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Old 12-08-2011, 03:13 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The Big Book


I received a copy of the Big Book when I entered Phase 2 of my treatment. I've been reading it but I find it extremely difficult to relate to. Could that be because it was written in the 1930s? (Rhetorical question.) Um, YES. Partially, anyway.

The chapters on wives and employers, for example. Okay, I realize that women initially did not join AA as alcoholic members. Same reason the employers chapter continually refers to the employee in the male gender identity. Still...

But it's not just that. The We Agnostics chapter really irritates me. Basically, it acknowledges the existence agnostics but says that if one doesn't find a higher power, one is screwed. And then it explains how one should simply surrender. If one doesn't believe in God or a higher power there is nothing to surrender to. The concept simply doesn't exist. AA should be about my recovery, not my relationship (or lack thereof) with God. The entire book reads like a religious text and for Christians only.

Has AA never thought it important to update the Big Book to reflect changes in our society? Apparently, not. I really have a hard time understanding how anyone can take it at face value when it is so outdated.

Just my opinion.
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Old 12-08-2011, 03:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I am Christian, but I have wondered how atheists and agnostics interpret the steps and the BB. It says you only have to believe in a Higher Power but then it definitely leans Christian in most of the book.

I don't know the answer to that. I think their is a secular AA group on here?
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Old 12-08-2011, 03:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I'm not an AA person, but I do know that I needed to find a spiritual connection, a purpose for my life, in order to recover.

I hope you find something that works for you.
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Old 12-08-2011, 03:31 PM   #4 (permalink)
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This comes up a lot as a topic- I'll try and not bang my head on the desk LOL

I'm not in AA but I have read the Big Book and while I didn't agree with everything I read either, personally I got a lot out of it.

There are a lot of books that are important to me that are written in the language of another time - the King James Bible, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dickens...I still find value in them.

I wouldn't let my reservations blind me to the overall value of the book, especially reservations about things being 'outdated'.

That being said, if you think AA is not for you, there's a myriad of other recovery choices that may be more to your liking

D
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Old 12-08-2011, 03:33 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If you happen to be an athiest a higher power doesn't exist either. The whole idea that a higher power can be anything (even a door knob, I was told... WTH?) seems a bit like trickery.

I've been attending an agnostics meeting and a couple of weeks ago our local AA president (if that is the correct title) came to visit and told the facilitator that he shouldn't call it an AA meeting because God has been removed from the equation. That really bothered me. We have enough religious exclusion in the United States in our politics.

Again, AA should be about recovery, not our religious beliefs.
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Old 12-08-2011, 03:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Flaminghair,

All the best with your recovery. When I first read the book I felt the same, rather old fashioned and successful businessman as an ideal, grated on me as well. It sometimes has a Bing Crosby sort of feel about it. That being said I wouldn't change it. I don't dwell on it. The program is working for me and that is all that counts. I want to lead a sober and happy life.

My higher power has no gender or form, a bit like electricity.

Find what works for you and embrace it with all your being.

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Old 12-08-2011, 03:44 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Anvilhead, I don't think you can compare Melville's Moby Dick to the Big Book because it's a work of fiction. Of course, it should stand as is. But the Big Book is meant to be used as a self-help tool. Societal changes should not be ignored. Even the Bible has been revised over time. And though much of its content remains the same there are still many areas that people don't see as relevant in modern times.

Again, just my opinion.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:02 PM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm not even going to bother with this one.....
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I'm not even going to bother with this one.....
Why not? I really want to know, Sapling.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The entire book reads like a religious text and for Christians only.
This is because 12-Steppism is a derivative form of Evangelical Christian pietist/holiness teaching, specifically Buchmanism, which itself had roots in the Wesleyan revival, with heavy influences from John Keswick and Salvation Army theology. It is, however, distinctly different from traditional Christianity.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:29 PM   #11 (permalink)
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In order for the Big Book to ever be changed, there would have to be a 2/3 majority vote of ALL AA groups in the United States and Canada. I believe that's it.
Then everyone would have to agree on what to change. That would take years.

Basically, how do you see your truth in reading the Big Book? When you drink, can you stop on your own? Can you see the unmanageability of your life? Those are questions to ask.

