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doorknob 09-23-2006 06:47 PM

Keepers: Voices of Secular Recovery
 
Introduction

Getting sober can be a lonesome journey for the person who is underwhelmed by the Twelve-Step approach of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Despite significant erosion, "Step" programs still have a quasi-monopoly position in the public consciousness, and most treatment programs countenance little else. Until recently, the person who did not resonate with the Twelve Step approach was more or less condemned to isolation -- rarely the best environment for long term sobriety.

The Internet has helped to change all that. For the price of a computer and an access account, people can now quickly locate one another based on their special interests, and can link up into cyber-communtities. One of these new "virtual villages" is Tom Shelly's "SOSmail" email list. This book is an anthology of selected messages posted to Tom's list during a period of nearly three years beginning in late 1996. Thanks to Tom's list and similar places on the Internet, no one with net access who wants an alternative recovery approach needs to feel isolated any longer.

snip

doorknob 09-23-2006 06:51 PM

The "104" Group

By Tom Shelley


When I got sober in 1981, I was making an effort to obey the "ninety meetings in ninety days" dictum that was drilled into us in the treatment center I attended. So, being a man of economical orientation, I decided that I would find the seven meetings closest to my home. In doing this I would minimize my travel and maximize my sober contacts. As though this had anything to do with anything, I would drive fifty miles to get a drink or a bottle when the bars and package stores closed in my county.

So, as random chance would have it, one of the closest meetings to my house, on Friday nights, was the AA "104" group. As it turns out the group took its name from a passage, on pages 104 and 105 of the book "AA Comes of Age". In this book, Bill Wilson, the founder and paterfamilias of AA, said something like: "...any two or more, gathered together for the purpose of discussing sobriety may call themselves an AA group...".

The founders of this "104" group included Charles (Pappy) and Lucybelle Guckian. Two of the most iconoclastic, interesting, infuriating, and caring people I have had the pleasure to meet. In short, they founded a truly secular AA group. The group operated without use of the twelve steps and without resort to the invocation of a higher power. Pappy and Lucy were ardent autodidacts (self-taught), which is a term I learned in my own self teaching. They encouraged everyone they came in contact with to learn, generally, everything that they could. Not just about the narrow focus of alcoholism, as though that weren't enough, but about every field of science, history, communication, etc. That last bit "etc." is homage to one of their favorite focuses, general semantics. A study of words, meanings, and the effects on humankind.

As you might expect, I found a home. I became a regular member of the "104" group. In the parlance of the group (and AA, in general) it became my "homegroup". I was steeped in the practice of making my meeting without fail, every Friday night. I was taught that sobriety was my priority (sound familiar?). This was Pappy's favorite focus. I learned a tremendous amount from Pappy, Lucy, and the dozen or so other regular members of the group. But, as often happens with many groups, the "population" of the group began to change. Pappy and Lucy left to start another meeting, closer to their home. Pappy has since died, last year at 85. The "104" group carried on for some time, though membership dwindled and we became kind of cliquish and clubby.

Relief from our doldrums came in the summer of 1987, in the person(s) of two men from Sarasota, a city about an hour south of my home in St. Petersburg. They came up to our meeting, one Friday night, because they had heard of our secular approach. They were interested and shared with us the article that Jim Christopher had written for "Free Inquiry".This word of a new "movement" happening in the home of "new movements", California, was intriguing. One of them had written to Jim for information on the nascent Secular Sobriety Groups (SSG). In turn, he passed the information on to us. I called Jim and we talked for some time. It was apparent, from the outset, that we were on the "same wavelength" and when Jim mentioned the "Sobriety Priority" I was certain that I was talking to a fellow secular sobrietist.

I need to say that starting a SSG group was not a simple decision here. For me, like for many others, I had the attitude that AA, in particular my kind of secular AA, had helped save my life. To "abandon" that and start a new sort of meeting was a bit scary. That may sound melodramatic, but it felt like we were flying solo here for quite a while. Curiously, it took many years, four or five, for the meeting to regularly get more than five or six people. Even with the relatively large number of secular AA members in our area. In recent years, we have increased our membership markedly with the change of meeting days for the main secular AA group. Our meeting now boasts a number of additional members from that group as well.

