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progree

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Member since: Sat Jan 1, 2005, 03:45 AM
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God in the Steps and literature sure sounds like a deity who does favors and answers prayers ....

Stuart>>Your comment........

"I was just pointing out that, though a belief in a deity is not required, the steps, Tradition 2, and the literature proselytize about a specific kind of God - a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity"
____________________________________
my thoughts....

Maybe so, but I do not believe in this...haven't for many years, and don't, and won't...sometimes, there are circumstances that look like
there might be, but that doesn't mean there is...

Yes, there are people who believe in that "..prayer answering favor dispensing deity..."

Many people do not. <<


Again, I'm talking about what the steps, Tradition 2, and the literature say, taken literally and according to dictionary definitions, not what you believe or what I believe or what many people believe. And I'm saying it is wrong for a program that claims to be not religious (and extols rigorous honesty) to be pushing a religious program. And I'm saying it is wrong for A.A. to be helping the government and employers to coerce people into it --

{#} A.A. cooperation with coerced attendance

See:
A.A.® Guidelines
Cooperating with Court, D.W.I. and Similar Programs
from G.S.O., Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163
http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/en_pdfs/mg-05_coopwithcourt.pdf

where it is suggested that A.A. members create local Cooperation With the Professional Community (C.P.C.) committees and provide the courts with a list of open A.A. meetings. And suggesting ways that A.A. groups and members can help enforce court-ordered attendance, by signing attendance slips for example, and even suggesting other schemes for verifying coercee attendance for groups that don't want to sign attendance slips (See section "E. Proof of attendance at A.A. meetings.").

{#} Doesn't this "God" sound like a deity, something other than human?

More specifically, as for not believing "for many years" that "the steps, Tradition 2, and the literature proselytize about a specific kind of God - a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity" --

Let's start with the deity first. When you first saw the 12 Steps, did not a deity come to mind? You know, God this and God that and God God God? Isn't deity and God pretty much synonyms? (They are in my dictionary) . I don't think the first thing that came to mind when you saw God was Group Of Drunks.

Do not the Steps and Tradition 2 describe this Higher Power (in Step 2 capitalized) and God (in Step 3 and beyond) as one who will restore us to sanity, remove our shortcomings, manage our lives, care for us, love us, listen to our prayers, give us power, and guide our groups? Kind of hard not to think of this "God" as a deity with some pretty impressive capabilities and characteristics?

and who in Step 11 you pray to for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out?

If you were thinking God = Group Of Drunks, then were you perplexed a bit by Step 5 which said "Admitted to Group Of Drunks, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs?" Didn't you think, uhh, I already admitted to several human beings -- the Group Of Drunks -- the exact nature of my wrongs? So why yet another human being?

Or in Step 11, were you wondering if there is some special small group session where you prayed to the Group Of Drunks for the Group Of Drunks' will for you and the power to carry that out?

Did your group ever read the first part of "How It Works", Chapter 5 of the Big Book, p. 58-60, (many groups do at every meeting) --

p. 60: Our description of the alcoholic, the chapter to the agnostic, and our personal adventure before and after make clear three pertinent ideas:

(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.

(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.

(c) That God could and would if He were sought.


If your concept of GOD was something human, like perhaps the Group Of Drunks -- the warm welcoming loving smiling people in the church basements (so long as you don't maintain that all this is religious) -- were you shocked to see that one of the 3 pertinent ideas said "probably NO HUMAN power could have relieved our alcoholism?" So AA's conception of God apparently isn't any kind of human power, judging from Pertinent Idea #2. Then the third pertinent idea -- that God could and would relieve our alcoholism and manage our lives if He were sought -- doesn't that kind of sound just a little bit like a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity?

Perhaps you thought, nawww, this must be a bit of a fluke, maybe one place where Bill W. got a little carried away. So you started reading further on in "How it Works", hoping to get back to the generic "God can be a shoe, a lightbulb, a tree, a Group Of Drunks" of the AA apologists' imagination, and instead you encounter many passages where God is clearly described as a rather powerful micro-managing, favor-dispensing deity:

"Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal, we are His agent. He is the Father, and we are His children." - BB p. 62

"We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well." - BB p. 63.

"Take away my difficulties" - 3rd Step Prayer, BB p. 63 {quite a tall order for a Group of Drunks or any group of humans}

"We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns." - BB p. 68 {infinite - another characterization of God, as well as the assigner of roles}

"Our sex powers were God-given" - BB p. 69


And in the first 11 chapters of the Big Book, God is called Creator (12 times), and Maker (2 times). Pretty specific concept of God, no? Since he is all powerful, he is going to provide what we need, if we keep close to Him and perform His work well? And why not, since he gave us our sex powers (something neither a light bulb nor a tree nor a Group of Drunks ever did for me).

