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Tags alcoholics anonymous , alcoholism , treatment programs

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Old 18th August 2010, 03:29 AM   #601
Hallo Alfie
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
180 degrees wrong would not make it exactly wrong, would it ?
Let's say you are facing one way, then you turn 180 degrees,now you are going completely the opposite way. That would be "exactly wrong".

Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Yes, and isn't it quite an amazing coincidence that both alcoholism AND Christianity result in you seeing yourself as worthless ?
Whilst in the grips of active alcoholism, one already feels worthless. Recovery and AA does everything to remove that sense of worthlessness and replace it with healthy self-esteem.

You might be right that alcoholism and Christianity result in you seeing yourself as worthless; it's certainly true for the practising alky, I couldn't comment on the practising Christian however.

You seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what AA does for the alcoholic, this might explain your mistrust, scepticism (whatever you want to call it).

To summarise, the program raises one from self-loathing and false ego to a place of self love and healthy self-esteem.

Last edited by Hallo Alfie; 18th August 2010 at 03:32 AM.
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Old 18th August 2010, 08:45 AM   #602
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
"In God We Trust" does not belong on secular currency.
As an answer to the question I asked -- "Is the mere mention of God sufficient to render something entirely religious in nature"? -- I guess I'll take that as a "no".

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The 12 Steps are not a "mere mention". They explicitly refer to the Christian Deity in 8 out of 12 Steps.
They explicitly do precisely the opposite: they are carefully worded so as to allow for any definition of "Higher Power" that the individual may choose to go with. You are reading far too much into the use of the word, "God". It's a convenience. I will concede that "GodAsWeUnderstandHim" defaults to the God of the Bible in a culture where Christianity is the predominant religion -- but in the same sense, the claim so often made by fundamentalists would have to be accepted as true: the US is a Christian nation. There can be little question as to the identity of "The Creator" mentioned in the Declaration of Independence -- but this is not mere mention; it is the very foundation stone of the entire document. The colonists were not merely claiming that they had rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; they were claiming that they had been endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights to these. Everything that followed was built upon that moral principle.

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AA is not a religion in and of itself, but it is a religious organization founded and based on Christianity.
It seems reasonable that we try to differentiate "religious" from "religion", but you seem to be making a distinction here that is not clear to me. What you have just provided sounds to me like the definition of a sect. Is AA a sect?
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For all practical purposes and in a Nutshell, a religion is the worship of a Deity.
But a specific deity (or deities, as in Hinduism) -- right?

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If you had bothered to read any of my earlier posts on this thread, you would have discovered that I have experienced AA and NA, up close and personal.
I've seen about a zillion people come into AA and experience it up close and personal -- bringing all of their personal biases, social conditioning, religious notions, etc along with them -- and head right back out without ever really hearing a word of what was being said. "Like this cup", Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"

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A textual analysis, and an examination of AA's historical record demonstrate that the Steps of AA are precisely analogues of Christian Doctrine.
And an examination of a broader historical record will demonstrate that most of what is commonly perceived as "Christion Doctrine" turns out to have been borrowed from earlier traditions. Perhaps it is simply a matter of convergence; some ideas are simply more likely than others to gain popularity. The Golden Rule is one example. The idea of blood sacrifice is another. The idea of God using his magic to inseminate a human virgin so she could give birth to him so he could become his own son and offer himself to himself as the blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices -- that's a fairly unique twist (except for the first part), but as far as I can see, accepting this as truth is the one thing most critical to "becoming a Christian". There are some in AA for whom this works (and enduring them can be a chore) but great care was taken to allow for those for whom this doesn't work.

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By the way, in Catholicism Confession is taken by a priest.
So I've heard. And in psychotherapy, it is to one's therapist that one gives up his secrets. Those who actually endure the trauma of the fifth step in AA (or the analogous process in psychotherapy), and do so with someone who has some experience, may be informed that some of the guilt that has plagued them is guilt which does not rightfully belong to them. An inability to recognize the point at which one's own responsibility ends and someone else's begins may not be a vital aspect of alcoholism, but they do tend to go together a lot. I suppose a Catholic priest might be able to help with that as well, but my view from a distance gives me the impression that it's probably somewhat rare, as those guys have a reputation for thriving on other people's guilt.

I don't believe in "God's Grace", but I do think there can be something powerful and very healing in letting another human being see into those places we usually keep hidden, and talking about those things we usually don't like to talk about. Especially if you've got your head on straight enough to permit you to make wise choices about whom you can trust (and also if you don't find the experience so rewarding that you experience a need to do it all the time; I've seen that happen, and it can be nauseating to watch).
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Old 18th August 2010, 09:08 AM   #603
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Originally Posted by A.A.Alfie View Post
Let's say you are facing one way, then you turn 180 degrees,now you are going completely the opposite way. That would be "exactly wrong".
Sorry but as long as I don't get the full 360 degrees I don't buy it.

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Whilst in the grips of active alcoholism, one already feels worthless. Recovery and AA does everything to remove that sense of worthlessness and replace it with healthy self-esteem.
...dependent upon a higher power. Yeah, that'll do it.

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You seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what AA does for the alcoholic, this might explain your mistrust, scepticism (whatever you want to call it).
Perhaps you're right. Of course, my only knowledge of AA is from north-american chapters, so...
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Old 18th August 2010, 02:21 PM   #604
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Perhaps you're right. Of course, my only knowledge of AA is from north-american chapters, so...
If you were drinking alcoholically prior to attending AA (which doesn't seem to have helped) what suitable and efficaceous help did you find?

And if you didn't have a drinking problem what was your interest in AA?
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Old 18th August 2010, 06:06 PM   #605
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Originally Posted by Dymanic View Post
As an answer to the question I asked -- "Is the mere mention of God sufficient to render something entirely religious in nature"? -- I guess I'll take that as a "no".
Knock yourself out. Never mind that your premise is unfounded.

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They explicitly do precisely the opposite: they are carefully worded so as to allow for any definition of "Higher Power" that the individual may choose to go with. You are reading far too much into the use of the word, "God". It's a convenience.
No they aren't "carefully worded". They are Weaselly Worded, but very poorly, as they are still obvious Christian references. And it's not a "convenience" either. I don't have to "read into it", because the statements are so blatantly explicit.

