Remembering Ernie Kurtz

Catholics priests are not among those who one would expect to find heading a list of crusaders for the freethinker movement in Alcoholics Anonymous. Nonetheless Ernest Kurtz, ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood in 1961, was a dear friend of, and an enthusiastic proponent of the work being done there, and of the "gate-widening" cause in general. His passing as the result of pancreatic cancer, on January 19th, 2015, touched our hearts.

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Positive Affirmations and the Placebo Effect

To the average AA member, the hardcore nonbeliever poses a conundrum. In the words of Sir Winston, most appropriately spoken in 1939, he "is a riddle. wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma." Fred, or Jane, or Tom, in a sincere effort to assist in overcoming the encountered "belligerent denial," offers up, "I was a militant atheist when I got here. Don't worry." Of course, Fred, or Jane, or Tom, is the owner of an odd dictionary that defines "militant" not as "combatative; engaged in warfare," but more as "I went home that night, got down on my knees, prayed, and cried like a baby." As the years go by, through countless retellings, a "Then a voice told me everything was going to be okay," gets added.

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AA Grapevine: In the Spirit–Not the Letter–of Alcoholics Anonymous

My friends (and enemies) had diagnosed the problem--I could not drink without getting drunk. They weren't telling me anything I didn't know. And they offered no solution except, "Just don't drink," or, "Stop when you've had enough." If I could have done that, I would have. I'd tried countless times to control my drinking and always failed. In the end, I reached that state of "pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization" described in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous. A suicide attempt landed me in the hospital and a psychiatrist told me I should go to AA. So I made the call.

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This Ungodly Hour Celebrates Two Years

The This Ungodly Hour Group is celebrating it's second anniversary on Friday, January 29th at 11:00 pm. There will be late-night refreshments and fellowship, plus an AA meeting. You can find This Ungodly Hour in Brooklyn at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in the Rectory Basement, 275 North 8th Street. This is between Havemeyer Street and Meeker Avenue, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York 11211.

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The Washingtonian Society

“Jack Alexander, Saturday Evening Post, was also one of the friends to whom Bill sent material. Of the Twelve Tradition essays, Alexander has this to say: ‘The only serious (in my view) defect is that you have treated the old Washingtonian Society too briefly; most people never heard of it.’” (Pass It On, p. 354). In the twenty-first century, AA members generally have heard of the movement, but often in snippets that have been distorted in the various re-transmissions. With thanks mainly to William L. White, here is an account of the principal details of the early mutual-aid group.

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The Fraud That Is AA Fundamentalism

It may be that Alcoholics Anonymous has never been more polarized than it is in the mid-teens of the new millennium. A consolation is that there was another time of great divisiveness. As the book was being written and discussed in late 1938, there was "strong but warm-hearted arguing, until they reached Chapter Five...where Bill wanted to explain exactly how they (the steps) worked...{He} was in no way prepared for the violent reaction when he read his twelve steps to the group a few nights later...The liberals were appalled and said so. As a body they seemed suddenly to backtrack and take up a solid position beside the radicals.

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For All of Us

Normally it doesn't bother me when something is read from our literature with which I disagree, but this really got my goat! If I was the newcomer in the room, and this was my first meeting, what I would hear would be ,"You have to work the steps" period!. That's the message this reading suggests.

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To Know the Difference

In June of 1995, I left the court-ordered residential treatment center which had been my home for the past five months. I was sent there after causing a car wreck and being convicted of felony Intoxication Assault. While there I faced my step one powerlessness, immersed myself in the AA program, and learned how to extract what I needed to maintain sobriety while sidestepping the religious aspects. I particularly appreciated the insight contained in “the serenity prayer”, as it is called. I dismissed the prayer aspect, and in my mind the words “God grant me…” became “I will draw up from inside myself…” or, “I will cultivate the qualities of…” or, “I will be guided by…”.

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