Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

New to AA? Got questions? Here's the place to ask. Note that no one person speaks "officially" for AA. AA meetings in your local area are always the best source of information. Note that anyone may post and reply to messages in this forum.
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Ken_the_Geordie
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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by Ken_the_Geordie » Thu Sep 02, 2010 12:14 am

My experience has been that people will talk about 'god' or their Higher Power, but I can't recall anyone speaking of it in a purely Christian context, and there's definitely never been any reading out of the Bible. All the meetings I've been too (and I've been to a lot of different ones in 16 months sober; we've got about 100 different meetings per week within 45 minutes drive of where I live) we use the Serenity Prayer (not the Lord's Prayer) and judging by the ethnic mix, we've people who are very probably not Christians; but I don't know for sure.

I hear people saying, "I've returned to the religion of my childhood", and I assume if they're British that generally means Christian, I also know many atheists in AA who'll use 'the ethos of AA' and the like for their Higher Power, but I would dislike anyone who reads this post whose new to AA to think that we're a religious cult; because we're not.
I'm more commonly known as Tosh (it's a nick name, but everyone I know in real life calls me it); just in case there's any confusion; I tend to use Tosh or Ken interchangeably and it confuses some; including me. ;-)

NinjaThroatChop
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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by NinjaThroatChop » Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:26 am

Hello, I'm Rion (pronounced Ryan) and I'm very much an alcoholic.

First things first, this is my first visit to this forum. I'm not new to forums as a whole however so I thought I'd test the waters here. I see that the last post on this thread was about a year ago, long enough for most forums to consider it "dead". Would it be better to start a new thread, or submit my 2-cents worth on this one as it pertains wholly to this topic, and I found this thread via the search option?

I will wait a day for a response and if I get none I will create a new thread.

Thank you.
"Only the dead have seen the end of war" Not only does this quote pertain to my brothers and fellow Marines who lost their lives in combat, but now also to the war I wage against my alcoholism.

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ann2
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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by ann2 » Mon Nov 14, 2011 3:18 am

No thread need ever die!!! :-)

Welcome Rion, glad to have you here! Looking forward to hearing from you,

Ann in Sweden
"If I don't take twenty walks, Billy Beane send me to Mexico" -- Miguel Tejada

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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by NinjaThroatChop » Mon Nov 14, 2011 5:47 am

I'm glad to hear that, and hopefully I can breathe some new life into this thread.

Currently I've been sober for just over 3 months and attending meetings just as long. Unfortunately there is only one relatively close meeting per week in my region, but that is ok. I've also started reading a bit in various literature (Big Book, Daily Reflections, 12 S&T etc.) and I'm having a VERY hard time wrapping my head around this issue of (non)religion incorporated in the text. I'm in no way religious, nor do I intend to be so how can I pray and have a higher power God? Why do I keep getting told that this is a nonreligious fellowship when the literature is clearly drenched in religious terminology and ideology? Isn't there only ONE God? So how can my God be anything I want it to be? Why do the daily reflections tell me to pray and all will be ok, if I don't pray? Then what? Do nothing and all will be ok, is that it? Tell yourself not to drink and all will be ok? I seem to remember trying that before and it was NOT ok.

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelp!
"Only the dead have seen the end of war" Not only does this quote pertain to my brothers and fellow Marines who lost their lives in combat, but now also to the war I wage against my alcoholism.

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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by Steven F » Mon Nov 14, 2011 6:07 am

Since I won't be able to talk with you face-to-face for an afternoon or so, I'll give you the short answer: "God" is just a word.
Why do I keep getting told that this is a nonreligious fellowship when the literature is clearly drenched in religious terminology and ideology?
Because your thinking mind tells you that "God" equals religion and dogma and ideology. When you hear that word, you are dragging along a life of concepts and agreements. You hear "God" and your whole history surrounds that with all sorts of stuff from your personal experience. That's ok - I guess we all have that (I certainly have, or had).

It helps to try and forget all that and to start from a clean slate. God is what you imagine with that word. That's it. I'm sure God won't mind - he/she/it will not change according to what you think of it/him/her. If you don't believe that then please consider: don't you think God existed before someone started writing his own interpretation about her/him/it?

The key is that we are willing to go look for a power higher than us, than our thinking selves. We're not supposed to wait until we have actually found it.
Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the
agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after
make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not
manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have re-
lieved our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.


Do you agree with all that, even if you can't really explain even to yourself what God is? That is not a trick question. If you have doubts about any of these three propositions, please do read the previous chapters in the book again and please do take some time to talk to someone with the kind of recovery you see and like. And if you haven't read the big book yet - I mean "read", not browsed - please do start from the front cover until you find those words above.

