aa won't keep you from going to hell nor is it a ticket to heaven but it will keep you sober enough for you to make up your mind
GOD, MAN, AND A.A.
A.A. claims that it is not religious but spiritual. Peruse the slogans about God, prayer, and faith, and the person will uncover how religious A.A. really is. Spirituality is synonymous with religion. A.A. splits the two in a false dichotomy to entice people into the organization. However once in, the person is confronted with A.A.'s own religious doctrine.
Many AA slogans impart Christian European Medieval beliefs of the "Great Chain of Being" and of Fallen Man. In the Fallen Man belief, Man fell from grace when Adam disobeyed God and was expelled from the Garden of Eden. This is referred to as the Fall of Man. Since then Man had degenerated from perfection and fell further. The only way that Man can regain perfection is through the working out of God's plan of salvation. Human pursuits of this world such as drinking will distract Man from having the faith required for redemption. The Steps of A.A. follow the Fallen Man Belief and God's Plan of Salvation. Slogans such as `pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth”, “God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves” also highlight that we live in a fallen world doctrine.
However A.A. added to this, modern notions of progress and improvement. People can follow a successful path of intellectual and moral improvement. Reading the Big Book will encourage both. A.A. define intellectual improvement through people's increased knowledge of the Program. Slogans such as “God could and would if he were sought” and “spiritual and emotional growth does not depend so much upon success as it does upon failures and setbacks.”
Great Chain of Being, which is at odds with working out God's Plan for Salvation stresses that the greatest good is knowing one's place and staying there. There is a static divinely ordained cosmos. God's plan for the universe relies on everything knowing its place in the Great Chain from earthworm to man and the angels. Things go awry when someone does not know their place in the Great Chain. Balance must be restored for the universe to be whole. Slogans abound exhorting this idea: GOD: Good Orderly Direction, “You are exactly where God wants you to be”, and “There are no coincidences in A.A.”
So the elements of these slogans are: (1) you are distracted from your great purpose in life by drinking, (2) you must learn your place since it is the greatest good. God has made it so. (3) you can only do this through moral improvement by using the steps and reading the materials, and (4) your great purpose in life is to stay put since that is where God ordained you to be. In short, you improve yourself so that you may find your place in the universe and stay there.
A.A.'s Function in the Universe
Ticket to Hell and Back
A.A. claims not to be a religion but introduces the concepts of Heaven, Hell, and reprieving people from Hell. Hell and heaven are not universal concepts of the world's religions. Japanese Buddhists believe that when they about to die, if they call on the mercy of Buddha that they will go to a merciful place. Christianity has the fullest sense of the meaning of heaven and hell in the A.A. sense. However, Catholics have a middle place for souls to reside -- Purgatory. What A.A. is assuming Protestant Christian doctrine in what they say. So what A.A. is promoting are the Protestant concepts of Heaven and Hell. These Slogans assume that A.A. has the power to reprieve sinners in Hell. That is another aspect of Christian religion. However, it is not God that reprieves sinners but A.A.. How does A.A. do that? They must have some sort of religious doctrine that states how. Spirituality does not release people from hell. A religious entity does that. The last slogan implies what the false split and implies that religion has empty rituals.
A.A. won't keep you from going to hell nor is it a ticket to heaven but it will keep you sober enough for you to make up your mind which way you want to go.
A.A. never opened the gates of heaven to let me in, A.A. did open the gates of hell to let me out
A.A. isn't a religion, we can't open the gates of heaven and let you in, but we can open the gates of hell and let you out.
AA won't open the gates of Heaven to let you in, but it will open the gates of hell to let you out.
Religion is for those who fear god, spirituality is for those who have been to hell and back.
Believe or Die
If you are not in A.A., you are dead. Or if A.A. does not exist, you are dead. Therefore, fear A.A. If you add these with the first, then you get a picture of a group of people who assume that there is a hell and they were condemned to it. That is a pretty bleak picture and assumption. All people who enter A.A. are evil people deserving of hell without A.A.'s help. Again we have an organization that condemns people to save them. People are expected to convert to a set of religious beliefs to stop drinking. What is this spiritual problem? How does a belief in God stop people from drinking too much? What do religious people do if they have a drinking problem?
It's A.A. or Amen.
Drunk Atheists Tell No Tales
Meaning that everyone is expected is to convert to believers. Also note how A.A. takes the problem of drinking too much and places it in an extreme context. Foxholes are for war. So is A.A. at war with drinking? Is this a spiritual war that is meant to be fought through converting people who want to stop drinking?
There is no chemical solution to a spiritual problem
If you do not come to believe a power greater than yourself, which is God, you will inevitably pick up a drink.
There are no atheists in foxholes
No Ordinary People Need Apply
Much has been written about how alcoholics are God's chosen people. This contradicts “There is a God and you are not it.” These tell people that the Godhead resides inside them. Through God and the Program, the members can become gods also. One definition of a cult is when a religious promises Godhood or chosen for its members. A.A. separates people into true alcoholics, heavy drinkers, and earth people or normies. A.A. members will say the Program did not work for a particular individual since they were not a “true alcoholic”. An “untrue” alcoholic is someone who meets the requirement of A.A. but can stop drinking on their own or through their own efforts.
We are the chosen, we received God's grace and Gift of Recovery
We are not human beings having spiritual experiences; we are spiritual beings having human experiences.
We are not different from others, God just made us special.
What Does Drinking Have To Do With It?