All in all it has been a great and wonderful experience. I want to thank everyone, here on the SOS E-Mail List, for helping to keep this alive and make it grow.

I apologize for the length of this piece. Please don't anyone ask me what time it is.

ismchanger 09-23-2006 11:18 PM

Not trying to flame you or anything, but I get the distinct impression you are willing to go to any lengths...EXCEPT deal with your God issue. What is that about?

In my experience, as an alcoholic who has seen far too many miracles occur just in my OWN life, much less in the lives of others, it is impossible to explain away the incredible and miraculous changes that are brought about by the Program of AA. Words alone do NOT have this much power, nor do actions alone. I cannot understand how, if you really have been around this Program for a while, you can remain in defiance of God's love for you. I am guilty of defiance in many matters, both secular and faithful, and I have paid the price multifold. Have you such an amazing program that it is wholly self-sustaining?

Again I am not trying to flame you personally, but I am replying to this because I believe that separatist movements like "secular recovery" are doing an injustice to the vast majority of those who need sobriety. If you cannot accept the existence of God or a "higher power" as suggested in the 12 steps of AA then you really are missing the point of spiritual growth and the gifts/blessings that are derived therefrom.

Essentially you are saying "See, I got done on my own power..." and "what does God have that I can't find on my own?" The answer is a LASTING and TRUE peace or serenity. We are not inherently good! And we are not inherently strong! These tenets are what secularism is built on and stand in direct opposition to the spiritual necesseties of the Program! You may be sober for many years based on your cork-in-the-bottle, no-God-needed-here approach, but real growth will be stunted or misdirected without a spiritual component in your life.

Anyway, enough of my unsolicited sponsorship. I do wish you well and I wish you serenity, but I especially wish you God's blessings. And I would say all the above to anyone whom I sponsor! I hope you can accept it in that light.

Mongo 09-24-2006 03:55 AM

Hi ismchanger

Please read:http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...7-welcome.html

Thanks

Ron

sigh

Abbadun 09-24-2006 08:24 AM

Hi Ismchanger

I have seen too many people try in many different ways to stay sober and fail to believe that any one way of staying sober is the only way or the best. For every miracle that happens there are several tragedies by people using the same method (all methods) of recovery as the person who succeeded.

Abbadun


[QUOTE=ismchanger]Not trying to flame you or anything, but I get the distinct impression you are willing to go to any lengths...EXCEPT deal with your God issue. What is that about?

In my experience, as an alcoholic who has seen far too many miracles occur just in my OWN life, much less in the lives of others, it is impossible to explain away the incredible and miraculous changes that are brought about by the Program of AA. Words alone do NOT have this much power, nor do actions alone. I cannot understand how, if you really have been around this Program for a while, you can remain in defiance of God's love for you. I am guilty of defiance in many matters, both secular and faithful, and I have paid the price multifold. Have you such an amazing program that it is wholly self-sustaining?

Again I am not trying to flame you personally, but I am replying to this because I believe that separatist movements like "secular recovery" are doing an injustice to the vast majority of those who need sobriety. If you cannot accept the existence of God or a "higher power" as suggested in the 12 steps of AA then you really are missing the point of spiritual growth and the gifts/blessings that are derived therefrom.

...Edit...

BuDoc 09-24-2006 09:43 AM

I for one am glad to see both the secular groups such as SMART Recovery, Life Ring and also the faith based groups such as Celebrate Recovery and Reformers Unanimous. I think AA would now fall within the middle ground between the two ends of the spectrum... The program of recovery that works for one person, may not work for another. It is nice to see there are viabe choices out there now. One thing I know we can all agree on, is that we are grateful for recovery, whatever form or program it may take for us as individuals with free agency and options.

Hang loose, Doc.

BSPGirl 09-24-2006 12:02 PM

BuDoc took the words right outta my mind. :) We all got the same goal, just every individual has different roads to reach it. :)

Marte

historyteach 09-24-2006 12:30 PM


Originally Posted by ismchanger
Not trying to flame you or anything, but I get the distinct impression you are willing to go to any lengths...EXCEPT deal with your God issue. What is that about?

It's about choice. Plain and simple.


