Chapter 5: The Opportunity
This very day, we, who are in AA. and fully conversant with its roots and value, have an unusually important opportunity: (1) To offer others who are willing to trust Almighty God and clean house this dissertation on obtaining complete healing in the hands of God; (2) To amplify and restore to our hearts and minds a full knowledge of Pioneer AA. and its real biblical tools for recovery; and (3) To give AA. Credit for, and encourage the practice of what it did best in the early days — help people to find God, to change and correct their lives, and carry a message of deliverance to those still suffering. And there are some specific points to keep in mind as we tell the good news.
• Remember the Principle of One Drunk Helping Another
Recognize the effectiveness of teaching about alcoholism and its solution by having drunks tell other drunks about their former problem, their victory, and the way out.
• Rely upon God’s Power, Not Merely Human Power
Re-introduce God Almighty to the recovery picture. To be ashamed of mentioning God, to ignore the Creator’s power, to substitute false idols for the true and living Creator, to ridicule church affiliations and religious beliefs, is a mark of deterioration, not progress.
• Recognize the Debilitating Effect of Money
Relieve society of the belief that money thrown into prohibition, pledges, therapy, penalization, incarceration, Treatment programs, medical research, clergy conferences, alcoholism and addiction studies, new “self-help” groups, new church-centered catchall programs, and government intrusion can possibly replace the voluntary, determined, recovery efforts of hurting alcoholics and addicts themselves.
Applaud Science, Medicine, Research, and Religious Bodies Without Depending upon Them
Confine burgeoning expenditures to real medical research, early hospitalization costs, and scientific studies; and reduce money’s importance as a factor in prevention, treatment, recovery, and the sustenance of government, non-profit, business, and religious agencies.
Applaud the Necessity for, and Encourage, Religious Help — Not Ridicule It
AA’s didn’t invent a religion or AA’s religious program. They borrowed it, with religious help, from the Bible, from religious literature, from churches, and from clergy. Reliance on God, Bible study, prayer, devotionals, Quiet Time, and reading were not AA. products. They were learned necessities for those whose plight seemed hopeless.
Recognize the Value of Long-Term Rehabilitation through Whatever Aids Society Offers
Religion, Church, Education, Medical Information, Physical restoration, Life-change, Vocational Rehabilitation, Job Acquisition Training, Exercise programs, Nutrition programs, Family counseling, Wholesome recreation programs — All have their place in rehabilitation of destroyed lives. The real alcoholic is usually deficient in almost all these features, and it takes the “tincture of time” to eliminate the deficits.
Spurn Monopolistic Attitudes and Litigation Ventures
Applaud the entry and growth of alternative programs such as “secular” recovery, “Christ-centered recovery,” and AA. Bible Study groups as proof that AA. has and wants no monopoly on God, no monopoly on recovery ideas, and no program that withdraws into a shell spawning, and inviting, its own rejection by science, medicine, or religion. End the present-day emphasis on copyright litigation, the banning of “forbidden” literature at meetings, and the promotion of atheistic, universal growth.
Spread the Word That Growth after Sobriety Means Return to “Normal,” Godly Living
Publicize the idea that “growth” — in recovery, in the spiritual life, and in individual lives — is not measured by how many meetings a member attends, how “single” in purpose a recovery group’s mission is kept, or how long one has abstained from an addiction. It is measured by the quality of godly life a “recovered” and “delivered” person is actually enjoying in sobriety — individually, with his family, with his job, with his business, with his schools and churches, with his community, and in fellowship with his Creator.
Open the Doors to Religious, Moral, Social, and Other Values of the “Outside World”
Open the structured doors of later AA. sobriety, and encourage the flood of recovered and delivered people into new lives with religious groups, family groups, education groups, service groups, business groups, recreation groups, and community groups, to mention only a few. Life never began nor ended with AA., but it can begin again through the auspices of AA.
Return to the Concept That Family Counts
The disintegration of family life, of marriage, and of family responsibility hasn’t altered the value of those factors in a healthy life. The family emphasis existed in early AA. in Akron and Cleveland. And it should exist in the recovery scene today. (See Dick B. Hope: The Story of Geraldine D., Alma Lodge & Recovery. [Kihei, HI: Tincture of Time Press, 1997].)
Eliminate the Impact of Forces That Are Opposing The Creator, Swallowing AA., and Encouraging an Idolatrous Group Therapy Philosophy in Recovery Programs
Avoid the two greatest destructive forces that can becloud the goodness of God and eliminate the effectiveness of AA. in dealing with alcoholism:
First, that AA. or any other “recovery” group should put on the blinders, reject religion and God, avoid dealing with other addictions, and eliminate outside help from clergy and medicine. AA.’s “being friendly with our friends” is not enough. It wasn’t in the 1930’s, and it isn’t now.
Second. That AA. should delete, revise, “universalize,” and encourage the cloning (into one fellowship) of a bunch of look-alike “neutral newcomers” who have actually entered a unique and recognizable religious society that gained widespread acclaim in the beginning for at least three major achievements.
— Its astonishing successes through its special reliance on God Almighty.
— The lessons learned by alcoholics from their own failures and the unsuccessful efforts of other human beings and entities.
— The attraction such factors really offered to seemingly hopeless and helpless newcomers and their families.
People do not often reject medical help because of fear of being “doctor-bitten.” Nor do they usually shelve their Bibles because of fear of being “clergy-bitten.” Neither, I believe, will the helpless and hopeless alcoholic shun help from the Creator because of fear of being “God-bitten.” At least, he won’t leave AA. because of a “God-bitten” fear if AA. and society don’t foster it. But it’s begun to happen, and there’s an opportunity to end it if we want to.
AA. can be an effective and representative part of the family of God in combating alcoholism if it retains the generous attitude it first manifested toward other “anonymous” groups, “self-help” groups, and “addiction” groups. People have often fled to these other groups as virtual black sheep because of ambiguity as to what AA. was really offering and to whom. Either AA. has something to offer in the “God” field, or it doesn’t. If God heals alcoholism and AA’s are clear in that belief, they can have an enormous impact on the attitudes of government, medicine, religion, and other agencies in determining just how much such entities will welcome the powerful “God-business” solution. That’s a message AA’s will be able to carry by reason of their own success stories, past, present, and future.