People are told that A.A. works for everyone except for the people who think they are God. How many people who are outside mental institutions who think they are God? Why does A.A. stress that? What sort of people do A.A. think comprise the membership?
A.A. works for people who believe in God
A.A. works for people who don't believe in God
A.A. NEVER works for people who believe they ARE God
People are told that a belief in God is essential to not drinking. A.A. assumes that people have no relationship with God and tells them how to get one. Go to an A.A. meeting and borrow someone else's God. This begs the question: how does a belief in God stop someone from drinking. Again what do religious people do if they drink too much? Why would they need A.A.? What does A.A. have that their religion does not? What does an atheist do to stop drinking?
What is subtle about these is that they equate God with A.A. Somehow a person cannot find God anywhere else except in A.A. God only works in A.A. meetings and not anywhere else. How is going to an A.A. meeting differs from attending a Catholic Mass? During Mass, a person sees the miracle of the wine and bread being transformed into Christ's Blood and Body. A believer is part of a community of fellow believers. So why would a Catholic with a drinking problem go to an A.A. meeting?
If you have God in one hand and the fellowship in the other hand, you can't get drunk today.
If you have a problem believing in God, go to an AA meeting and you'll see miracle, miracle,
AA leads us to God and God leads us to ourselves.
God is upstairs in church on Sunday morning, but at night he's downstairs in the AA meeting.
If you are looking for God, you'll never see God more at work than at an AA meeting.
Why would any religious believer go to an A.A. meeting? Why would an atheist go to an A.A. meeting? Who are the people that A.A. assumes goes to meetings? A.A. assumes that people who drink too much are looking for a spiritual experience and for a belief system. Therefore, they replace their drinking with a belief in God.
I came, I came to, I came to believe
If you don't have a higher power, borrow mine
If you don't believe, then make believe
BELIEF IN THE GOD OF A.A.
What is this God that A.A. wants people to believe in? How is this God different from other Gods? If A.A. is supposed to be spiritual and not religious, then how does the “God” it wants people to believe in can be the same “God” in all faiths? Can a Hindu, Christian, and Pagan believe in the same God? Can they co-exit at an A.A. meeting?
Rely on A.A. God for All Your Needs
A.A. is full of acronyms to help people to think. GUT is the one to tell a member what they feel in their gut is God's undeniable truths. Then the PROGRAM acronym lays out what A.A. is. Undeniable truths is a religious term. Science would refer to them as facts. What are these undeniable truths that A.A promotes? Reliance and God in all things. That God exists. The third truth is that people surrender to God and `walk in faith'. Another one of those A.A. dyads to have will be evil, and belief good. It takes an active of will to believe in God. God gave people free will to choose. This takes away that choice
GUT = God's undeniable truths
PROGRAM = people relying on God relaying a message
At first we thought the `God think' was a crutch, turns out to be stilts.
Do you believe in the existence of God, or in the existence of God in your life?
I survived out there, so I knew there must have been a Higher Power looking out for me. That's how I know there is a God.
And that journey is what? Why should we surrender to a higher power, unless we are converting to a religion. Surrender is used in Christian religion for surrendering to the will of God. I don't think that surrendering to God is an universal religious idea. I think it is more specific to Christianity.
Willpower=our will-ness to use a higher power
When we surrender to our higher power, the journey begins
Willing = when I live life, I need God
Trust in God to help you trust yourself.
“Start where you are
Walk out in faith
Do the Best you can do
Expect God to help.”
However how do you `live life on life's terms' if you are relying on God? The two contradict each other. Living life on life's term means something other than strictly listening to God. It means muddling through.
Live life on life's terms
Miracles and More Miracles
These slogans discuss miracles. A.A. believes in miracles. Religion again presents itself in A.A. Miracles are a product of religious belief. There is no difference between magic and miracles. Both are produced by supernatural means. Magic in the A.A. sense is the man-made magic as opposed to the God-ordained magic. Expecting miracles mean that you are inert as the miracle happens is a contradiction in terms. Miracles happen. They just occur. Giving up means that someone has put forth effort to heave the miracle happen. How can a miracle happen through man-made efforts? Miracles are from God. A person cannot force them.
You are becoming
What will be will appear
You will be amazed
Possibilities and miracles are one in the same
There is no magic in recovery only miracles
I am a walking miracle
Don't give up before the miracle happens
“The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.”
This quote attributed to Dr. Robert Smith one of the founders of A.A. is false. If a person wants God in their life, they ask Him to come inside. God does not sneak in the dead of night. How is there absolute certainly that God enter a person's heart. Why absolute and not just certainty. How does God live in a way which is miraculous? Is not producing miracles one of the things that God is supposed to do? The God assumed is the Christian God and not a designated God of evil. What does this God do for us that we could never do by ourselves? If a person is an amputee, does this God grow a leg for them? Does this God instruct the person how to live with one leg? What if the person's child died? What does God do then? This is a blanket feel good statement that has no relevance to everyday living.
MOVE OVER GOD IS IN CHARGE
“Let Go and Let God” and “Turn It Over” are old chestnuts of A.A. The others follow in the same sense. These slogans teach that a person is not in partnership with God. If a religious person is to have a mature relationship with their God, they work with God. The relationship with God that A.A. promotes is one of parent and child. In the A.A universe, there is no wrestling with God, no questioning God, and no dark night of the soul in searching for God's call. If a person does argue with God as in the manner of Job of the Old Testament, A.A. tells them to stop or they will drink again since their self-will is running riot.
