Underlined 3rd and 11th step

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.
fasteddie635
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Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by fasteddie635 »

Why are the 3rd and 11th step underlined where it states "God as we understand Him"?

tomsteve
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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by tomsteve »

Pretty deep question, but I think it goes back to the chapter we agnotics:
When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book. Do not let any prejudice you may have against spiritual terms deter you from honestly asking yourself what they mean to you.

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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by Tommy-S »

Welcome Fasteddie,

(I'm assuming we are referring to where they are italicized in How It Works in the Big Book?)

I think a clue is found in AA Comes of Age... around where Bill writes about the advice/complaints he received from some of our early members when he was writing the Big Book. (I don't have my books handy, so I'm guessing it's somewhere in pages 50 - 60's)

Further, if you go to the Appendix on Religious View, you'll find the talks delivered by Father Dowling & Rev. Shoemaker at the 1955 St Louis Convention.... It was Rev. Shoemaker (I believe) who stated "AA was supremely wise...." in making it 'God as we understand Him" and elaborates on his reasoning.

It's worth looking up :)

Thanks... Tommy
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PaigeB
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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by PaigeB »

Writer emphasis added. Bill was a profound and prolific writer and thinker I would guess. He emphasised this, I think because he was near agnostic himself until his white light experience. I am thinking of his story about when Ebbie came to his kitchen table... Bill says something like "He got religion! Well bless him - let him rant!" or something like that.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by Stepchild »

As you read through the book...You'll find quite few paragraphs or sentences in italics. Like Paige mentioned...It was done to stress that something was important and they are very helpful.
For someone reading those steps for the first time....Seeing they have the option of having a God as they understand It/Her/Him is huge...There is no God shoved down your throat in this program...Choose your own conception of God. That's what broke the ice for Bill W. It doesn't get any more important than that.

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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by ezdzit247 »

fasteddie635 wrote:Why are the 3rd and 11th step underlined where it states "God as we understand Him"?
My best guess is Bill W. wanted to emphasize the fact that AA was not a religion and had no affiliation with any religious sect, denomination, or organization.

This is an excerpt from a transcript of an AA talk Bill W. gave in Fort Worth, Texas in 1954 called "AA History And How The Big Book Was Put Together", which tells the story of how that particular phrase, "God as we understand Him", came about. If you google the title, you can find it posted at Barefoot's World, Silkworth, and several other recovery websites, if you want to read the entire transcript. I found it very informative and hilarious in some places.
"....Then came that night when we were up around Chapter 5. As you know I'd gone on about myself, which was natural after all. And then the little introductory chapter and we dealt with the agnostic and we described alcoholism, but, boy, we finally got to the point where we really had to say what the book was all about and how this deal works. As I told you this was a six-step program then. On this particular evening, I was lying in bed on Clinton Street wondering what the deuce this next chapter would be about. The idea came to me, well, we need a definite statement of concrete principles that these drunks can't wiggle out of. Can't be any wiggling out of this deal at all. And this six-step program had two big gaps in-between they'll wiggle out of. Moreover if this book goes out to distant readers, they have to have, got to have, an absolutely explicit program by which to go. This was while I was thinking these thoughts, while my imaginary ulcer was paining me and while I was mad as hell at these drunks because the money was coming in too slow. Some had the stock and weren't paying up. A couple of guys came in and they gave me a big argument and we yelled and shouted and I finally went down and laid on the bed with my ulcer and I said, "poor me."

There was a pad of paper by the bed and I reached for that and said "You've got to break this program up into small pieces so they can't wiggle out. So I started writing, trying to bust it up into little pieces. And when I got the pieces set down on that piece of yellow paper, I put numbers on them and was rather agreeably surprised when it came out to twelve. I said, "That's a good significant figure in Christianity and mystic lore. "Then I noticed that instead of leaving the God idea to the last, I'd got it up front but I didn't pay much attention to that, it looked pretty good. Well, the next meeting comes along; I'd gone on beyond the steps trying to amplify them in the rest of that chapter to the meeting and boy, pandemonium broke loose. "What do you mean by changing the program, what about this, what about that, this thing is overloaded with God. We don't like this, you've got these guys on their knees - stand them up!" A lot of these drunks are scared to death of being Godly, "Let's take God out of it entirely." Such were the arguments that we had. Out of that terrific hassle came the Twelve Steps. That argument caused the introduction of the phrase that has been a lifesaver to thousands; it was certainly none of my doing. I was on the pious side then, you see, still suffering from this big hot flash of mine. The idea of "God as you understand Him" came out of that perfectly ferocious argument and we put that in...."
There's also an interesting documentary entitled "God As We Understood God" produced and distributed by Joshua Tree Productions that includes interviews with AA historian Ernie Kurtz and people from all different faiths, Catholicism, Protestantism, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, Religious Science, Unitarian Universalism, Setianism, Atheism, and various forms of Agnosticism on the topic and how they have adapted different versions of the 12 Steps to work for them.