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I will concede that "GodAsWeUnderstandHim" defaults to the God of the Bible in a culture where Christianity is the predominant religion -- but in the same sense, the claim so often made by fundamentalists would have to be accepted as true: the US is a Christian nation.
It's not a "default" when it is actually the explicit verbiage of Protestants. AA was originally founded by Protestants, for Protestants. Therefore your analogy to the claims of Fundamentalists is as specious as your other analogy.

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There can be little question as to the identity of "The Creator" mentioned in the Declaration of Independence -- but this is not mere mention; it is the very foundation stone of the entire document. The colonists were not merely claiming that they had rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; they were claiming that they had been endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights to these. Everything that followed was built upon that moral principle.
So now, after attempting to (unsuccessfully) tar me with the Fundamentalist Brush, you turn right around and fall into the trap you set for me . I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you just "forgot" that the vast majority of the Founding Fathers were Deists, not Christians, and that the "God" referred to in the Declaration of Independence was EXPLICITLY Nature's God, not Jehovah:

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Declaration of Independence:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation
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It seems reasonable that we try to differentiate "religious" from "religion", but you seem to be making a distinction here that is not clear to me. What you have just provided sounds to me like the definition of a sect. Is AA a sect?
Assuming again, that you haven't bothered to read my earlier posts (which is the best spin I can put on it), AA is a Religious Support Group for Alcoholics.

Is a Christian Youth Group a Sect? How about a Christian Lobbyist Group? Or a Christian School? If those organizations fit YOUR definition of "sect", I have to wonder what dictionary your looking in.

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For all practical purposes and in a Nutshell, a religion is the worship of a Deity.
But a specific deity (or deities, as in Hinduism) -- right?
Close...As in the Protestant Christian Deity.

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I've seen about a zillion people come into AA and experience it up close and personal -- bringing all of their personal biases, social conditioning, religious notions, etc along with them -- and head right back out without ever really hearing a word of what was being said. "Like this cup", Nan-in said, "you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"
So, after dismissing my arguments because you presumed I had no experiences, you now dismiss my arguments because my experiences don't count (compared to yours I suppose).

How dishonest can you get? Now you know why I prefer not to argue from anecdote.

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And an examination of a broader historical record will demonstrate that most of what is commonly perceived as "Christion Doctrine" turns out to have been borrowed from earlier traditions. Perhaps it is simply a matter of convergence; some ideas are simply more likely than others to gain popularity. The Golden Rule is one example. The idea of blood sacrifice is another. The idea of God using his magic to inseminate a human virgin so she could give birth to him so he could become his own son and offer himself to himself as the blood sacrifice to end all blood sacrifices -- that's a fairly unique twist (except for the first part), but as far as I can see, accepting this as truth is the one thing most critical to "becoming a Christian".
The historical context for AA is that it was founded on Protestant Christian Doctrines. That some of those Christian doctrines were borrowed from other Religions centuries ago isn't relevant to the discussion at hand. It's a Red Herring.

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There are some in AA for whom this works (and enduring them can be a chore) but great care was taken to allow for those for whom this doesn't work.
Yes, I concur that there are some (a few) people that benefit from a Christian Support Group for Alcoholics. I have never said there weren't any.

But as is apparent from the actual wording of the Steps, very little care was taken to allow for those for whom it doesn't work.

Yes, it is true that in some local chapters, some words are changed in an attempt to remove the "God stuff" to achieve more Universalism and/or Secularism, but that can't hide the fact that the Steps are still inherently the same Protestant Steps disguised to placate non-Christians.

Nor does it change the fact that the Official Website of the Parent Organization posts the Original Protestant 12 Steps on their website.

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By the way, in Catholicism Confession is taken by a priest.
So I've heard. And in psychotherapy, it is to one's therapist that one gives up his secrets. Those who actually endure the trauma of the fifth step in AA (or the analogous process in psychotherapy), and do so with someone who has some experience, may be informed that some of the guilt that has plagued them is guilt which does not rightfully belong to them. An inability to recognize the point at which one's own responsibility ends and someone else's begins may not be a vital aspect of alcoholism, but they do tend to go together a lot. I suppose a Catholic priest might be able to help with that as well, but my view from a distance gives me the impression that it's probably somewhat rare, as those guys have a reputation for thriving on other people's guilt.
Well you didn't quote my complete statement at that point. And the 5th Step is the big Confession Step. And your statement seems one of your least disingenuous statements. But Steps 6 & 7 demonstrate that thriving on guilt is not confined to Catholic Priests:

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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.
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I don't believe in "God's Grace", but I do think there can be something powerful and very healing in letting another human being see into those places we usually keep hidden, and talking about those things we usually don't like to talk about. Especially if you've got your head on straight enough to permit you to make wise choices about whom you can trust (and also if you don't find the experience so rewarding that you experience a need to do it all the time; I've seen that happen, and it can be nauseating to watch).
Fair Enough . Probably the most reasonable of all your statements in this particular post. I couldn't agree more with this. No Woo, No Religion, No Confession, just a Sharing of Pain and Suffering.

One can get this from a wholly secular non-12 Step program (say, Rational Recovery for example), or from a trusted friend, psychiatrist, or counselor. If this is the key, the Religious 12 Step program is not only unnecessary for Non-Christians, it can actually be detrimental to them, pushing people away who really do need help.

GB
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Old 18th August 2010, 11:41 PM   #606
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
It's not a "default" when it is actually the explicit verbiage of Protestants. AA was originally founded by Protestants, for Protestants.
Yet they went out of their way to invent awkward phrases like "A power greater than ourselves" and "God as we understood him". You are of course free to continue to assume that every time anyone uses the word "God" they are referring to the God of the Protestants. You'll be wrong quite often, especially if the ones using that word are AA members, but it's your choice.

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So now, after attempting to (unsuccessfully) tar me with the Fundamentalist Brush...
Asking what the test is, and considering whether it works when it applied universally or only when applied selectively, is an examination of the logic. We do that sort of thing here. Try not to take stuff personally.

