AA and God

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Re: AA and God

Postby Jim 725 » Tue May 24, 2005 7:16 am

First of all, if you read the Big Book you'll find out that AA is based entirelyon our reliance on a Higher Power. Millions have found recovery by using what AA offers--why should a proven successful organization change to accomodate you? AA has never claimed to be the last word in recover, or the only successful method of recovery. Since you refuse to accept what AA offers, why not try another method, such as Secular Sobriety?
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Re: AA and God

Postby curtis s » Tue May 24, 2005 7:27 am

I am not offended by your post and think that you have brought up a lot of good questions.

AA is bascially founded on the idea that some sort of God is responsible for our recovery. We then try to avoid definining God in order to avoid religious controversy but with many Christian members it is probably unavoidable that this seeps in anyway. However:
you do not have to believe anything to belong to AA. You do not have to include yourself in the prayers. I know people who stand outside of the circle when the prayer is said, either to say a different prayer or no prayer at all. This is completely acceptable.

Having had a family members who sound a lot like the people you describe I can relate to your concerns and alienation.

I would say that in terms of thinking no power is greater than you that if you are an alcoholic then alcohol is a power greater than you which is why you have not been able to cope with your alcohlism unaided. Or perhaps you have managed to stay stopped all by yourself in which case you may not need what we have to offer.

Many people decide that the power of the group is greater than their power alone and are able to use that to stay sober.

I would suggest that if you want to participate in AA then go to a bunch of meetings till you find one where you are more comfortable. Some will be verging on fundamentalist Christianity while others will have a very agnostic bent. Keep looking.

Most of the groups I go to know do not say the Lords prayer out of defference to the non Christians and instead say the serenity prayer. Still a prayer but the Jews, Muslims, new age pantheists and even the pagans at least seem happy with it.

Curt

<small>[ 05-24-2005, 08:06 AM: Message edited by: curt ]</small>
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Re: AA and God

Postby Blue Moon » Tue May 24, 2005 8:28 am

Originally posted by CanuckinNetherlands:
My first and last meeting I ever attended was full of expatriate Americans
You concluded all that from just 1 meeting?

Seems to me you walked in with preconceived notions about what AA is or isn't. It's very easy to validate a perception, no matter how warped from reality any such perception might be.

I grew up in the Roman Catholic church. That was part of my own problem when I walked into AA. I also equated religion (a man-made entity) with God (whatever that might be). I also equated some of the sick f***s who claim to be part of that religion with the religion itself.

But an honest assessment, or inventory, of myself revealed that the equations were being done in my own head and didn't reflect the reality. I came to realise there's a big difference between all the elements of faith, belief, religion, and people.

Yes, some AA groups can be (or at least appear to be) very entrenched in religion. But I've not been in any 2 AA meetings that were the same, even at the same venue. Meetings at different venues are generally very different.

So from an experience of 1 meeting combined with preconceived notions of contempt about AA and religion, I'm afraid you've not done enough research to honestly form an informed opinion.

And whilst the rest of the room may be happy sharing a prayer, it's your choice whether to participate. Many newcomers don't, and that's okay.
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Re: AA and God

Postby Dan H » Sun Jul 17, 2005 10:58 pm

The religious quandry has always perplexed me as well.

I was fortunate enough to sober up here in the Seattle area, where we have a zillion groups, many of which are very progressive, inclusive and forward thinking, and do not play up God-this and God-that precisely because many of us became alcoholics, or had our alcoholism exacerbated by religious bigotry or religiously inspired bigotry.

It's an interesting scene, here. I can go to any number of meetings in Seattle that refer to a "Higher Power" without naming Him/Her/It, and at the same time I can go to meetings out here in the burbs that end up closing on the exclusively Christian Lord's Prayer.

For my part, if I'm meeting in a church basement, then I don't necessarily mind that, even though it's not my way of believing, since the church is providing space for us to use. That said, I can certainly see how many alcoholics could find it profoundly distressing, and it disappoints me that the facilitators of those meetings either don't take this into account or don't particularly care.

For those alcoholics with devout religious sentiments, I think there should be meetings where they can conduct it almost like a church service if they wish. But it's profoundly regrettable when a public meeting is hijacked where supposedly all are welcome, and closed with a prayer applicable to only one religion. That kind of hypocrisy, arrogance and self-absorption can, and frequently does, drive many away.