The subtle import of these slogans is that everyone plays God or fights God. Few people are assumed to have a satisfactory relationship with God. These slogans are also put downs of people trying to solve problems. God helps those who help themselves is often said in Christian circles. These slogans of A.A. encourage passivity.
The other subtle aspect of these slogans is that A.A. assumes that atheists will turn to God for help. A.A. tells the atheist that his way of doing things is wrong. A.A. assumes also that if you want to be humble, they have to believe in a god. These slogans are a slap at atheists since A.A. assumes that people who do not believe in God are playing God.
Also the concept of God is a strange one. God is the Judea-Christian name. A Moslem would use Allah and would not discuss God in those terms. Orthodox Christians believe that these slogans profane God. The sense of God in these slogans is Protestant.
Letting Go needs to be defined. In what case is `letting go and letting God” is a good idea and when is it not? If you have a lot of useless clutter in your house, letting go is a good idea Send the good items to charity and let the items bless someone else. However, if a person wants to abolish slavery or end human rights abuses, these endeavors take human efforts and bull doggedness. Fighting a war means full participation and effort.
What is A.A.'s ideas of letting go? A person let goes of their problems and have God take care of them. If person takes care of their own affairs, then they are `dragged' or `turned upside down'. In short, God will ensure that they will go and get drunk. Instead the nanny God of A.A. needs to micromanage the member's lives to prevent drinking.
let go and let God
let go or get dragged
turn it over
if you turn it over and don't let go of it, you will be turned upside down.
if God is your co-pilot, switch seats get out of the driver's seat, let go and let God
If you are spinning your wheels, try getting out of the driver's seat.
It's not in our time, but in God's time!
Relax - God is in charge
First things first - Listen to God.
Waking Up is Hard to Do
These slogans assume that a person's brain is in a fog before entering the A.A. program. That when a person comes out of their fog, they convert. The logical progression that A.A. adheres to is that brain does not work, thinking is bad; once brain works, believing is good. However, the general progression is that once the person stops drinking, their brain heals itself. Once, the true self is revealed, then several things may happen. The person has a mental illness, which causes them to drink in the first place. Therefore, the illness needs to be treated. Or the person comes to the conclusion that stopping drinking simply involves not drinking. Still others do become religious, grateful that their God relieved them of the sin.
The A.A. sense of insanity is not the same sense of mental illness. The insanity is the pursuit of drinking. This is not classified as a mental illness by the DSM IV. A.A. tells people that it has the way to stop drinking. Go to A.A. meetings and find out. At the meetings, a person is told that they cannot handle drinking. In order to stop, the person believes in a peculiar God who takes over. This leaves the person an inert object to be acted upon.
I came; I came to; I came to believe
Coming to believe restores us to sanity.
I can't....He can...I think I'll let Him
I can't handle it God; You take over
Footsteps of the Giant ID
Why does A.A. equate having an ego with being godless? Why does A.A. assumes that people have godlike delusions? The other thing that is confusing is that A.A. tells people that they are chosen and are spiritual beings having human experiences. How can a person be God and not be God? A.A. sends confusing messages to its members.
What is interesting is how A.A. mixes popular psychology with religion. How does ego factor into a spiritual program? People need egos to exist and to conduct themselves. People need all aspects of themselves to function. How does God become anti-self and how does ego becomes equated with God? This is very strange that the self must always be at war with God. Usually the self merges with God in most religions. A person empties themself to receive the Godhead.
A.A. presents the question in stark terms. What you want versus what God wants. These ideas are more inherent in Christianity, although it has echoes in other religions. However A.A. takes the question to the extreme of making it a sin. It is wrong to feel or desire something other than what God wants. Evil is A.A. is defined as wanting something else. However, evil in the general sense is when a person is forced to revoke their free will and obey completely. Religious discussion of Satan talk about the lack of free will and being forced to follow Satan's commands. How is the God of A.A. any different than the Christian Satan?
However the concept of God presented with the throne is an autocratic one: a God who commands us all to do his bidding. What is the curse of not following this God? A person will be condemned to drink again.
EGO= edge God out
ego: get out of the driver's seat.
Ego is our separation from God and others.
we had to quit playing God
there is a God and I am not it
Get off the throne and give it back to God.
My needs and wants are inherently illegitimate. Only what God wants is legitimate.
I know that whatever is my will must be wrong.
I know I shouldn't, that it's not spiritual, but sometimes I `take my will back'.
These slogans are in direct contraction to the ones of expecting miracles and seeking God and more will be revealed. A.A. has very conflicting ideas about God. First God chooses the person. Second, God makes the person over. Third the person can fend off God with his ego. Fourth, God is powerful to restore people to sanity. Fifth, God can't stop people from leaving. This is one crazy God. A.A. cannot seem to grasp what their God is.
if God seems far away, who moved?
you don't need to find 'find God', He isn't lost.
WHO IS THE GOD OF A.A.?
A.A. has combined Christian ideas of God with New Age concepts. The result is an unsatisfying mix of a micromanaging, all-powerful God, who is helpless against self-will. A.A. tells people to start with a doorknob for a higher power, then progress to the group, then to `God”.
A.A. defines God in terms of presence and direction. God is there directing you to something. The slogans do not say what the direction is towards. Combined with the steps, a person can assume that result is sobriety, as defined by A.A. Group of drunks is the clue. But being sober is different from being ethical or moral. If God removes a person's shortcomings, then why does God need to direct a person? A.A.'s assumption is that the person is a side-tracked distracted human who needs someone supernatural to help them.
GOD = group of drunks
GOD = good orderly direction
Our higher power is our new employer. The pay isn't great but the fringe benefits are unbelievable.