If you ventured into the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (aka the 12 X 12), were you surprised to see on page 109 what certainly seems to demean the Group Of Drunks version of higher power:

"From great numbers of such experiences, we could predict that the doubter who still claimed that he hadn’t got the “spiritual angle,” and who still considered his well-loved AA group the higher power, would presently love God and call Him by name". -- p. 109 (12 X 12)


{#} If it's not religious, why are agnostics being so ferociously attacked?

If you thought A.A. wasn't a religious program, were you at all perplexed by Chapter 4, where they spent page after page dumping on agnostics, calling them, "Handicapped By Obstinacy" (p. 48), "prejudiced" and "unreasoning prejudice" (p. 48) "Rather Vain" (p. 49), "No Reasonable Conception Whatever" (p. 49), "Biased And Unreasonable" (p. 51), "Prey To Misery And Depression" (p. 52), "Couldn't Make A Living" (p. 52), "Full of Fear" (p. 52), "Our Ideas Did Not Work" (p. 52), "We Couldn't Quite Step Ashore" (p. 53), "Leaning Too Heavily On Reason" (p. 53), "Abjectly Faithful To The God Of Reason" (p. 54), "Whirling On To A Destiny Of Nothingness" (p. 54), "Fooling Ourselves" (p. 55), and on and on?.

And on page 28, the Big Book implies that agnostics are not members of A.A.:

"In the following chapter, there appears an explanation of alcoholism, as we understand it, then a chapter addressed to the agnostic. Many who once were in this class are now among our members."

It seems like when agnostics are assaulted, nobody cares. But what if a chapter was added to the Big Book titled "We Jews" that called Jews vain, prejudiced, obstinant etc? Or "We Muslims" or "We Catholics" or "We Buddhists" or "We Wiccans" or "We Pagans"? Would you just shrug your shoulders and say critics are being overly sensitive?

{#} Some more from the Big Book suggesting God is not other people or human

"we simply do not stop drinking so long as we place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on God. Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." - BB p. 98

"The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power." - BB p. 43

Remind the prospect that his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God. - BB p. 99

"This Power has in each case accomplished the miraculous, the humanly impossible. " - BB p. 50

"5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs." - Step 5, BB p. 59 {So God isn't human}

"As to two of you men, whose stories I have heard, there is no doubt in my mind that you were 100% hopeless, apart from divine help. " - BB p. 43 {a doctor commenting on Jim's (p. 35) and Fred's (p. 40) cases )

"only an act of Providence can remove it from us." - 12 X 12 p. 21, referring to the obsession for destructive drinking

"Much has already been said about receiving strength, inspiration, and direction from Him who has all knowledge and power." -- BB p. 85 {Wow. And he is called "infinite God" on p. 68 and has "Infinite Power and Love" on p. 56 and "loving and All Powerful Creator" on p. 161. So yup, he is one powerful dude. Loving is a bit hard to swallow though -- why does somebody who has all knowledge and infinite power and the ability to create the entire universe let millions starve while dispensing favors to wealthy American alcoholics? }.

"Your job now is to be at the place where you may be of maximum helpfulness to others, so never hesitate to go anywhere if you can be helpful. You should not hesitate to visit the most sordid spot on earth on such an errand. Keep on the firing line of life with these motives and God will keep you unharmed." - BB p. 102 {I wonder if A.A. has ever been sued for that advice when Infinite God didn't show up to help?}


And several implications that there is ONE God over us all (aside from all the reference to Maker and Creator)


"There is One who has all power - That One is God. May you find Him now!" - BB p. 59

"all of us... are the children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship" ... as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try." - BB p. 28

"Being wrecked in the same vessel, being restored and united under one God" - BB p. 161, describing the variety of people in A.A.


This is relevant counter to those who argue that there's some God helping us individually or us wealthy American alcoholics or whatever, and an entirely different God or gods that presides over, and neglects the starving millions. If there is one God who presides over us all, one can't duck and dodge the question of why this ONE God of infinite power, knowledge, and love, chooses to dispense favors to wealthy American alcoholics while letting millions starve.

How about all of the prayers in the Big Book? Rather specific characterizations of God contained in those prayers too. And certainly religious to anyone who is constitutionally capable of acknowledging the obvious. -- Please see the "Big Book Prayers" at http://www.blisstree.com/2009/01/12/mental-health-well-being/big-book-prayers-16

It is interesting that the two well-known Big Book "Step Prayers" are to the "Maker" (Step 3 Prayer, p. 63) and to the "Creator" (Step 7 Prayer p. 76).

The other well-known step prayer is the Step 11 Prayer in the 12 X 12 p. 99 ("Lord, make me a channel of thy peace -- that where there is hatred, I may bring love ...") .

While calling Him "Lord" (twice), rather than some form of creator, it brings in the religious concept of eternal life -- "It is by dying that one awakens to Eternal Life"

This one is not from the Big Book, but rather from the Concepts:

"Freedom under God to grow in His likeness and image will ever be the quest of Alcoholics Anonymous" -- Concept XII, Warranty Six, "The World Concepts For World Service, Illustrated", P-8) http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-8_thetwelveconetps.pdf ) (Kind of sounds like a religious agenda to me).


