What Happened? by Cliff B.

General discussions related to A.A. History.
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Postby Dallas » Tue Aug 04, 2009 9:19 pm

While I was attending Joe McQ's funeral down in Little Rock, it was the last time that I had the opportunity to see Joe and Charlie together again.

It was such a tear-jerking, sad moment, in one way, and such a witness to a loving God, in the other.

There was Charlie, and people from all over the world there, that Charlie and Joe's work had reached. Pockets of AA enthusiasm exploded all over the planet as the result of God using those two messengers.

I felt such a tremendous gratitude for having known them both when they were both alive. They saved my life! Literally! They were as close as any sponsor that I've ever had. And, sitting on the church pew at the funeral, I felt as though I was attending a funeral for a President. I felt such a tremendous rush of gratitude that it was over-whelming.

As I sat there and listened to the witness of the many friends and family members as they recalled Joe's story, of trudging our Road of Happy Destiny... I couldn't escape the thoughts of "Wow! What an awesome thing that a loving God can do with a couple of drunks -- that are willing to go to any lengths to humble themselves and allow God to use them."

It caused me to reflect on my own daily walk in Alcoholics Anonymous. I could end up shaking the hand of a new Joe McQ that comes stumbling into the doors of AA, looking for help. Perhaps, I could pour him a cup of coffee and go out of my way to try and make him feel welcome. Who knows what God has planned for that newcomer that sits in front of me. Could he be another Charlie & Joe? Will he be the one that God takes hold of to use to insure the survival of AA.

Very humbling to contemplate.

Dallas B.

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Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 3:51 pm

Postby leejosepho » Tue Aug 04, 2009 10:30 pm

I truly hope I have not become cynical over these past few years, but I doubt a fairly-straight-from-the-book work like Charlie & Joe's could ever again do what theirs did ... and I say that because today we can see various other spin-off and/or ever-growing "other movements" (my own terms) that seem to me to only divide ... and that is quite enough (at least from this keyboard commando) about that.

Personally, I spent my first five-or-so years in A.A. quite shocked that hardly anyone else around me shared my own passion for carrying the A.A. message I then had yet to even really understand, then I spent another five-or-so years trying to help people see why they should. My next fifteen-or-so years were spent as an actual member of a very real and quite active-and-potent A.A. group one of my sponsees and his protégé has started while my wife and I were out traveling for a month - no sidecar - but something later went wrong there and most folks ultimately split, with some of them ending up turning back to alcohol.

In another thread, someone has mentioned just two of the first 100 people on this forum still being here. Just for a short moment, suppose there was virtually no A.A. anywhere else, and that no two of us here lived in the same locality. What would we do?

"Working With Others" and "A Vision For You" come to mind - "though you be but one man [or woman] with this book in your hand" (pages 162-163) - and I believe therein lies the totality of our individual and collective responsibilities to the still-suffering alcoholic, even if already in A.A.

Any other opinion might be more valid, of course, and yes, I do still believe better days are yet ahead.

Joseph Lee

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Joined: Sun Aug 02, 2009 3:51 pm

Postby leejosepho » Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:00 pm

There have always been a few groups that would not yield... They stayed firm [in] their commitment to try to carry a single message to the suffering alcoholic.

As we consider more in relation to this "What happened?" question, let us remember the constitution of an A.A. group:

"Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call *themselves* an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation." (Tradition Three, emphasis added)

So then, and with our "themselves" considered, the above could also read this way:

"There have always been a few groups [of individuals] that would not yield [to external pressure]. They stayed firm [in] their commitment to try to carry a single message to the suffering alcoholic."

And now let us also keep this in mind:

"Of necessity there will have to be discussion of matters ... social ..." ("A.A.", the book, page 19)

We (A.A. groups of individuals) have no opinion on outside issues such as sectarian religion or alcohol reform, and neither do we have any opinion on world politics or global economics. And of course, we (A.A. groups of individuals) do not affiliate with global economics or world politics any more than we do with alcohol reform or sectarian religion ... or do we?

"Tolerance" has become quite a buzzword in recent years, essentially meaning "anything goes, and nobody should ever say anything about that" ... yet here is our ideal "internal stance" in relation to such an idea:

"If [your recovery prospect] thinks s/he can do the job in some other way [than through spiritual means], or prefers some other spiritual approach [than the one you offer from this book], encourage him to follow his own conscience ... be friendly. Let it go at that." ("A.A.", the book, page 95)

In stark contrast, however, today's external pressure upon us (A.A. groups of individuals trying to stay firm in our commitment to carry a single message to others like ourselves) is evidenced in things such as this (and with no opinion on the following being expressed here):

From: "President Declares 'Freedom at War with Fear'"
Office of the Press Secretary, September 20, 2001
Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People
United States Capitol, Washington, D.C., 9:00 P.M. EDT

"... Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make: Either you are with us [who believe in progress and pluralism ...], or you are with the terrorists." (Applause.)
"... This is the world's fight ... the fight of all who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom.
"... We are in a fight for our principles ... [progress and pluralism ...] ...
"Thank you." (Applause.)
END 9:41 P.M. EDT

Pluralism, n. (Merriam-Webster Online)
3a: a theory that there are more than one or more than two kinds of ultimate reality
3b: a theory that reality is composed of a plurality of entities
4a: a state of society in which members of diverse ethnic, racial, religious, or social groups maintain an autonomous participation in and development of their traditional culture or special interest within the confines of a common civilization (not to be confused with "A.A.", the book, page 17)
4b: a concept, doctrine, or policy advocating this state

When I was new here - and no, I am not a bleeding deacon - being told I could "choose any conception of God I liked, provided it made sense to me" (page 93) was still the order-of-the-day. However, and also in keeping with the common experience in our book, I was *not* told I could choose an ashtray, doorknob, lightbulb, tree or "just any ol' god of my own preference or understanding" and still expect help in taking the Twelve Steps. No, I had to have at least a simple willingness to "Trust in *God* while cleaning house." (page 98)

Standing firm in what we can each and all read in our book is far from popular today, and pluralism is not going to be eradicated from here or anywhere any time soon. Nevertheless, our responsibility and prayer remains the same:

"Whenever anyone anywhere reaches out for help, may the hand of A.A. still already be there."

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