In my experience, as an alcoholic who has seen far too many miracles occur just in my OWN life, much less in the lives of others, it is impossible to explain away the incredible and miraculous changes that are brought about by the Program of AA. Words alone do NOT have this much power, nor do actions alone. I cannot understand how, if you really have been around this Program for a while, you can remain in defiance of God's love for you. I am guilty of defiance in many matters, both secular and faithful, and I have paid the price multifold. Have you such an amazing program that it is wholly self-sustaining?
What was once believed sincerely to be miracles can now be explained by science. PERHAPS your miracles are in that category?
And words may not have that power, but, behaviors do. Again, we make choices each and every day. When we choose to do the next right thing, time after time, we get over our obsession with our DOC.
And a person who is an atheist, or an agnostic, or Buddist, or follows Confucianism or Wiccan....et al....doesn't believe in G*D. Therefore, to speak of G*D's love is meaningless to that person.
And that is the jist of SECULAR recovery. It's about the naturalist, humanistic world of recovery. Non-deist of any kind. As much as I personally respect people of faith other than mine, I wouldn't try to press *MY* version of G*D or G*D's love on another. That's respect only.


Again I am not trying to flame you personally, but I am replying to this because I believe that separatist movements like "secular recovery" are doing an injustice to the vast majority of those who need sobriety. If you cannot accept the existence of God or a "higher power" as suggested in the 12 steps of AA then you really are missing the point of spiritual growth and the gifts/blessings that are derived therefrom.
Please understand, there are many boards on SR (and other places), devoted to a 12 step, theist approach to recovery.
This place is NOT one of them.
You have your right to your views; others have theirs. And we have a nice group here trying to get well. Pushing G*D onto a member of SC is not acceptable, although we do appreciate your viewpoint.


Essentially you are saying "See, I got done on my own power..." and "what does God have that I can't find on my own?" The answer is a LASTING and TRUE peace or serenity. We are not inherently good! And we are not inherently strong! These tenets are what secularism is built on and stand in direct opposition to the spiritual necesseties of the Program! You may be sober for many years based on your cork-in-the-bottle, no-God-needed-here approach, but real growth will be stunted or misdirected without a spiritual component in your life.
The doctrine you are speaking about -- being inherently bad and weak -- is a Christian based doctrine. People on these boards are probably not Christian. They MAY be Christian or other religions. But, for their own reasons, these members have chosen to work a secular, humanistic program. It is their right.
We expect other members to respect that right.
Even if you don't agree.


Anyway, enough of my unsolicited sponsorship. I do wish you well and I wish you serenity, but I especially wish you God's blessings. And I would say all the above to anyone whom I sponsor! I hope you can accept it in that light.
Thank you for sharing your opiniions.

Please read some of the other threads on this forum to get the idea of secular recovery. It is specifically non-theist. That's WHY it exists here. :c005:

Shalom!
(Yes, I'm Jewish; have a firm belief in G*D, but, respect other's right to recovery in whatever form they need. Each of us deserves to live substance free.)

doorknob 09-24-2006 04:54 PM

Thank you Teach! :e100:

BTW, as the intro suggests, these are posts from the SOS (now LSR) email list, that were compiled into a book called Keepers, Voices of Secular Recovery. Actually, some of the posts were added to the internet version, after the book was published. If you would like to read more, they can be found at unhooked.com under 'Keepers.'

Mongo 09-24-2006 05:21 PM

Thanks DK

There's some good reading there fer sure.

Is it allowed to post a link or perhaps to copy some to here?

Ron

doorknob 09-24-2006 05:32 PM

You're welcome! :)

I don't see why not, we have links to LifeRing in the 'Sticky' posts.

http://www.unhooked.com/keepers/index.htm

But, I was gonna post a little at a time on this thread.

I'll pick another entry pretty quick here.

Paul

doorknob 09-24-2006 06:08 PM

Onionism: the Disease

By MOG


It is interesting, I have found, that my eyes don't tear as much when I don't chop onions. Some might say that I have a not so rare disease that is always there and manifests itself when the onions appear on the cutting board. Perhaps. If I stay away from the onions, it doesn't seem to matter whether I have onionism.

doorknob 09-24-2006 06:17 PM

Larry and Alvin Discuss Drinking
by Tim in Toronto



The scene:

A party.