The chapter We Agnostics basically says, "Don't knock faith until you tried it." It makes clear the God is a God of your own understanding.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:31 PM   #12 (permalink)
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flamingredhair,

I walked into the rooms of AA many years ago as a staunch atheist. I recovered by following the directions in the BB, which caused a complete revolution in my way of thinking, and put me in touch with something a lot bigger than me.

Call it God, call it my Better Nature, call it my True Self. Whatever it is, it worked a miracle in my life. I've never had to consider a drink since. That is what AA is about.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:34 PM   #13 (permalink)
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FRH - I'm reading it - but as with any self-help book you have to take away the good stuff and leave the rest. I read that when people are ready to be sober and they are committed they will find the necessary resources because long term sobriety is a mix of commitment and actually fixing the reasons one was using drinking before the got addicted.

For some people that's AA. And they get the extra added bonus of getting to go to meetings and speaking directly with folks who are/been through the same thing - a very personal support group. Some folks can find this alone though self-help books and counseling - some though RR or AVRT.

This topic seems to be discussed a lot but in the end its a personal choice. Find what works for you. I'm looking at all of them and I hope one will start shining though.

Good luck - good to see you posting and thinking about it.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:35 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Because this book is probably the most beautifully written text book I have ever seen...It was written by a bunch of low bottom drunks that found a way to get sober and live a better life, that were kind enough to put how they did it in words. It has saved and changed the lives of millions of people that just took the time to read it and reread it until they understood it. The directions for those 12 steps are in the first 103 pages of the book and that is all you need to know to do the steps. The chapter We Agnostics is one of the most incredible spiritual writings I have ever read. The purpose of the book is to help you find a power greater than yourself. It is a spritual journey that can and will stop you from drinking for the rest of your life...If you simply do what it says to do. They haven't changed a word in it since it was published in 1939...why?....Because it works just as well today as it did then...
Just like the meetings you go to and the helping of others that are also key components to this program, you only get out of it what you put into it. It doesn't get any simpler than that.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:38 PM   #15 (permalink)
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The chapter We Agnostics basically says, "Don't knock faith until you tried it." It makes clear the God is a God of your own understanding.

That is my point. It basically says that it is not okay to NOT believe in some sort of higher power.

But the fact is, there are a lot of people who DON'T. So, where does that leave them?

I'm not trying to get people worked up or **** anyone off. This is a subject I take very seriously. Even if I did believe in a higher power, which I don't, it would be an extremely personal thing. I could never wear my religion on my sleeve nor could I ever see myself telling someone without it that there is no hope for them.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:44 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I am in outpatient rehab right now and I was told if you don't want to have a traditional God that you should instead look at step two, "as a power to change". This allows me to use the group as my higher power because all I need to believe is that the group and the 12 steps can give me the power to change my life. The group and 12 steps become my higher power because they can help me change where I couldn't help myself to change.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:44 PM   #17 (permalink)
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It has nothing to with religion....But it does require an open mind and a willingness to stop drinking. A little honesty doesn't hurt. It may not be for you. I only know that it works for me. Because I bothered to follow the directions.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:47 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Thanks for sharing, Sapling. everyone else, too. I appreciate your input!
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:47 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Again, AA should be about recovery, not our religious beliefs.
But, AA at its essence, AA is not about recovery, in the sense of the cessation of drinking; it really IS about God. The Big Book clearly states that "our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God...." (p. 77). AA's view is that the cessation of drinking is a byproduct of reaching this goal.

Now, if this viewpoint resonates with you, that's great. Lots of people will tell you that this philosophy helps them. But remember: this is simply a philosophy, it is not the empirical truth, and people who don't utilize this perspective successfully quit drinking all the time.

So, if you are someone for whom the AA philosophy is not a good fit, there's no need to get upset, just do something else. SMART Recovery, Rational Recovery/AVRT, LifeRing, SOS are all options as is simply getting support through your own social supports, the SR forums, etc.
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Old 12-08-2011, 04:48 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I am in outpatient rehab right now and I was told if you don't want to have a traditional God that you should instead look at step two, "as a power to change". This allows me to use the group as my higher power because all I need to believe is that the group and the 12 steps can give me the power to change my life. The group and 12 steps become my higher power because they can help me change where I couldn't help myself to change.
A lot of people do that. Having an open mind is a key element. Something you can have faith in. That's all you need...And it works. If you are willing to do the work.
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