- Which came first: religion or alcoholism?

Which came first: religion or alcoholism?




Sobriety quotes and sayings heard in Meetings

Which came first: religion or alcoholism?

Postby Dallas » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:14 am

Which came first: religion or alcoholism?

If religion could have helped enough alcoholics to achieve sobriety – the great experiment of Alcoholics Anonymous would have never become necessary.

Dallas B.
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Postby garden variety » Tue Aug 28, 2007 8:22 am

Hi Dallas,

Lets just say for the sake of this post that "religion" = "spirituality" - you know just like the A.A. oldtimers used to look at it.

I believe non-alcohlics can be blessed with the same kind of "spirituality' or "religion" that we alcoholics achieve through the steps. Al-anon is a good example of that. So what I'm trying to say is that A.A. doesn't hold a monopoly on any specific brand of "spirituality" not available to others. God is available to anyone who wants to understand Him in whatever concept that suits them best. For me the key is a daily working relationship with a God of my understanding - and that is a personal relationship. God as I understand Him knows my name.

Now back to your question with the above preferences in place. Once again, the thing that distinguishes us between other people is the abnormal action of alcohol on our brains as the book says. It's not a matter of "A.A. spirituality" standing in an opposite corner of "Evangelism" or "Catholisism" or "Tibeten Buddhism". The difference is the malady of alcoholism.

"We could wish to be moral, we could wish to be philisophically comforted, in fact we could will these things with all our might, but the needed power wasn't there. Our human resources, ["our" meaning the distinct class of persons known as "alcoholics"] as marshalled by the will, were not sufficient."

"Lack of power was our dilemma. We had to find a Power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?"

"Well that's exactly what this book [and the program of A.A.] is about. It's main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem."

So what is the answer to your question? For me it's pretty simple. But this is just my opinion, and it doesn't mean it's "conference approved" by A.A.

The "Power" was first. Because alcoholism is a physical, emotional, and spiritual malady, it can only "occur" in living human beings who have a body, mind, and soul. So that means that if alcoholism was first, a human came first. If a human came first (before the "Power"), then there could not be a Power greater than ourselves or greater than human power. You know where I'm going, don't you?

Since "probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism", then it would be impossible for any of us to be sober. Since we are sober and alive today, with most of us who thoroughly follow the path free from that hopeless state of mind and body that is part of alcoholism, it would be impossible for alcoholism to come first.

But the other "issue" that floats around here with this is: For the non-alcoholic man or woman, "religion" or "spirituality" is optional. A "normal drinker" can probably live a productive and sane life without religion or spirituality. But for the class of drinkers known as alcoholics, our lives DEPEND on spirituality. As the book says, we suffer from an illness that only a spiritual experience can conquer. For me, that is the biggest difference - its life or death for us - and again it goes straight to that distinguishing factor: alcohoilism.

I wonder if I better stop thinking about this?

There is a funny part to this too, Dallas. The book says we shouldn't ignore the scores of people (non-alcoholics) who found religion to be a solution to life's circumstances. Nothing seems to work for us but the "God thing did". So it took until 1939 to publish a book that could "transmit" the fact that "spirituality" or "religion" was the solution for alcoholics too - I guess the A.A. "experiment" was long overdue!

From the beginning of time until 1939, we alcoholics have been insisting on how different we are from the rest of the world. But when you look at the big picture, it's not like alcoholics are serving a different "God" than non-alcoholics. It just took a remarkably creative or "God-inspired" presentation of the same ideas for alcoholics to start comprehending and using the same solution that non-alcoholics have been using and understanding since as you said, the beginning of time.

I guess it takes some of us just a little longer.

Again - just my two cents!
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Postby Dallas » Tue Aug 28, 2007 12:19 pm

That's enough to convince me -- that,

Humans must have created a lot of problems --
And, they needed a Power Greater than themselves
to solve their problems --
So -- they created religion.

Then, some other Humans created alcohol,
and ... Humans saw that it was Good --
so they said "Let's drink it!"

