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Subject: Alt.Recovery.AA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:23:02 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: alt-recovery
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Archive-name: alt-recovery/alcoholics-anonymous-faq Posting-Frequency: monthly
_________________________________________________________________ Suggestions/corrections/comments are welcome and appreciated. Send me email to dhawk@best.com or dhawk@well.com OR post in alt.recovery.aa with 'FAQ' on the Subject line. Version: 1.11 12/11/96 This FAQ is now available on the WWW. The URL is http://www.well.com/~dhawk/AA.FAQ.html Alcoholics Anonymous now has an official web site at http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org/ DISCLAIMER: This file is not intended to be a complete description of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is an UNOFFICIAL document. If you want to learn more about AA, it recommended to * Attend meetings, if possible * Get and read the book, "Alcoholics Anonymous" * Read other AA literature * Talk with AA members TRADEMARKS: Several of the terms used in this FAQ are trademarked by either AAWS (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services) and/or The Grapevine. These terms include: Alcoholics Anonymous, A.A., Grapevine, Box 459. TABLE OF CONTENTS: _________________________________________________________________ I. Alt.Recovery.AA, the Newsgroup 1. What is Alt.Recovery.AA? 2. Is Alt.Recovery.AA a group or meeting? 3. How do I get sober through AA and can Alt.Recovery.AA help? 4. Discussion, Hot Debate, and Flaming 5. Does discussion here influence GSO or AA as a whole? 6. What about anonymity? Is Alt.Recovery.AA public? 7. Additional information in WWW [World Wide Web] pages. II. Alcoholics Anonymous 1. What is AA? 2. What does AA do? 3. What doesn't AA do? 4. What literature is available? 5. What are meetings, groups, conventions? 6. Twelve Steps 7. Twelve Traditions 8. Twelve Concepts 9. Overview of the History of Alcoholics Anonymous III. Actual Frequently Asked Questions about Alcoholics Anonymous 1. What do the Steps mean by 'God'? 2. What's a spiritual awakening? 3. Why do people keep going to meetings after they're sober? 4. The Lord's prayer, is that in line with the Traditions? 5. I hear Bill W. used LSD. Is that true? 6. How can I get an online copy of the Big Book? 7. Is AA the only way to get sober? 8. What does AA say about drugs? Aren't they all basically the same thing? 9. Should AA Change? 10. If you don't like AA why don't you leave? 11. But AA Works! 12. Explain that Flame Section back at the start, please. IV. Miscellaneous _________________________________________________________________ I. Alt.Recovery.AA, the Newsgroup 1. What is Alt.Recovery.AA? Alt.Recovery.AA is a USENET newsgroup. Its purpose is to discuss Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) and the A.A. program of recovery from alcoholism. Note that 'Alt.Recovery' is also a valid USENET newsgroup name and sometimes articles are cross-posted between the two newsgroups, so watch the Newsgroups and Followup-To header lines both when you read and when you respond or post. One of the customs of USENET is the FAQ, or Frequently Asked Questions document. Normally the FAQ provides information about the newsgroup and the subject matter of the newsgroup. This is the FAQ for Alt.Recovery.AA. There is a separate FAQ for Alt.Recovery. If you are unfamiliar with USENET then some of the postings in news.announce.newusers might be handy in explaining the customs. 2. Is Alt.Recovery.AA a group or meeting? Alt.Recovery.AA lacks a few things common to many "live" groups and meetings. (a) Non-alcoholics can read and post here (b) Anti-AA folks can do likewise (c) People can and will "shout" you down no matter what you say or how nicely you say it. This can be intimidating. (d) Alt.Recovery.AA is public (see question below) with these caveats, call Alt.Recovery.AA what you will. [philw@moscow.com] Note also that Alt.Recovery.AA was not proposed and discussed in alt.config as a meeting or group, but simply as a newsgroup and is listed as being about 'Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous.' Posting to the rest of the net that alt.recovery.aa was a group and under special rules would probably be counter-productive. Also, check a following section about what a meeting or group is. [dhawk] 3. How do I get sober through AA and can Alt.Recovery.AA help? "In our experience, the people who recover in A.A. are those who: (a) stay away from the first drink; (b) attend A.A. meetings regularly; (c) seek out the people in A.A. who have successfully stayed sober for some time; (d) try to put into practice the A.A. program of recovery." -- the A.A. leaflet "a Newcomer asks..." Alt.Recovery.AA can help with the above in a variety of ways. Some participants may know of good meetings to go to, or may even be available to take you to a meeting. They may also know specific ways that worked for them in avoiding taking a drink. They may also be online for a live chat session when you really need to talk to someone. It may also be that you'll see participants demonstrating the A.A. program of recovery. Alt.Recovery.AA can be a good place to ask for help. Also, as you learn more about the A.A. Program you can incorporate more information you get on the net with what you learn from your meetings and your reading. 