Monday, January 24, 2011

God is everything or God is nothing. What is your choice to be?

Topic at our meeting tonight.

If you chose God is everything, what is your experience with this?  Any recent experience with this?

How about God is nothing?  How does/did this work for you?  Especially in relation to facing a life without booze and a life without God?

Being a guy who does steps yearly, it's a simple proposition of facing life right now on my own... without God.  There's no God.  Just me and the bit of power I can muster to wind out my days.  What would that look like?  How am I doing with God's grace?  How am I doing with the Power of God at my fingertips?  Am I... of myself, nothing?  Or am I everything?  Can I manifest what I need to get by?  How do others see me?  Is my life a success?  Is it worth living?  Page 52 stuff.

Now, what does "God is everything" look like?  Am I willing to put God number 1 and me number 2?  How about... God number 1, y'all number 2, and me number 3?  Proposition kinda sucks... when I get honest with myself.  Would I do this if I didn't have to?  Do I have to?  What happens to me with relation to booze if I choose otherwise?

Can I keep myself sober?  If so, why did I ever wind up in A.A.?  If that is the case, and I'm still in A.A. or if I wasted away in A.A., did A.A. do its job of directing me to where I needed to go?  Or could I have been hustled into A.A.?  If so, could it be my fault that I let that happen?

Now... if I can't keep myself sober, does the need for Power seem like such a ridiculous proposition?  Are there some who can keep themselves sober and can... if they really want/need to, moderate and control their booze intake?  You know?  8 hours or 12 hours from bottle to throttle? 

I've been studying for my CDL and it says that booze affects our brain in such a way that we lose our ability to control judgment and inhibition.  So... this describes everybody.  The logical choice would seem to be "Don't ever drink and drive."  Either drink, or drive, period.  But... it happens.  I don't think that just alkies drink and drive.  I think that some people assume power and they rebel against rational decisions at times.  So... it's possible that many get sent to A.A. that need not face the question God is everything or God is nothing.

I also understand that there are those who will point out that Bill W. and the authors of the book stole this spiritual tool from elsewhere.  Well so be it.  Set that argument aside.  What does it mean to you?  What's your experience with it?  How have you used and benefited from that proposition?


  1. My answer to the question of the existence of God is this... I don't know.

    It's the most honest answer I can come up with. I could run around telling other people that I believe in God, hoping that he'll favor me, and waiting for the miracle to happen, but I've done that all before and after a while it became obvious that I wasn't getting any results.

    As to the choices, "God is everything, or God is nothing" I have to ask who decided that these are the only choices?

  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJkcW324rb4

  3. My experience is that belief in a deity or a God, if you will, has little to with experience. This has never been a question of belief for me, but of willingness to take action. Same with faith. Faith isn't about religious belief, at least not to me. Faith is a verb.

    I answer this question with my life. I can either live as if God is everything, which simply means that sometime I have to do what I don't want to do. It means telling the truth when telling a lie would be easier. It means paying back the money when I don't think that there will be any left for me. Or I can live as if God is nothing. Either way, there are consequences.

    And, I appreciate your honesty here Gunthar. Sometimes I don't know either

  4. Yeah, those are good considerations Gunthar.

    This God decision is much about the decision itself. To me, the decision is about taking responsibility. Act as if ... if that's what you decide.

    Ask God for something. Seriously, and mean it. See what happens. Point your toes in a direction and go.

  5. I was once a very religious person. I remember reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "The Cost of Discipleship" and latching on to the idea that cheap grace wasn't cutting the mustard for me. It made a lot of sense to me back then that walking in grace with God meant that I must abandon my own will and become a servant of Christ. I read Robert Schuller and decided that the reason that my life was filled with suffering was that I was not living in my natural state of being... that being living in the grace of God. So I worked and I worked to find God's grace. I tried to understand why I had an empty black hole inside of me that just seemed to want to suck the life and breath out of everything I came into contact with. The only way to fill that hole or plug it temporarily was to dump some booze into it... Later on I'd always pay the price with such pain and confusion that I can't even put it into words. I decided that I was trying to plug that hole inside of me with cheap grace... synthetic happiness... the devils greatest deception. And so I'd commit myself to serve the Lord again, and again, and again. The Pentecostals said that it was all in vain. They told me that the price had been paid two thousand years ago... grace was already mine for the taking. They said that the reason for this gift of grace was a new covenant between God and man. There was no way to earn God's grace through worldly deeds. faith in Christ was the only way, and yet there was still this emptiness inside of me... There was only one way to plug that hole... it was temporary... and the price was that the hole just kept getting bigger and bigger until everything was blackness. In AA I learned pretty much the same thing in different words. I was powerless... I had been banished from God's grace by the disease of alcoholism. There was no way to escape... I had to surrender in order to win... I had to examine character defects that I supposedly had no control over. I was to beg God to save me and follow the rules until the miracle happened.

    And the hole inside of me kept getting bigger and bigger... There simply was no escape... I was doomed.