If you do agree (please make sure, it is vital), the rest of the book will give you some very clear instructions that will allow you to go seek that higher power.

Hope this clears it up for you a bit ;-).

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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by Todd M » Mon Nov 14, 2011 6:54 am

for me, and many others like me, Keeping an "OpenMind" toward spiritual "soul"ution

I started my journey with AA as "Me against the World"
then, after many meetings, I began to open my mind to a Spiritual approch to stay sober.
my Heart(soal)(Spirit) began to grow and open up... seeking more to become appart of world.

today, I can feel the Spirit of everything around me, animals, trees, rivers, mountains.
I feel more like I am "Part of all the World" part of the "Human race" the "We" not just little 'ol'me'...

The Steps, and a good sponsor's guidance, helps me/us all along this journey.

step 12 is the Goal... a "Spiritual Awakening"... result is a "Daily Reprieve"

so far for me, in my AA journey, I have not seen any, Alters, "on my Knees" Prayer requirements, or smoking insents.
all items i would relate to some religions, not that my OpenMind would rebel against it...
But the basic Rule for me is "Take It or Leave It" attitude when shares lean more toward a religious angle...
because all angles are welcomed for exploration within my understanding of this program of recovery.

To Begin the process
I have to Set Asside eveything I think I know about myself, these steps, and "God"
I have to Open my Mind to a New Experience... and Hang on for the Ride.
There is Hope, Todd M
Keep it Simple

The e-AA Group's 7th Tradition link:
http://www.e-aa.org/group_seventh.php

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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by Jaywalker Steve » Mon Nov 14, 2011 7:08 am

Hello,

I once had a Cult-O-Meter too! And it got pegged in most AA Meetings. It was that very prejudice that nearly derailed my recovery. Once bottomed out in AA, I became a bit more open-minded and thought just maybe your prayers, your God and your program had SOME merit (your meaning AA). That was the launching pad for my recovery which developed into personal relationship with my higher power who I chose to call God.

Now on to the matter of AA protocol. I like to defer to our basic text 'Alcoholics Anonymous' for these things because my opinion can and has hurt people. On page 29 Bill Wilson rights.

'Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language and from his own point of view the way he established his relationship with God.'

Bill also writes in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions on page 130 some of the strongest words on the subject of recovery.

‘The A.A. member has to conform to the principles of recovery. His life actually depends upon obedience to spiritual principles. If he deviates too far, the penalty is sure and swift; he sickens and dies.’

Please don't take this as an 'in your face, your wrong reply.' It's meant to be the exact opposite. I was encouraged to ask questions and spill my guts, so the long-timers could figure out how I was wired. They assured me that as long as I grew into Honesty, Open-mindedness and Willingness, I too could get well. That's what I hope to pass on to you.

Steve
Every group has men and women who put too much thought and effort into their daily sobriety and not enough of themselves into their daily living. - Ed B., Akron, OH

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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by leejosepho » Mon Nov 14, 2011 7:19 am

Steven F wrote:... your thinking mind tells you that "God" equals religion and dogma and ideology. When you hear that word, you are dragging along a life of concepts and agreements. You hear "God" and your whole history surrounds that with all sorts of stuff from your personal experience ...
So very true for me when I first got here, and I just could not imagine how A.A. could possibly have come from "God" since it did not match what I had always thought.

My perceptions of many things have changed greatly since then, and I now understand what one old guy in meetings used to suggest:

"My alleged mind had been out to get me!"

The Steps are about "taste and see" in relation to God, and not about "just forget Him and spit".
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by PaigeB » Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:49 am

Either God is everything or he is nothing. It doesn't really matter which one.

Honest
Open-minded
Willingness

Any start will do. Sounds like you got what it takes to keep it going - or do I mean GROWING? As long as I am investing in sobriety and the pursuit thereof, even a small portion of time that my drinking life took, I can get well and stay well!!!

Keep coming back! It works IF you WORK it!
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Tosh
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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by Tosh » Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:33 am

NinjaThroatChop wrote: Isn't there only ONE God? So how can my God be anything I want it to be?
Well, from a Pantheistic point of view, God and the Universe are One; so if you want God to exist as a door knob, fill yer boots; that would fit. But this shouldn't be confused with Panenthism in which God is the Universe but also exists outside of the universe; otherwise God is in both the door knob and somewhere else?!!!

And if you read some of Einstein's stuff he used the 'God word', but he only used it in the sense of the Great Unknowable; but didn't believe God/the Great Unknowable to have any personal relationship with us.

Complex eh? :mrgreen: I'm kinda joking here, what with getting into a theological debate about the nature of God.