What does it say about the people running those meetings that they would prefer to see some people driven away sooner than use an inclusive prayer?

For my part, I think it's more important to reach out to the recovering drunk than it is to use an AA meeting to witness for a particular religion.

My perceptions are colored by the fact that I knew an older gentleman in Nashville who was profoundly hurt by religion, and because of this he wouldn't go near an AA meeting. He died of alcoholism a little less than a year ago.

It was profoundly tragic.

Thanks for letting me share this.
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Re: AA and God

Postby Dean C » Mon Jul 18, 2005 12:15 am

Higher Power: I rely on a friend's advice or counsel instead of my own thinking.

Higher Power: I'm on the tracks and there's a freight train coming.

Higher Power: Spend a day with an infant.

Higher Power: A traffic light.

Higher Power: An AA Group's conscience.

Higher Power: The aging process.

Higher Power: Earthquake.

Higher Power (for me): Alcohol (beat me totally and completely).

All this stuff about Christianity is ... an excuse.

I'm not a Christian. Not religious. AA works just fine.

What I had to do was get everyone else's God out of my head and get me one that made sense -- to me.

<small>[ 07-18-2005, 05:28 AM: Message edited by: curt ]</small>
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Re: AA and God

Postby Dan H » Mon Jul 18, 2005 12:29 am

In any event, I'm certainly happy for you that you're unfazed by religious considerations, but you might consider that not everybody else is. Others frequently have to deal with issues along religious lines.

<small>[ 07-18-2005, 05:30 AM: Message edited by: curt ]</small>
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Re: AA and God

Postby SteveC » Mon Jul 18, 2005 3:25 am

Hi Dan!

As I'm not into religion either, I used to really resent The Lord's Prayer at the end of the meetings. But I've found that it's used almost anywhere I go around the country.

What my sponsor suggested was to not look at where the prayer came from, but what it says. It is a good guideline for our steps & a new way of living.

I'm really sorry that your friend had such a problem with it & died drunk, but, like they say, the program is for those that want it, not for those who need it. It was hard for me to accept the prayer stuff, but I fonally figured out that I wanted to live sober & not die drunk. Not that I didn't try to die more than once.

Hang in there. We'll grow on ya!

Hugs!
Steven M. Clapper
Great Falls, Montana, USA

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But peace within the storm.
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Re: AA and God

Postby curtis s » Mon Jul 18, 2005 5:32 am

I edited a couple of posts here-if you like to read your own posts the way I do mine you will know who you are. This is a touchy subject, always has been, always will be. Lets try to keep things at the level of discussion and not diatribe here

Curt
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Re: AA and God

Postby Jim 725 » Mon Jul 18, 2005 5:45 am

"Resentment is the number one offender."
"...closed with a prayer applicable to only one religion.."
I've been to meetings in five states and three foreign countries, and all closed or opened with the Lords Prayer. Is this the one you mean? if so, what religion? As often as I've said it, read it or heard it, I've never heard, read, or said any of the following words: God, Lord, Jesus, Christ, Savior, Allah, Buddha, Zeus, Jupiter, or any other pertaining to a religion. I have heard the word Father, which is something all of us have or had at one time. In fact, I'm a father myself, and although no one to my knowledge worships me, my children (all grown with families of their own) occasionally come to me and/or their mother for help and advice.
I've noticed that those of you who complain the loudest about the "religious" AA members insist on forcing us to observe your religion, Atheism.
"My perceptions are colored by the fact that I knew an older gentleman in Nashville who was profoundly hurt by religion, and because of this he wouldn't go near an AA meeting. He died of alcoholism a little less than a year ago."
There have been millions of alcoholics die because they refused to try AA, and each of them had an excuse. Religion just happens to be one of the more convenient ones.
"Throw us a bone here, will you, and cut us mere mortals some slack, okay?"
I'll promise not to try to convert you to religion if you'll promise not to try to convert me to Atheism.
Jim S.
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Re: AA and God

Postby Blue Moon » Mon Jul 18, 2005 7:43 am

I'm with Jim. Although I never considered myself atheist, I sure am agnostic particularly when it comes to Christianity.

Yet I was willing to go to any lengths to recover from alcoholism, and that included feeling physical pain in AA meetings at any mention of the word God, Jesus or whatever. The Lord's prayer was a particular problem of mine, because I equated it in my own head with Christianity ... until I realised it was my head making that equation, and there's no secret about how sick that had been when it came to life and booze. So why not equally sickened with religion?