{#} If it is not religious, why is The Lord's Prayer so often used to close meetings? Why doesn't A.A. have any official position on it other than leaving it to each individual to decide whether to participate or not?

Given that it is a prayer straight out of the Bible (Matthew 6 and Luke 11) with explicitely Chrisitan themes which was preached by Jesus on the Sermon on the Mount (the Lord in the Lord's Prayer is Jesus) and that clearly departs from our claim to be not religious?

And pushes the boundaries or violates numerous Traditions (non-affiliation, non-endorsement, outside issues, unity, primary purpose)?

That breaks with A.A.'s attempt to present a generic god and instead present an explicitely Christian God out of the Christian holy book?

For more on the Lord's Prayer, please see http://www.democraticunderground.com/1144174#post25

{#} All 4 federal appeals courts and both state supreme courts that have heard these cases have concluded that A.A. is at least religious in nature and coercion into A.A./N.A. is a violation of the First Amendment's Establishment Clause

Four Federal Courts of Appeals (Second, Third, Seventh, and Ninth circuits -- the latter one twice) and Two state supreme courts (New York and Tennessee) have ruled that Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are religious and that nobody can be coerced by government authority into attending these organizations (as that would violate the First Amendment's prohibition against the state establishment of religion). No Federal Court of Appeals and no State Supreme Court has ruled otherwise. To date, the United States Supreme Court has declined to consider any of these rulings, thus letting these rulings stand.

For more on these court rulings: Court rulings other than the 9th Circuit ones: http://www.angelfire.com/journal/forcedaa/courtopinions.html
and the 9th Circuit Court Of Appeals rulings:
Inouye v. Kemna, 2007: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/09/08/BA99S1AKQ.DTL
and Hazle v. Crofoot, 2013: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/08/24/5676856/atheist-parolee-wins-federal-appeal.html

Here is a Duke Law Journal article that discusses the religious aspects of A.A. and the definition of religion for constitutional purposes (first amendment establishment clause). http://www.law.duke.edu/shell/cite.pl?47+Duke+L.+J.+785

{#} Listening to stories of God doing favors for wealthy American alcoholics (while millions are starving)

So far, I've only talked about how the literature and steps proselytize about a prayer-answering favor-dispensing deity. But probably the most annoying form of proselytization is members in meetings sharing how "God" or "my Higher Power who I choose to call God" did them favors no human power could do. Here are just a few that I've heard:

- gave "oomph" to my dead car battery, so I could start my car and get to the meeting on time to hear something I really needed to hear

- miraculously cleared the left lane so I could get into the left turn lane in time

- made available a parking spot near the front door, even though the parking lot was jammed full and overflowing

- Burned down some troublesome rental property I owned, resulting in a great insurance settlement

- My chain saw came loose from my pickup truck and fell out of the truck, and was dragged for 50 feet (it was still chained loosely to the truck). But the saw wasn't damaged other than nicks and scratches. This was my Higher Power gently warning me to be more careful in the future.

In all their shares, they go out of their way to make it clear that it was something other than human that intervened to make the blessed event happen, something supernatural usually named "God".

Particularly all the ways this deity "God" is helping their cars and their driving -- I keep thinking of when I lived in Accra, Ghana, and I didn't see any wheel chairs, but rather people with very long distended less-than-useless legs (polio?) got around by "walking" on blocks strapped to their forearms.

Why was some deity God (and the Big Book makes clear there is one God) helping wealthy American alcoholics with their cars while these poor people with their forearm blocks are begging in the dirty sidewalks and streets?

Or what about those millions in the 3rd world who starve, or who die long agonizing deaths in parts of the world where there are no morphine drips or other effective painkillers?

Listening to narcissistic wealthy Americans talk about God helping them with their cars in a world where so many people live and die miserably is not at all spiritual to me.


{#} Step 11 -- Praying For Knowledge of God's Will For Us and the Power To Carry It Out is a lot more than listening to nature or one's own thoughts

Stuart>>The quietness of a walk in the forest can be your prayer and meditation..or thinking of that quietness of a walk in the forest listening to Moonlight Sonata..can be it..The process of scilencing the clatter in our minds is prayer sometimes.<<

It's a good description of meditation. However, it doesn't sound like Step 11's praying for God's will for us and the power to carry it out. If anything, it sounds like listening to one's inner thoughts, which gets us into the dangerous area of praying to oneself, becoming one's own God, self-will run riot and all that.

Stuart, I appreciate that you are trying to be helpful, and I thank you. But I've been around the rewms in and out of maybe a half dozen 12-step programs over the past 30 years. And as time goes on, I get more radicalized by the religiosity, not less. I'm involved with Americans United For Separation of Church and State (www.au.org) and, like many Democrats, I am appalled by the increasing religious penetration of our government and classrooms.


-Progree
== Recovery Without Proselytization About A Micro-managing Supernatural Loving Personal Favor-Dispensing Entity Called "God" ==
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