4. Discussion, Hot Debate, and Flaming There are people on the net who like to go into newsgroups and stir things up. If you want to stir things up in Alt.Recovery.AA here's what to post: + A.A. is a religion [leaving 'religion' undefined] + I recovered from alcoholism and can still drink + A.A. is just a bandaid and doesn't handle the root problem + There would have to be some changes in A.A. before I'd join + I'm not powerless + Derisive comments about the newsgroup itself + Cross-link in posts from other newsgroups, like alt.atheism + Post about non-recovery related items + I'm an atheist, so A.A.'s not for me! + Non-alcoholic beer/wine helps me stay sober + You're not really recovered if you're still smoking. + Probably any post that's a judgment about 'you' Alternatively, you can wait for a post like one of the above and respond to it. (Note: some of those items will be covered in later sections of the FAQ.) If you do not find the debates and flaming helpful, then you can + put the articles in a kill file as they show up + set your newsreader to not show you cross-postings + find something helpful and post about that. + remember that you are not required to read every posting + quit reading the newsgroup. Keep a sense of humor. There's little room for self-righteous stuffed shirts in the world of network news. "... we cannot and should not enter into public controversy, even in self-defense." -- Bill W. in the Twelve Concepts "Let us suppose that A.A. does fall under sharp public attack or heavy ridicule; and let us take the particular case where such pronouncements happen to have little or no justification in fact. ... Almost without exception it can be confidently estimated that our best defense in these situations would be no defense whatever--namely, complete silence at the public level. Unreasonable people are stimulated all the more by opposition. If in good humor we leave them strictly alone, they are apt to subside the more quickly." -- Bill W. in the Twelve Concepts 5. Does discussion here influence GSO or A.A. as a whole? A.A. as a whole is guided by the Twelve Concepts (discussed in a later section). Normally that's a process of input from groups, districts and areas, which leads to a flow of information to GSO. GSO or A.A. as a whole cannot control individual groups. Sometimes the information coming back from GSO leads groups to change how they do things, but a counter-reaction can also occur. If there is something you'd like to see changed about A.A., then the most effective course of action might be to get a group consensus (at a local group that has a General Service Representative [GSR]), which could be carried to the district and area meetings and then on to GSO. I doubt GSO will be monitoring this newsgroup as a means of obtaining feedback. I have never heard anyone get up at a Area meeting and pass along a viewpoint found on a newsgroup or bulletin board system. Since anyone can post here there is no way for a service person to know that the idea came from a member of A.A. The people who really know you're a member of A.A. are at your local meeting. It may be that sharing here about your opinion will lead others to get their groups to examine the issues as well. At the same time the Traditions and Concepts are pretty clear [at least to me, dhawk] as to avoiding public controversy. It may be that a mailing list of members of AA would be a more effective and 'Traditional' means of expressing your views if you want to do so electronically. 6. What about anonymity? Is Alt.Recovery.AA public? A.A. has a Tradition that states that we should remain anonymous at the level of press, radio, and film. Use of full names does happen within various meetings -- in the A.A. service meetings I've been to it is common to use one's full name. But -- this is a broadcast medium. So you might want to consider what anonymity means to you before you post. So what does anonymity mean on a computer network? That's for you to decide. There are anonymous reposters and email services out there. For details send email to help@anon.twwells.com or check the following URL: http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~raph/remailer-list.html 7. Additional information available in WWW [World Wide Web] sites. There are a number of Web pages devoted to Recovery and/or A.A. The following are good places to start. Links were active as of 12/11/96. + http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org + http://www.recovery.org/aa/ + http://www.netwizards.net/recovery II. Alcoholics Anonymous 1. What is Alcoholics Anonymous? Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have had a drinking problem. It is nonprofessional, self-supporting, non-denominational, multiracial, apolitical, and available almost everywhere. There are no age or education requirements. Membership is open to anyone who wants to do something about his or her drinking problem. -- "Info on A.A." leaflet 2. What does A.A. do? 1. A.A. members share their experience with anyone seeking help with a drinking problem; they give person-to-person service or "sponsorship" to the alcoholic coming to A.A. from any source. 