GIFT = God is forever there
HELP = His every loving presence
HP= Holy Presence
When you lay down, lay on your back and look up, for God is there all the time.
Again A.A. confuses the issue about God. First they tell people they are not God, then God lives in their heart, and what odd things is God. A.A. Has a peculiar notion that people think they are God. They also have a peculiar predilection for word play. For some reason, they must rhyme to insure memory by people. But is this a God that a person can believe in and turn their lives over to?
The only thing you need to know about God, you are not Him.
Listen to your heart, God lives there.
Is it odd or is it God?
These slogans try to convince people of the dependability of the Higher Power. Also to convince people that the Higher Power on their side. The assumption is that the person had no religious beliefs. Somehow the Higher Power sounds like the Christian God. A.A. borrowed standard slogans and made them more palatable. However in the A.A. universe, God is the Higher Power. There are many names of God. A.A. uses as many as they can get away with. What is interesting is that God cannot do these things without the person's consent.
Higher Power, Thy Will, Nothing More, Nothing Less, Nothing Else.
HP: If our Higher Power is for us, who can be against us?
God could and would if he were sought
God won't fail you (people will).
Higher Power is not against me because of my addiction. Higher Power is for me and against my addiction.
How does a person reconcile these slogans with the ones about easing God out or Good orderly direction or thy will and nothing else. These particular slogans tell people that God loves people no matter what they do - even drinking. How does that square with `a slip begins with not bending the knees'. If this is a benign, loving God, then why does God curse people with drinking?
The other subtle aspect of these slogans is how people relate to God. People are inert but are acted upon. There is no interaction between the two. The one about `loving you, and there is nothing you can do about it' is offensive. No one has a choice. Why? Love is a choice.
God has no grand kids
please be patient - God isn't finished with me yet.
I love you, God loves you, and there's nothing you can do about it
God doesn't need much; whatever you have left is enough.
There is nothing we can do to make God to love us more than God already does. There nothing we can do wrong that will make God love us any less.
WIMPY GOD, SILLY MAN, BIZARRE A.A. UNIVERSE
A.A. has one track that says that a person must decide to turn their life and will over to a god. If that person gets drunk, that means they snatched their will back from him. Then there is this other track of 'you are special because god made you a drunk', and `god does things for you without you knowing anything about it'. This is a god that sneaks around getting the A.A. member from point a to point b. The upshot is this silly god that demands that people give their wills and lives over to him or he will make their lives a living hell. And even when they resist or object such as being sentenced to A.A. meetings by a judge, this god is really the one working behind the scenes for A.A.
The A.A. God is a god of convenience. He is whatever A.A. Bill Wilson, Big Book thumpers, Old-timers, and groups want him to be. He can be a nanny god who takes care of you, a benign god who grants grace or an absent powerless god. Choose whichever one is desirable at the time. A.A.'s approach to god is that the god is inflatable. A person pops him into a closet when they do not need them, and inflate him when they do.
So the A.A. god is like the atomic opossum that lives in my nearby dumpster. If you go near the dumpster, the opossum hisses at you and bears his teeth. But he likes the garbage that you throw in the dumpster. You have to use the dumpster to get rid of your trash. So you have to deal with this possum. We tried calling animal control, they keep removing the animal, which pops back to rule the dumpster.
Don't Feed the Troll Under the Bridge
These two hint at the inability of the God of A.A. to do anything. First A.A. says that God will restore people to sanity. Then they confuse people with God cannot do anything without the person's permission. The Judeo-Christian God has done a lot of things without anyone's permission: flooded the earth, killed off entire peoples, healed the lame, and had a son. In contrast, A.A. has a wimpy version of a god.
When man listens, God speaks; when man obeys, God works
Man's extremity is God's opportunity
If you don't think this will help you, TRY IT. If you don't think God will help you, ASK HIM.
There is a contradiction of terms here. First God will help you through your difficulties. Then God pushes you to your difficulties. This God makes life difficult for his people. Is that so they will call upon Him? What kind of god is that? Actually Satan works that way by forcing people to believe in him. Evil is defined by the lack of choice.
Various versions of these slogans have been said by ministers, who are generally comforting people through grief. The persons are usually believers with a relationship with their God. Their relations are different from the A.A. member's relationship. In A.A. these slogans are not only directed toward people who are grieving, but also to happy people, angry people, people given traffic tickets, and people who spend too much money to name a few.
Remember nothing is going to happen today that you and God can't handle
The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you
God will never give you more than you can handle
You might not get what you want, but God always gives you what you need.
If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.
God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
The results are in God's hands
These slogans contradict each other and other slogans about God. If this Higher Power forgives the person, then what is the business about spiritual condition? Also, if A.A. is spiritual but not religious then who is doing the forgiving and the giving of grace? Religious entities do that. They have dogma and doctrine about such matters. How does A>A. discuss these matters and still be spiritual and not religious?
TGIF = Thank God I'm Forgiven
I thank my HP for my sobriety.
My daily sobriety is contingent on my spiritual condition
But for the grace of God
Roman Catholics are taught to Love, Honor, and Obey God. AA says nothing about loving God nor honoring Him. There is nothing in A.A. that discusses man loving God. In A.A., it is always one way: God to man. Man has no part in the relationship. There is no action on man's part in regards to honoring God, either. How do AA members demonstrate their love of god and how to do they honor god? They become the vessel for their god's actions.