  6. I had a dream that I crawled on my hands and knees to God and asked him to save me from myself. "God?" I said... "I need your help... I need a miracle." God looked down at me and said, "Another miracle? Haven't you had enough miracles already? You've asked to be born again. I gave you life in 1967. Why is the life I have given you not good enough? If you want to walk on water you can wait until January and walk on the ice. I've created you and the world according to certain rules. You'll have to learn to make them work to your advantage. You'd like to turn water into wine, but then you'll just end up drunk again. You don't need any more wine."

    I said, "But God... You don't understand! I need a real miracle here! Show me that you love me and help me to stop drinking!"

    God said, "Why don't you show me that you love me and just stop drinking by yourself?"

    So now it was a test. The questions were either how much do I love God? How much does God love me?

    None of this ever helped to ease my suffering and confusion. Finally one night I closed my eyes and asked myself one simple question... Do I believe that God exists? At first I felt fearful that God would hate my guts and banish me to Hell for eternity if I said no. After all, this is pretty much what I had been taught my entire life. I wondered why God in all of his infinite wisdom would play such a cruel game of hide and seek. Why would an all powerful God demand faith and then remain invisible? Was it God who was torturing me, or was it the concept of God?
    I decided the answer to the question of the existence of God was I don't know. This was the most honest answer I could come to. I decided to stop pretending that I knew something that I didn't know. I decided that I'd better shift the paradigm and start over, because the philosophy I was living by was not working.

  7. I came to the rooms because I knew that I couldn't stop drinking by myself. I needed help. I wasn't one of those people who can stop by sheer power of will. God bless 'em, but I'm not one of them. When I got here I was asked if I believed in a power greater than myself. It wasn't a pass or fail question, just a question. So I started to think about it and concluded that if there is no power greater than me, that by default makes me the meanest mother in the valley. And if that's the case, you guys should be afraid, Be very afraid.

    Now I has 12 years of Catholic education. I've read Aquinas, Merton, and all that bunch. I learned a lot about religion and theology. I believed in God, but learned nothing of Him. He was all knowing and all powerful. Pray for favors or miracles but don't piss him off. That was the God of my understanding at the time.

    When I came into AA it was suggested that I ask for God's help with my alcoholism. That was a problem as I, too, believed that God helped those who helped themselves. Then it occurred to me that maybe I was helping myself by asking God for help and I got over that hurdle.

    And as I went through the program I began to learn about God as I developed a personal relationship with Him. I learned that He's understanding and forgiving. I came to believe that God weeps. He weeps for mankind. He gave us free will and he weeps because of the things we do with that will. But He also laughs, and is happy when do what he wills for us to do.

    I learned how to pray. I, too, asked for miracles, Gunthar. But before I developed a relationship with God I wouldn't know a miracle if it bit me in the ass. So I would suggest to you that even though the miracles you prayed for may not have granted, perhaps your prayers were answered in such a way that you haven't seen the answer yet. My God doesn't usually give me what I ask for, but always gives me what I need. And although I may sometime not see it, He always answers my prayers. It took me some time to learn that.Maybe God said "Show me that you love me and do your part in this, and together we'll get you sober."

    And would my God banish me to hell if I started to doubt Him? Naaw. He's not that kind of God. He might weep a little, but never hate me. And alcoholism is a disease, not a moral failure. My God doesn't banish anyone from His grace because they have a disease, only for their actions which are hateful to Him. And my God didn't create us as a perfect humans. I have faults and the will to correct those faults or not. Choice is mine. I can do his will or not, again my choice. And I have to be prepared for the consequences of making the wrong choices.

    So I pray to understand his will, and thus maybe can do what he wants of me. Maybe you should borrow my God for a while, Gunthar. He loves to work with doubters, and while you may piss him off on occasion He won't hate you. He wants the best for us, even if we don't see that sometimes. I certainly didn't.

    So is my God everything, something, or nothing? Well if he was nothing, we wouldn't be having this discussion. If He was something, He'd almost help me and I'd still be out there drinking. So I guess my God is everything.

    Yes, there are a lot of questions about God that I can't answer. I don't understand why He chooses to remain invisible to me. He won't tell me. Hell. I can't even proves that he exists. But I believe he does, and that's called faith. Jim feels that faith isn't about religious beliefs. It isn't. But I can't believe in God without faith.

    So I've learned to try and do God's will as best I can. I'm sort of a work in progress, far from perfect. I can accept life for what it is and people for who they are. I say the Serenity Prayer a lot. I'm sober today and I'm happy. For me, life is good.

  8. Thanks joe cool, but I'm doing just fine without believing in God. I'm actually doing much better than I ever did when believed that only a power greater than myself could relieve me of the desire to drink. Today I take responsibility for my own behavior. This is the philosophy that works for me. I actually think that believing in invisible beings is delusional. I think that God is just a hoax.

    As for believing that not believing by default means that you believe you are the meanest mother in the valley... I don't see the conection. Sure, there are powers greater than myself... The US Army... Wal-Mart... Kim Jong Ill. I just don't believe that any of these ever gave a shit about my drinking. I tried to believe that God did, but God is invisible so it's impossible to have a personal relationship with him. I'm not putting any more stock into fairy tales.

    Living without God is working out fine for me.

