The Preamble to AA states that we are not aligned with any sect or denomination. My home group ends their meeting with the Lord's Prayer, as do most of the other groups in my area. But recently, my group, dedicated to following all the guidelines set down by our wonderful program, was willing to discuss a change in this format when I brought to their attention the fact that this prayer was indeed a Christian prayer.
AA orthodoxy depicts an especially dire portrayal of the negative consequences of resentment and rage for those of us addicted to alcohol, and who seek recovery through AA. Bill Wilson, AA’s co-founder primarily responsible for the AA canon of beliefs about alcoholism and recovery, doesn’t mince words regarding the negative impact of resentment and raging anger for alcoholics.
How could Bill W., Grand Poobah of sobriety ever have allowed himself to join the Learyesque acidheads and “turn on, tune in, and drop out?” (Bill W. and Mr. Wilson, Matthew Raphael, p. 164)
I used to be a very spiritual guy. Even before sobriety, I rejected the angry anti-theism of my east coast liberal wanna-be intellectual parents. I pursued my inner hippie through embrace of the counter-cultural spiritualist lifestyle, eating copious amounts of psilocybin, LSD and peyote with my Native American friends. Genuinely seeking communion with the gods and the great spirits, we spent our weekends wandering the Catskill Mountains, hiking by moonlight, drinking from pure mountain streams, living in teepees and lean-to’s, intermingling bodily oneness with a series of brunette beauties in flowing flowered cotton skirts.
Salvation from alcoholic dissipation through religious conversion is not unprecedented. The tale of Jerry McAuley is a classic one, as he was able to achieve sobriety via a spiritual experience, and then to maintain this new lifestyle by means of service to his fellow man. His story is in William James Varieties of Religious Experience, a book given to Bill Wilson in Towns Hospital by his new evangelistic friends. Bill Wilson went on to found AA.
My early days in recovery were spent trying to fit in as best I could. Because the first men I met at the meetings were totally into the Big Book of AA, I in turn was totally into it. That includes my wonderful, faulted, evangelical first sponsor, Rob. From the start, though, you could say I had some problems with the material. Being not only inquisitive but at times downright obnoxious in my questioning, I likely irritated many of the people who diligently tried to bring me into contact with god - that entity who would finally enable me to get and stay sober.
Throughout the second half of 1938, the Honor Dealers’ little office was abuzz with activity. The hubbub involved neither the sale of auto polish, nor the organization of a buying co-op, but the production of the text Alcoholics Anonymous. Two fallen, forty-something entrepreneurs viewed their new venture as an opportunity to help potentially hundreds of thousands, or more, alcoholics who were suffering as they once had. And in doing so, they dreamed of solving their own economic woes.
We are more than pleased that the first article published at AA Beyond Belief is written by our friend Roger C., of Hamilton, Ontario and founder of the site AA Agnostica. We think you will enjoy and relate to Roger's article about the platitudes commonly heard in AA meetings the world over.
Today as we launch this new site and begin our journey together, it is entirely appropriate I think to take a moment to look back and reflect upon those who paved the way, who charted the map that brought us this far. There was of course Bill W. and Doctor Bob who discovered some eighty years ago the transformative power found through the simple act of one alcoholic talking to another. Joining them was Jim B. and Hank P., atheists both, and among the first 100 members of AA who helped craft the book from which our fellowship draws it’s name. They helped make Alcoholics Anonymous more inclusive than it otherwise might have been. Jim B. with his many years of sobriety provided solid evidence that even the nonbeliever can find recovery in AA.