The Devil Made Me Do It
These slogans reflect the belief in the Great Chain of Being. A person must allow themselves to be placed by God so that the universe may be good. The A.A. member does not plan for the future but waits for God to do for them. A person must lay down and take whatever is dished out to them. So what happens with a person who has an urge to kill. They cannot stop it? And what if they are the victim, are they where God wants them to be?
You are exactly where God wants you to be
If it is meant to be, I can't stop it
I don't know what god's will is for me, but I always know what it is not
I don't know how I got here, it certainly wasn't my will, so it must have been God's will.
We must always accept things the way they are.
I am not what I should be, I'm not what I want to be, I'm not what I will be, BUT THANK GOD, I am not what I used to be!!
Are there coincidences outside of A.A.? This is superstition writ large. You are expected to live in a universe where if you do not pay the troll under the bridge, you will be eaten. You have to knock on wood, pick up pennies, and watch out for black or white cats. These ones are actually promoting faith healing and magic. The A.A. god is a god of small things.
There are no coincidences in A.A.
In A.A. we say a "coincidence" is a miracle in which God chooses to remain anonymous
Coincidences are God's way of being anonymous
God speaks through other people
Everything in God's time.
Everything that is happening is God's plan for you today.
Everything happens for a reason
God is never late.
Bonsai, Any One?
How do these slogans square with each other? If you read the lives of the saints, you will find some of them did not experience pain in their lives. They were simply holy people. Then there were other saints who inflected pain on themselves. Does that make them more holy?
Pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth
Spiritual and emotional growth does not depend so much upon success as it does upon failures and setbacks.
God only prunes those that have potential to grow.
One explanation that goes with this little gem is “The tree that grows the straightest and strongest, is the one which is pruned and trimmed. ... Your greatest problems are God's way of making you
stronger. He is pruning you because he knows that you will become a better, more fully developed human being and most important, he knows that you can survive the pruning.” (Co-anon material).
It is quite apparent that who ever came up with this one doesn't understand forests and forestry. The tree that grows the straightest and tallest in the forest is the one with the most sunlight and space and diversity. I.E. a pine will be outclassed by an oak since oaks can grow in the shade when seedlings. Pines need sunlight all time in order to survive. Go into an old growth forest and you find tall trees. Lodge Pole trees. They existed before gardens.
As for pruning, yes it does help a bush or a tree. But Bonsai is the art of pruning a tree to keep it a
small size. I have a friend who grows tiny forests from maples, oaks, pines, etc. He does it by keeping the trees in a bonsai pot and constant pruning. If he takes the tiny trees out and plant them in his yard, they grow normally. He grows his trees from seedlings found in his yard. In short constant pruning will keep you small. Very small.
As for surviving pruning, if you think that God prunes trees, then why do so many of them get struck by lightening, uprooted in a wind storm, or get eaten by bugs. Is this god ridding the forest of dead wood? If so, then why the idea that god knows that when he prunes, you will survive?
Then there is the garden metaphor. Gardens are small, enclosed places, tamed places where nothing grows (well almost nothing) that a person has not placed there. They are managed places. I guess 12-step people would just freak out if they were in a forest or a prairie that extends for miles. What would they do in the wildness of a forest or a mountain?
FAITH IN WHAT?
A.A. asks its members to have faith. However, there is little on what people should have faith in. How does having faith stop people from drinking? A religious person would rely on their religious beliefs to help them. But why does A.A. include faith in its program for members. Again the basic question of why would a religious person want to join AA raises its head. It seems that A.A. is for those people who want a spiritual experience without having to bother with formal religious requirements.
These slogans are directly from Christian doctrine about faith. However, depending on what sect you are, these statements may run counter to your dogma. Lutherans believe in 'Justification by Faith Alone'. `Faith with works' is a Roman Catholic concept that several Protestant sects have rejected.
Look deeper at these slogans and realize that the Catholic teaching about faith and works does not apply. In conducting their religious duties, Roman Catholics visit the dying, comfort to the sick and the imprisoned, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and house the homeless. These acts build a community and help those less fortunate. Through these acts, God's Mercy is shown.
Meanwhile A.A. defines their ideas of action as doing the Fourth Step, Ninth Step, and the Twelfth Step. Members carry the message to the `still suffering alcoholic'. This means going to the person and taking them to meetings, sponsoring them, providing them with a Big Book, and generally encouraging the person to study the Steps. These actions build up the A.A. community while separating the person from the greater community. Once in A.A., members are encouraged to remain separate from non-A.A. members since their sobriety will be in danger. There is no outside community building except for taking problem people from the community. The A.A. efforts are geared toward specific people and excludes many others.
.........faith without works is dead
If faith without works is dead; then willingness without action is fantasy
faith is spelled a-c-t-i-o-n.
These slogans deny people the notion that faith is inside of them. In order to believe, the person first has to believe in themselves. In order to have faith, the whole person has to be engaged.
However, faith is not a disease that passes from one person to another. Faith is taught. In order to believe, a person needs a concept of what to believe in. However in the study of memes, faith is a virus that moves from person to person. This is how A.A. operated in their activity to achieve a community of believers.
Watch Out for the Faith Cooties
Faith can't be taught, it can only be caught.
If I have faith in God, it does not make much difference if I have faith in myself.
When you act in faith, then you actually have it.
These slogans subtly contradict each other. They separate faith from trust and then say faith is trust. What is faith? How is it defined? Is this split the same as `spiritual' not `religious'? A.A. does a lot of parsing to make its points. However, it does beg the question of `Is this higher power trustworthy'?
FAITH: Find Answers In The Higher Power.
