Sunday, December 26, 2010

Indianapolis Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) For Atheists and Agnostics - A.A.'s Earliest Agnostic

While stories abound of the early years of A.A. and how so many of those members were often "converted" from non-belief, atheism or agnosticism, one rarely hears the story of Jim B.

Jim Burwell was one of the first 10 members of A.A. He was also a self-described "militant agnostic." His insistence that the "God bit" be toned down eventually resulted in the commonly used terms "Higher Power," and "God as we understood Him." He's also credited with the adoption of the Third Tradition which states, "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking."

Jim was a founder or supporting member of groups from one coast to the other, helping to found A.A. in both Philadelphia and Baltimore. His dedication to helping the still suffering alcoholic is felt to this day. His story "A Vicious Cycle" is included in the 2nd & 3rd Editions of "The Big Book."
"I don't think the boys were completely convinced of my personality change, for they fought shy of including my story in the book, so my only contribution to their literary efforts was my firm conviction, being still a theological rebel, that the word God should be qualified with the phrase "as we understand him"— for that was the only way I could accept spirituality."
The We Agnostics Group of A.A. in Indianapolis is doing its part to carry on the legacy of that important character in A.A.'s history.

Thanks, Jim B.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tradition 3 - Indianapolis Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) for Athiests and Agnostics

Tradition Three

When AA first burst onto the scene, it was heralded by many to be the "cure to end all cures". It's difficult to get hard statistics, but in the first 20 years of AA, recovery rates were quoted to be at 70%-80%. In the 1960s and 70s, it had declined to somewhere around 60%. Now, it's said to be 10% or less, and several studies put it at less than 5%.

I'm far from a statistician, I'm only a simple man who has found recovery. What I'm about to say is my opinion, and my opinion only, and does not reflect the opinion of any group or AA itself.

I think our decline in recovery, in part, might be due to our neglect of Tradition 3: "The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking". Notice that nothing is said in Tradition 3 about how to believe, how to act, how to think...a simple desire to stop drinking is enough.

In my years of experience in AA, I've seen the same pattern repeat itself over and over. A newcomer comes in, is warmly welcomed, and sees hope for a life of sobriety and peace, the ability to live happy, joyous, and free without alcohol.

After a few weeks or months, the newcomer becomes disillusioned, because we often say "The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking", but our actions are quite different. We (and, in the past, I have, sadly, been quilty of this) tell the newcomer that he/she has to believe this way or that way, act this way or that effect, the opposite of what Tradition 3 states. And, the newcomer becomes frustrated, pulls away, and ends up drinking again, because they feel they are not a member of AA because they don't hold to the religious parts of AA.

My life is filled with men and women who have found long term, contented sobriety who are either atheist or agnostic. They have a sincere desire to to stop drinking and are, therefore, a member of AA. No one can tell them...or you....otherwise.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Indianapolis Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) For Atheists and Agnostics

Recovery IS possible without the requirement that you be forced to believe in someone else's idea of spirituality. The A.A. literature is very clear about this matter. Members are free to believe - or not believe - whatever they need in order to achieve and maintain their own sobriety.

This group is designed to serve alcoholics who are trying to get and stay sober but don't wish to be coerced into believing something that is not true for them.

This IS an A.A. meeting. You are welcomed to attend. We are getting and staying sober. Several of our members have been sober for many years.

We hope you'll consider stopping by.