2. The A.A. program, set forth in our Twelve Steps, offers the alcoholic a way to develop a satisfying life without alcohol. 3. This program is discussed at A.A. group meetings. -- "Info on A.A." leaflet 3. What doesn't AA do? A.A. does not: 1. Furnish initial motivation for alcoholics to recover 2. Solicit members 3. Engage in or sponsor research 4. Keep attendance records or case histories 5. Join "councils" of social agencies 6. Follow up or try to control its members 7. Make medical or psychological diagnoses or prognoses 8. Provide drying-out or nursing services, hospitalization, drugs, or any medical or psychiatric treatment 9. Offer religious services 10. Engage in education about alcohol 11. Provide housing, food, clothing, jobs, money, or any other welfare or social services 12. Provide domestic or vocational counseling 13. Accept any money for its services, or any contributions from non-A.A. sources 14. Provide letters of reference to parole boards, lawyers, court officials -- "Info on A.A." leaflet What literature is available? The books include: From AAWS: * "Alcoholics Anonymous", the 'Big Book', 3rd edition * "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions", the '12x12' * "Pass It On", the story of Bill W., AA co-founder * "Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers", the story the other co-founder * "AA Comes of Age", more AA history from Bill W.'s perspective * "As Bill Sees It", selected quotations from Bill W. * Daily Reflections, a daily devotional book written by AA members From GSO (and updated yearly): * The AA Service Manual, with Twelve Concepts for World Service From the Grapevine: * There are two "Best of the Grapevine" books * "Language of the Heart", Bill W.'s writings for the Grapevine Magazines: The Grapevine is A.A.'s monthly meeting in print. It includes stories from all over the world, some humor, a list of conventions, some A.A. history, and an article in Spanish. The monthly focus is usually on the Step for that month, since there are 12 Steps and 12 months. To subscribe to the Grapevine, send check or money order to: The Grapevine, PO Box 1980, Grand Central Station, NY, NY 10163-1980 Subscriptions are 1 year 2 year United States $12 $23 Canada $16[Canadian] $31[Canadian] Foreign $14[US] $27[US] and GSO (the General Service Office) has a monthly magazine: Box 4-5-9. It includes news and notes from GSO, items about A.A. around the world, sharing stories, and a bulletin board of A.A. events. Individual subscription for one year is $3.50 (US) and there is a special bulk rate for groups of ten of $6.00 (US). To subscribe to Box 4-5-9, send check or money order to: A.A. World Services, Inc. P.O.Box 459 Grand Central Station New York, NY 10163 There is also the L.I.M., the "Loners-Internationalists Meeting," distributed bimonthly by GSO as an A.A. meeting for those who cannot attend meetings. Write to GSO at the Box 459 address for more information. There are three booklets from AAWS: * Came to Believe * Living Sober * A.A. in Prison: Inmate to Inmate and two booklets from the Grapevine: * AA Today (a booklet for the 25th anniversary of AA in 1960) * The Home Group The pamphlets cover a wide variety of topics. This is a partial list: * 44 Questions * Is A.A. For You? * Is A.A. For Me? * This is A.A. * Questions and Answers on Sponsorship * A.A. for the Woman * A.A. for the Native North American * A.A. for the Gay/Lesbian Alcoholic * A.A. and the Armed Services * Is There An Alcoholic in Your Life? * Inside A.A. * The A.A. Group * A Newcomer Asks * Understanding Anonymity * A Member's-Eye View of Alcoholics Anonymous * Too Young? [cartoon for teenagers] * Speaking an non-A.A. Meetings Videos include: * A.A.--An Inside View * A.A.--Rap With Us * Hope: Alcoholics Anonymous * It Sure Beats Sitting In A Cell * Young People and A.A. Order forms for most of the above can be obtained from General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163 or you can check your local Central Office or Intergroup. The Grapevine stuff is available from the Grapevine. There is sometimes some confusion as to the purpose of A.A. literature. Here's what Bill W. had to say: The Literature Committee: This body is charged with the revision of existing books and pamphlets; also with the creation of fresh pamphlet material to meet new needs or changing conditions. Broadly speaking, its mission is to see that an adequate and comprehensive view of A.A. in its every aspect is held up in writing to our members, friends, and to the world at large. Our literature is a principal means by which A.A. recovery, unity, and service are facilitated. -- Concept XI If you have a WWW browser (mosaic, lynx, netscape, etc.) then a full list of literature is available at the following URL: http://www.recovery.org/aa What are meetings, groups, and conventions? A meeting is when one or more alcoholics get together. It can be informal, sporadic, and one time only -- or it can be ongoing and structured. An example of a meeting that is not a group is one held at an institution, like a jail or hospital, even though the meeting is not self-supporting, but accepts contributions from other groups. A group is when a group of alcoholics agrees to operate under the Twelve Traditions (see below). The difference between a meeting and a group is explained in the pamphlet, "The A.A. Group" -- and you'd better get the revised