So when you look at the prayer, ignoring the Christian connotation, you realise that apart from the definition of "Father" it encompasses much of what's suggested in the Steps. Those Steps work for those who work them, regardless of one's beliefs.

I was also concerned about how abused females may feel when confronted with a prayer talking about "Father", until I moved to an area where the prayer is most prevalent yet there seem to be more females sobering up than males.

And then I realised it wasn't even a Christian prayer, it was given by a Jew. Christian religion came along years later.

I was then able to separate alcoholic recovery from religion, and both from self-rationalising religious people.

So every time I see someone refusing to attend AA due to religion, I see someone who's just rationalising their own unwillingness to go to whatever lengths they need to recover. If recovery was easy, more people would be doing it.
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Re: AA and God

Postby whitmore_fan » Mon Jul 18, 2005 9:13 am

As an agnostic myself, I too cringe at hearing the word God used in meetings and it is used often. I have met many a "religeous" type in the rooms and many an aetheist. We all get along because we all take what we need from the program. Nobody is perfect and the program is a suggested path only, there is no law to say it must be done this way or that. Having said that it is a proven recovery program.

So I use the the cringe factor in the God word to practice my step nine - to practice humilty. There maybe a God, there may not. I have my beliefs. But I'm not going to let that get in the way of my recovery or the recovery of anyone else. So I remind myself that I am not all-knowing and that although I do not believe in God, I do believe in a power greater than myself. It is a higher power that has kept me sober for so long when before I could not last the day without drink. It is my higher power. It has nothing to do with God but I accept those whose higher power is directly connected to God. Ultimately it all keeps us sober.

One last point, I know many people who cringe and the swear words used in meetings. Most who cringe, just accept it and say nothing. They let people communicate in their way. Perhaps we should do the same when people mention God.

Ian
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Re: AA and God

Postby SteveC » Mon Jul 18, 2005 10:49 pm

Hello! We have an Ian #2!

Just to throw out another think, God is just a word. I've been told it can mean many things. Such as Good Orderly Direction or Group Of Drunks. Works for me!

Hugs!
Steven M. Clapper
Great Falls, Montana, USA

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But peace within the storm.
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Re: AA and God

Postby Dean C » Wed Jul 20, 2005 10:58 am

Originally posted by Dan H:
In any event, I'm certainly happy for you that you're unfazed by religious considerations, but you might consider that not everybody else is. Others frequently have to deal with issues along religious lines.
I'm not sure what you mean by that. We all relate to "the God of our understanding," even if the understanding is that it makes no sense that there is a God.

It's not a matter of being fazed or unfazed. Everyone gets to pick their God. Who am I to say who or what that God should be, or whether someone should have one?

AA is a spiritual program. Many, many people -- at least in the US and Canada -- are religious. It's a given that people's religious leanings or beliefs are going to infuse their speech.

I don't get upset because someone has a religion any more than I get upset that they may religiously play golf. Regardless of what they say, I don't have to go to church, and I don't have to play golf.

It's always interesting to see that folks who are without a "God" give so much power to those who aren't, are affected by them to such an extent. (That is usually the case only with new folks or with folks who haven't done the Steps. The AA group of athiests and agnostics not far up the road from where I live are perfectly happy, well-adjusted people, and don't seem to have a need to proselytize against God. They are comfortable with their beliefs, in other words.)

Wanting everyone to behave as we wish them to behave (remember the "actor on the stage" in the Big Book) is a sign of an unrecovered alcoholic.

Here's what a little jerk I was when I got to AA: I stood before several hundred people one night in a meeting and said, "Well, when I got here, I was sure that if I did what you people said, I'd be walking around town testifying about the Little Baby Jesus all day."

Today, it doesn't matter what God anyone else has. Know how I got that attitude? From the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.

I can say the prayers in meetings in acknowledgement of others' spirituality, to share it with them briefly. I don't have to accept or believe what's in any of those prayers.

The times when I can't or won't pray are when a group or service entity has a mandated prayer. In other words, they have decided for me who or what God will be. (That's not AA.)

So, I've rambled. I wish you all the best. My will for you :) is don't spend too much time on others' behavior or beliefs. Life's too short. From the day we're born, we're running out of time.

Or, as it is written in "The Cloud of Unknowing": You will be held responsible for all the time given you.

And, hey, don't take my word for it either. Try the Steps.
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