The Big Book: Sacred or outdated? What AA Stewards, past and present say about progress vs protection 

The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous - On one side are the thumpers, muckers and literalists who claim than no modality has touched the healing force of the Twelve Steps as outlined in Alcoholics Anonymous. On the other side, reformers say it's misogynistic, religious, archaic, while it was a good start to the mutual-aid discussion, as the center-piece of any AA meeting today, it makes us look Amish-like, declining modern customs for the ways of our ancestors.

I have been in the middle of these debates. But today I ask, what does it matter? If you like the book, read it from Foreword to 164, over and over. If you don't, leave it be. Recommend that your group read something else, or nothing at all. Or maybe we should talk about a new book instead of a revised book - either/or instead of one or the other.

If you don't like back-to-basics style of AA, get REALLY back-to-basics with AA as an oral tradition, no book, a one-day-at-a-time program of showing up, opening up, helping others. There is no need to feel persecuted by a book that has no opinion on your impression of it and no wish to control you. The authors didn't canonize the founders or make the text sacred; my generation did that. Sorry - our bad.

Stewardship is about two roles - preparing and protecting. Ask any parent how hard it is to be good at both. On Episode Seven, we look at the opinions of trusted servants who have served at AA's General Service Conference in the 1980s, the turn of the century and current (Panel 63 General Service Conference). We will hear a plea for AA to always be progressive, to never rest on our laurels. We will hear the protective argument about how imaginative personalization of an age-old-process is sacrilege. One side says rigidity will cause the death of AA. The other side says experimentation isn't worth the risk. Bill Wilson said that both progress and protection were what he had in mind with the Twelve Traditions. "You can't have one without the other."

Sources used in today's radio show:
Better Times (Toronto September 2014) "Don't mess with the message" http://aatoronto.org/btarchive/BT_2014_09.pdf
Bob P's (1961 to 1986) "If you were to ask me what is the greatest danger facing A.A. today, I would have to answer: the growing rigidity -- the increasing demand for absolute answers to nit-picking questions; pressure for G.S.O. to "enforce" our Traditions; screening alcoholics at closed meetings; prohibiting non-Conference-approved literature, i.e., "banning books"; laying more and more rules on groups and members." http://www.hindsfoot.org/pearson.html
John K, 2003: "Our co-founders were pragmatists - try something,test it, change it, review it, test it, then change, review,test it again." http://www.aa.org/newsletters/en_US/en_box459_april-may04.pdf

You will hear about our need for protection, of progress too, and how challenging it is to gain balance and consensus on both.

At the time of recording we have Southern Californian on our mind as the We Agnostics and Freethinkers International Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous is coming to Santa Monica November 6 to 8. So we invite LA newcomer Mia Dyson to perform her song, "Idyllwild," her little patch of Southern California.

Visit Pod-0-matic to hear or download the show: http://rebelliondogs12stepradio.podomatic.com/entry/2014-09-11T10_03_05-07_00

For a transcript of Episode VII, click HERE

2 comments

  • Mark C.

    Mark C. Wichita Falls, TX

    Thank you Joe. This episode was as excellent as the rest. Very informative. I very much appreciate your long experience and perspectives on the larger picture. Thank you for all you do for so many.

    Thank you Joe. This episode was as excellent as the rest. Very informative. I very much appreciate your long experience and perspectives on the larger picture. Thank you for all you do for so many.

  • Tweeders

    Tweeders

    Fuck off

    Fuck off

Add comment