To the best of my recollection, I was in my early twenties when I first ventured into an AA meeting. Though I can’t recall exactly what prompted so drastic a measure (seems it had something to do with a neighbor’s front yard, my step-mom’s Chevette, and vomit), I can easily summarize my initial thoughts upon listening and reading along as one of my fellow drunkards recited those first few now-familiar Steps:
The God Thing
“Step One – we admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.” No shit, I thought. My Dad wants to kick my ass, the car REALLY stinks, and I seem to be wearing my underwear on the outside of my pants.
“Step Two – we came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” Umm…, thought I. Why is “Power” capitalized? Is this gonna be like church?
“Step Three – we made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” I’m thirsty, said the voice in my head. And I don’t want to belong to any club that would have ME as a member. Think I’ll go buy one of those little Christmas-tree air-freshener thingies that hangs from the rear-view. And a twelve-pack.
It was a number of years before I ventured back into one of those rooms; nearly twenty years before I hung around long enough to get beyond that Third Step. Like so many I’ve heard since, like so many I hear now, I just couldn’t get past the God thing.
I mean, let’s face it – no matter how much the word “God” (mentioned some three hundred times in the Big Book) is qualified with “as you understand Him;” no matter how many assurances that your Higher Power can be a doorknob (that one’s always baffled me, and I have yet to hear anyone claim such an All-Knowing Knob as their HP)…we all know Who they mean. Otherwise, why all the pronoun capitalization? As my Grandma used to say, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still gonna oink.”
That I just compared the All-Being to a makeup-wearing swine is probably enough to send me to Hell, if there is such a place; if you’re picturing it now too – the hooves, the curly tail, the ruby-red lips – I’ll meet you there.
I’m not an Atheist, but I’m not a Christian either.
I’ve seen too much hypocrisy and hatred from the so-called “devout” to take it too seriously. One of my favorite quotes is from Woody Allen, in the film “Hannah and Her Sisters.” The character played by Max Von Sydow is watching a TV Evangelist, and says to his girlfriend (Barbara Hershey I believe), “If Jesus Christ could see what his followers were doing in his name, he would not stop vomiting.”
This pretty much applies to ALL religions; that so many wars have been waged – and so many millions of innocent lives lost – over what is basically a disagreement about what happens when we die, is the saddest of Humankind’s ironies. Any one group’s claims to absolute knowledge of Life, the Universe, and Everything – to the exclusion of the remainder of the planet – is poppycock and balderdash.
I prefer Gandhi’s perspective: “My religion is a matter between my Maker and myself.” Nice, huh? Of course, he was killed by a religious zealot. So there’s that.
Here’s why none of this matters anyway, and why using “the God thing” as justification for abstaining from AA simply proves its own point: ALCOHOL ITSELF is a Power greater than ourselves – “powerless” is the fifth word of the First Step! We acknowledge this before we even get to the part where we’re put off by the notion of a Superior Being or Doorknob.
Accept that premise, and simple logic leads to no conclusion other than a Greater (Higher) Power being the only way to heal us. It’s all about relinquishing control, giving up on the notion that we can do this alone. Ego got us into this mess, and only through surrendering our ego can we find peace.
I say the Serenity Prayer every single morning (usually sitting on the throne, but you probably didn’t want to hear that). Do I think God is listening? Nope. Sure don’t. I say it because it gives me comfort to acknowledge that I’m not driving, that I’m just a passenger, and that my day is going to be chock-full of situations I don’t dictate, and that are beyond my control.
I know enough to know, that I don’t know everything.
For me, AA itself is my Higher Power
I DO know that the single strongest thread which runs through this sober life I’m leading is the comfort, empathy, and support of my fellow sufferers. That when I stop going to meetings, I stop staying sober.
Atheist or Agnostic, Christian or Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness or Scientologist (just kidding, everyone KNOWS Scientology’s a crock of shit)…we’re all fighting a Demon that doesn’t give a flying fuck WHAT we believe. That’s the God’s honest truth, and if you’re using “the God thing” as an excuse to not go to meetings – which is oftentimes really just an excuse to continue drinking – then you’re throwing out the baby with the bath water (and baby-throwing is a felony in many states).
On the plus side, you’re that much closer to knowing for sure what happens after we die.