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Carl's approach is thoughtful and contemporary and his book, a fusion of biography and history, is a page turner.
What is the role of the social contagion of hope? Lofty words from an academic. But this is what Pathways to Recovery and Desistance by professor David Best outlines based on this social model of recovery based on 2,000 case studies from Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, and America. This doesn't try to identify the best system - 12-step, medically assisted recovery, other facilitator led or peer to peer groups or even less intrusive approaches - but rather looks at what successful recoveries all have in common. Hope is part of it; CHIME stands for Connection, Hope, Identity, Meaning and Empowerment. An essay on Best's book can be found at AAagnostica.org or HERE.
FREE: Richard Peabody's The Common Sense of Drinking from 1930. PDF view or download for free
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Beyond Belief (2014 second printing) includes a Foreword by Ernest Kurtz, Ph.D.
, author of The Spirituality of Imperfection
and Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous
. Ernie Kurtz received his PhD in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University in 1978. Dr. Kurtz was the first researcher to be granted unrestricted access to the archives of Alcoholics Anonymous. Hazelden had the wherewithal to publish Ernie’s PhD dissertation—the book that resulted was, Not God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous
. Along with Katherine Ketcham, Ernie gave us, The Spirituality of Imperfection: Modern Wisdom from Classic Stores
(1992), and a book that demonstrates Kurtz' acute understanding of addiction, Shame and Guilt
(revised and updated in 2007). For those in the know, catching an Ernie Kurtz lecture on his academic study of spirituality would be a life-altering experience. For those of us who missed that opportunity, there is more of Kurtz on addiction and spirituality in the 1999 The Collected Ernie Kurtz
. There are been other books and other writings, both scholarly and popular but today, Rebellion Dogs is honored to share Dr. Kurtz’s experience with Beyond Belief
One meaning of reflection, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is “the action of turning (back) or fixing the thoughts on some subject; meditation, deep or serious consideration.” This treasure of a book offers spurs to refelction and more. Drawing on a rich variety of often surprising sources, each day's reading provides not a mere bite but a full meal of thoughts for the coming or just-past day. Since my mornings tend to be rushed, Beyond Belief soon moved itself into my mid-afternoon “break” period, where it could shed more leisurely light both backwards and forwards.Beyond Belief
terms its offerings musings rather than “meditations.” The O.E.D. gives the first meaning of the verb muse as “to be absorbed in thought; to meditate continuously in silence; to ponder.” Absorbed . . . ponder: this book is not light reading. I have not so far wanted to fight with it, but I do find Beyond Belief
often challenging, sometimes provocative, unfailingly stimulating.
The book is aimed at a general 12-Step readership, but it is mindful that there heretofore exist no such aids for unbelievers, freethinkers, and the unconventionally spiritual. Given that the latest Pew survey found that twenty percent of the American people list their religious affiliation as “None,” it is certainly time that the Recovery world took into consideration this population's needs. Beyond Belief
addresses that need in a confident, non-aggressive way. I doubt that any believer will find anything objectionable in its pages. This believer, for one, finds much that is spiritually helpful.
If I have one criticism of this book it is that its musings are too rich. On quite a few pages I wished to pause and think after virtually every sentence. For many, reading Beyond Belief
will require a pen or pencil in hand and perhaps a notebook on the side.
This is the first daily reflection book of which I know that offers a lengthy (17-page) “Notes” section as well as a full Bibliography. The Notes are far more than mere citations, often presenting brief additional discussion and even new material that more frequently than not is as rich as the text itself.
In addition to the Notes and Bibliography, the end-matter of Beyond Belief
contains a full Index that allows searching out individual musings on just about any topic. Having problems with “ego”? Check out May 29, August 8, September 24 or seven other dates. Polishing your gratitude? Flip to March 2, June 16, November 12 or eleven other dates.Beyond Belief
will enrich anyone interested in living a 12-Step life.Denis K.
