12 STEPS OF AA

STEP 1 “We admitted that we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable.”

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Step 2 “Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

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Step 3 “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives to the care of God as we understood God.”

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Step 4 “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

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Step 5 “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”

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Step 6 “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”

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Step 7 “Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings”

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Step 8 “Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.”

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Step 9 “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

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Step 10 “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it”

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Step 11 “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out”

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Step 12 “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs”

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BY THE GRACE OF GOD WE ARE UNSHACKLED

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http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/twelve-steps-and-twelve-traditions

contentment: Lao Tzu

Lao Tzu

“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”    Lao Tzu

 

Lao Tzu, a mystic philosopher of ancient China, is best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching, or simply Laozi.  He is traditionally considered the founder of Taoism (pronounced “Daoism”), was born in the 6th century BCE

rainy days

We tend to pack our days with yard chores, outdoor activity, social events, volunteering, etc.  Seldom do we get up in the morning and plan nothing.  Zilch, nada, nothing.  Then, checking in with our weather source, we see the spreading green blob of precipitation heading our way.  What now?

The most pleasant days can be spent relaxing under the tin roofed porch, curled up with a great book, listening to that rain softly beating rhythmically on the roof.  We reflect, we meditate, we lounge, we create emptiness in our overworked minds.  The planned activity slips away into oblivion as we take a tour of what’s happening within.  Sometimes we actually connect with moments of clarity and insight.  What a perfect way to spend a rainy day!

Life can be a continuum of well spent rainy days or it can be a rush of forced activity.  It’s our choice.

recovery basics

  1. Don’t drink and you won’t get drunk
  2. One drink is too many, ten are never enough
  3. K.I.S.S  (keep it simple stupid)
  4. God aka g.o.d.  (good orderly direction)
  5. People, places, things.  Sobriety demands change.
  6. “GOD IS”.  Yep, that’s it.  God simply is.  There is no need for further definition or description.

 

a day in the park

Life is like a day in the park on a beautiful sunny day.  Sitting on our favorite bench under a spreading oak tree, we enter a world where everything is perfect.  The fresh air, the visual delight of blooming daisies in the nearby field, the chatter of squirrels working up the courage to come begging for a handout, the soft murmur of an airplane flying high in the sky; yes, we say, life is just about perfect.

Ahhhhh, smell the fragrances of nature, hear the sounds of silence, see the majestic mountains in the distance, relish the peace of the moment.  it doesn’t get any better than this. Then, as if reality says, “whoa, hang on while I burst your bubble,” one of nature’s beauties drops a load of poop on our shoulder.  Reality wings away noisily from its perch above our head.  And we have learned another of life’s lessons.

Enjoy and appreciate the great moments because there is always someone just waiting to drop a load on our perfect day.  But, that’s life, isn’t it?  It’s the dropped loads that give us opportunities to become better people.

 

The Principles of Etiquette – The Emily Post Institute, Inc.

(Remember the days of our youth when Emily Post was ridiculed by some of us for her “stuffy, old fogey” writings?  Wow, if only we had listened, larrypaulbrown)

This is the single most important thing we hope you read about etiquette. It’s that important. It’s the single most important thing to all of us who work here. And it was hugely important to Emily Post.

Source: The Principles of Etiquette – The Emily Post Institute, Inc.

me, a philosopher? tsk

It is often too easy to get mired in the realms of religious philosophy.  No credible source whom we know or about whom we have read has physically sat down with God and discussed the kingdom, heaven and hell, salvation, etc.  Some claim to have special insight and it is these whom we should distrust the most.  When there appears video and audio of this personal God meeting on YouTube, then maybe, we could agree with the philosophy which a religionist proclaims as truth.  The preceding words are, of course, somewhat facetious and tongue-in-cheek.  But, truly, nobody knows with certainty what awaits in eternity.

Therefore, we must rest on the assumption that maybe your theory on things eternal is valid and maybe another’s theory is valid.  Maybe your interpretation of scriptures is true, maybe another’s interpretation is spot on.  Certainly we can agree that of all the creations attributable to mankind, religion has probably been the most devastating in numbers of human lives murdered and in souls lost.  When any religion or any religionist lays claim to having the inerrant, infallible, indisputable word of God, then that religion’s adherent must surrender his innate God-given ability to figure things out for himself, i.e., THINK.

Recently, a fellow blogger posed the question, “Why are you here?”

In spite of all suppositions set forth by theologians, religionists, your theory, and my theory, it all boils down to this:

what am I willing to contribute in forwarding  the evolution of mankind to the intelligence and compassion which the universe demands as a condition for continuation of the human race?

 

 

 

 

Blessed are the poor

Blessed are the poor in spirit ; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3

Yes, I know this verse has nothing to do with worldly wealth or spiritual deficiency.  But, I immediately thought of it when Trump came out with the following statement at an ego rally in Iowa.

“I just don’t want a poor person in top economic roles.”  Donald J. Trump

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-%E2%80%98i-just-don%E2%80%99t-want-a-poor-person%E2%80%99-in-top-economic-roles/ar-BBD1Ncr?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

I could discuss politics with you until the cows come home, but that is not my blog’s intent.  Suffice it to say that possibly ‘the poor’ could add a great insight to an otherwise sightless administration.