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I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you just "forgot" that the vast majority of the Founding Fathers were Deists, not Christians, and that the "God" referred to in the Declaration of Independence was EXPLICITLY Nature's God, not Jehovah
I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that if I argued that the quotes we're examining primarily originate with Jefferson (who was not a Deist) borrowing heavily from Locke (who wasn't either), you would be able to come up with counter arguments until we filled an entire thread with the exchange. Possibly fun, but not necessary for our purposes here. For our purposes here, it is sufficient to make the simple observation that "God" defaults to the God of the Christian Bible in a culture where Christianity is the predominant religion, and I'll stand by that.

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So, after dismissing my arguments because you presumed I had no experiences, you now dismiss my arguments because my experiences don't count
Barely sober alcoholics quite often stumble into AA and, based on their past experiences, reach the hasty conclusion that it's some sort of church. Some of them, if their preconceptions are strong enough (childhood indoctrination into some church can do it) may continue to treat it that way. Get enough of them together in a group, and I will concede that it effectively IS a church. If your experiences are with such a group, then that's unfortunate. I believe I mentioned the blind men and the elephant thing somewhere above. Are you familiar with that metaphor?

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That some of those Christian doctrines were borrowed from other Religions centuries ago isn't relevant to the discussion at hand
I could not disagree more. You would dismiss much that is of value for no other apparent reason than that it is subsumed under Christian doctrine. My position is that Christianity lays claim to certain ideas that are universal; that existed long before Christianity did; that are not essential to Christianity or any religion; and that are not even religious in nature. In labelling AA a Christian organization and deriding it on that basis, you are validating Christianity's illegitimate claim to those ideas.

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But Steps 6 & 7 demonstrate that thriving on guilt is not confined to Catholic Priests:
The key thing you're missing here is that while Catholic priests (allegedly) thrive on other people's guilt, alcoholism thrives on the alcoholic's own guilt.

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One can get this from a wholly secular non-12 Step program (say, Rational Recovery for example), or from a trusted friend, psychiatrist, or counselor.
No argument there. But that's not the question this thread was created to address.

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If this is the key, the Religious 12 Step program is not only unnecessary for Non-Christians, it can actually be detrimental to them, pushing people away who really do need help.
I think most people who have had experience in trying to "help" alcoholics is that if they don't want help, there's practically nothing you can do that won't push them away (and the more they need it, the more that's the case). AA isn't for people who need help.
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Old 19th August 2010, 12:54 AM   #607
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Originally Posted by Dymanic View Post
Yet they went out of their way to invent awkward phrases like "A power greater than ourselves" and "God as we understood him". You are of course free to continue to assume that every time anyone uses the word "God" they are referring to the God of the Protestants. You'll be wrong quite often, especially if the ones using that word are AA members, but it's your choice.
What's so "awkward" about "a power greater than ourselves"? Standard stuff for a religious viewpoint. "God as we understood Him" isn't awkward either, but it is a weaselly (and poor) attempt to camouflage the obvious reference to a Male Deity.

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So now, after attempting to (unsuccessfully) tar me with the Fundamentalist Brush...
Asking what the test is, and considering whether it works when it applied universally or only when applied selectively, is an examination of the logic. We do that sort of thing here. Try not to take stuff personally.
A disingenuous attempt to wriggle out of a false representation of my position.

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I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you just "forgot" that the vast majority of the Founding Fathers were Deists, not Christians, and that the "God" referred to in the Declaration of Independence was EXPLICITLY Nature's God, not Jehovah.
I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that if I argued that the quotes we're examining primarily originate with Jefferson (who was not a Deist) borrowing heavily from Locke (who wasn't either), you would be able to come up with counter arguments until we filled an entire thread with the exchange. Possibly fun, but not necessary for our purposes here. For our purposes here, it is sufficient to make the simple observation that "God" defaults to the God of the Christian Bible in a culture where Christianity is the predominant religion, and I'll stand by that.
Not only disingenuous, but historically inaccurate. Or maybe you think that Jefferson's Deist version of the Bible somehow makes him a Christian, rather than a Deist with an admiration for some of Christ's moral teachings, though not his alleged Divinity. Maybe you think Jefferson's use of the Deist term "Nature's God" is pure happenstance, bearing no relation to Deism at all.

And again, it's not a "default" when it was the original intent of the founders of AA, and continues to be a huge part of the official literature.

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So, after dismissing my arguments because you presumed I had no experiences, you now dismiss my arguments because my experiences don't count
Barely sober alcoholics quite often stumble into AA and, based on their past experiences, reach the hasty conclusion that it's some sort of church. Some of them, if their preconceptions are strong enough (childhood indoctrination into some church can do it) may continue to treat it that way. Get enough of them together in a group, and I will concede that it effectively IS a church. If your experiences are with such a group, then that's unfortunate. I believe I mentioned the blind men and the elephant thing somewhere above. Are you familiar with that metaphor?
An attempt to dodge the uncomfortable fact that you used dishonest debate tactics.

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That some of those Christian doctrines were borrowed from other Religions centuries ago isn't relevant to the discussion at hand
I could not disagree more. You would dismiss much that is of value for no other apparent reason than that it is subsumed under Christian doctrine. My position is that Christianity lays claim to certain ideas that are universal; that existed long before Christianity did; that are not essential to Christianity or any religion; and that are not even religious in nature. In labelling AA a Christian organization and deriding it on that basis, you are validating Christianity's illegitimate claim to those ideas.
I don't deride AA at all. But I do deride the untruth that AA is not Religious. Nor do I dismiss the 4 Steps that aren't explicitly religious.

The continuous references to God as "Him" hardly paint a Universalist picture. And the fact that Christianity borrowed from other Religions doesn't make it any less Religious, no matter how much you and other AA members try to put a Universalist Spin on it. This is why it is a Red Herring.

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But Steps 6 & 7 demonstrate that thriving on guilt is not confined to Catholic Priests:
The key thing you're missing here is that while Catholic priests (allegedly) thrive on other people's guilt, alcoholism thrives on the alcoholic's own guilt.
The key thing YOU'RE missing is that AA and its members thrive on the guilt of others.

