"Ernie Kurtz was one of the most generous people I ever met. I think that the most important lesson that he ever taught me was that humility, curiosity and good manners, are the true fruits of both spiritual and intellectual investigation." Jay Stinnett, Sedona Mago Retreat Center
This is part of the story Jay shares with us in a chat which makes up the lion's share of Episode 33 of Rebellion Dogs Radio. Jay runs the Recovery Series of weekend workshops at Sedona Mago Retreat Center in Arizona. If you haven't already meet Jay, today's the day!
We planned on talking about an upcoming retreat we're working on together October 27th to 29th, 2017. It's called, "Beyond Belief: A secular journey through the 12-Step... with - or without - God."
Anyone who follows surveys or demographics is preconditioned to the reality that generation-next newcomers differ from our AA generation. Today's newcomers need AA, just like us. But today's newcomers include more freethinkers.
More millennials wants AA sobriety without the "God stuff," the monotheistic narrative about addiction and recovery. Why so fussy?
We have all read, "...deep down in every man, woman, and child, is the fundamental idea of God (Alcoholics Anonymous pg. 55),"
That just isn't universally true, anymore. How do atheists make sense of "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character"? Does Step Three make sense without a higher power? Can there still be prayer, if nobody's there?
Largely, American atheists are still closeted. Think gays and lesbians, Circa: 1950. LGBTQ Americans found greater safety in the shadows during more homophobic times; atheists have learned how to avoid that familiar tyranny of the majority in our present-day "secularphobic" era. So how many people in North America don't believe in a prayer-answering, sobriety-granting higher power?
A sneaky new survey suggests that that one quarter of Americans may not believe in an intervening deity. Conceivably, that could be 500,000 of today's AA members. No shit?!? Could that be true? Recently, Pew Research Group bluntly asked, "Do you believe in God." Of respondents, 11% identified as nonbelievers (but only 3% go so far as to call themselves "atheist"). Regardless of how you personally feel, there is a very real dislike of atheists in the USA. Think of how we talked/joked about "fags" in the 1950s - or the 1980s for that matter. Today's favorite scapegoat is the American atheist. Pew Research also revealed an American public who wouldn't want to vote for an atheist or learn that their child was marrying a godless partner. Let me introduce you to some sneaky researchers who believe they found a way to out American nonbelievers from our closets.
Will M. Gervais and Mazime B. Najle of the University of Kentucky crafted a subtle way to text people. Five Thirty Eight.com spoke with the researchers and reported:
“Instead of asking about belief in God directly, they provided a list of seemingly innocuous statements and then asked: “How many of these statements are true of you?” Respondents in a control group were given a list of nine statements, such as “I own a dog” and “I am a vegetarian.” The test group received all the same statements plus one that read, “I do not believe in God.” The totals from the test group were then compared to those from the control group, allowing researchers to estimate the number of people who identify as atheists without requiring any of the respondents to directly state that they don’t believe in God. The study concludes that roughly one-quarter (26 percent) of Americans likely do not believe in God.
Why am I telling you all about this right now?
Jay and I don't actually talk about any of this on this podcast or much about the upcoming retreat. We got distracted. But we will stay focused October 27th to 29th. We will discuss how to approach today's newcomers with a non-exclusive -- neither religious nor irreligious -- language. As for today's podcast, Jay and I drift a wee bit. Jay and I had to catch up, and it was so interesting, I want to share it with you. We are talking about the Oxford Group, smoking as it relates to recovery, the history of the Taoist Sedona Mago Retreat and how it has braided the beard of the "No Californication for my Arizona" locals.
It's a great show. Here's some pictures from my last Sedona Arizona trip. The bottom left picture is a Tradition 11 anonymous selfie - my feet and the view part way up to the peak of Bear Mountain Arizona. The other three are the Sedona Mago grounds.
If you've booked for Beyond Belief: A Secular journey through the Twelve Steps and Traditions, see you in Sedona. It's going to be epic.
If you're not booked but impulsive... throwing caution to the wind and coming for the weekend is still cheaper than a crack relapse-lost weekend and you'll be back to work, Monday without a hangover or regret. So, think about joining us. Besides, who doesn't want to show-off how open-minded they are. If you can't make it, it's not as if this issue is going away and I'm sure this conversation will be oft' discussed in every corner of 12-Step culture.
Also on Episode 33, we touch on SOAAR - the Secular Ontario AA Roundup held in Toronto Canada, this past September 16th. SOAAR was well attended with members from Northern California to up-state New York. Ontario members came from South, North East and West to join the downtown Toronto crowd. The day ended with entertainment and singer/songwriter Kevin M of The Kat Kings and other performers who were well received. We close today's podcast, like we closed SOAAR in Toronto, with a Kat Kings song.
As always, stream or download the show from the link below. Share Episode 33 freely.
If you're new here -- don't binge all in one sitting, but -- check out some of our previous shows. There are 32 more if we've counted correctly and many more blogs, too. Many of them still have that new-car smell.