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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by desypete »

my whole life has turned upside down these last couple of years, since my 16 year old son died from stomach cancer

i came into aa with nothing, my young kids were put into foster care homes thanks to my drinking and my ex wifes drinking, i lost my business, all my money, my home and even ended up going in and out of prison for my drunken sprees etc
i ended up just a drunken 24 / 7 hopeless drunk

i came into aa and the people there helped me, gave me food, looked after me and over time my life started to change for the better, i got a job, i got some money again, i got a car and after a year i got my kids back out from care homes, so my life really did turn around thanks to aa and the people in aa who gave me so much help

i have always been active in aa doing many service work positions ie prison liaison probation liaison, working with homless drunks etc its the only way i could ever pay back what was given to me

now of course my son has been dead over 2 years i had to watch that kid of mine suffer like no parent should, i had to be with him 24 / 7 as he was dying slowly and painfully infront of me and i couldnt do a thing to help him, everyone i know prayed for a real miracle and nothing happened

sadly this is real life and what happens to so many people each and everyday, we dont hear about these things in aa as all we hear from are people who prayed and some how a miracle happened for them so there convinced they have been saved yet i have come to see that no god had saved me from my drinking, it was the people in aa who helped me and i had to put in all the effort needed as i was beat by the booze i just couldn't live with myself anymore

sadly i have had to withdraw from aa in many of the meetings as i just dont share there beliefs and although i know aa is not supposed to be about religion or anything like it, the truth is many of its memebers who dont even do service work or go out of there way to help people but there very vocal and demanding when it comes to the god side of things

does anyone expect me to get on my hands and knees and thank a god that has all power to save ?
my hp has always been aa the fellowship as its the only proof i have that aa works for people who end up like i did with nothing left in life

the steps for me have shown me the real me and gave me a new way to live my life where simply put i try to think and care for others rather than all about me
to this end i have lived my life trying to follow that path but now my son has died i still try to live that life but i can not be near people who tell me how lucky they are that a god saved them from going to prison or losing there family's or losing driving license or whatever it is they have come to believe this god thing has saved and protected them from.

is it really me being selfish that i wanted my son to live ? or is it selfish of other aa members to want me to say the things they agree with ?

god if it was real must have picked and chose who to save in this world and who to let die ?

so the more i hear about this all loving god thing the more argument i have that people just can not see as there the ones who feel they have been saved or protected etc

so i love aa with all my heart hence i dont bother going to meetings anymore as i leave the people to sit around the rooms and worshiping there god as its just not for me, aa shouldnt be that way but sadly in the real world its getting more and more like that as people become hooked on the book or the steps and the so much loved god

i can still live a good life trying to help people outside of aa and i still help the down and outs as its good for my soul to see some real suffering that drink does to people, it shows me where i never want to go again in my life time and i dont need to worship a god in my life and for me aa should not be about that sort of thing as it keeps people like me away only those who are prepared to accept a god in there life will be able to feel they fit in at aa

its sad like i say its taken me 10 years to come to see this side of aa and i wouldnt of seen it unless my son had died as i wouldnt of listened to people complaining about aa being all about god stuff as i would try and make them see its just not true

but in the real world i would challenge anyone to go into an aa meeting and share there is no god, like i have done in meetings and see what happens.

kids are dying just like my child died everyday, all there parents can do is pray and there prayers dont get answered, or if you believe in god you will say they did get answered and the answer is no

yet the answer would of been yes to someone whos only problem was they drank to much and god is the only thing in the world that has the power to remove the compulsion ? yet it can not remove cancer or give people who lose limbs new ones ?

like i said i have to many arguments now against there being a god hence my life with aa is sadlly over

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Tosh
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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by Tosh »

Hi Pete,

I'm sorry about the death of your son. That's very sad. Can I ask what his name was? And you're right about children dying - 9 million children under five years old die every year. That works out as 17 small children every minute, dying. And many of their parents will call upon God to save them, but their children will still die.

I know there's no easy answers, maybe there's no answer at all?

But in A.A. we shouldn't force our concept of what our higher powers are on anyone. Maybe it's easier for us in the mostly secular UK?

However, I do think it's sad you don't go to A.A. anymore because of this. I personally don't care what anyone's Higher Power is; I even sponsored one chap who is four years sober who used his dead wife as his Higher Power. He'd ask himself what it is that she would want for him? She'd want him to stay sober, look after himself and their house, to live a useful life and be a decent person. It seems to work for him.

Why don't you - and this is just a suggestion - use your son for your Higher Power? What would your son want you to do? Would he want you to isolate yourself (if you are)? Or would he want you to mix with other alcoholics in recovery?

If I'm way off the mark, just ignore me.

