at the end of meetings for many years, because she feels that it conflicts with the ideals of the program to be inclusive rather than exclusive.

In the meetings that I personally attend, we do not endorse any particular religion because many of us grew up as church outcasts in that we never felt that we "belonged" there. We HAD to be "bad" people because we had done such bad things to others as well as ourselves. Most of us remember this and try to shut down the "Bible-thumpers" because we feel that they drive away newcomers.

However, the search for a higher power IS the purpose of the Alcoholics Anonymous book, and I do agree that it is tricky ground. Still, It works for me and countless others who attend with open minds and hearts.

Quoting Goodwoman614:

Is there anyone in this group (non religious) who found the higher power stuff in AA to be an obstacle?

 I have a friend of almost 30 years who is in AA for about 10 years now and I can't hardly stand to be around  him every since he has been in AA. It's like he has been brain washed by some kind of cult or some thing. He is so brain washed by AA that in his mind anyone who ever had a drink in their life is a drunk. I can 't even have a conversation with him any more because anything and everything the conversation is about he has to incorporate the 12 steps or the ideology of AA into the conversation some how.

I flat out told him once that they are full of shit when they say they do not endorse religion in any way. He then went on to give me that famous AA bull shit about it not being about religion but a "higher power" ..... Duh what the fuck do you think embracing a higher power is? And what's up with holding hands and reciting The Lords Prayer at the close of their meetings? Sounds like religion to me and the fact that they try to deny it and give it another name like "higher power" instead of just being honest screams "CULT"

 

 There is no doubt that the program has helped many like my friend J and I know all members are not overbored like that. I know a couple others who are but not as bad as him. I don't think he realizes all he did was replace his addiction to alchol with the addiction of being a fanatic about AA and people who don't drink or are not in the program don't want to hear about it constatly and have conversation they engage in somehow always end up being tied to what the "big says".

Any how your friend who opted out of the Lords prayer is right it does conterflict. I used to have a friend (he was killed last year) but back in the early 2000's I drove him to some meetings because he was not allowed to drive (only a couple) that was enough for me.

I know allot of people depend on those meetings and I think it's great that they have that if that's what they need and i think it's great that there is such a huge organization of like minded people for them that they can turn to. Being that i am not a member I don't really care but I do still think it is hypocrital to say they do not embace any religion. They may not embrace any one religion religion in particular but they do embrace religion. When meetings are opened with a prayer, closed with a prayer, and so much of the program is centered around embracing a higher power who ever that higher power may be that is religious. And not only do close with a prayer but The Lords Prayer which is a Christian prayer. I see nothing wrong with it except that they are not honest about it and refuse to admit to any religious aspect.

How many post have you seen in this group, on this site about people being all bent out of shape for less concerning religion and school, the court, anything open to all that is not private. If someone pulled up an article about any public school opening the day and closing the day with prayer, the Lords Prayer at that people would be having a fit.

As I mentioned i am not a member so it really is not a concern to me personally I'm just stating my opinion when I say if they expect people to get honest and not be in denial about their addictions then they too should get honest and quit denying that there is any form of religion embraced in the program.

My self being a believer in God think it is nice that prayers are said and what not but I don't like they are not honest about it.

I'm sure many who could use the help and support of the program have also been turned off because even though some of us think the idea of prayer or embracing a higher power is great not everyone does. There are Atheiths, Agnostics, and people who might be believers but don't practice and probably would prefer to keep their recovery on a secular basis. It would be different if the program was through a church, mosque, or even stated that yes they do embrace a religion of some sort and kind and being that the closing prayer is the Lords Prayers it leans more Christian than anything else but this is supposed to be a nation wide organization for all to be welcome who need and want help and no doubt many have been turned away.

too lazy to spell check right now... sorry lol

 

suzanneyea
by Member on Mar. 10, 2014 at 6:11 PM
1 mom liked this

There have always been meetings for agnostics, nothing new. Meetings for atheists too. Always have been, at least in NYC.

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