Saturday, June 4, 2011

Our Karma ran over your Dogma

Toronto AA Intergroup zealots (member who have an absolute belief in God) were peddling some politics to get two agnostic AA meetings out of the Toronto directory of AA. 

Most AAs are moderate about their Higher Power, talking anecdotally about God as they understand Him (her, it, they).  And then there are those who say, "These are suggestions.  I don't believe in God; I don't need a crutch to overcome a crutch, I need to learn to walk on my own."  For many more agnostics, these questions are yet unanswered.  Some are Apatheists, they don't care if the secret of the universe is unveiled today, and they won't change what they do tomorrow.  They live by their own values and do the next right thing, no matter whom or what is watching.  There are apostates who bought in hook-line-and-sinker to turning his or her will over to God when they got sober, what ever they did worked. But now, they are still seeking and have begun to doubt, grateful that they got sober but re-framing what got them that way.  We all have a narrative to what addiction is and what it did to us, how we got sober, and what living clean and sober looks like.

So here's the story:  In a divided Intergroup body (not creed vs creed) but the belief in autonomy vs the belief in one singular way to talk recovery, the literalist, buy a few votes and less than 30 groups in a city of 520 meetings, got the non-believers kicked of the list of options to newcomers or visitors to Toronto.

The idea was to suppress the idea of options in AA.  It made front page news on the Countries most read news paper and readers weighed in on the topic with candour and clarity:  Read it here:

You find Traditionless Father Peter Waters face and name speaking for why AA should follow Traditions and stick to its heritage.

But 21st century newcomers look different.  3 times the number of Atheists are walking in the doors that in 1960.  There are Humanists, Buddhists, Taoists and more coming our way and what is the message to be.


  1. more places to have your say

    What would Bill Wilson say? Here's what he said when he wrote about Tradition Three, "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking."

    “We were resolved to admit nobody to AA but that hypothetical class of people we termed ‘pure alcoholics.’ Except for their guzzling and the unfortunate results there-of, they could have no other complications. So beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners, queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women were definitely out. Yes sir, we’d cater only to pure and respectable alcoholics! Any others would surely destroy us. Besides, if we took in those odd ones, what would decent people say about us? We built a fine-mesh fence right around AA.
    Maybe that sounds comical now. Maybe you think we old-timers were pretty intolerant. But I can tell you there was nothing funny about the situation then. We were grim because we felt our lives and homes were threatened and that was no laughing matter. Intolerant, you say? Well, we were frightened. Naturally, we began to act like most everybody does when afraid. After all, isn’t fear the true basis of intolerance? Yes we were intolerant.
    How could we then guess that all those fears were to prove groundless? How could we know that thousands of these sometime frightening people were to make astonishing recoveries and become our greatest workers and intimate friends?”

  2. “The Soul of Sponsorship” chronicles the letters and relationship between Father Ed Dowling and Bill Wilson. In this book Bill Wilson is quoted as saying sobriety, not spirituality is AA’s purpose:

    Bill, "It must never be forgotten that the purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous is to sober up alcoholics. There is no religious or spiritual requirement for membership. No demands are made on anyone. An experience is offered which members may accept or reject. That is up to them."

    Reminded by We Agnostics of Indianapolis
    “It would be unrealistic to assume that all A.A. members are spiritually inspired. Many, too, are not committed to a formal body of religious doctrine. But innumerable A.A. members—including those of no orthodoxy—say they have experiences the transforming power of sharing, caring, trust and love."

    And, “...the A.A. program of recovery is based on certain spiritual values. Individual members are free to interpret these values as they think best, or not to think about them at all.”
    From “Members of the Clergy Ask About Alcoholics Anonymous" First printed 1961, updated 1996