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One can get this from a wholly secular non-12 Step program (say, Rational Recovery for example), or from a trusted friend, psychiatrist, or counselor.
No argument there. But that's not the question this thread was created to address.
Actually it is quite to the point of the OP, which was posted by someone trying to understand why AAers bother to deny the blatantly religious doctrines of AA.

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I think most people who have had experience in trying to "help" alcoholics is that if they don't want help, there's practically nothing you can do that won't push them away (and the more they need it, the more that's the case).
Anecdote and Assumption.

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AA isn't for people who need help.
And like AAAlfie, when it inconveniences your argument, you ditch the very precept that you and AA stake your claim to exist on, that Alcoholics need help.

If AA isn't for people that need help, then what IS the actual agenda?

GB
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Old 19th August 2010, 03:03 AM   #608
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Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
And if you didn't have a drinking problem what was your interest in AA?
I'm interested in everything.
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Old 19th August 2010, 07:59 AM   #609
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
What's so "awkward" about "a power greater than ourselves"?
Eight syllables where one would do, if what you assert were valid; and inexplicably vague where specificity counts big. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" is an important precept in Christianity. Implicit in that is that other gods do exist, and to allow or even encourage the individual to pick and choose among them -- or invent new ones, or pick anything he likes and call it his "higher power" (aka "God") -- is impossible for me to resolve with any form of Christianity I'm familiar with. I don't think even Unitarians would go that far.

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A disingenuous attempt to wriggle out of a false representation of my position.
I plead not guilty. Read it again. I was challenging you to explain what I saw as an inconsistency in your logic. There is a difference between a reductio ad absurdum argument and the burning of a strawman. The latter accomplishes nothing, and I try to avoid it.

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Not only disingenuous, but historically inaccurate.
As I said, that long-running debate could be the topic of an entire thread, but I don't think it would be helpful or appropriate to conduct it here.

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The key thing YOU'RE missing is that AA and its members thrive on the guilt of others.
I understand that that is your impression. I've made it clear that I disagree with that as a generality; if anything, I would say (as a generality) that AA and its members thrive on helping others overcome their feelings of guilt. "We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it". Of course, not everybody gets that, and I would allow for exceptions. (To be consistent with the comparison between AA members and Catholic priests, I'd have to, having known more than one AA member who was a Catholic priest; who'd have figured one of those guys might have a drinking problem?) People struggling to come to terms with their own shortcomings often prefer to focus on those of others. It may actually be helpful if accompanied by a little insight, such as that contained the AA witticism that says: "You can take someone else's inventory, but you have to keep it". I don't see this as a matter that can be settled by proof, or even evidence. It's too subjective, too general, and too speculative. I don't see much to be gained by continuing to bat it back and forth.

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Anecdote and Assumption.
If you thought my intent was to present that as incontrovertable scientific truth, then your capacity for misunderstanding is holding up well.

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If AA isn't for people that need help, then what IS the actual agenda?
AA is for people who want help.
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Old 19th August 2010, 08:22 AM   #610
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
I'm interested in everything.
Ok, just JAQing around. Have a pleasant life.
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Old 19th August 2010, 12:14 PM   #611
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Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
Ok, just JAQing around. Have a pleasant life.
What does this have to do with anything ? You seem to have a nice predilection for irrelevancy.

You asked a question. I answered. I'm interested in the subject because things interest me. And no, I'm not a professor in psychology at Yale who's written ten volumes on AA. So what ?

Have an UNpleasant life, will you ? Oh, you've already started.
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Old 19th August 2010, 01:50 PM   #612
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
The problem is, the FIRST THREE STEPS completely and utterly contradict the Steps you quoted. As do most of the OTHER Steps which are entirely religious in nature.

Thus, MOST of the Steps actually advocate the abdication of responsibility to God, and is a clear call for the Sinner to Confess his/her Sins so that God can bless the Sinner with "His" Grace, and then to Proselytize to others having achieved this State of Grace.

GB


Belz said "And abdicating any form of responsibility to a higher power..." (emphasis mine)

it was only to that point I was responding.




As I said previously, when it comes to AA being religious, I agree with you. More so than I at first thought, for I never read much of Bill's thoughts and history that he wrote in later years.

Also, anecdotally, I chair an AA Grapevine meeting once a week, and every week I am hard-pressed to find stories which do not have some sort of emphasis on God and all the rest of that crap. It's not bad, per se. It just gets tiresome to me.

I think it's time for me to find a new group to go to.
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Old 19th August 2010, 02:11 PM   #613
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
What does this have to do with anything ? You seem to have a nice predilection for irrelevancy.
Shared by several posters in this thread.

Quote:
You asked a question. I answered. I'm interested in the subject because things interest me. And no, I'm not a professor in psychology at Yale who's written ten volumes on AA. So what ?
Satisfying my curiousity, although I quite frankly have no idea why AA would interest you.

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Have an UNpleasant life, will you ? Oh, you've already started.
Much more pleaseant since allowing AA groups to help me with a problem.

Obviously AA won't be able to help you with yours.
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Old 19th August 2010, 02:14 PM   #614
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Dymanic, your penchant for decontextualizing my points by posting truncated snippets is becoming more and more pervasive. I have at least done you the courtesy of quoting your arguments in their entirety, and arguing against what I see as the context of your arguments.

If the only way you can debate, is by creating Straw Men out of snippets, then your arguments have little merit. But you do deserve some credit for actually engaging, unlike AAAlfie who would rather stick his fingers in his ears and go "lalalalala".

You claim I am just misunderstanding you and AA, and maybe that is the case.

But until you and others acknowledge that AA's religious language, tenets, and propaganda invite such "misunderstandings", I will continue to suspect that this is just because you and AA change the rules of debate at your convenience.

GB
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Old 19th August 2010, 02:24 PM   #615
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Originally Posted by The Norseman View Post
Belz said "And abdicating any form of responsibility to a higher power..." (emphasis mine)

it was only to that point I was responding.