Many thanks for this great book; my Monday night group and I are having some great discussions related to the daily musings both at the group and often during the week over coffee. All of us were quickly losing interest in the local meetings, Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life
gave all of us a much needed spark that has renewed our interest in the fellowship.Dan N
., Houston TX
5 out of 5 stars Thought provoking - Mind expanding., May 26, 2013
My day begins with a reading from Beyond Belief
. The readings help re-commit to applying the 12-step principles in my daily life. It's a thought provoking, mind expanding, enjoyable way to start the day.John McAndrew
, MA, MDiv, director of Sensible Spirituality Associates
Thank you Joe, for this wonderful place to begin each day. No arguments about God, no belief systems to defend or attack- just a wealth of rich, thoughtful reflections.Debra
5 out of 5 stars Finally!, April 17, 2013
Thank you, Joe C., for finally producing a daily refection for all in recovery! I absolutely look forward every morning to reading these reflections. Been in recovery coming up on 10 years and it took until this book to truly find a daily reflection that fits my spiritual path.Roger C
., author The Little Book: A Collection of Alternative 12 Steps
and editor at AAagnostica.org
5 out of 5 stars A very precious way to start each day, April 8, 2013
This book never ceases to amaze me. Each morning I read the daily reflection and I am amused, inspired, touched, impressed and awed. Joe has put together an astonishing collection of authors, all of whom share extraordinary insights not only into 12 Step recovery but as well into the many challenges of daily living. And Joe's musings on these insights are always helpful, engaging and thoughtful. Why, just a few days ago, there was an excerpt from Dr. Seuss, and a book which is a perfect gift for those graduating from rehab: "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" I love starting my day with this book. It inspires a poignant self-awareness and appreciation for the wonderful challenge ahead of me, living life as richly and fully as possible, just for that day, one day at a time. I encourage you to buy this book for yourself but don't stop there, it's the perfect birthday present: the lucky reader is about to embark upon one of the richest years of her or his life, all thanks to you, Joe and Beyond Belief
4 out of 5 stars Refreshing reflections, March 22, 2013
This book is refreshing for those in recovery who do not want a reflection book that is "God centered". You still get thoughts to ponder throughout your day. It is a good book to add to your collection.Teresa
5 out of 5 stars: much needed for the agnostic 12 stepper, March 7, 2013
it is nice to have a daily meditation book that relates to the 12 step programs for a nonbeliever. I felt "left out" of an important part of my daily life in the program.Dr. Amy
author, social workerBeyond Belief
offers a spiritual welcome mat to agnostics and free thinkers in recovery. Joe C. provides readers with a thoughtful and enlightened year-long road map to self-improvement that reaches beyond the bounds of traditional Twelve Step thought—Bravo!”
Given my chosen profession I have had the opportunity to read countless daily meditation books—and this is a good one. Although the context is recovery from a 12-Step perspective, readers are invited to address the issue from their own philosophical view. One criticism of the 12 Step movement of course is that its dogma can be limiting—Beyond Belief
seems to have addressed this. The quotes are cogent, the organization superb and the contributors are diverse.
From a clinical perspective I like that various schools of thought are called upon —Transactional Analysis, Jungian, etc. This daily meditation book provides a cross-section of spiritual and philosophical thought that is accessible to all regardless of one’s personal beliefs—in that sense it really is beyond belief.
Amy’s favorite quote:
“Go on a hunt for any areas of incompletion, large or small, and you will not be disappointed. A burst of creativity will often follow the completion of some long-left issue. Clearing up an incompletion gives you a felling of aliveness that you can get nowhere else.” Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. & Kathlyn Henricks, Ph.DAmy S. D’Aprix, MSW Ph.D
, Author, From Surviving to Thriving: Transforming Your Caregiving JourneyFr. Ephraim Mensah,
Born in Ghana, got his Ph.D. at University of Saskatchewan and author of The Paradox of Mission Education for Contemporary African Identity
: I have started reading Joe's book. What a brilliant literary work. He has put the wisdom of the world in daily meditation. I am simply amazed. All I can say is that the Mystery-God is revealed in one whom this world regards as nonentity. Congratulations to Joe and thanks for putting me in the company of the wise.Nancy B.
, retired R.N. Montreal, Canada
I have been pink clouding it on the "Road of Happy Destiny" since January of 1976, I have always been an avid reader, so when I came in contact with Twelve Step programs, I was compelled to read a large chunk of the literature from many of the different ones - A.A., O.A. C.A., M.A., and Al-Anon. I have also read many books from the Hazelden Publishers. The Daily Readers from many of these programs have been extremely helpful over the years, allowing me to tap into the spiritual wisdom of the world without any religious fervour.
