That's a very interesting read, thanks for posting.
A long-term sober friend of mine gets very irritated by the phrase often heard where we are 'the spiritual part of the programme.' Can understand that - it doesn't have just spiritual parts, it is entirely spiritual, at least it is that way for me, and that's possibly why I have such a solid friendship with this woman. Another close friend in the programme who is agnostic sees prayer as acts of kindness or thoughtfulness toward others (and what can be more spiritual than making the world a nicer place to live in?), and particularly so if those acts are toward people he does not particularly like. The great thing about AA spirituality is that it is
Another fella, who've not seen for an age (but hear on the grapevine is doing just fine), who I spent a lot of time with in early days would say 'if the word God chases people out, might just find they get chased back in later on by alcohol'...always thought that was a fair point too.
I was lucky enough some years ago to catch a play (apparently recently revived Bill W. and Dr. Bob by Samuel Shem and Janet Surrey
) about the relationship between Bill W & Dr Bob in AA's early days. It was a very powerful exposition of how the Oxford Group approach set the bar just a little too high, and they found (miraculously) a way of spirituality that could work for the 'average' alcoholic (as per the Big Book). Just by talking to each other. That such a fellowship has grown from that still amazes me.
I would be interested to find the book written by Charles Peabody referenced in the article. This could be putting words into his mouth, but the reference is to 'watered down AA'. Would be interesting to see how he describes and has experienced that. Personal opinion (and realising this is prior to reading any of his material) There seems to be an urgency sometimes with 'step work' almost as if the steps are a magic wand. Without a doubt they are essential, but in time; the stuff like setting the meeting room up, clearing away afterwards, washing up, having a chat, and easing into the fellowship that way. All of those are spiritual actions that get me out of self, into the group, and comfortable to usefully find someone to do my step-work with. All of those things are spiritual and
related to the steps, they just don't happen to be formal step work, and the timing of that and who it is done with, couldn't be more important. It is so important that this stuff is not over-complicated (my poor head can't take it) and the quotes from Peabody for me have just a smidge (a tiny smidge) of the self-righteous, and with a tiny bit of self-flagellation thrown in (from a very nifty google). Will have to take a proper look at his writing to see if that opinion changes.
It also seems to be the case that we go through phases with recovery, where the urgency and (dare I say it?!) rigidity seems paramount, as if being chased by something. whether that something is addiction, or another form of compulsive behaviour. That for me is the stage before letting go.
The final line of the article says it all really “AA is doing just fine.”
and as there are as many groups as there are people, there is hopefully something to suit everyone. Me, I like the simple, do-able stuff, the stuff that doesn't feel like a big stick, more like a soft landing as self-awareness grows. There is a lovely saying I sometimes hear, wearing sobriety like a loose cloak. Yes, yes please.
Thanks again Paul, very thought provoking.