As I said previously, when it comes to AA being religious, I agree with you. More so than I at first thought, for I never read much of Bill's thoughts and history that he wrote in later years.

Also, anecdotally, I chair an AA Grapevine meeting once a week, and every week I am hard-pressed to find stories which do not have some sort of emphasis on God and all the rest of that crap. It's not bad, per se. It just gets tiresome to me.

I think it's time for me to find a new group to go to.
Fair Enough Norseman. You might want to try the group Rational Recovery. Though I do have some problems with their philosophies too.

GB
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Old 19th August 2010, 04:37 PM   #616
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Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
Satisfying my curiousity, although I quite frankly have no idea why AA would interest you.
Why would that be relevant ? The question is, am I right, or not ?

Quote:
Much more pleaseant since allowing AA groups to help me with a problem.
Yes, indeed. HELP you. Hopefully you realise that, in the end, and with their help, YOU were the one to solve your problem, not some fuzzy higher power.

Quote:
Obviously AA won't be able to help you with yours.
Obviously, since I don't drink.
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Old 19th August 2010, 06:19 PM   #617
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
Fair Enough Norseman. You might want to try the group Rational Recovery. Though I do have some problems with their philosophies too.

GB

I've been to other websites like SOS but I fear that membership is sorely lacking in my area. I'd love to be pleasantly surprised.

And, not to derail, but what issues do you have with RR?
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Old 19th August 2010, 08:19 PM   #618
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Originally Posted by The Norseman View Post
I've been to other websites like SOS but I fear that membership is sorely lacking in my area. I'd love to be pleasantly surprised.

And, not to derail, but what issues do you have with RR?
I don't like any "one size fits all" approach. And I don't like "zero tolerance" policies. The best thing about RR is that there's no "God-Stuff".

Part of my problem with a lot of Recovery Organizations, is that I think the whole environment has been "corrupted" by the puritan influence of religious temperance movements and their off-shoots like AA.

Society has become so paranoid about "addiction" that it shapes the whole debate and fuels the Drug War. So I don't just question AA because it's religious; I question the whole Anti-Addiction "Industry" because I think it is based on a lot of varying questionable assumptions that all seem rooted in the questionable assumption that "habitual" use of "drugs" is always wrong, even when ostensibly medically necessary.

This has made doctors increasingly paranoid about being prosecuted, and thus they often don't treat chronic pain patients with enough pain-killers to be effective. This has been enumerated by a Chronic pain Specialist I heard on NPR (and anecdotally, by my own doctor when she explained why she couldn't prescribe me enough to control my own chronic pain problems. And my protestations about the situation fell on deaf airs in NA meetings when family members pushed me to try to "kick the habit").

The whole Addiction Ideology also affects the arbitrary drug schedule classifications of rather innocuous, and potentially beneficial, "drugs" like marijuana.

The Commercial imperative of Big Pharma is also a major contributor to the current addiction ideology, as they make a fortune getting people legally hooked on THEIR drugs. So AA and Puritanism isn't the only "bad guy" in this propaganda picture.

But Puritanism seems to be the primary motivator behind Addiction Ideology, and I think a great case can be made that this is due to the internalization of Protestant ideas in society at large, to the point where they don't even seem religious at all.

So whether Recovery Groups posit a Sin/Disease Model as does AA, or a Behavioural Disorder Model of Addiction as does RR, they still subscribe to the notion that all habitual use of "drugs" is always wrong, and that negative outcomes are always the fault of the user rather than occasionally the negative attitudes, and laws of society.

[/rant]

Do some people need help with really serious abuse problems? Of course they do. But as Dr Nora Volkow--director of NIDA--points out, recovery groups like AA might be helpful for some people, however they are by no means effective for all people.

GB
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Old 19th August 2010, 09:01 PM   #619
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What is the definition of "self-esteem" that AA proponents are using? Seems to me that self-esteem means having confidence in yourself and your abilities. Surrendering your decision making process to a "higher power" seems somewhat incongruent with this idea...

Having been to a few NA meetings in my time, I can only speak for that organisation in Australia. (very different from the apparent scientology run version in the 'States) But sitting around and speaking about how powerless you are to resist using alcohol or drugs never seemed like something that would encourage self esteem.
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Old 19th August 2010, 10:56 PM   #620
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
Dymanic, your penchant for decontextualizing my points by posting truncated snippets is becoming more and more pervasive. I have at least done you the courtesy of quoting your arguments in their entirety, and arguing against what I see as the context of your arguments.
There's no doubt that every one of your posts is so fascinating and insightful as to be completely deserving of a full line-by-line response -- but the thing is, I just don't always have time for that. I take what stands out for me and I respond to that. This forum's quote feature includes a button that makes it trivially easy for anyone interested to reference the original post, and a practice I personally find discourteous is clogging up the page with multiple quotes of the same lengthy post just to make a brief comment. If I've ignored something you feel is important, or if you feel that I've "decontextualized" one of your points, you are always free to specify where and how. Slinging general accusations is a pretty cheap substitute for making that effort.
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Old 19th August 2010, 11:27 PM   #621
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Originally Posted by Dymanic View Post
There's no doubt that every one of your posts is so fascinating and insightful as to be completely deserving of a full line-by-line response -- but the thing is, I just don't always have time for that. I take what stands out for me and I respond to that. This forum's quote feature includes a button that makes it trivially easy for anyone interested to reference the original post, and a practice I personally find discourteous is clogging up the page with multiple quotes of the same lengthy post just to make a brief comment. If I've ignored something you feel is important, or if you feel that I've "decontextualized" one of your points, you are always free to specify where and how. Slinging general accusations is a pretty cheap substitute for making that effort.
Said the Pot to the Kettle.

GB
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Old 20th August 2010, 12:23 AM   #622
Hallo Alfie
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Originally Posted by nvidiot View Post
What is the definition of "self-esteem" that AA proponents are using? Seems to me that self-esteem means having confidence in yourself and your abilities. Surrendering your decision making process to a "higher power" seems somewhat incongruent with this idea...
I would imagine that your definition of self esteem is the same as an AA members'.

