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Old 01-09-2019, 04:00 AM   #21 (permalink)
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BBS Post 13

I need to make some amends, I have been slacking on posting due to being down with the flu. I hope everyone is having a good New Year!
Savannah Mike

Big Book Study -- Post 13
Today we are at Chapter 4 - We Agnostics, Page 44.
We should start by defining some terms. "Agnostic" is comprised of two parts - "A" which is the Greek for "without" and "gnosis" which is "knowledge," hence agnostic. With this in mind our definition of "Agnostic" is: Without Knowledge of God. Although used interchangeably, agnostic and atheist mean two very different things. To be Atheist is to claim that there is no God, as opposed to being without knowledge of God (agnostic).
How many times have we seen lists of questions that will allow you to diagnose your own alcoholism? Ten, twenty, fifty question each? Starting at paragraph 1 on page 44 we find that there are two questions: "If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, (Question 1) or "if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, (Question 2) you are probably alcoholic."
Reading through to the top of page 45 several powerful statements are made: "Our human resources, as marshalled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly." What does that mean? What does that tell us about willpower? About human resources (Fellowship) alone? About our ability to win in hand to hand combat with the alcoholic obsession? At the top of paragraph 1 - "Lack of power, that was our dilemma (Powerlessness). We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a POWER GREATER THAN OURSELVES. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?"
Now we come to the purpose of the Big Book and the desired result of the AA program:
"Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object [and the object of the AA Program] is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself WHICH WILL SOLVE YOUR PROBLEM (emphasis added)." Let's turn back for a second to Roman numeral xiii The Foreword to the first edition. The second sentence says the following: "TO SHOW OTHER ALCOHOLICS PRECISELY HOW WE HAVE RECOVERED IS THE MAIN PURPOSE OF THIS BOOK" (This sentence was capitalized in the first edition of the book). To recover from alcoholism we need to find a Power greater than ourselves which will solve our problem. This book has all of the directions necessary to bring about permanent recovery from alcoholism - our common problem. The answers are within the text and throughout the coming weeks we will continue to delve into the solution.
One of the things I was thinking about regarding this chapter is the name "We Agnostics", not "The Agnostics" - I mean it's almost if they assumed that everyone was an agnostic. Food for thought: Why did they name this chapter the way they did?
Tomorrow we will continue on Page 46
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Old 01-09-2019, 04:02 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Big Book Study -- Post 14
Good morning all!
*** Here's a good exercise for Chapter 4. Read through and count how many times the word "prejudice" in it's various forms appears. Also count synonyms such as "preconceived ideas" etc. You'll be surprised to see how often we are asked to lay aside prejudice against spiritual concepts in this chapter. ***
We are at page 46 - The first full paragraph here speaks of open-mindedness: "Yes, we of agnostic temperament have had these thoughts and experiences. Let us make haste to reassure you. We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God."
(Barefoot's comment, a quote -- "None by his own knowledge, or by subtle consideration, will ever really understand these things. For all words and all that one can learn or understand in a creaturely way, are foreign to the truth that I mean and far below it." -- John Van Ruysbroeck (1293-1381) )
Reading through to the top of page 47 we see the important idea expressed again - "When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book. Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you. At the start, this was all we needed to commence spiritual growth to effect our first conscious relation with God as we understood Him. Afterward, we found ourselves accepting many things which then seemed entirely out of reach. That was growth, but if we wished to grow we had to begin somewhere. So we used our own conception, however limited it was."
Skipping down to paragraph 2 we find another reference to the spiritual structure we are building: "It has been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built."
The cornerstone is belief, and on page 12 we found that "complete willingness" was our foundation. All that is important will rest on the foundation and the entire structure is squared up from this cornerstone. More elements of this spiritual structure will be revealed throughout the text.
In the following paragraph we see that belief comes before faith: "That was great news to us, for we had assumed we could not make use of spiritual principles unless we accepted many things on faith (indicating knowledge) which seemed difficult to believe." So we begin with a belief and it is through the knowledge that supports this belief that we begin to have faith.
More to come on tomorrow!