edition, since that's what changed when they revised it. Roughly, a meeting can become a group if it agrees to accept all who have a desire to stop drinking and has no outside affiliation. Some Central Offices and/or Intergroups will not list meetings that don't meet the 'group' criteria. "As we see it, an A.A. convention is almost any A.A. get-together beyond the group-meeting level." (The GSO in the A.A. Guidelines on 'Conferences and Conventions.') There is a list of some of the conventions in the monthly magazines: the Grapevine and Box 4-5-9. The 1995 Internation Convention was held in San Diego, CA, USA, June 29 to July 2, 1995. There was a "CyberSuite" setup with computers so AA members could login to various online services/resources and use IRC [Internet Relay Chat]. Various reports from the CyberSuite are available in some of the WWW pages listed in the first section of this file. The Twelve Steps "A.A.'s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole." (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 15) The steps are: 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol -- that our lives had become unmanageable. 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God *as we understood Him*. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. 9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscience contact with God *as we understood Him*, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. Source: Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd edition, pages 59 and 60 Italics in Steps Three and Eleven are in original text "Many people, nonalcoholics, report that as a result of the practice of A.A.'s Twelve Steps, they have been able to meet other difficulties of life. They see in them a way to happy and effective living for many, alcoholic or not." (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pp. 15-16) The Twelve Traditions [short form] 1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity. 2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority--a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern. 3. The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking. 4. Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or AA as a whole. 5. Each group has but one primary purpose--to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. 6. An AA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose. 7. Every AA group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions. 8. Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but out service centers may employ special workers. 9. AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service board or committees directly responsible to those they serve. 10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy. 11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films. 12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities. The above is how they are found in the Big Book, page 564, and is known as the 'short form.' The 'long form' is on pages 565 and following. Note that Tradition Two is longer in the 'short form.' The Twelve Traditions are the guidelines that A.A. groups are encouraged to follow. The Twelve Concepts The Twelve Concepts are too long to type in here. They have traditionally been printed with the A.A. Service Manual and are called 'Twelve Concepts for World Service' and are the guidelines for A.A. as a whole to follow. The Concepts are printed at the back of "The A.A. Group" pamphlet, with this footnote: Note: The A.A. General Service Conference has recommended that the "long form" of the Concepts be studied in detail. "Twelve Concepts for World Service", in which A.A. co-founder Bill W. closely examines all these principles of A.A. service, may be ordered from G.S.O. Overview of the History of Alcoholics Anonymous The fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous dates its inception from June 10, 1935, when a 6-month sober (at the time) Wall Street hustler helped an Akron rectal surgeon through his last binge. The New Yorker had been relieved of his obsession to drink through a sudden spiritual awakening while hospitalized for acute alcoholism. He realized, however, that to maintain his sobriety, he needed to help others. The two men set out to carry this message: that a spiritual way of life could arrest the chronic, progressive and fatal condition known as alcoholism. The man from New York is commonly referred to as Bill W., and the surgeon was Dr. Bob. By 1937, after approximately 40 solid successes and many failures, a decision was made to spread the message as widely as possible. Work began on a book that would "Of necessity ... have .. discussion of matters medical, psychiatric, social, and religious." (Alcoholics Anonymous, Third Edition, p.19). In addition to broadcasting the message of recovery, the book also served to codify what had been until then a "word-of-mouth" program. In the spring of 1938, the principal author of the book, Bill W., took the six principles in use at that time and expanded them, in his words, "to break this program up into small pieces so they can't wiggle out" (remarks in Fort Worth, Texas, 1954). Thus were born the original Twelve Steps. A revolutionary document for its time, "Alcoholics Anonymous" (from which the Fellowship took its name) presented for the first time in print the concept