I've found Joey C,'s book full of spiritual thoughts, with no hidden agenda.He pulls strengths from all over the world, and his comments have a way of making me want to read more. While reading these pages I did not feel that I had to "Filter" out any ideas that were not acceptable to my own spiritual truths.
Before January 1976, I had no belief beyond my "Finite Self" , and not much trust in my fellow humans. I now believe that there is a much stronger power available in this world than I had realized and it can be found through books like this one.Michel D
AA can, and must, adapt to changing circumstances and Bill Wilson was the first one to admit it. Unfortunately, members who have come after him are more zealous that our first members ever were. We have seen this dogmatism in history before of course, especially in religion. This is a very slippery slope to take.
I really like the fact that these reflections are for anyone who has an open mind. It does not cater to a specific group to the exclusion of others. All is asked is that one keeps an open mind.Joan E
., clean and sober 38 years
Where else are we going to find Leonard Cohen, the Dalai Lama, Erika Jong, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mother Teresa and Dr. Seuss all in one place? Rather than dwelling on how sick we are and how we need to work to get better, Beyond Belief often focuses on the theme of "You're OK, and recovery will come faster if you learn to accept that as a truth."
These reflections go beyond one idea, because they reach beyond solving problems through prayer - though there's nothing wrong with prayer. I would recommend this book to faith-filled Twelve Step members as well as recovering non-theists, with absolutely no reservation at all. Beyond Belief simply gathers some answers and poses some interesting questions - into one compact format.
Joan E’s favorite quote: "Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have." Emile Chartier (1868 – 1951)Melissa D
, Clinical Psychologist, California
WOW—what an undertaking to make this book a reality. I have never seen a daily devotional book written for agnostics. I found the readings to be extremely thought provoking. I wonder sometimes since there is such talk about God at meetings, what kind of turn-off that must be for agnostics.
Understanding that surrender is also a process for agnostics, I would definitely recommend Beyond Belief
, particularly for the introspective, knowledge-seeking agnostic, who earnestly wishes to grow emotionally and intellectually in the program. I think this book will be very helpful to both the newcomer and the mature Twelve Step member.Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life
author Joe C: "I was a closet agnostic for much of my recovery; I thought believing and belonging were synonymous. As the century turned and the internet made my AA community wider, it confirmed for me that being a nonbeliever was neither an intellectual hold out nor an inferior Twelve-Steppery
. Although a minority in Twelve Step culture, we are not freaks of nature. Some nonbeliever members have their own agnostic groups and some fit into the mainstream fellowship, be it candidly or discretely.
"There is no shortage of daily meditation books for addicts who believe in an interfering/intervening deity. But when I went looking for a daily reflection book not based on a monotheistic worldview I couldn’t find one. So I wrote one; it took four years. Art, philosophy, religion, comedy, science, the folk-wisdom of Twelve & Twelve rooms all contribute to my recovery and I draw upon these varied sources for inspiration once more. I hope these pages of daily reflection resonate with others."
Read what people are saying about Beyond Belief
On page 81 of Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age
Bill is delighted that Buddhists are forming AA groups. They require accommodation and Bill sees Tradition Four’s autonomy of groups in action. Buddhists would be replacing the word “god” with “good” so that the practice of the Steps could be compatible with their non-theistic belief.
In 1957, Bill writes:
“To some of us, the idea of substituting ‘good’ for ‘God’ in the Twelve Steps will seem like a watering down of A.A.’s message. But here we must remember that A.A.’s Steps are suggestions only. A belief in them, as they stand, is not at all a requirement for membership among us. This liberty has made A.A. available to thousands who never would have tried at all had we insisted on the Twelve Steps just as written.”
The word from GSO has not changed over the years. Ward Ewing, an AA General Service Board Chair-emeritus is also ordained as an Episcopalian minister. He thinks nonbelievers have something to add to the AA conversations, not just among themselves but for the benefit of one and all. He helped champion a bid for pamphlet that included recovery programs from the point of view of theists and nonbelievers.