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Old 01-10-2019, 06:12 AM   #23 (permalink)
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I am still without knowledge....am I agnostic? I find it impossible to exhaust all the knowledge dealing with spiritual matters. I have been a Christian since 1983 when I accepted Christ while doing time. Took 15 more years to get sober only with God in my life and AA. I agree with Joe and Charlie about the meaning of the word Agnostic, I guess all of us could be agnostic to some extent.....thanks for sharing, gotta love a big book study.....acronym for big book..."believing in God beats our own knowledge"
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Old 01-10-2019, 07:56 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Big Book Study -- Post 15
Good Morning Everyone!
Appendix II - "The Spiritual Experience" is found on page 569.
"The terms "spiritual experience" and "spiritual awakening" are used many times in this book which, upon careful reading, shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms. They are Bill W's euphemisms to describe what he experienced, for what Dr. Silkworth called a "psychic change."
"Yet it is true that our first printing gave many readers the impression that these personality changes, or religious experiences, must be in the nature of sudden and spectacular upheavals. Happily for everyone, this conclusion is erroneous."
This appendix was added after the first printing of the first edition of the book. There was significant confusion regarding the transformation that Bill experienced and the rest of the main text of the book. This appendix was added to clear some of the confusion. A lot of people were expecting the "white light experience" of the nature of what Bill had on December 11, 1934 at Towns Hospital. Here it goes on to explain that the "educational variety" was no less important or vital.
The real gems here are the reinforcement of "change" as the central theme of the experience. The following four terms mean essentially the same thing:
-Spiritual Experience
-Spiritual Awakening
-Personality Change
-Psychic Change
What we'll do here is identify how many times "change" or a synonym of "change" appears in the text, it may surprise you!
-Paragraph 1 - "personality change..."
-Paragraph 2 - "personality changes..., spectacular upheavals."
-Paragraph 3 - "revolutionary changes..., immediate and overwhelming 'God-onsciousness'..., a vast change in feeling and outlook."
-Paragraph 4 - "transformations,... the difference...a profound alteration in his reaction to life."
So, let's see, that's eight "changes" on a single page. OK, the point is made A Higher Power has to change the people brought to AA. Not drinking and going to meetings is not enough. Through the 12 Steps we have the transformation, in the guise of a spiritual awakening or experience or psychic change, etc., that is "...THE result of these steps..." (from Step 12 - emphasis added).
Tomorrow we'll go further - Chapter 5 - How It Works (Not "how it happens" or "how we get it through osmosis"...).
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Old 01-10-2019, 08:00 AM   #25 (permalink)
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@Toad

acronym for big book..."believing in God beats our own knowledge"
This my friend is amazing.... I have never seen this! Thank you for sharing this!

Savannah Mike
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Old 01-11-2019, 04:00 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Big Book Study -- Post 16
Good morning!
We can gain some insight into the writing of the book through an examination of the original 1938 manuscript (pre-publication "Multilith") in conjunction with the text as printed in the first edition.
Keep in mind, there were more or less two camps within AA at the time Bill wrote the book. The Akron/Cleveland camp was Bible based and religious in nature; the New York bunch was more psychological using a mental approach to gain the confidence of the newcomer and then hitting him with the spiritual angle. Sounds like a difficult task to write a book that would satisfy both trains of thought.
Most of the changes involved inserting "we" for "you" and making the text more inclusive and less like a sermon. Other changes involved key words that were inserted to change the basic meaning of the phrases.
{Barefoot's comment My grandsponsors were basically of the New York camp and they insisted I learn my nuts and bolts of AA from the original manuscript. Jimmy B. was one of my "grand-sponsors." I met him once about the middle of 1974 when I was about 5 months sober, and one of my sponsors took me with him to go to a meeting and visit with Jim in the VA hospital. I shall never forget his words "Study the History of AA so you will gain an understanding of how AA has come to be."]
Today and tomorrow, we will go through the first three pages of Chapter 5 to illustrate how the book was transformed by these changes. The words that were replaced will appear in brackets following the words or phrases by which they were replaced i.e. [original 1938 manuscript]
Page 58:
Paragraph 1 - "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path [directions]." "They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living [way of life] which demands rigorous honesty."
Paragraph 2 - "If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it - then you are ready to take certain steps [follow directions]."
Paragraph 3 - "At some of these we balked [you may balk]. We thought [You may think] we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not [We doubt you can]."
Paragraph 4 - "Remember we deal [you are dealing] with alcohol - cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us [you]. But there is One who has all power - that One is God. May you [You must] find Him now!"
We'll continue with paragraph 1 on page 59 and into the original written text of the 12 Steps tomorrow.
