Saturday, June 18, 2011

Power and Responsibility

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
I went to a meeting today and listened people talk about being powerless and their lives being unmanageable. I heard a lady with 29 years talk about how she is still "recovering" and struggling with wanting to drink and how she relies on human power (meetings) to stay away from that drink. There was a guy there who is brand new, it was his second A.a. meeting ever. I realize that these people were only speaking from where they are at, but I wonder if any of them stop to consider what kind of message they are carrying. I hear these people say "I know it works, but I don't know how it works." I wonder if they think that they are being humble. But I don't think they realize how irresponsible they are being. It is my responsibility to know how it works. I'm rather useless in Alcoholics Anonymous if I don't know how it works.
I thank God that when my ears finally opened and my eyes were able to see, that I encountered men who were not carrying that message. They told me that not only did I not ever have to drink again, but that they could show me precisely how they had recovered. They said I did not have to stay in a state of constant struggle, always fighting. They said that I could get well here. They told me that their lives made sense to them and that they could show me a way to live in which my life would make sense to me. At the time, my life didn't make sense to me or anyone else. These days, my life makes sense to me, I know what it is about, and I don't much care if it makes sense to anyone else.
It has been said that to whom much is is given, much will be asked. Early on I awakened to the responsibility I had been given, and at first it scared me and it disturbed me. Think about it, people put their lives in our hands on a daily basis, and that is an awesome responsibilty that I don't take lightly. So to sit and say that I'm still sick and struggling is not only playing small and being irresponsible, it is messing with what can be a life and death situation.
Why do people in A.A. carry the mesaage that denies the Power of God? Well, they are only expressing their own agnosticism. They are afraid, because although we say that lack of power can be a dilemma, power can be a dilemma too, if you don't know what to do with it. Because with power comes responsiblity. They would rather be powerless, unmamageable, irresponsible, and in the dark. They play small, thinking they are being humble, when really it is a false modesty. To quote the late Frank Mck., they are saying that they are less than what they are, they are saying that this program doesn't work. The Power is there, it has always been there. We just have to tap into into it. "We have recovered and have been given the Power to help others." That is what Power is for and to use it for anything else is a waste of spirit.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Don Pritts, R.I.P., pitch at Tanglewood 2003

I knew Don and a few of his sponsee's from Denver Colorado.  I went to a traditions workshop he put on at Happy Way years ago.  I know that Jim was very close to him. 

I'm gonna do my best to get these on here in a timely fashion.  I've found a quicker way to get them to the internet.  Sure, you could just go to XA Speakers and get this in MP3 format, but I thought this would be good to have on the blog as we seem to be collecting solid Denver old-school speakers.

Imagine all the lives touched by Frank, Don, and Bob O. (not yet deceased)...

Well anyway, hope the sound quality is acceptable.  Here are the first two sections of his 7 section pitch/workshop, with about 7 ten minute subsections per section;

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Does religion belong at AA? Fight over 'God' splits Toronto AA groups