Some of the humans that drank it --
Liked it too much!!! :lol:
So, they drank a lot of it!

Those humans that liked alcohol too much created alcoholism.
And, now they had a problem!!!
The humans who didn't want to be identified with those
who had the problem --
decided to call them "drunks!" :lol:
and, they treated them like "drunks!" :lol:

When the drunks started causing too many problems
the Humans figured that they could use their "religion" on the drunks
and it would cure them!

The only problem was --
their religion wasn't fixing all the drunks --

It would fix some of the drunks -- but, not all of the drunks!

So, they tried all the religions combined --
All of them!!!!

They figured -- surely -- some outfit out there
has a religion that will fix all drunks!!!!

Then the humans discovered -- that they had drunks in every single one of their religions!!!

And, they also discovered -- that there must be two kinds of drunks.

There were some drunks -- that got cured with their religions. And, there was a peculiar class of drunk that wouldn't respond to their religions. So, the other class of drunks eventually became known as "alcoholics."

And, since the religions, and the doctors -- and all the other professionals combined -- couldn't fix the drunks in the "alcoholic" class of drunk -- it was decided that those particular drunks were just plain outright hopeless!

So -- after a few thousand years -- of all the religions trying to fix the drunks -- the doctors figured they would give it a try. And, the doctors tried for a few thousand years.

And, the doctors couldn't produce any better results than the religions! They, too, discovered "well we can cure some of the drunks, but there seems to be this unusual kind of drunk -- that we just can't seem to get through with those! So -- now, we'll call those hopeless drunks! And, the doctors eventually began to call that class of drunk that they couldn't cure -- "alcoholics."

Humans had tried everything to cure the alcoholics.
They tried all the religions that they had created -- and that didn't work on alcoholics. And, then the humans tried the doctors that they had created -- and, that didn't work either
.

So, they gave up -- and decided that the best solution that the humans had to offer was to just "lock up the alcoholics and watch them go mad" because surely -- if they set them free -- they would drink themselves to death.

So the bottomline is this: it doesn't matter which came first -- alcoholism or religion. The fact is -- that even to this day -- many thousands of years later -- even including all the modern religions -- religion has not been able to fix the alcoholism problem.

Ever so many years -- we do hear some impressive news from the doctors -- who have finally come up with a new cure -- for alcoholics -- and, they discover -- eventually -- that either their cure didn't work -- or it didn't work on all of the alcoholics -- because invariably -- the alcoholics started drinking again! And, we know what happens to alcoholics who start drinking again!!!

Maybe -- someday -- religion will come up with a new cure. Ever so often, we hear of some alcoholics who got cured through another round of religion -- unfortunately, and invariable -- after time -- the alcoholic starts drinking again!

I've read -- that some of the religions found out about this thing called "Alcoholics Anonymous" -- and some of the doctors found out about A.A., too!

They decided -- that if that outfit over there that was created by some hopeless drunks -- with a solution that seemed to be fixing those in the "alcoholic class" of drunks -- maybe we can learn something from them -- and come up with a cure of our own!

I hope they eventually do that! I feel proud, as a sober and sane member of A.A. -- that we might be able to show all the religions and doctors how to come up with a cure for their prospects -- and, we don't mind if they announce it as a "Private Label" solution!!! As long as it helps drunks -- I'll be glad to help them find a solution, too!!!

And, until the religions and the doctors come up with a cure that works for long-term sobriety for the hopeless brand of alcoholic -- they are most welcome to do what the courts do -- and "Send them to A.A.!!!" :lol:

And -- for the drunks that will respond to a religious approach for their cure -- I wish that they would go help the folks in religions -- and make room in A.A. for newcomers that religion won't work for.

And, -- for the drunks that will respond through doctors and medication as an approach for their cure -- I wish they would go help the doctors and medicine -- and make room in A.A. for the newcomers that doctors and medicine won't work for.



That's how I see it.