  9. Gunthar, Whatever keep you sober is ok with me. Your sobriety is paramount and how you achieve that is your decision. I think taking responsibility for one's behavior is essential is staying sober. Relying on a higher power for those of us who choose to certainly doesn't relieve us of that responsibility. We all have our own beliefs, and although those beliefs may differ, we all believe in sobriety. It's that we just take different roads in getting there.

  10. This goes back to a comment I made a few back; a lot of anti/XAers seem bent on the mislabeling of A.A. as being something other than a religion. There are certainly some religious folks in A.A. and many whom would want to proudly profess their own brand of faith/religion. There are things the A.A. program requires as part of its program of action that could be called religious... but A.A. was designed to not be "churchy".

    So, what if A.A. took the big step and called it a religion of sorts? Would this enable the courts to back off and perhaps clear up some confusion of new prospects?

    What would be the downside? How many traditions be violated and what would be the likely consequences, good and bad?

  11. I don't even want to go there. If AA ever called itself a religion it would be the end of the program. As you said, Dowg, there are a lot of people in the program who consider themselves as religious. What do they do, have two religions now? Do our suggestions suddenly become dogma?

    Look, we belong to AA because we've found that it works for us. Most of us, but certainly not all, believe in a higher power. A spiritual higher power. We call choose to call that higher power God, but that's probably more a result of our deistic society than anything. But it's God as we understand Him, and that's important. My God and your God are not necessarily the same being. If AA took the step of calling itself a religion then all bets are off. It's gonna be AA's God or no God. We don't have a choice anymore. If that's the case, then AMF, I'm outta here.

    The courts are going to have to resolve the issue of forcing people to attend meetings. We can't be caught in the middle of the argument. Personally I don't like it, and I don't think many of us do. Some groups refuse to sign the attendance slips, and that's their prerogative.

    The traditions? Forget about them. Our common welfare would be usurped by the welfare of the church of AA. Our leaders would assume a mantle of authority as someone has to enforce compliance with the dogma. Didn't work step 7 this week? You're excommunicated! The requirement for membership would be compliance with the commandments (once called the steps). And forget about autonomy. Religion requires cohesion and cohesion requires compliance, not autonomy. And our primary purpose? Who knows what that would end up as. But be assured that the alcoholic who suffers would somehow be redefined as the sinner who needs sobriety. I'm not gonna go on. You can see where this is headed.

    Let those who claim AA to be a brainwashing, religious organization which is out to destroy the world, or at least rape the women and carry the children off continue to do so. Nothing I can say will change what they want to believe. But if AA suddenly became a religion? It would certainly add credence to their arguments.

    We need to stick to the basics here. Let the courts solve their own problems. Let's focus on helping other alcoholics. Let's not complicate things. I already have a religion. I also have a program of sobriety. And never the twain shall meet.

  12. Good to see some honest discussion going on here.

    Maybe it's time to do away with the labels. By that I mean "Anti-this" or Anti-that." Or even "Pro-this" or "pro-that." Maybe it's just because I'm getting older, but I just don't have the energy to do battle anymore. Besides, the spiritual life is one of being flexible, one of taking a position of no fixed position. That doesn't mean I don't stand for anything, I just don't have the time nor the energy to stand against anything.

    Last night at my home group, it was a Traditions meeting. The chairperson chose the 7th Tradition as a topic. Our group does things a little different. We don't pass the hat, as we believe in being truly self-supporting through our own contributions. And we don't even mention attendance slips. As a group, we stand neither for nor against attendance slips. We used to pass a basket at the beginning of the meeting for attendance slips, but people put money in it because many automatically associate the 7th Tradition with attendance slips. So we decided to stop passing that basket and not even mention attendance slips.

    It's funny how many in the local A.A. community think that our group stands against signing slips. We don't care what they think. What I've noticed is that we tend to get people who WANT to be there on their own free will.

  13. I'm not so sure that I believe in God anymore. It's too big, it's beyond that. These days I'm more interested in consciousness than conception.

    A Kabbaalist said that "God is a verb," which to me translates as it is more of an experience, more of a way of living than a set of beliefs.

    When I first started on this path, I had to (or thought I had to) have this definite image and conception of God. The Third Step idea gave that to me. Someone once told me that as I grew, God would grow, and that has been my experience, because now it is too big to wrap my mind around, and can only be realized in my day to day experience of life. Not in so-called "miracles," but in my relationships with others. Simple things like common courtesy, little acts of kindness, etc. Don Pritts told us one time that half the battle of learning to live spiritually is just learning good manners.

    I've known a few who professed to be atheists who lived a really spiritual life in the manner I've described above. One in particular is more spiritual than many "believers" I know, certainly has helped a lot of people. He & I went on a 12th-Step call together one time. He's been sober a long time.

  14. Well I doubted that such a big change could ever actually be made anyway. But I guess I could stand on my earlier comment; I don't care if "they" as in whomever... call it a religion.

    Good points as to why it's not though.

  15. okay, i agree i couldn't keep myself sober. but I learned the tools to stay sober in treatment, so sometimes i get confused about the HP thing. i am very active in aa and love it, but i still think i did the work to get here most of the time.