FAITH: For All Is Through Him.
FAITH: Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him
A.A. defines courage as an outcome of faith. People have courage because they have faith. This presupposes that non-believers are cowards while all believers are courageous. This is a ridiculous supposition to have. People choose to be courageous not because they are God-believers. These also assume that fear is an outcome of non-belief. If you do not have a God, you live in fear. However the expression “God fearing” seems to escape A.A. purview.
Use a Flashlight Instead
Faith is a lighted doorway, but trust is a dark hall
Faith is hope in things unseen.
Live each day with a little less fear and a little more faith.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to overcome it
Courage is fear that has said its prayers.
Faith conquers fear.
So does a flashlight to flash in all the dark corners. Reason also chases away fear. It makes for a great flashlight or torch.
Responsibility to Do What?
The definition of spirituality is a strange one. Usually spirituality means how people commune with God. Is God supposed to keep our minds off ourselves? These slogans do not address that at all. But does hint as how selfish everyone is.
I coupled these together since they address selfishness verses unselfishness. In according to these slogans, “we are selfish people who think only of ourselves”. Sharing faith is a subtle method of conversion. It depends on how it is done. What happens in meetings is witnessing to the power of the god of the 12 Steps. One slogan is “Share or Die!” means little unless place I the context of conversion. When people share their experience, strength, and hope in meetings, they are really testifying. It makes the causal listener want the same. Thus the process of conversion begins. 12-Step groups are in the business of converting people to their way of believing and thinking.
Spirituality is the ability to get our minds off ourselves
Faith is our greatest gift; sharing with others our greatest responsibility
Trust God, clean house, help others
Practice an attitude of gratitude
Replace guilt with gratitude
These are some of those A.A. thought stoppers. Because you may be upset about the potholes on Main Street, you should not complain since it would affect your serenity. Also all alcoholics are guilty of something. This hints at A.A.'s mission of supposedly rehabilitating alcoholics. They do this by removing the guilt. Instead of replacing guilt with gratitude, guilt should be replaced with responsibility. However, the other part of this is to browbeat the person into believing that drinking to excess is evil. Guilt is a useless emotion but a useful one for coercing people. Shaming them is something that A.A. does all to well. Both slogans attempt to shame people from thinking responsible.
HIT YOUR KNEES WITH SPOONS: PRAYER IN A.A.
In 12-Steps groups, prayer is urged on the members. They are exhorted to “hit their knees” or are warned that if they do not pray they will drink again. A.A. sends conflicting messages on prayer. They say just pray until something happens. Then they say, ask for what God wants for you. Then, they back off and just tell people to pray. However praying is coupled with being sober. How doe prayer stop people from drinking too much? In a religious context, it means a great deal. In a secular context, it makes no sense. However, the 12-Step program is a religious and prayer is a part of their practices.
PUSH and God has answers directly contradicts each other. If a person prays until something happens, then they are insisting on God's action. So what is a person to do about this contradiction? The next set of slogans tells what it is you prayer for. People in A.A. cannot pray for just anything. They must be told what to pray for.
ASAP: Always Say A Prayer
PUSH: Pray Until Something Happens
God has three answers to everything: yes, no, and if you insist.
Confusion Reigns Supreme
These slogans are to tell people what exactly to pray for. A.A. is still confused on that subject. They equate God's will to be self-improvement. God's will is narrowly contained in changing negatives to positives in a person. However, God being God can command people to commence wars, right wrongs, spread the gospel, procreate, and love each other and a multitude of other things. God of the Christian Bible changes water into wine and levels cities. How did God's will disintegrate into such a small thing as self-change?
This is part of A.A.'s dogma that drunks are selfish worms who must understand that they are evil. People who drink too much are full of fatal flaws. They must pray to God to have these flaws removed. However, the slogans do a strange change - most people would pray to stop drinking, how is that not God's will. Determinism rears its ugly head. It is wrong to pray to removal of the urge to drink since it may interfere with God's plan for the person. Then there is the ringer of `be careful of what you pray for.' If a person is praying to be relieved of drinking temptations, and do get it, then how is that bad? Why pray if God has already decided what is good for you. A.A. urges people to pray, then tell them they do not do it right.
Be careful what you pray for; you are liable to get it
Don't wish for what you want, but what God's wants for you
I pray only for the knowledge of God's will for me.
I don't pray for what I want, but only for the knowledge of God's will for me.
Every morning I get up and pray to God to reset my negative to positive.
Prayer is not a device for getting my own way, but rather a means to become what I should be.
We don't pray to change things; we pray to change us.
Forget to Kneel, and be Doomed
A.A. associates kneeling with humility. They also equate the two with sobriety. How does kneeling in prayer to stay a person from drinking? Cannot standing in prayer suffice? Why dictate to people that what they pray for and how they pray is insufficient? A.A. is a religion with specific doctrines. It is not for people to simply stop drinking but also to practice specific forms of religious devotions. It is not enough to try to pray.
Bend your knees before you bend your elbow backsliding begins when knee-bending stops
Hit your knees
It is hard to stumble when you are down on your knees.
The healing is in the kneeling.
The answers to all my problems are as far away as my knees are from the floor.
Trying to pray is praying.
Kneeling is the Roman Catholic way of praying. Other religions do not bend knees to pray. Some bow, others stand, while others sit and remain quiet. Since praying on one's knees is always presented as do this or get drunk, then this is A.A.'s dictates on their religious practice. Other forms are praying are not tolerated.