In the verse attributed to Jesus by the book of Matthew, “poor” is translated from the Greek word “ptochos” meaning beggar or pauper.  In attempting to think as Jesus may have thought we could view the “poor in spirit” not as unenlightened or ignorant, but, as those who have become voluntarily bankrupt in ego, i.e., poor in ego, and are absolutely dependent on God for every need.  Just like a beggar with cup in hand, totally in need of alms, the one who relies not on “I” or “me” but rather on the grace and graciousness of a Higher Power has attained an attitude that surrenders control to the One who is in control.  This attitude is the kingdom of heaven cited in Matthew 5:3.

(refer to Ethan Walker 3rd, “THE MYSTIC CHRIST”)

Live & Let Live

One of the wall posters which first grabs attention in the AA meeting room is, “LIVE & LET LIVE”.

“Great sentiment, but so impractical.”

However, it was soon discovered that this simple thought was one of the keystones to a contented and successful sobriety.  We, a roomful of recovering alcoholics, had one mission.  It was our desire to stop drinking and to share our experience, strength, and hope with any who wanted to listen.  We lived by the creed of “attraction rather than promotion”.

Years after my first AA meeting, I again fell into the chaos of fundamentalism believing I needed more spiritual growth and thinking the local independent church could encourage that growth.  Again I swooned in the mindset of absolutes.  This way is absolutely godly, that way is not. No need for me to think or discern because it’s all laid out in black or white and the inerrant, infallible book of scriptures is direct discourse from God himself.  Just trust your preacher and elders to give the straight scoop on all things spiritual.

My day of reckoning within that fellowship came when I was asked to go door to door with a few of the “brothers” to distribute tracts and bring lost souls to Jesus Christ.  What could be more commendable than saving the lost and dying?

“Live and let live. Attraction rather than promotion.”  The words swirled through my head as I excused myself from this proselytizing endeavor and shortly thereafter from the brotherhood of self-righteousness.

In spite of what we would like to believe and what we profess in faith, we simply do not know.  Nobody has returned from death to verify heaven or hell.  God could be exactly what the fundamentalists proclaim or God could be an ancient space alien who populated the earth with creatures similar to himself.  Or, God could be an eternal void following death.  Kudos to those who can faithfully thump their theology with absolute certainty while remembering that theology is nothing more than religious philosophy frequently formulated for political power and financial gain.

Life was lived contentedly by the wisdom of “live and let live” for many years of blissful sobriety until the elections of 2016.  Then that element of hypocrisy which had been encountered decades ago become painfully visible again when numerous fundamental evangelicals lined up behind a man who displayed none of their self-proclaimed ideology.  That segment of evangelical Christianity appears to be dissatisfied with an equal slice of the American pie which celebrates the entirety of America’s diversity.  It has become evident that they want the whole pie.   Legislated morality has reappeared from the days of Jerry Falwell’s ‘moral majority’ with a vengeance.

America is often defined as an experiment most aptly described by Emma Lazarus:

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

These ‘tired, poor, homeless, and huddled masses’ whom she welcomes are not only those who yearn to be here, but also Americans who follow the beat of a different drummer in philosophy, lifestyle, and creed.  We are here to stay and we shall breathe free in the face of a stifling, increasing, fundamentalist presence.

 

 

God as I understand God

Having been reared in a community of WASPs, all of whom collectively and exclusively claimed the inside scoop on God and Jesus, you can only imagine my skepticism at my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where God was not his God or her God or the church’s God but God as “I UNDERSTOOD GOD”.   My opinion mattered and my interpretation was valid.

“God can be the chair, the table, the AA handbook”, they told me.  “Or God can be the AA group.  Just accept that there is a power greater than you, a Higher Power.” I understood that concept because I knew that alcohol had been a greater power than me for many years.

It was within this realm of AA compassion and love that I finally, at age 34 years, discovered a God who was very much unlike the condemning, judgmental entity of my childhood.  Of course I slipped several times back into the theology and philosophy of the Bible thumpers whom I had disengaged upon sobriety.  I finally realized that what appealed to me about their “ways” was the black or white in all situations.  There was no need for personal discernment because the infallible, inerrant, word of God was the only right path and straying from it was the best way to get to hell.  It’s a scare tactic we would expect of cult groups, not mainline Christianity.

What these godly folks did not understand was that most of my adult life had already been spent in the hell of addiction.  Their scenario of hell paled compared to what I had endured in 17 years of alcoholism.  After several years of continued sobriety, I finally trusted in the success of Alcoholics Anonymous and their “God as I understand God” and in my own ability to navigate the perils of religious fundamentalism and intolerance.

The only requirement for AA membership was a desire to stop drinking.  That was a no-brainer.  But the fellowship of drunks from all walks of life and all religious backgrounds who were able to sit around a communal table and respectfully accept each other as brother and sister went beyond anything I had learned in my WASP church experiences.  The Bible and its strict adherents somehow missed that element of faith.  Throughout all the years of preaching and admonishing from the pulpits of my youth, compassion was amiss and condemnation was the keyword.

It is, therefore, with ruffled feather that I read about theology and religion that has self-appointed itself as the inerrant  interpreter of God and, in Christianity, of Jesus of Nazareth.  Numerous messengers have been sent of which Jesus was just one.  Until the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faithful accept that the only true God whom they proclaim is also a universal Being who is inclusive of all humanity and all faiths, the eternity of the Kingdom will be just another illusion plotted by religionists to gain power, prestige, and wealth.