From The Toronto Star:
It uses “fellowship” to help chronic drinkers quit the bottle. But there is little fellowship in a schism that splintered the Alcoholics Anonymous umbrella group in the GTA this week.
At issue is this question: Do alcoholics need God?
On Tuesday, Toronto’s two secular AA groups, known as Beyond Belief and We Agnostics, were removed or “delisted” from the roster of local meetings. They’ve disappeared from the Toronto AA website and will not be in the next printed edition of the Toronto directory.
The dispute started when Beyond Belief posted an adapted version of AA’s hallowed “Twelve Steps” on the Toronto website. They removed the word “God” from the steps, which are used as a kind of road map to help drinkers achieve sobriety.
“They took issue with a public display of secular AA,” says Joe C., who founded Beyond Belief, Toronto’s first agnostic AA group, 18 months ago. (In keeping with AA’s tradition of anonymity, members are identified by first names only.)
It proved popular enough that a second group started up last fall; it took its name from a chapter in the AA bible entitled Alcoholics Anonymous, commonly known as the Big Book. The group, We Agnostics, had only recently completed the paperwork to be part of AA before being booted out.
“What is unusual is that this didn’t happen in some backwater, but that it happened in a liberal, democratic, pluralistic place like Toronto,” says Joe.
The name of God appears four times in the Twelve Steps and echoes the period in which they were written — the 1930s. It invites those seeking sobriety to turn themselves over to God, who will remove their “defects of character.” They go on to speak of God’s will for the recovering alcoholic.
“They (the altered Twelve Steps) are not our Twelve Steps,” says an AA member who was at Tuesday’s meeting of the coordinating body known as the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup. “They’ve changed them to their own personal needs. They should never have been listed in the first place.”
He says that in the early days of AA, meetings ended with the Lord’s Prayer. “That has obviously stopped in all but hard-core groups. We welcome people with open arms. In our group we still say the Lord’s Prayer. One guy was uncomfortable with that. I told him to just step back when we pray. He does. He’s doing what he needs to do for him.”
The issue of AA’s use of God has come up frequently over the past 50 years. For the most part, the organization — which claims 113,000 groups around the world — permits other agencies to imitate its program, but not to call themselves Alcoholics Anonymous.
Other secular organizations, including Save our Selves (or Secular Organizations for Sobriety), offer addiction help similar to AA. But with some 100,000 members in 2005, SOS is far less popular than AA, which reports a membership of about two million. In Toronto alone, there are 500 AA meetings a week.
“This is not the first we’ve gone up against bigotry,” says Larry of We Agnostics. “This has been an ongoing struggle in North America.”
One man wept in dismay over the delisting at Beyond Belief’s Thursday night meeting at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education on Bloor Street West. Thirty-two people, mostly men, sat at desks in a classroom.
“I do believe in God,” he said after the meeting. “But you don’t need to believe in God to recover and I don’t think it’s appropriate at AA.”
The meeting opened with a statement that said, in keeping with AA tradition, the group did not endorse or oppose either religious belief or atheism. “Our only wish is to ensure suffering alcoholics that they can find sobriety in AA without having to accept anyone else’s beliefs, or having to deny their own.”
“I’ve tried AA meetings and I couldn’t get past the influence of right-wing Christianity,” said a big, Liam Neeson look-alike.
“Last night I went to a meeting and it was like a sermon again,” he told the group. “I felt I should quit.
“But someone told me, ‘hey, go downtown, there’s an atheist/agnostic meeting.’ So I thought I thought I’d give AA one last chance and I came here.”
There’s a moment’s pause.
“Welcome,” the group said.
One of the members, Roger, took issue with AA’s concept of the “God of your understanding.”
“First, there is a gender problem (several of the steps refer to Him). But more importantly, a creator God with a personal interest in me doesn’t fit well with my understanding of how the cosmos works.”
In January, Rev. Pete Watters, 82, and a Catholic priest, celebrated 50 years of sobriety with AA. Several thousand came to an Oakville union hall to celebrate his anniversary.
He knew the roots of the movement well and travelled for seven years with the late Bill Wilson, the charismatic co-founder of AA and author of the Twelve Steps.
In 1961, Wilson, whose early thinking on AA was influenced by the British evangelical Oxford Group, addressed the problems faced by non-believers. He opened the tent to all, but wrote that doubters could eventually take the first “easy” step into “the realm of faith.”
“People and agencies can help,” Watters says, “but the only one who can restore that person to permanent sobriety is God. But that’s the God of your understanding — that can be anything you want.”
In AA God can be interpreted as an acronym for “good, orderly, direction,” or as something that can be found in nature, a set of ethical principles, or even in the courage of fellow AA members.
But it’s essential to turn yourself over to something or someone other, says Watters. “If you don’t believe in any power greater than yourself, you are on your own.”
A woman member of a group that adheres to the traditional Twelve Steps puts it this way: “You need to believe in something higher than yourself. Our self got us drunk.”
Different steps
Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that cite God:
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, prayer only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Beyond Belief’s adapted Twelve Steps:
2. Came to accept and to understand that we needed strengths beyond our awareness and resources to restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of the AA program.
5. Admitted to ourselves without reservation, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. Were ready to accept help in letting go of all our defects of character.
7. Humbly sought to have our shortcomings removed.
11. Sought through mindful inquiry and meditation to improve our spiritual awareness, seeking only for knowledge of our rightful path in life and the power to carry that out.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    Resist Not Evil

    Went to what I thought was a good meeting Monday night... my How It Works Group home group meeting. I haven't been for about a couple months or so.

    Gary chaired on the topic and related it to Step 10 where we have ceased fighting anything or anyone... even alcohol.

    In other words, the steps don't tell me to quit drinking. "I've not even sworn off. Instead the problem has just been removed"...

    Now one of our other members was called on to share and went off about how we DO resist evil and so on.

    What does "Resist Not Evil" mean to y'all?

    My sponsor drank. Now what?

    Go fucking get drunk.  You're off the hook.

    Or go have a bowl of self pity.  That's the problem I have with sponsorship.  So what if your fucking sponsor drank?  What the fuck does that got to do with you?  Maybe you shouldn't have picked a pussy for a sponsor. 

    But in any case, are you gonna live?  Are you gonna do steps?  Are you gonna get and stay sober?  Are you gonna do each and everyone of those 12 Steps or do you want to do something else?

    If you want a lurking notion or a loophole, then just go drink.  Or... if you want a reason to leave A.A. and find another path... there ya go.

    So much for the "working with others" is insurance against the next drink theory.  The fact that you were someone else's pigeon should have guaranteed his/her own sobriety... but oh fuck!  So much for that debunked myth.

    Get through with the fucking steps and get sponsor free.  That's what I say.