that alcoholism was an illness of both mind and body. The first edition (5,000 copies) was set in fairly large type and on the thickest possible paper (so that people would feel they were getting their money's worth) hence the nickname, "Big Book". The first 179 (then, 164 in second and third editions) pages including a section titled "The Doctor's Opinion" describe the problems of alcoholism and the accompanying "personality disorder", the program of recovery, and some of the expected results. The first section has had only minor changes through three editions, mostly dealing with estimates of the number of people who have used the program. The balance of the book set out personal stories by members of the Fellowship. These have changed to reflect the wider nature of the fellowship through its growth. On page vii in "A.A. Comes of Age" is the start of a list called "Landmarks in A.A. History." It only goes up to 1981. III. Actual Frequently Asked Questions about Alcoholics Anonymous 1. What do the Steps mean by 'God'? Well, what the Steps say is "God as you understand Him." The added phrase is to help folks use their own perception of a "Higher Power." There are people in A.A. who use various Higher Powers, including a rock, a tree, a rose bush, a light bulb, the Grateful Dead, the sun, the earth, ... well, the list just goes on and on. Buddhists have been known to substitute 'Good' for 'God'. The "12x12" (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions) has the following on pages 26 and 27: First, Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe anything. All of its Twelve Steps are but suggestions. ... You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your 'higher power.' Here's a very large group of people who have solved their alcohol problem. In this respect they are certainly a power greater than you ... Also, from the Big Book: "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. [...] We needed to ask ourselves but one short question. 'Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself?'" (Alcoholics Anonymous, p.47) 2. What's a spiritual awakening? "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. Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of the difference long before he is himself. He finally realizes that he has undergone a profound alteration in his reaction to life; that such a change could hardly have been brought about by himself alone. What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self discipline. With few exceptions our members find that they have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify with their own conception of a Power greater than themselves. Most of us think this awareness of a Power greater than ourselves is the essence of spiritual experience. Our more religious members call it 'God-consciousness'. (Alcoholics Anonymous, pgs. 569-570) 3. Why do people keep going to meetings after they're sober? "To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends---this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives." (Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 89) "We sit in A.A. meetings and listen, not only to receive something ourselves, but to give the reassurance and support which our presence can bring. If our turn comes to speak at a meeting, we again try to carry A.A.'s message." (Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, pg. 110) 4. What about the Lord's prayer? Is it in line with the Traditions? Some A.A. members think so. Some don't. Some A.A. groups use it. Some don't. Decide for yourself. The pamphlet, "The A.A. Group", under 'Suggested Meeting Procedures' has a paragraph that says, "Many meetings close with members reciting the Lord's Prayer or the Serenity Prayer." However, experience has shown that extended discussion on alt.recovery and other newsgroups hasn't solved the conflict yet. 5. I hear Bill W. used LSD. Is that true? There's a chapter about this in "Pass It On", the A.A. published biography of Bill W. The short answer is Yes. Rumor has it that he also drank heavily prior to 1935. ;-) Seriously, LSD was still legal and Bill was using it under clinical conditions. The time period was 1955 to 1959. 6. How do I get an online copy of the Big Book? You will need to have a WWW browser to read this: Mosaic, Netscape, Lynx, etc. The URL is: http://www.recovery.org/aa/bigbook/ww/index.html Copyright on the 1st and 2nd editions has expired in the U.S. because A.A. didn't renew it. In all other countries, the copyright is still in force. [philw@moscow.com] 7. Is A.A. the only way to get sober? "It would be a product of false pride to claim that A.A. is a cure-all, even for alcoholism." (Bill W. in "A.A. Comes of Age", page 232.) Bill W. repeatedly said that "our hats are off to you if you can find a better way" and "If [those seeking a different cure] can do better by other means, we are glad." (Bill W. in Concept XII). 