PAIR OF DUCKS QUACKING
This is the AA dogma distilled into these little paradox slogans that people kick around the program. Now taken as a whole, they do not make a lick of sense. The subtext though is the A.A.'s ideas of the teachings of Christ. However, Christ did not teach all this but enough to be perverted by AA. Christ's Teachings have to be placed in the context of Christianity that is different from the A.A. program. These in the context of A.A. program perverts the essence of what Christ taught.
Forgive to be forgiven
Give it way to keep it
Suffer to get well
Surrender to win
Die to live
Darkness comes light
Weakness comes strength
Dependence to independence
Forgive to be forgiven:
Christ said to Peter, “as you are forgive, so you must forgive”. But then He also went on to say that whatever Peter decided was forgivable, was forgiven. The whole thing is present as a moral choice.
For AA, it is not a moral choice but a requirement. Heavy emphasis is placed on forgiving people. However, A.A. does not differ between stages of forgiveness or whether to forgive. The concept of moral u forgiveness is absent in A.A.
Give it away to keep it
In Christianity, this is called tithing, or giving ten percent of your income to the Church. As you give to God, you will receive. The concept is directed at the ethics of giving and hoarding. In the A.A. program, the sense is the Program. This is the subtle message to tell people to do missionary work i.e. 12-Step calls. What is implied in this and the others is that if a person fails to do any of these things, they are doomed to drink.
Suffer to get well
The Catholic teaching, as Pope John Paul II has written, is that chronic illness helps people become close to Christ on the Cross and to grasp the understanding of His Sacrifice. However, there is no Catholic teaching that suffering leads to health.
In the A.A. sense, they separate people into the sober alcoholic and the still suffering alcoholic. People who drink too much are prompted through the A.A. prism to think of themselves as suffering. They are prompted to go to A.A. to receive the program. AA is trying to convince people that when they drank they suffered mightly and that their suffering was the way they got better. i.e. grew spiritually in the program. Suffering in A.A. is encouraged for spiritual growth. Suffering in Christianity is not encouraged to the same degree, that is people can grow spiritually without a lot deal of suffering.
Surrender to win
Christ taught that in order to receive God's Grace, a person had to surrender themselves to God. God's Grace has nothing to do with winning. Receiving God's Grace means forgiveness of sins. If sins are forgiven, then the person who drinks too much does not need to go to any 12-Step program. Wining has nothing to do with forgiveness. In contrast, AA teaches that you have to surrender to the program to become sober.
Die to live
This is a perversion of Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross for Roman Catholics. However, among evangelical Christians, the old self dies and is reborn anew in Christ. i.e. “Born Again”. The person is cleansed of all sins. In A.A., you are not washed clean of anything. You just die drunk or live sober in A.A. The A.A. teaching is that people have to reach bottom in order to live sober. That is the A.A. sense of dying.
Darkness comes light
Out of the darkness of the world came the Light of Christ. However in A.A., again the sense is from drunkeness comes sobriety. However, the intermediary step is joining the 12-Step Program. A subtext meaning comes from Bill Wilson's despair comes the light of the spiritual awakening. Wilson is not Christ nor does he represent to second Coming of Christ. However, in “Not God” by Ernest Kuntz, Father Donally is accredited with hinting that Wilson and the 12-Steps was the closest thing to Christ and His Teachings.
Weakness comes strength
Christ did not teach weakness, he taught meekness. He talked about choosing to act and conduct yourself in a moral way. That is where the strength comes from the moral actions a person does. A.A.'s sense is that of the weak drunk comes into the strong 12-Steps and becomes Strong through them. There is no sense of moral strength to begin with. A.A. does assumes that everyone is morally weak and can be strong only through the Steps.
Dependence to independence
How does this happen? The problem with these slogans is that they do not say how the miracle happens. Only that it does. Christianity does not address this instead talks of `leaning on the everlasting arms of Christ'.
I personally think that these slogans are meant to sound profound but are really silly pretentious stuff to puff up the 'profundities' of the program which is really rather banal. By coupling everything in opposites, A.A. can be more profound and deep. A.A. tries to echo Christian teachings without addressing them.
A.A. has a slogan saying that `we were never promised anything'. Then the member reads the 12X12 and discovers that Bill Wilson writes about various promises that the Program brings. Upon further review and reflection, the Promises are vague and only point out what regular people should be doing anyway.
“If we are painstaking (which means showing care) about THIS phase (the amends phase) of our
development, we will be AMAZED before we are half way through.”
What is half way? The Promises comes after Step 9 in the 12X12, how is that halfway? What does A.A. mean by half way? Halfway through what? According to A.A., no one ever graduates from the Program. A person gets a daily reprieve.
Why does this promise exist? What does it address? What is that people are to be amazed about? Are people bored with making amends? Is this a spur to get people to make amends?
“We are going to know a NEW freedom and a NEW happiness.”
What is this new freedom and new happiness? What is the definition of this freedom and happiness? If it is new, then why wasn't the old freedom and happiness enough? What happened to the old freedom and happiness? Why have this promise? People were bored with the old freedom and happiness?
“We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.”
Is this Bill Wilson telling himself that everything is o.k? I wonder about this. Actually this is something that people do work for -- living with all of their life. Most people do not live such awful lives to regret their pasts. Why does Wilson include this promise? Was his past so horrible that he wanted to erase it from his life?
“We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.”
I guess our brains were not working very well. This is a slap at people who think. We can't
comprehend serenity. Anyway, this is the goal of A.A. and other groups: serenity. What is interesting about this is that serenity is the goal of Moonies and other cults. I guess A.A. thinks of people as squirrels squirreling about burying nuts and chasing each other around trees.
