Hey Dee. Wow. You certainly got some interesting conversation going here! Thanks for the questions. Here's my experience.
1. I don't see how the steps can be forced upon somebody like this. Don't you have to actually feel, experience and incorporate them into your life? It isn't like you are studying for an exam at school. To me, it would seem more like being enlightened by them, understanding them and being able to live them. How can somebody believe that one week is enough to build an understanding of them? This seems totally off the mark to me.
I am nearly a year from my last drink. The obsession to drink is gone and I haven't felt it in quite a few months. I have now worked the steps 3 times. The first was quickly, in a matter of 4 weeks. I did this with the help of a group that focuses on that approach. They emphasized that I was not to try to work the steps perfectly. What I was to do was to work them honestly and diligently, so that I could get some relief from the drinking problem that I had. Did I get it all that first time through? Did I cover everything? Not on your life. But, during those four weeks the foundation was laid on which I have been building ever since. And, most importantly, I found relief from my overwhelming obsessions to drink during those four weeks. Then I went back and started working on the things that were not so important the first time around, including more amends.
2. It seems to me, at least, a pretty dangerous prospect for a newcomer to have what is substantially a sponsor with a bare knowledge of the steps and the program themselves. I could be wrong, but this appears to be the blind leading the blind.
I don't think that is the case at all. The genius of AA is recognition of the fact that an alcoholic will listen to and identify with another alcoholic before he/she will do the same with another person. As ex-problem alcoholics, we can speak to the heart and soul of someone still struggling in a way they will identify with. This is not dangerous at all. It is genius. One does not have to have a perfect knowledge of the steps to show someone else how they have worked in our lives. Besides, there IS no perfect knowledge of the steps, only our personal experience. That is all we can, and should, pass on.
What IS dangerous, to my way of thinking and something that I have seen too many times this past year, is not stressing the importance of working the steps without delay, thoroughly, as quickly as possible. It is only by doing this that the miracle of the steps can occur. And, by not stressing this, we AAs have probably helped contribute to a fellowship that is not as successful as the early fellowship was.
But, of course, that is my opinion.
PS -- As for "rules" about when one can speak in meetings, or lead meetings, or anything else, I know of only one rule in all of AA -- that is Rule 62. It covers any others we might dream up, thankfully. Unfortunately, most groups have never heard of Rule 62 and, if they had, well.......
The only constant in life is change.