8. What does A.A. say about drugs? [check the pamphlet "The AA Member - Medications and other Drugs"] 9. Should A.A. Change? Perhaps our very first realization should be that we can't stand still. Now that our basic principles seem established, now that our functioning is fairly effective and widespread, it would be temptingly easy to settle down as merely one more useful agency on the world scene. We could conclude that "AA is fine, just the way it is." ... We have to grow or deteriorate. For us, the 'status quo' can only be for today, never for tomorrow. Change we must; we cannot stand still. So then, if our basics [Steps and Traditions] are so firmly fixed as all this, what is there left to change or to improve? The answer will immediately occur to us. While we need not alter our truths, we can surely improve their application to ourselves, to AA as a whole, and to our relation with the world around us. We can consistently step up "the practice of these principles in all our affairs." ... Let us continue to take our inventory as a Fellowship, searching out our flaws and confessing them freely. Let us devote ourselves to the repair of all faulty relations that may exist, whether within or without. -- Bill W., "The Shape of Things to Come", reprinted in "The Language of the Heart" 10. If you don't like A.A. why don't you leave? 1. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. Or to state the Third Tradition in its long form: "Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recovery. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend on money or conformity." 2. Then there's the matter of inventories. See page 64 of the Big Book. AA has to be serious about inventories at the individual, group, and overall levels. Saying "We dare not look" (12x12) isn't going to cut it. 3. Bill W. welcomed criticism: "Thanks much for your letter of criticism. I'm certain that had it not been for its strong critics, A.A. would have made slower progress. "For myself, I have come to set a high value on the people who have criticized me, whether they have seemed reasonable critics or unreasonable ones. Both have often restrained me from doing much worse than I actually have done. The unreasonable ones have taught me, I hop, a little patience. But the reasonable ones have always done a great job for all of A.A.--and have taught me many a valuable lesson. -- As Bill Sees It, page 326 11. But A.A. Works! A.A. works for the people it has worked for. But there is no way, short of experimentation, to know if a change will make A.A. more effective or less. Quoting Bill W. again: "Though three hundred thousand did recover in the last twenty-five years, maybe half a million more have walked into our midst, and then out again. No doubt some were too sick to make even a start. Others couldn't or wouldn't admit their alcoholism. Still others couldn't face up to their underlying personality defects. Numbers departed for other reasons. ... Yet we can't well content ourselves with the view that all these recovery failures were entirely the fault of the newcomers themselves. Perhaps a great many didn't receive the kind and amount of sponsorship they so sorely needed. We didn't communicate when we might have done so. So we AAs failed them." (The Language of the Heart, page 252). 12. Explain that Flame Section back at the start, please. OK, up in Section I, part 4, "Discussion, Hot Debate, and Flaming" it says that people sometimes come to the newsgroup and (intentionally or unintentionally) stir things up with statements like + AA is a religion [leaving 'religion' undefined], + I recovered from alcoholism and can still drink + AA is just a bandaid and doesn't handle the root problem + There would have to be some changes in AA before I'd join + I'm not powerless + Derisive comments about the newsgroup itself + Cross-link in posts from other newsgroups, like alt.atheism + Post about non-recovery related items + I'm an atheist, so AA's not for me! + Non-alcoholic beer/wine helps me stay sober + You're not really recovered if you're still smoking. If this happens intentionally, then it's known as 'trolling.' So, what to do? Well, what Bill W. would have suggested is not replying, not even in defense of AA. That public controversy isn't worth it. If I always react to a prod, then that makes me reactionary, which I don't think falls on the 'attraction' side of public relations. Pages 66 and 67 in the Big Book are appropriate in this context, I think -- "We avoid retaliation or argument." If all else fails, I will post what I know is true for me. I do not speak for AA as a whole. Likewise, I do not have to defend AA as a whole. IV. Miscellaneous * The following really didn't fit in the outline form, so I'm putting it here. * If you are willing to sponsor or correspond with someone behind bars, GSO maintains a list of inmates who've requested correspondents. The May 1994 Grapevine said there were 150 inmates waiting to matched with an outside "sponsor." You can get more information from the corrections desk at GSO, Box 459, Grand Central Station, New York, NY 10163. * Quote for the month: ".. I was painfully learning how not to communicate. No matter how truthful the words of my message, there could be no deep communication if what I said and did was colored by pride, arrogance, intolerance, resentment, imprudence, or a desire for personal acclaim.." -- Bill W., "Language of the Heart" (p. 246) _________________________________________________________________ Contributors: philw@moscow.com jimcrust@hooked.net dhawk@best.com plus stuff downloaded from the net over the years. _________________________________________________________________ Alt.Recovery.AA FAQ / Frequently Asked Questions about AA / dhawk@best.com