Thanks for sharing that! I, too, would have never made it under the preaching of Clarence S., nor would I been one of the choir boys in anybodys choir.
When I finally got my second chance at sobriety... I didn't know if there were a bunch of Gods, or what... but I hit my knees in a coin operated car wash and prayed out trying to reach the God that was keeping those drunk sober in AA.
I had already tried the Gods of religion and once it did work for a few months.... then, I ended up worse than I had been to start with.
The God that I found as a result of the 12 Steps was bigger, more loving and more merciful than anything that I could ever imagine... let alone any God that I had ever heard about before! (To this day, as much as I try... He never ceases to amaze me about how Big He is! I still can't fathom it!).
I personally believe that God is so big and so loving... He knew we needed those 12 Traditions to go along with our Spiritual Awakening, to keep some of us from going off the deep end with our heads impoding as a result of some religion being attempted to get pounded into our alcoholic minds... and for same some of us... not to louse His deal up with a bunch of non-sense technicalities and rules that would keep some of us from ever even having the opportunity to say "yes... I would like to be sober!"
Religion wanted me to "believe something first" ... and I couldn't believe. Step 2, allowed me to get results before I could believe. Then, one day, I discovered I was still sober! (Which I didn't believe was possible!) And, those results, eventually made a believer out of me! I figured there had to be something other than me... because I had spend years trying to fix me with everything that was in me... and I couldn't make it happen.
What I could do though was to follow some suggestions, and as my sponsor would say "if the horse is blind... go ahead and load the wagon anyway." A program of action... that made room for an antagonist like me! (When I was new... I thought the Chapter to the Agnostics was the Chapter for the Antagonists... and I thought that was what they meant... by "read the book and don't be surprized when the day comes that you read about yourself in the book!") Later, when I discovered that the title read "Chapter to the Agnostics" I figured that it was going to say what I already believed... it was going to say "for guys like me... here is the proof... it will never work for you!" (When I was new I didn't have to read the Big Book to know what was in it... I could just reat the titles to the Chapters, and intuitively... I knew what it was about!)
Thanks for sharing your experience John. It means a lot to me. I don't know totally your experience then or now... but a lot of the parts of your story I really identify with. I know a lot of people who had problems just we did... who are still sober today, after many years, of doing something different!