“No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.”
Well is this a promise or a statement of fact? I fail to see how this is a promise. However the assumption behind the promise is that everyone is lower than low. People oozed from the original pond of primordial sludge. Other people can profit from our lives living on the street. We are the examples of what not to do.
“That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear.”
How does the feeling of uselessness disappear? What about self-pity? Again these are the evil things of the program. The assumption is that people must be doing good and be useful. They not allowed to feel pain.
“We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.”
Well isn't that what everyone else is doing? Define interest in fellows. What does that entail? But what does Wilson mean by “interest in our fellows”? What does that translate into? That people who drink too much are selfish twits who only look out for Number One? That is a fallacy in logic. There are people who do good who drink too much and there are people who are selfish who are tee-totalers. Consider Dickens's character Scrooge from “A Christmas Carol”. Scrooge was as sober as a judge but was considered a mean man who cared only for money.
“Self-seeking will slip away.”
What is self-seeking? What does this phrase mean? If you are seeking yourself, you are lost. You need to know yourself. Why does Wilson assume that we are self-centered twits who need a whack on the side of the head. Why is there such a concentration on giving up of the self?
“Our WHOLE attitude and outlook upon life will change.”
What does this mean? Our whole attitude? If I am an optimist, does that mean I will become a pessimist by following the steps? What is the assumption behind this promise? The assumption is that we have lousy attitudes and will see the light once we are in A.A.
“Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us.”
How is that supposed to happen? Why couple economic insecurity and fear of people together? Actually taking a course in finances may help the economic insecurity. Getting a job is what people do to rid themselves of economic insecurity. Wilson's life was one of being mostly on the dole. Perhaps he was taking about himself. One A.A. slogan is “A job is something that happens on the way to a meeting.” Meaning that the meetings are more important than a job.
“We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.”
A person does not need a program to do that. People can put thought into what they do. In much of Wilson's writings, intuition is stressed. Somehow through assimilation, people will gain knowledge. If the knowledge lies within themselves, then Wilson is urging that people practice a form of Gnosticism.
I guess he thought that most people were screw ups who angered people by breathing too loudly.
“We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.”
There you have it. This is what the program is all about. However, if you are a believer, you do not need the Twelve Steps to know that. It is interesting in the turn of the word 'suddenly'. Why that word? Does that have to with the spiritual experience of Wilson? What is God doing that we are not? Is everyone who drinks too much an atheistic ingrate?
“Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us - sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will ALWAYS materialize IF we work for them.”
Then they are not really promises. A promise implies a gift. Working for something means a reward. Then there is the A.A. slogan “We were no promised anything.” How do the two square with each other?
But how do you work for them - by doing the Steps. `Always' is a big word. Actually, this really a stupid con to get people to do the stupid steps. The word `materialize' is peculiar word. It connotes magic. If a person works the Steps, they are learning magic? What is implied by the statement: “They will always materialize”?
Why did Wilson write these promises? What prompted him? Was he writing for himself or indulging in wistful thinking. Most of the promises are vague and peculiar. They do not seem like promises or rewards. People in A.A. quote The Promises and testify that they come true. However, the reason that they come true is that is what ordinary people are doing in their lives anyway. There is no rocket science involved in the Promises coming true.
THE BOGUS PERSCRIPTION
Hello everybody, Here is one of the old chestnuts that are drummed into our dear little heads. Often quoted from the Big Book is what people call the prescription. This lays out A.A. basic doctrine of belief.
From the Big Book: “our personal adventures before and after make clear three pertinent facts”
My personal adventures made clear many pertinent facts such as I love my son and I live in a condo. So what? What are these personal adventures that make clear these pertinent facts?
“(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.”
What does one have to do with the other? How do you link the two? If you drink too much, you stop drinking. Isn't that managing your life? In pursuit of drinking, you are managing your life quite well.... obtaining the drink, finding a place to drink, finding the time to drink, drinking..... You chose to spend your time drinking instead of doing something else.
“(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.”
Lots of people stop every day. A lot of people have friends who help them. A lot of doctors help people. So this is the logical lynch-pin for this little illogic. If you accept the first premise, therefore you should be able to accept this transition. The one does not follow the other. AA wants you to assume that it does, but it doesn't.
“(c) That God could and would if He were sought.”
If you are a religious person, you would be seeking your God for this problem. Various religions have ways of helping people through their problems. This is o.k. However, if you don't believe in god, then this doesn't mean anything. You use humans to help you. So it is a no-brainer.
However, what this chain of A.A. logic does is set people up for religious belief. It doesn't address the problem of not drinking but assumes that the person is totally helpless. Then the only means to ending the problem is belief in god.
This is o.k. but then you are zapped with the following : (From an oldtimer:)
"Well, now, the reason and understanding that I was given that it returns with such fury, is that the disease of alcoholism is PROGRESSIVE, even if we are not drinking. It progresses all the time. We are different in our metabolism from others. We do something with the alcohols and sugars that others don't do. "
All of us have heard some variation of that. So a medical disease that is based in our bodies is cured by belief in God? Not only that, but this disease is different from all others: it is progressive. Even if we go to meetings etc, we are still in the grips of this disease. So where does that leave our prescription? The prescription is bogus. This is quack science. What people fail to realize is that the science of alcoholism that A.A. is based on does not exist. Readings in the disease theory demonstrates that if alcoholism is a physical disease then medical means are necessary.