I don't think that anywhere is it said that one "surrenders their decision making process" to anyone or anything. I think what you are referring to is where in the suggested steps it says "to hand ones life and will over to the care of god as we understood him".

Here I would ask, "what is your understanding of god?", as the answer to your question depends on the answer to mine. I know that sounds a bit evasive and I honestly don't mean it to be. The fact is that if you are a deist and (for example) believe in a Christian God, then the answer will/can be one thing. If you are a non-deist and believe in (say) the laws of nature as a HP, then the answer might be rather different.

This step in basic terms about relinquishing the need to control everyone and everything around us. We did that in our drinking and that self will and our best judgement ended up as us being practicing alcoholics. Our lone courage and self determination failed us time and again. We had what we call "self will run riot", and it failed to serve us.

In this step the alcoholic gives up the need to do it alone and they now reach out and ask for help - something that most of us in the past found very difficult. We must stop being the centre of the universe and realise that there are other things, beings, whatever out there. This step is about faith - whether that be spiritual, religious, in other humans, whatever.

So, what is your higher power?

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Old 20th August 2010, 11:42 AM   #623
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Why would that be relevant ? The question is, am I right, or not ?
I'm sure you believe you are right.

Quote:
Yes, indeed. HELP you. Hopefully you realise that, in the end, and with their help, YOU were the one to solve your problem, not some fuzzy higher power.
Good Orderly Direction (GOD) are what AA groups furnish me.

Alcoholics I've known use their best cognitive abilities to justify their drinking behaviors. Some eventually use those same facilities to realize they have a problem they don't seem capable of solving on their own, likely having tried to do so for years.


Quote:
Obviously, since I don't drink.
Now that you've used pages to share your views on the useless-and-unsuitable-for-atheists AA, let me know what you think of Rational Recovery. I classify it as a money-making scam top to bottom. Luckily an alcoholic who finds AA useful should never find it.
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Old 20th August 2010, 11:55 AM   #624
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Originally Posted by nvidiot View Post
Seems to me that self-esteem means having confidence in yourself and your abilities.
Genuine confidence in your real self and your real abilities, though. Try to be something you're not, and unless "trying" means being willing to do whatever work is involved in becoming that, you'll surely fail. If you go for the next best thing and pretend to be something you're not -- and your masquerade succeeds -- what have you got? Lie on a job application and what you get is a job you're not qualified for. Create a persona so as to win the favor of an attractive member of the opposite sex (or whatever, as the case may be) and what you get is a relationship lacking true intimacy because you can't reveal your genuine self to that person without running the risk that they'll bolt. Convince yourself that you're something you're not, and what you get is deep inner conflict.

Having said all that, I want to temper it a little. To some extent, we do define ourselves and redefine ourselves on an ongoing basis, and not necessarily always on an entirely factual basis, and there probably is no clearly indentifiable point at which it ceases to be a healthy manifestation of creative flexibility and begins to be a destructive and pathological manifestation of fundamental dishonesty.

What I do know is that a key insight for me was that I'd been using arrogance as a substitute for self esteem. I was an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. I was overcompensating for what I perceived, on some level, to be my own "defects of character", though I was not familiar with that terminology. On closer examination, and with some guidance from AA members and literature, it turned out that a lot of what was going on was that grandiose notions about my own abilities -- that is, an overestimation of my good qualities, ironically -- had inspired me to set impossible standards for myself, and I was as brutally hard on myself when I failed to meet them as I was on those whom I felt ought to be doing more to help me meet them.

I'm still not immune to that. Left to its own devices, my head has a tendency to inflate itself. Keeping it down to its proper size requires constant vigilance. I don't claim to be successful at this all of the time. But conflating that effort and its results with the notion of "sin" being overcome by "grace" seems laughable to me. I see nothing that demands so exotic an explanation.
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Old 20th August 2010, 12:12 PM   #625
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Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
I'm sure you believe you are right.
Again, irrelevant.

Quote:
Alcoholics I've known use their best cognitive abilities to justify their drinking behaviors. Some eventually use those same facilities to realize they have a problem they don't seem capable of solving on their own, likely having tried to do so for years.
And yet it's not a higher power that helps them out of it.

Quote:
Now that you've used pages to share your views on the useless-and-unsuitable-for-atheists AA
Strawman.
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Old 20th August 2010, 12:35 PM   #626
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post

Strawman.
Even those without a drinking problem and who have never been to an AA meeting can post all the Strawmen they want.

ps. Sorry you choose to have no interest in Rational Recovery.
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Old 20th August 2010, 01:23 PM   #627
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AAAlfie,

Would you at least agree that AA is not not-religious? That is, if I were a believer in God, I would have no problem with the doctrine?

This is one way to measure religiosity. Ask the religious and the non-religious their opinion.
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Old 20th August 2010, 02:18 PM   #628
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Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
Even those without a drinking problem and who have never been to an AA meeting can post all the Strawmen they want.
Gee, it seems to me like you've got some attitude problem. I'm having a discussion with adults, here. If you can't behave, perhaps your parents should take your toy computer away.

Or alternativey, you can explain how me not being an alcoholic disqualifies me as a participant to this thread.

I won't be holding my breath. Your last post shows how far you're willing to go to appear clever.
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Old 20th August 2010, 02:47 PM   #629
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
AAAlfie,

Would you at least agree that AA is not not-religious? That is, if I were a believer in God, I would have no problem with the doctrine?

This is one way to measure religiosity. Ask the religious and the non-religious their opinion.
The only trouble with framing the question that way Marplots, is that while most religious people (believers in God) would recognize that AA is clearly religious (promoting a belief in God), they might not necessarily agree with the particular doctrines espoused.

But you're aiming the right direction, as most God believers would have less problem with being in a God promoting support group than being in one which is not.

GB
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Old 20th August 2010, 02:49 PM   #630
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Gee, it seems to me like you've got some attitude problem. I'm having a discussion with adults, here. If you can't behave, perhaps your parents should take your toy computer away.
I suppose you think that was an adult comment?

Quote:
Or alternativey, you can explain how me not being an alcoholic disqualifies me as a participant to this thread.
I don't recall mentioning you were disqualified to participate in this thread.