Dallas
:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby Dallas » Tue Aug 28, 2007 12:47 pm

gardenvariety wrote: Lets just say for the sake of this post that "religion" = "spirituality" - you know just like the A.A. oldtimers used to look at it.


I personally believe that this is a misquote. The "Oxford Groupers" did equate "religion" = "spirituality" -- and most of those who believed that way stayed with the Oxford Group, AFTER a particular band of Oxford Groupers broke off their connection with the Oxford Groups -- and founded Alcoholics Anonymous.

Some of the oldtimers back then (none of them had over two years sobriety) realized that religion would not work for alcoholics. Pushing religion at sober alcoholics -- was driving them back to drinking. That is the primary reason -- that A.A. became A.A. -- A.A. was not a religious outfit -- and began moving away from a religious approach -- because they saw that it wouldn't work -- for the long-haul.

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Postby garden variety » Tue Aug 28, 2007 2:07 pm

Well Dallas, you might be right. I'll double check with my sponsor on the sources for that line of thought, but I thought he was quoting writings by Bill and Dr. Bob.

I like your story - it's very good and funny. Just so you know, I'm in no way saying "religion" in the way you define it, is the solution for alcoholism. There are folks in AA that are very much into their religions, for them it seemed to become a natural fit like the book says. So in those cases I would say religion = spirituality, at least in their minds. And they do help others with the steps and get sober. And there are also folks that are not alcoholics that have spirituality or religion that understand us alkies and care a great deal.

The thing that still amazes me is that it took so long for a couple drunks to stumble into a thing that works for that peculiar class of folks that we fall into.

You're right, it doesn't matter what came first. The only thing that does matter is that the program of recovery is Alcoholics Anonymous. That program works where religious approaches did not. And it does take more than religious dogma or "piety" to stay sober. It takes the 12 steps which are the program and which is a "Design for Living that really works."

I think the thing you said that touches me most is those folks who religion and medicine do work for - they are taking up the seats of folks who religion won't work for. This is a sad thing. To know real alcoholics that need our solution, but someone who is not one of the "peculiar" has his or her butt glued into place at the meetings, but can really stay sober through other means.

God bless.
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Postby DebbieV » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:05 pm

Dallas Wrote:
And -- for the drunks that will respond to a religious approach for their cure -- I wish that they would go help the folks in religions -- and make room in A.A. for newcomers that religion won't work for.

And, -- for the drunks that will respond through doctors and medication as an approach for their cure -- I wish they would go help the doctors and medicine -- and make room in A.A. for the newcomers that doctors and medicine won't work for.


I may be confused and I don't want to read minds :wink: So I will just ask the question.....Did you mean that people who speak about religious cures or medical cures should go help religious or medical people? Or did you mean that people in recovery should help people in recovery, people who believe that religion keeps them sober, should help people in religion and people who believe the medical profession keeps them sober, should help people who are in the medical profession? Or none of the above?
:?: :?: :?:

Thanks,
Debbie
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Postby Dallas » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:17 pm

Hey Paul,

It's always great to hear from you. Your sharing and your experience that you share always helps me to look and learn and to discover answers to my problems and conflicts that I've spent years and years searching for the answers on. So, thank you very much, for all that you do for me, and thank you so much for what you bring to this site -- and for all that you do in and for Alcoholics Anonymous. I appreciate you greatly.

I keep shoving my nose deeper and deeper into our Alcoholics Anonymous history -- because I believe that if we forget where we came from -- and how we got from one place in time to another place in time -- we'll end up repeating the mistakes of those who came before us, and we'll fail to recognize the solutions that they discovered for their problems -- which can still solve our problems today.