Our cast of characters:

Larry: Somebody who used to drink too much

Alvin: Somebody who enjoys the occasional snifter of brandy



And now, Larry and Alvin discuss drinking...



9:00 PM



Alvin: Care for a drink?

Larry: No, thanks.

Alvin: You don't drink?

Larry: Nope.

Alvin: Why not?

Larry: I don't like the taste.

Alvin: I'll mix in some orange juice and you won't taste the alcohol.

Larry: Then what's the point?

Alvin: Uhh...



9:10 PM



Alvin: Here, I made you a Bloody Mary. Lots of tomato juice and only a

little bit of vodka.

Larry: I told you, I don't drink.

Alvin: But it's hardly got any vodka in it at all!

Larry: I told you, I don't drink.

Alvin: Don't you like to party?

Larry: I'm here, aren't I?

Alvin: Well, here, I'll just leave it on the table for you.

Larry: Somebody might knock it over. Can you take it into the kitchen?

Alvin: But I made it for you!

Larry: I told you, I don't drink.

Alvin: All right, all right.



9:20 PM



Alvin: I'm having a Manhattan. You know what's in a Manhattan?

Larry: No.

Alvin: Taste it and see if you can guess.

Larry: Do you have any cola left?

Alvin: Oh, I can make you a rum and cola!

Larry: No, I just want a cola.

Alvin: Don't you want a drink?

Larry: I don't drink.

Alvin: Not even water? Heh.

Larry: Do you have any mineral water?

Alvin: How about a beer? That's not really like drinking.

Larry: Thanks, but no. I don't drink alcohol.

Alvin: Gotta go freshen my Manhattan. Speak to you in a bit.



9:30 PM



Alvin: So ... you don't drink, eh?

Larry: Nope.

Alvin: What's up with that?

Larry: I don't eat veal either.

Alvin: Huh?

Larry: Well, if I didn't eat meat, would you keep trying to give me

a steak?

Alvin: Ha ha. This is different.

Larry: In what way?

Alvin: This is a party! You gotta drink at a party!

Larry: Hey, I'm having a good time! Good crowd here, tonight.

We were just discussing last night's —

Alvin: So you don't want a drink, then?

Larry: No, it's okay.

Alvin: Why?

Larry: I don't like the way it makes me feel.

Alvin: Oh, you mean the hangovers! So just have one little drink!

Larry: I'm fine, thanks.

Alvin: Okay, okay, I can take a hint. Geez.



9:40 PM



Alvin: So, why izh it, I mean, why is it you don't drink?

Larry: I partied hearty when I was younger. I've turned over

a new leaf.

Alvin: So now you're a monk, is that it?

Larry: No, it's just a personal decision.

Alvin: Why not have a drink and relax a little?

Larry: Nah, that would take the edge off.

Alvin: That's the whole point! Take the edge off. Relax.

Larry: I like to keep sharp. Got any coffee?

Alvin: Irish coffee! Now there's a good idea!

Larry: No, just plain coffee.

Alvin: I'll go have a look.



9:50 PM



Alvin: Here's your coffee.

Larry: [sniffs cautiously] Is this just coffee?

Alvin: Well, no. I mean ... yes!

Larry: Really?

Alvin: Well, just about.

Larry: What's in it?

Alvin: A bit of whisky. Just a few drops for flavour. The

heat of the coffee probably evacor— evaporated

all the alcohol anyway.

Larry: Alvin, I really don't want any alcohol.

Alvin: Oh, I see. So you're better than everybody else.

Larry: Hardly. I just choose not to drink.

Alvin: I don't get people like you.



10:00 PM



Alvin: Hey, Larry, you gotta check out this 25-year-old Scotch!

Larry: Good, is it?

Alvin: Itsh amazing! Smooooth as silk!

Larry: Three cheers for Scotland, then!

Alvin: Here, I'll pour you a bit so you can see for yourself.

Larry: I'll take your word for it.

Alvin: Oh, yeah, you're the guy who won't take a drink.

Larry: I guess so!

Alvin: So what's with that? You an alkie or something?

Larry: People who don't drink are alcoholics?

Alvin: Well, why else wouldn't you drink?

Larry: Just a personal decision. Good health and all that.