I do again direct your attention to Rational Recovery being purported by some as an atheist alternative to AA.

Quote:
I won't be holding my breath. Your last post shows how far you're willing to go to appear clever.
My actual concern is that unfairly labeling AA as a religious organization, and implying that atheists can find nothing of use in AA meetings, might dissuade an alcoholic atheist from using a resource that could assist him in overcoming a drinking problem.

Your actual concern remains unclear to me.
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Old 20th August 2010, 03:08 PM   #631
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Originally Posted by AlBell View Post

My actual concern is that unfairly labeling AA as a religious organization, and implying that atheists can find nothing of use in AA meetings, might dissuade an alcoholic atheist from using a resource that could assist him in overcoming a drinking problem.

Your actual concern remains unclear to me.
It's not unfair if it's true (which it is), and clearly many Alcoholic Atheists and Agnostics DO have a problem with being in such a clearly religious organization, or they wouldn't have bothered to start up non-religious support groups and recovery programs (though it's my contention that many of the secular programs are still operating with an assumption based on a religious value judgment).

As has been pointed time and again on this thread, a religious support group like AA might be beneficial for the religiously inclined, but is more likely to be detrimental to those who are not.

There is nothing wrong with dissuading people from participating in a program that is less likely to be helpful (and possibly detrimental) to them than another program.

Part of the problem is that because AA got in the game early and promoted the 12 Steps as the Gold Standard for Recovery Programs, they are often the only game in town in many communities, and the default organization that the Judicial system forces people into.

GB
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Old 20th August 2010, 04:10 PM   #632
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Originally Posted by Gandalfs Beard View Post
It's not unfair if it's true (which it is),
A point you've argued, and perhaps convinced some; that does not a 'fact' make.

Quote:
and clearly many Alcoholic Atheists and Agnostics DO have a problem with being in such a clearly religious organization, or they wouldn't have bothered to start up non-religious support groups and recovery programs (though it's my contention that many of the secular programs are still operating with an assumption based on a religious value judgment).
I tend to look at other startups as money making ventures rather than self-help groups. ymmv.

Quote:
As has been pointed time and again on this thread, a religious support group like AA might be beneficial for the religiously inclined, but is more likely to be detrimental to those who are not.
We've been treated to some anecdotes that imply that. No general case can ever be documented, and the actual answer will always be 'Who Knows?".

Quote:
There is nothing wrong with dissuading people from participating in a program that is less likely to be helpful (and possibly detrimental) to them than another program.
True. Unfortunately that may, or may not, be happening in this discussion here.

Quote:
Part of the problem is that because AA got in the game early and promoted the 12 Steps as the Gold Standard for Recovery Programs, they are often the only game in town in many communities, and the default organization that the Judicial system forces people into.
The bolded phrase is the problem. What do you suggest an alcoholic atheist do in that situation? My thought is at least attending a few meetings, taking what you can and leaving the rest, is a better answer than "Sorry, atheist. No help is available for you.".
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Old 20th August 2010, 05:17 PM   #633
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Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
Quote:
It's not unfair if it's true (which it is),
A point you've argued, and perhaps convinced some; that does not a 'fact' make.
Unfortunately for your arguments, AA's official literature proves otherwise.

And really, the onus is on you and others arguing your point to prove the reverse, which frankly is impossible given the official literature and decades of history.

Quote:
Quote:
Part of the problem is that because AA got in the game early and promoted the 12 Steps as the Gold Standard for Recovery Programs, they are often the only game in town in many communities, and the default organization that the Judicial system forces people into.
The bolded phrase is the problem. What do you suggest an alcoholic atheist do in that situation? My thought is at least attending a few meetings, taking what you can and leaving the rest, is a better answer than "Sorry, atheist. No help is available for you.".
That's a fair point to be sure. I only know that it wouldn't work for me and those that have stated it wouldn't work for them (many Atheists and Agnostics tend not to be "joiners" as George Carlin might put it). But in such situations, I agree there's no harm in at least giving it a shot for a few meetings.

But I would recommend finding a therapist for those in that situation who just can't get past the "God Stuff".

Insofar as RR may be charging for access to their program, you seem to have a fair point also, which is another reason for me to knock them too. But I think I'll take your blanket statement with at least a few grains of salt.

GB
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Old 20th August 2010, 05:27 PM   #634
Hallo Alfie
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
AAAlfie,

Would you at least agree that AA is not not-religious? That is, if I were a believer in God, I would have no problem with the doctrine?

This is one way to measure religiosity. Ask the religious and the non-religious their opinion.
I have said many times in the thread:
AA is religious if you want it to be.
AA is not religious if you want it to be.

There is no requirement to conform to a particular god. And if it is religious, why do atheists and deists alike thrive and recover?

I have done plenty of stepwork with atheist alcoholics and in some cases we simply ignore the God aspect or modify it to fit the need. As I asked someone earlier, "What is your higher power?" Whether you have one, want one, or don't, there is a lot in the program to assist with recovery.

I do not entirely agree however that it is a way to measure religiosity. Most western civilisations and laws are based around christian teachings, that does not in itself make them religious.

Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
I tend to look at other startups as money making ventures rather than self-help groups. ymmv.
Can anyone explain to me (us) how these other groups work financially?
And (for perhaps the tenth time) what sort of statistics they have on their success.

Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
The bolded phrase is the problem. What do you suggest an alcoholic atheist do in that situation? My thought is at least attending a few meetings, taking what you can and leaving the rest, is a better answer than "Sorry, atheist. No help is available for you.".
Quite.
I have seen atheist alcoholics find god - they are what we might - in broader society - term born again christians, and get quality recovery.
Also, I have seen agnostic and atheist alcoholics reject the god concept, do their stepwork and get quality recovery.
I have seen Moslems, Hindus, Jews, Witches and Wiccans get quality recovery side-by-side. Gays and straights, men and women and political enemies get quality recovery with a god of their understanding.

We seem to forget in the mix here that a god of one's understanding can also be no god at all.