Regards

Tosh
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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PaigeB
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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

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Hi desypete. Paige here, alcoholic and firm atheist. I haven't found it necessary to take a drink since August 1, 2009 - I am grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous for that.

I have not lost a child. I do not know what I would do if I did. This has to be the hardest thing ever to endure. I know a guy in the program who recently lost his child. He just keeps coming back and has not had to drink. He gives me hope that should the worst imaginable thing ever happen, that I too would be able to stay sober. Not through a gift, or a white light ~ but through the loving arms of the people at AA. The people who know the worst about me still carry me through in the small things and I know they will gather around if I invite them. I don't think I would be able to handle the whole "god's angels" thing... maybe I would invite just a few people who are very close to me and don't mind rewording their message.

You didn't have to be on the outside when you experienced the pitiful, incomprehensible demoralization that alcohol causes and you don't have to be on the outside of the deep pain you feel now. AA accepts us where we are at.

I hope that you find hope in my words... if not then I hope they do not cause further pain.

You are loved by us.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by desypete »

thanks tosh and paige for your posts

i still pop up around some of the meetings in my area where as at one time i used to be in a meeting almost every night as i lived and breathed aa because it helped me get my life back and i got my kids back out of care etc i got so much back from the people in aa i can never repay
i have been very active in aa in service work i always go out of my way to help others more so with new comers as they give me so much that they dont ever know, however with the problem of my son dying and how i feel now towards the idea of a god its very hard to sit in meetings and hear people share how wonderful there life is now that god saved them etc

it really does hit home to me what is it all about ?

i could go on and on but i have really had to look at just what it is i believe in these days as god is a no no for me and what i do believe in is this
your either lucky or unlucky in this world in terms of people dying or living its the only answer that makes any sense to me, when i look at aa i see the fellowship of men and women who just want to try to help others who are stuck in the drink, they have no motives other than to help or at least the ones who are really working there program have no motive other than to help, as there are plenty of members whos only motives are to spread the word of god or convert people to do things there way etc but i can not do anything about anyone else other than to speak as honest as i can

so for me aa and the people in aa are the ones who helped me get my life back, many of the literature also played its part when i was ready to start to learn, the steps for me doing 4 and 5 shown me the real me that i never ever wanted to see and only when i could really honestly see myself and i didnt like what i seen could i do anything or start to do anything about trying to change

there was no blinding flash of light and suddenly i am a changed person for me, its been slow and painful as i make mistake after mistake but the only thing i ever have got right are that i dont pick up that first drink no matter what happens in life and i kept coming back to be with people like me who helped me time and time again

i am 10 years sober now and i do have my other kids i have to care for even though they are mini adults themselves now but they still need me and i am useful to them instead of a huge embarrassment as dad would be drunk again and again and caused all sorts of madness.

so i will always be grateful to aa and the people for all the help i have had but i can not support an idea that there is god out there saving us all.

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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by Tosh »

desypete wrote: but i can not support an idea that there is god out there saving us all.
We've had quite a few discussions about this notion in the past. And I've often shared that belief in God doesn't save us, taking actions save us. My father believed in God and he died a typical alcoholic's death (fairly young, in poverty, and alone). Beliefs are just mere thoughts.

I also disagree that the idea of going to A.A. means we support the idea that there's a deity - out there - saving us. The Big Book puts it's emphasis on action. The start of Chapter 7 doesn't say "nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as a belief in God."

It says (and sorry to hit you with the book):
PRACTICAL EXPERIENCE shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics. It works when other activities fail. This is our TWELFTH SUGGESTION: Carry this message to other alcoholics! You can help when no one else can. You can secure their confidence when other fail.
I've read, even in religious circles, this emphasis on 'faith and belief' in Christianity is a fairly modern phenomena (don't quote me on that though). And no-where in the Bible does it talk about having a 'relationship with God'. I personally think A.A. has it right with it's emphasis on action and think the rest is mere fluff.

And maybe there's some atheists who may really need to hear what you've got to share at a meeting? Jim Burwell is one of my A.A. heroes , without which A.A. probably wouldn't have survived and he was known as the 'Militant Agnostic', though in reality he was an atheist. He was a funny guy too; his shares are to be found at XA Speakers. He was also the guy who forced Bill to soften the edges on the 'God stuff', because he knew that would be a bar to some folk.

I want to say "Thank God for Jim Burwell", but somehow that doesn't seem appropriate. :lol:

I wish you well and hope you keep coming back.

Regards

Tosh
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by PaigeB »

I don't suspect that at all that these folks talking about answered prayers really get ALL their prayers answered. They just talk about the ones that "get answered" as it helps them shore up their faith in an interactive HP. I always wondered why priests and pastors come to AA... I mean don't they have a special "IN" with with god? Why do THEY need AA? Find one and ask! I have and they were not at all offended by me being an atheist.