Alvin: I read somewhere that wine is good for you. It clears

up the blood or something like that. Want some wine?

Larry: No, thanks.

Alvin: Back in a sec.



10:15 PM



Alvin: Dang, they're outta that great Scotch. Gotta make do with

this crap cheap stuff.

Larry: We were just discussing last night's —

Alvin: This stuff's okay, I guess. I can't really taste the

diff'rence.

Larry: That's good.

Alvin: I'll bet you couldn't tell the difference.

Larry: Probably not.

Alvin: I'll bet you ten dollars you can't.

Larry: You'd win that bet.

Alvin: Umm. Bet you ten dollars you can tell the diff'rence!

Larry: I guess we'll never know, since they're out of the good stuff.

Alvin: What? Oh. You're messing with my mind.

Larry: Sorry.

Alvin: Whatsh with you holy rollers, anyhow? I tell ya, itsh

people like this who make us normal people ... [wanders off]



10:45 PM



Alvin: What're you looking at?

Larry: Excuse me?

Alvin: Sorry, man. I mean, whatsh on the TV?

Larry: We're watching the game.

Alvin: Letsh toasht team!

Larry: I beg your pardon?

Alvin: I said ... let's ... toast ... the ... team.

Larry: [raises glass of cola] To the team!

Alvin: Why's the TV all blurry?



11:00 PM



Larry: Well, Alvin, it's been an enjoyable evening. I've got to

get going, now.

Alvin: Wha'?

Larry: I'm heading out. Thanks for everything.

Alvin: One for the road?

Larry: That wouldn't be a good idea.

Alvin: You can take a buszh. A buff. A taxi!

Larry: I'd rather take my car.

Alvin: Let me getcher coat.

Larry: I'm wearing it.

Alvin: Stand shtill and lemmee get your hat. Gotta have a hat.

Larry: I've got to go now. Bye, Alvin.

Alvin: Don't wear a hat? Whatsh with people like you?

Larry: I didn't bring a hat.

Alvin: You think I'm an alco'lic, dontcha?

Larry: An alcoholic? That's not for me to say.

Alvin: I notchyanno.

Larry: Excuse me?

Alvin: I'm ... not ... you ... know.

Larry: Good to hear that. See you at the office tomorrow.

Alvin: You mean this isn't Friday?



New Year's Day, 2003

historyteach 09-24-2006 06:23 PM

Please post links in the appropriate section of SR.
Otherwise, if you'd like to post where you got information, it's best to post the link with spaces, so that it's not active. Here's an example:
www. webmd. com

I don't understand all the tech stuff, but, I've been told that posting a link allows for hacking, or something like that. And we want to keep SR safe for everyone to enjoy.

Shalom!

Mongo 09-24-2006 06:30 PM

That's a good one Doorknob

Ya' know, party season is definitely going to rear it's ugly head pretty soon. Although I've faced this situation a few times lately, it's good to keep on guard and scenarios like this can help prepare us and give us a little practice.

Let's all be Larry(lol)

Ron

historyteach 09-24-2006 06:33 PM

Oh, and thanks for the posts here.
I really liked the party one! :e058:

Shalom!

doorknob 09-24-2006 06:37 PM

I've been lucky. I haven't been around too many pushy people. They've all seen me drunk!:32:

2dayzmuse 09-24-2006 06:37 PM

I think if someone pressured me to drink every 10 minutes, I'd get fed up and head out the door. Good grief... I'm happy to say that I have not had anyone pressure me to drink.

Morning Glory 09-24-2006 07:02 PM

That link was ok Teach. There have been different explanations of links posted and it has brought a lot of confusion. Links to non commercial sites that contain information are fine.

Links to commercial sites, other recovery forums, products or paid services are not allowed. Most sites will have some advertising. As long as the main content is non commercial it is allowed.

Please do not chop up a link that you don't want active. If you want to disable the link, highlight the link and click this button http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...tor/unlink.gif using the advanced editor. Then uncheck "Automatically parse links in text" before you hit the submit reply button.

historyteach 09-24-2006 07:10 PM

Opppssss!
Thanks, MG! I *think* I've got it now.... :e058:

Sorry, DK!
I guess this was a teaching moment. Hope you don't mind. :redface:

Shalom!


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