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Old 01-11-2019, 06:32 AM   #27 (permalink)
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I have a book that has the original manuscript and shows the changes from the first edition....one change I noticed this week in our big book study meeting was how the first edition used the term "Ex-alcoholic" which was changed to "ex-drinkers".....they realized that there was no such thing as an "ex-alcoholic"..... another acronym..RELATIONSHIP.. Real exciting love affair turned into outrageous nightmare sobriety hangs in peril.
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Old 01-12-2019, 03:21 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Big Book Study -- Post 17
Good Morning everyone!
Beginning on Page 59, paragraph 1, we'll continue to examine the text as originally written to see the changes made before the first edition of the book was published. The original, pre-publication version is known as the "Multilith".
"Half measures availed us [will avail you] nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked for [Throw yourself to] His protection and care with complete abandon. [Now we think you can take it]."
"Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a [your] program of recovery:"
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable. (Unchanged - this step came from Dr. Silkworth.)
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (From Dr. Carl Jung.)
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (Essentially our "will" is our thoughts, our thinking. For example, when making out a will we are putting our thoughts down to be expressed after we pass on. Our "lives" are, basically, comprised of our actions. We are making a decision to turn our thoughts and our actions over to the care of God. This step came from the Oxford Group's "Surrender".)
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (Steps 4 and 5 are unchanged and came from the Oxford Group's "Confess your sins".)
6. Were entirely ready to have [willing that] God remove these defects of character.
7. Humbly [, on our knees,] asked Him to remove our shortcomings (holding nothing back). (Steps 6 and 7 were inserted as a means of closing any loopholes.)
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make [complete] amends to them all.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (Unchanged - Steps 8 and 9 came from the Oxford Group's "Restitution".)
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. (Unchanged.)
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. [The words "conscious" and "as we understood Him" were not in the original draft.]
12. Having had a spiritual awakening (experience) as the result of these steps [this course of action], we tried to carry this message to [others, especially] alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Tomorrow we'll continue with the first paragraph on page 60 and begin to delve into Step 3.
Something to think about: the word "suggested" has been twisted around to make it sound like the steps are optional. Why do you think that word was inserted into the text?
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Old 01-13-2019, 07:09 AM   #29 (permalink)
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The pre-step, or the step before the steps...."If you want what we have and are willing to go to any length, then you are ready to take certain steps."
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Old 01-14-2019, 04:16 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Big Book Study -- Post 18
Sorry for missing yesterday, The Spirit has blessed me with being able to be involved in building tiny houses for Vets! Have a good Monday y'all!
Good Morning, everyone!
Paragraph 2 on page 60:
"Our description of the alcoholic, (found in the Doctor's Opinion and Chapter 3 - More About Alcoholism) the chapter to the agnostic, (Chapter 4 - We Agnostics) and our personal adventures before and after" (Chapter 1 - Bill's Story) make clear [are designed to sell you] three pertinent ideas:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives. (This is Step 1.)
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism. (This is the first half of Step 2.)
(c) That God could and would [can and will] if He were sought. (Step 2, second half.)
At this point we have completed Steps 1 and 2. Notice how we go directly into Step 3 here in paragraph 3: "Being convinced, we were at Step Three, which is that we decided (remember that our decisions must be followed up with action in order to make them meaningful - Step 4 is the action to turn our will (our thoughts) and our lives (our actions) over to God as we understood Him."
Paragraph 4 - "The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success." In the preceding chapters we see that self-will has little effect regarding our drinking. Now we examine how that is true regarding our lives as a whole. Read through to page 62 paragraph 1:
"Selfishness - Self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles." This is an important point. Our troubles weren't the product of a poor upbringing, horrible parents, being the member of ____ (fill in the blank with any subset of society). We had a difficult time of it due to "Selfishness - Self- centeredness." "...we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt." We have discovered that WE are usually the reason for the suffering we have had to experience. We were not the unwitting "victims" of life that we frequently portrayed ourselves to be. I was astonished when this was pointed out to me.
Next paragraph - "So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. "...we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us!" So, it isn't always booze that kills us - selfishness will kill us indirectly. Throughout the book we will discover that bottles are only a symbol, that our problem runs deeper than the drinking itself.
Tomorrow we will pick up with the end of page 62 and touch upon that spiritual structure that we have been building.