I could be mistaken, but I believe I read in one of your messages once, that you wrote "the wise man learns from the mistakes of others." Sorry if it wasn't you that wrote that and I'm attributing it to you. (It could be one of those instances that I experience where a light-bulb comes on inside my head and I think "Hey! That's what Paul was writing about - just the other day! That's what he was talking about! Now I understand what he was saying!) :lol:

But, that saying, and that quote "the wise man learns from the mistakes of others" has become a daily mantra for me ever since I read it. I can see how learning from the mistakes of others can be so beneficial to my progress -- because if I can learn from their mistakes -- I won't have to make their same mistakes -- to learn the lessons that they learned.

And, indeed, if we who are in A.A. will take the time to really study the entire history of those who came before us, we can continue to resolve the problems and conflicts within A.A. that will come up tomorrow.

There have been times during my discoveries -- when I would be looking at a particular time or era in our A.A. history -- and I would come to my own conclusions of "Oh! Now I understand this." Then, as I continued to travel down Adventures Road -- I would suddenly come across information about another time and era in our A.A. history. And, when I would look at the two different times and eras -- suddenly, I was seeing a larger picure of our past.

We have a hospital in our town that has this long giant wood-carving -- that to the left side, it shows a wild wilderness and a frontier with horses and covered wagons and settlers -- and as you look from left to right -- each little distance in the carving changes to depict a different era in the hospital's history -- all the way up to the depiction of the current hospital and medical center that stands there today. It's an awesome work!!! A few times when I've looked and admired the carving -- I've thought "Wouldn't it be wild if we had a big A.A. museum, with a carving like that -- that depicted the entire history of Alcoholics Anonymous. That would be awesome!!!

Dallas
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Postby Dallas » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:48 pm

Hey Deb!!!

My safest answer would be to pick "None of the above" as the answer to your question!!! And, because of the aging process -- I prefer to stay safe! :lol: :lol: :lol:

I live in an area, where it appears that the culture -- when it comes to any ideas or concepts about God, religion or spirituality seems to mean the same thing as "Southern Fried Chicken Eatin' Reverends -- who operate strings of Holy-Ghost Fireworks stands -- and you've got one foot in the Lake of Fire -- and a Rain Storm of Molten Brimstone targeted on your head -- if you think of God, Religion or Spirituality -- in any other way than as "They understand it."

And, unfortunately -- the Fried Chicken culture -- ends up at the podiums of local A.A. meetings preaching an A.A. message that "often sounds to me" -- like what they are saying is: "If you don't understand God like we understand God -- then, you need to get the hell out of here and do some more drinking because you ain't gonna get sober till you believe like we believe!" And, they hand the newcomer a Bible instead of a Big Book, and announce "I will be your sponsor and you will get Jesus!"

Now -- I do recognize that I am exaggerating with my words -- in an attempt to describe what I feel and perceive about what I'm actually hearing. And, often what it seems like I'm hearing in the A.A. meeting is actually "If you don't get right with Jesus and join the Christian Church after you join A.A. -- you're not going to make it to hell sober!" (It isn't actually -- that bad). :lol: :lol:

Another thing that I've noticed -- is that I've walked in to other A.A. meetings -- on the other side of my town, and depending on what day of the week and the hour of the day -- the topic might be "Who is your therapist or psychiatrist? And, would you mind sharing how they have helped you?" -- And, on another day, the topic in the A.A. meeting will be something like "Are you on Prosaic or Zoloft? How do you feel taking the older medications to treat your alcoholism? Aren't you open minded to try the new medications or is it your fear that is preventing you?"

Yes. I know. That one sounds extreme also -- and I would say that it is -- if I hadn't walked in to the meeting and heard the topic! :lol: :lol:

There is one lady who runs around -- who has been around A.A. for a way long time, but has never been able to stay sober very long. And, she carries a list in her purse with announcements and recruits for their "AA's On Anti-Depressants Group." -- her approach seems to be "You don't have to be on medication to join us -- we can help you find a doctor who will prescribe what you need!" (That's a real live one! No joking on that one!) :lol: :lol:

And -- they have A.A. Memorials -- for those who died drunk, using, or at their own hands. Stuff like that confuses the hell out of me!!! I thought A.A. Memorials were a place to Celebrate someone's life who lived and died SOBER. :oops:

I guess it's unfortunate that I end up on Soap Boxes to answer simple questions -- but, I am trying to make progress!!! And, some things -- really do take a loooonnnngggg time to change in me!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

Life in the Slow Lane,

Dallas B.

