I realize that I used to live a conditional life - ifs, thens, whens, etc. And at times I still do. My impulses to stop drinking alcohol for a time were dependent on the degree of consequences that resulted when I drank too much/was too frequently drunk
The London group who initiated the process of securing the first-ever Conference-approved leaflet for agnostics, atheists, and freethinkers in AA, responds to "The God Word Delusion."
Of late, I’ve been in several consecutive first step meetings. A gift of these for me has been a rear-window view of what it was like then and what it is like now. As I reflect and sink through the layers of my recovery, causes and conditions reveal themselves by listening with compassion and sympathetic joy to the stories of others.
It was 1981, and I was nineteen years old and in my sophomore year at the University of Kansas, where I was living in a fraternity house. I was responsible for stocking the fraternity’s beer machine, actually an old soda machine that I would load with bottles of Coors and Budweiser. It was fortunate for me, but not so much for my fraternity brothers, who trusted me with this task. I loved drinking beer, and with keys to the beer machine, I had a steady supply. I loved alcohol. I loved it too much, really, and I was beginning to pay the price. At that time, I paid for my drinking with poor grades, broken relationships, self-loathing, and fear. Such was the state of my life when one day I was browsing through the local newspaper, The Lawrence Journal-World, and I ran across an advertisement for Alcoholics Anonymous. “No,” I decided, “I can’t be an alcoholic.”
Hope is not a foundation that I build my life around. This elusive principle was not a tool that I used in times of difficulty. Growing up in dysfunction and becoming an alcoholic encapsulated hopelessness rather than hope.
Delusion can come in many forms. It can be based on the mostly harmless false hope and wishful thinking of a child-like desire to prove that somethings not true when it obviously is, the more serious self-deceptions of the active alcoholic whose lack of boundaries and self-assessment lead to further self-destruction or, in the truly terrifying mass delusions of extreme political movements.
Living sober has been full of nuance. Sometimes simple. Sometimes complicated. Often complex. Sometimes ‘the next right thing’ is clear and easy to see. Other times, I am hopelessly confused.
Step Six of the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character” (Alcoholics Anonymous p. 59). With a few years of Buddhist practice under my belt, my initial response to Step Six is, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Character defects, my actual character is defective? If that is indeed the case then I must admit, I do need a deity with a powerful mojo to fix this condition.”
This was quite an onerous task that took some time to complete and it is, given how bad a book this is, something I would not have taken on had the errors and misrepresentations embodied in this work been of less consequence.