I have no interest in a happy, head-in-the-clouds, frilly life. No need for joy... just the basics. AA takes care of that one part of my life that was ruining everything and gives me tools to handle the rest. AA helps keep me sober no matter what. That is what I came to AA for. Being around the people helps make me feel loved. It helps me feel not so alone. These people talk my language (semantics for the word "god" and some other words) but they think like I think. I can go back to trying to make life more pleasant for others.

Last night at a meeting, we talked about expectations being inversely proportional to serenity, pg 420 in the BB. The discussion did not degenerate into a rant about how people let go of things and give them to god - though it got mentioned a couple times. It was really a good meeting about what we expect at work and at home and how expectations (large & small) get in the way of our serenity. It was really helpful to me to hear these women talk about themselves and for me to see how much like them I really was - no matter what they called their HP or what they profess he can do.

Back to the basics? Look for the similarities and not the differences.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Duke
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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by Duke »

Hi Pete.

You've already got some great responses here. All I'll add is that if you choose to continue actively participating as someone who chooses not to use the word God or consider any type of deity, you'll be far from alone. If, on the other hand you choose to pursue a solution to your alcoholism on your own, you will be in truly elite company if you succeed in that effort.

I've seen a whole lot of sober atheists and agnostics in the program, but I can't say I've ever met an alcoholic with continuous, quality sobriety who doesn't participate.

Just a thought. I wish you well.
"If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.", Mother Teresa

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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by Brock »

I am a strong believer that living the AA life of unselfishness and helping others, does not necessarily mean helping those in AA, or even alcoholics for that matter. To my mind desypete not going to AA meetings is more than made up for by the assistance he said he tries to extend to those he calls “the down and outs,” of course if he finds his way back to meetings that would be great as well.

I am one of those who uses the God word at meetings and a firm believer in His power and grace, but where I live the meetings are small and all who attend feel the same way, and we are very careful, to the point of discussing it among ourselves, that if someone we don’t know should attend one of our meetings, we tone down the God aspect until we can gauge where the visitor or newcomer stands on the subject.

My step daughter died of the very stomach cancer that claimed desypetes son, mind you she was older and the blow may have been lessened by the fact that she at least had a good forty years of life, but of course my wife and myself still were pretty annoyed at God for not answering the prayers. Somewhere in his contributions desypete said words to the effect that those who do believe, will sort of make up some excuse when God doesn’t answer a prayer, and this is true, we tend to look only for the good God has done, it keeps our faith alive. So for me I would think along the lines that your son was going to die of cancer at 16, as you said he suffered for two years, but his good loving and sober father was there to comfort him, and I believe God had a hand in making that happen.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."

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Re: Underlined 3rd and 11th step

Post by desypete »

thanks again guys for your posts
i even had a chuckle at tosh post about thanking god for jim burwell

you guys are my kind of people, its great to see this sort of aa is around. its the aa that i love. just practical sensible talk

as for the book quote it is so true that only work with others helps us at our lowest points in life its certainly what i had to do when my son died although for the first 6 months i just stayed in bed curled up in a ball when my lad died i didnt want to see anyone or be with anyone but my sponsor never left me on my own, he was always there for me texting me everyday and coming to see me etc
i have also had to care and run a home for the rest of my kids and be strong dad for them as they have lost a brother who they loved so there has been no real time for me to have a good old poor me session lol although i dont have poor me sessions these days as i am so well used to the kicks up the backside i have been given over all the years that i sort of learned now to protect my backside from another kick

i always say pain is what makes us change in life when it hurts enough we end up doing something about it. the trick is to do something about things before ending up in such a state, i am a bit better at doing that these days than i was 10 years ago when everything in life was a huge problem for me and i couldn't cope

all i know for me is without aa i would never have even started to change or grow its been a slow process and its always going to be ongoing with no end, just i do get better at accepting things i can not change and i find that peace quicker to accept things
just losing my son is something i have to accept as i can not change it but i just miss him so very very much daily and of course my head spins how he died over and over again hearing him and seeing him crying that he justs wanted to live

that is my world that i have to try to get out of these days hence i turn to aa but the people who throw there god at me telling me i should get down on my knees each day and be grateful etc can not picture the process or the helplessness of it all

my sponsor says time is the key with this issue for me and its going to take a long time for me to heal
one day i will be able to sit around the meetings and be happy again for people who find sobriety either with or without a god etc in short it just will not be an issue just like it was for me before my son died, the god thing never was an issue for me i was just happy others are sober no matter what they believed in as it was further proof to me that in aa we find our way out of the madness

anyway thanks you guys for listening to my ramblings, i think i will pop out to a meeting tonight although even as i type that up my head is telling me not to go, lol but as i had to do in early days i have to ignore my head and just go, its easy for me to tell others to do it but i have to do it myself as well at times on this journey

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