I have seen many reject AA because of their ignorant and closed mind biases (like Gandolf's Beard and others seem to) and miss the opportunity to live a sober and wonderful life. We like to call this "contempt prior to investigation". Actually, perhaps more accurately it is "confirmation bias" and the word God brings up emotions and judgements of hatred, rage and suspicion - sadly they miss the full and true concept of AAs primary purpose: "to assist the suffering alcoholic" and to remain sober ourselves.

There is no requirement to conform to anything - the steps are "recommended" as "Bill saw it", and "the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking".

Last edited by Hallo Alfie; 20th August 2010 at 05:58 PM.
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Old 20th August 2010, 05:38 PM   #635
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The only close-minded and ignorant person on this entire thread is YOU AAAlfie. YOU are the one to put people on the ignore list when they have an argument you can't refute with your sophistry.

Even though I have strong disagreements with others on this thread, we have all been open-minded enough to engage each other and examine each others arguments.

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Old 21st August 2010, 03:54 AM   #636
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Originally Posted by AlBell View Post
I suppose you think that was an adult comment?
I thought it was simplistic enough so you could understand. But if you want to keep playing with the rest of us you'll have to behave.

Quote:
I don't recall mentioning you were disqualified to participate in this thread.
You seem quite insisting that, somehow, my opinions or statements are worthless because I don't have, nor ever have had, a drinking problem.

Quote:
My actual concern is that unfairly labeling AA as a religious organization, and implying that atheists can find nothing of use in AA meetings
Well, I've never claimed the second part, so we can skip this. The first part is clear: you abdicate responsibility to a higher power, which is a transparent term for God.

Quote:
Your actual concern remains unclear to me.
My concern is that, since AA is a religious group, legally forcing people to attend their meetings is akin to a state-sanctioned religious activity. Also, people going there are told they have no control over their lives, and must seek help from an invisible sky-god. My opinion is that such fairy-tale nonsense is harmful.
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Old 21st August 2010, 04:17 AM   #637
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Well, I've never claimed the second part, so we can skip this. The first part is clear: you abdicate responsibility to a higher power, which is a transparent term for God.
Wrong (yet) again.
Please review previous posts to garner a full understanding of why your statements are incorrect.

Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
My concern is that, since AA is a religious group, legally forcing people to attend their meetings is akin to a state-sanctioned religious activity.
I would too if it were in fact religious.
Please explain which religion is being taught and how atheists agnostics and everyone else can get sober together?

Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Also, people going there are told they have no control over their lives, and must seek help from an invisible sky-god.
Wrong, wrong, wrong!
Go back and review. You clearly haven't read and/or understood a word written.

Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
My opinion is that such fairy-tale nonsense is harmful.
Even if that were true, why/how is it "harmful"?
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Old 21st August 2010, 08:39 AM   #638
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Originally Posted by Cheri_T View Post
Religion isn't the only thing that I would have concerns about in the AA program. A big one for me is the "disease" theory of alcoholism. A disease is something that happens to people, not a decision that they make. You can't get rid of your tuberculosis by going to a meeting. Yet perpetrating the disease theory, along with the "once a drunk always a drunk" concept, would seem to provide a permanent excuse for the alcohol abuser, and make it harder for them to both change and gain self-respect.

The disease theory focuses on the symptom (abuse of just one specific substance) rather than the problem (maladaptive coping). Maybe people would be a lot better off if the actual problem were addressed, instead of giving people a bunch of bromides.
Hi Cheri T, the response when I tried to point out the error of the disease model was that:
1. It is a focus of medical treatment.
2. therefore it is a disease.

I tried to point out that it is a behavioral disorder that may or may not have a biological predisposition and may or may not have physical withdrawal syndromes.

The issue as i see it as "You have to choose not to use.", the rest is window dressing.

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Old 21st August 2010, 08:42 AM   #639
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Originally Posted by The Norseman View Post
Umm.... read the steps again. They DO focus on maladaptive coping and try to teach more effective ways of dealing with life than through drugs.
Um, not really, I am familiar with the steps and they are NOT a new set of coping skills, they are vague spiritual windows dressing. Real coping skills are not that vague of oooey gooey!

If you tried to teach those as 'life skills' that would be a dismal failure. I mentioned some of the parts of relaspse prevention planning.

"Made a decision to turn out life over to god." is not very helpful.

The only step is the simple one: Choose not to use.
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Old 21st August 2010, 08:53 AM   #640
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Originally Posted by The Norseman View Post
Huh? I'm not understanding your point here. Try steps 8, 9, and 10 for example:
And what are the first seven, a bunch of moralizing and wallowing in self examination. An inventory is useless.
Quote:

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.


Those steps require accepting responsibility for actions taken, whether drunk or sober.
then they should cut the ******** and just say so.
Quote:

From my understanding of the program, there is no control over alcohol once the first drink is taken. What the person does up to that point before taking that drink is completely within the control of the person.
And all other choices except to drink. They can still CHOOSE to walk away! That is something addicts don't want to admit.

they can walk away after the first drink.

they just choose not to do so.

And that is just part of the problem, you can't control the amount you use, but you can always CHOOSE to stop. Any time, even after the first drink.

Now if you drink so much you are in a state of automatic inebriation, that may be harder IE blackout.

Now why do I say this, I live with OCD, I do not HAVE to engage in a compulsion, why do I engage in a compulsion? To avoid a panic attack.

I can CHOOSE not to engage in a compulsive behavior, the consequence is a panic attack.
And then I can practice coping with it.
Addicts can CHOOSE to stop their use after one exposure, they just don't choose to do so.

It is easier to choose to not use before you start but you can ALWAYS CHOOSE TO STOP and walk away.
Quote:

Another analogy: you are unable to swim for whatever reason. Once you find yourself in a large body of water, you'll drown. You simply have no tools or skills to prevent your drowning. But you DO have control over how close you come to the water, wearing a life-vest, etc. Similar concept that many people in recovery believe applies to the addict/alcoholic.
The twelve steps won't teach you how to swim.

Um 'fearless personal inventory' is so vague as to be useless!

How about:
1. take accountability for our choices.
2. develop a behavioral plan to modify our behavior.

The inventory is a bunch of pseudo-freudian twaddle.
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