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Old 01-15-2019, 04:25 AM   #31 (permalink)
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BBS Post 19 & 20 (2fer Tuesday)

Big Book Study -- Post 19
Good Morning my friends, my life right now is full of Spirit and Giving. I might miss a couple of days because of the roles Spirit has me playing right now.
A friend has lost her twin sister to this disease, although she fought hard! We, as a fellowship, need to put to rest and comfort the families of those that lose the battle.
Know that I love this fellowship, but hate what happens in the periphery!

We are on page 62, Paragraph 3. Here we find out the position that God will occupy in our lives: "This is the how and the why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn't work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director." Not the "bush league pinch hitter" we usually used Him as.
Here's the reference to the spiritual structure: "Most good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom." Earlier we talked about "Willingness" as the Foundation, "Belief" as the Cornerstone and now the Keystone is allowing God to be our Director. A stone mason will tell you that the entire structure of a stone arch rests upon that Keystone. This is an element that allows the structure to exist without which we would have a pile of stones. An arch is the strongest architectural and structural element known to man. This underscores the importance of where God fits into our lives.
Most of us our familiar with "The Promises" on page 84 and 85. What many of us don't realize is that there are promises throughout the book. Let's go to paragraph 1 on page 63. Read it through... sounds like promises to me all these things will come to pass for us if we proceed to Step 3. "When we sincerely took such a position, all sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing we became less and less interested in ourselves, our own little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow or the hereafter. We were reborn." It's all great stuff!
Paragraph 3 is the Third Step Prayer:
"God, I offer myself to Thee to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!"
Reading through this prayer we can see things about Step 3 that may not have been apparent before. We begin to see that we have made a decision and have become open to having a Power greater than ourselves in our lives. We are asking to be relieved of the bondage of self, not the bondage of alcohol. This relates to what we believe to be the root of our problem: "Selfishness Self Centeredness...," remember? At this stage, however, we have only made a decision. For that decision to become vital, we must take action.
I "made a decision" to fly to Las Vegas next week to go with the guys for the weekend. Until I purchase the tickets, make a rental car reservation, take time off from work, pack, drive to LaGuardia airport and board the plane, it is just a decision. The actions that follow this decision are what make the decision vital.
Tomorrow we will begin at the very bottom of page 63 and the beginning of a detailed discussion of Step 4 as it is detailed in the Big Book.
Have a great day!
________________________________________
Big Book Study -- Post 20
Good morning, everyone!
We are at the bottom of page 63, last paragraph:
"Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning which many of us had never attempted. Though our decision [Step 3] was a vital and crucial step, it could have no permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things which had been blocking us. Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions."
So, we don't wait a year to move from Step 3 to Step 4. Remember, our decision is of little value unless it is accompanied by action, vigorous action.
What is the purpose of Step 4? In Step 4 we will be identifying and getting rid of those things that had been blocking us...from what? Blocking us from God's grace and our ability to live happy, joyous and free.
Here, again, is where many people get tripped up. Step 4 - Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. First, let's examine the word "fearless". Bill was, at heart, a businessman. He wrote from a businessman's perspective in this case. When conducting an inventory for a grocery store, for example, we look to be rid of damaged, rotten, and un-salable goods that prevent us from being profitable. From a businessman's perspective "fearless" means without regret, without emotion. When we discard a rotten head of cabbage we have no emotional attachment to it, we just get rid of it so that we can put a nice fresh head of cabbage in it's place. We need to treat the things that block us from God's grace in the same way as the rotten head of cabbage.
Next, let's look at the word "moral". Immediately the alcoholic thinks of the Sunday Preacher pointing out the moral decay and failings in his flock. In this context, however, we should equate "moral" with truth.
Let's look at paragraph 1 on page 64: "Taking a commercial inventory is a fact-finding [searching] and a fact-facing [fearless] process. It is an effort to discover the truth [moral] about the stock-in-trade." So we are identifying all that prevents us from being a successful enterprise, from having a shot at a happy and useful existence. "If the owner of the business is to be successful, he cannot fool himself about values."
In other words we have to become honest with ourselves about ourselves.
We begin by searching out the flaws in our makeup that caused our failure. "Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations." What did we learn earlier? "Selfishness - Self-centeredness. That we think, is the root of our troubles." There it is again--self, not alcohol per se, was the problem.
Tomorrow we'll discuss the roots of resentment and thoroughly define that which AA believes to be the number one offender.
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