When I walked into the rooms over eight years ago, I would have simply told you that officially I was a lapsed Catholic or ‘fallen away’ as my dear departed mother used to say. Now make no mistake, this was not my first go around in AA.
Most often when I hear discussions about the second step, folks have gone way beyond the sentiment of the step and are busy attempting to define God, or at the very least trying to reach some conclusions about what constitutes a belief. One of the most restricting of those old ideas that Bill suggests that some of us have tried to hold onto, is the notion that faith and belief are inextricably linked, i.e. that you cannot have faith without a belief to have faith in.
Alcoholics Anonymous was not the only therapy for alcoholics that flourished in its time. Other approaches to treating alcoholism, although they derived from sources very different from the influences that impinged on AA, used similar methods and even incorporated some of the same ideas that a forgetfulness of history leads later thinkers to associate with Alcoholics Anonymous. In particular, the approach of Richard R. Peabody...not only preceded Wilson's own sobriety, but well into the 1950s was accepted and endorsed by many doctors and clergy much more enthusiastically than was Alcoholics Anonymous. --Not-God, Ernest Kurtz, P. 158
As Bill Wilson progressed through his third year of sobriety, his personal finances remained a struggle. He was forced by the compelling arguments of the “group conscience” to decline a very appealing offer from Charles Towns to practice as a “lay therapist” at the upscale, but declining facility. But if he couldn’t work for Towns, perhaps he could BE the next Towns.
On the night before New Year's Eve, 1988, Paul Cox and two friends were at a keg party near Larchmont, New York. When the beer ran out, the three went to a local bar where they continued drinking. Then the three men walked toward Cox parents' house where he was living. On the way they passed the Larchmont home of Drs. Lakshman and Shantu Chervu . Cox's parents and their son Paul had lived in this house until they sold it to the physician couple in 1974.
I was most pleased that my schedule and some professional matters came together in a way that allowed me to attend the Widening the Gateway regional conference for secular AA members in Olympia WA on January 16. There were 70 very engaged members of the fellowship there which was more than double the 30 members the organizers had originally anticipated. The demographic distribution was excellent (despite being heavily weighted with old-timers such as myself) with a good mix of men and women (50/50) young and old and with sobriety dates from 3 months to well over 40 years.
When I first came into recovery in 1990 I had a higher power. The higher power was making me pee in a cup randomly. I don’t know if I could have stayed sober without my higher power. I also had the dilemma of no faith. I had a de-conversion experience in my high school years, long before I got into trouble with alcohol and drugs. I was very unhappy at that time and I decided to listen to these people in the recovery community. What I was doing wasn’t working. I wasn’t sure if I was a powerless alcoholic but I did accept the second half of the first step.
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 AAAgnostica.org, 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.
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.