But there are many many concepts of God, and the idea is to find one that suits you. Steven (whose posted in this post) once posted something along the lines of doing the Steps, taking the actions, sorted out his concept of God. I liked that because it chimed with my own experience. You don't have to have any real conception of God, just be willing to believe, and take the actions; and you will have an experience of God - a spiritual awakening - rather than some dogmatic intellectual understanding. (I hope I'm correct in what I said, Steven, in using what you've previously posted?)

My sponsor is a Christian, and I'm not; there's no problems there.

My own concept seems to be rational; I consider myself somewhere between atheist and agnostic. You can find yours yourself! :mrgreen:

I also liked Paige B's post a lot. Thanks, Paige.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by leejosepho » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:21 am

We just had a great online meeting here about this.

A.A. does not in any way deal with the matter of who and/or what God might actually be, and never are we to suggest any particular idea of God. Rather, and to the prospect or newcomer, we essentially say:

It is "God as *you* understand God" (p. 164) who has brought about our personal recoveries, and we believe the same is possible for you.

"... make it emphatic that [the prospect or newcomer] does not have to agree with your conception of God ..." (A.A.", the book, page 43)

And of course, it is best to not even mention it at all. Rather, "He can choose any conception he likes, provided it makes sense to him ... [while] willing to ... live by spiritual principles."
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by NinjaThroatChop » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:27 am

Steven F wrote:
Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the
agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after
make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not
manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have re-
lieved our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.

I agree with (a) fully. I cannot bring myself (at this point at least) to believe (b) at all. And as long as I haven't worked out the whole HP/God issue, I can't say whether or not I believe (c).
"Only the dead have seen the end of war" Not only does this quote pertain to my brothers and fellow Marines who lost their lives in combat, but now also to the war I wage against my alcoholism.

NinjaThroatChop
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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by NinjaThroatChop » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:35 am

Jaywalker Too wrote:Hello,

‘The A.A. member has to conform to the principles of recovery. His life actually depends upon obedience to spiritual principles. If he deviates too far, the penalty is sure and swift; he sickens and dies.’

Steve
What exactly are the principles or recovery? Is there actually a list like the 12 S&T? The second part about my life DEPENDING on obedience to spiritual principles just sounds hokey. How does one even define spiritual principles? Are they different for everyone?
"Only the dead have seen the end of war" Not only does this quote pertain to my brothers and fellow Marines who lost their lives in combat, but now also to the war I wage against my alcoholism.

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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by NinjaThroatChop » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:42 am

PaigeB wrote:Either God is everything or he is nothing. It doesn't really matter which one.

Honest
Open-minded
Willingness


Any start will do. Sounds like you got what it takes to keep it going - or do I mean GROWING? As long as I am investing in sobriety and the pursuit thereof, even a small portion of time that my drinking life took, I can get well and stay well!!!

Keep coming back! It works IF you WORK it!
At the last meeting I brought up the topic for discussion. I could see that some of the members were taken aback by my view on the program, more specifically the topic of this thread. The group founder actually told me that he appreciated my HONESTY. I am WILLING to work the program so long as it doesn't conflict with my beliefs. Perhaps I'm not as OPEN MINDED as I need to be to fully grasp the program and allow it to work as it should. I'm so stubborn that it's damn near impossible for me to overlook the word God without my religious radar going off.
"Only the dead have seen the end of war" Not only does this quote pertain to my brothers and fellow Marines who lost their lives in combat, but now also to the war I wage against my alcoholism.

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Re: Religion and AA Meeting Protocol

Post by leejosepho » Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:45 am

NinjaThroatChop wrote:What exactly are the principles or recovery?
Within the A.A. experience, they amount to an admission of need for outside help, and then learning to depend upon same.
NinjaThroatChop wrote:The second part about my life DEPENDING on obedience to spiritual principles just sounds hokey.
For some people, it may be -- but for us in A.A., it was not.
NinjaThroatChop wrote:How does one even define spiritual principles? Are they different for everyone?
For us in A.A., those would be outside issues. A.A. is simply an experience, and we are not theologians or even philosophers attempting to define anything. Rather, we have simply borrowed some certain thoughts from each (and even from the medical fraternity) that now seem to make sense to us.
NinjaThroatChop wrote:I am WILLING to work the program so long as it doesn't conflict with my beliefs.
We never suggest anyone go against his or her own conscience.
NinjaThroatChop wrote:Perhaps I'm not as OPEN MINDED as I need to be to fully grasp the program and allow it to work as it should. I'm so stubborn that it's damn near impossible for me to overlook the word God without my religious radar going off.
With many of us having been right there ourselves, we easily understand "religious radar" and do our best to assure others we have no pledge or creed of any kind.
Last edited by leejosepho on Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:50 am, edited 1 time in total.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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