Oops!!!!!!!! :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: I forgot to mention -- that we DO ALSO HAVE SOME REALLY GOOD MEETINGS THAT FOCUS ON A.A. RECOVERY!!!!! If you are visiting my area and would like to attend one -- be sure to call me!!! I'll even be willing to pick you up and give you a ride to the meeting!!!
:lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby carol1017 » Tue Aug 28, 2007 5:52 pm

I love the way alkies discuss a topic -- we always seem to start out on topic, drift off topic for a bit, then come back to it -- must have something to do with a lack of attention span due to the brain cells we killed off! :lol:

I, too, am very interested in AA's history, and I have read the AA approved books as well as some others. I am currently reading "Not-God" by Ernest Kurtz.

The Oxford Group seems to be responsible for the "religion = spirituality" equation. Dr. Bob and Bill, having gone through the Oxford Group's indoctrination and teachings, ultimately rejected that philosophy in favor of a more "neutral" approach, not favoring any particular form of religion. The Oxford Group believed that they should and could convert everyone in the world, not just alcoholics, to their religious beliefs.

The concepts of surrender, inventory, restitution and service all came from the Oxford Group teachings, but in Bill and Dr. Bob's experience, they and other alcoholics had difficulty with the whole idea of "religion" as such, which is why AA finally broke away from the Oxford Group. They wanted to be able to reach as many alcoholics as possible without offending those who were religious, and appealing most to those who were not. The result was settling on "spirituality", embracing some of the basic precepts of religion without the hellfire and brimstone.

In recent years (my own observation), the concept of spirituality has evolved into an even deeper, almost quasi-religion, encompassing to some degree parts of spiritualism, Eastern philosophy and even paganism (not Satanism, I'm talking about worship of Nature). "New Age" thinking has entered our culture, and has worked its way into AA as well.

To me, the changes in the concept of spirituality are good -- had I been approached by a Bible-thumping Oxford Grouper, I would have RUN in the opposite direction!!!! One line keeps repeating in my head -- "Why not have your OWN concept of God?" -- that, I think, is what saved this alcoholic's butt in the rooms of AA.
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Postby Dallas » Wed Aug 29, 2007 6:21 am

Carol wrote:must have something to do with a lack of attention span due to the brain cells we killed off!


Are you kidding? It's all about control!!! We get off track and off topic to stay in control!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

I enjoy your participation and sharing Carol!!! Thanks for jumping in!

Actually -- when I posted the original message, I was thinking of it in terms of like "A heard in meetings -- sound-bite -- quote!" :lol: It's one that I use frequently. :lol: And, I didn't even think -- that it would turn into a discussion thread.

Carol wrote:I, too, am very interested in AA's history, and I have read the AA approved books as well as some others. I am currently reading "Not-God" by Ernest Kurtz.


Gees!!! I absolutely LOVE studying about our roots and our history. It is simply awesome to me how it all came together -- how it survived -- the incredible human nature and instincts -- the alcoholic self-will run riot in mass -- the Divine Guidance and Providence without religion -- that held the emotionally sensitive and fragile alkies together -- so that a real hope could be offered to the suffering and hopeless alcoholic -- and those who loved them. Evidence to me -- that there really is something Much Greater than Everything -- with a Love that is unfathonable in regards to understanding. A real God at work -- that is so Big and so Awesome -- that doesn't give a hoot about whether we understand God or not! A God that simply desires to be helpful to all.

I started reading Not-God in 1994 -- and it is one of my favorites that I read over and over and over again. It has a pretty solid reputation -- as being one of the most authoritative works on our history.

I can ditto with you on many of the feelings that you expressed!

Thanks again.
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