Saturday, 27 March 2010

An idiot's guide to current agnosticism

Up against a brick wall for the thousandth time? Painted into a corner? Feel like a fly banging pointlessly up against a closed window? Know you're snookered but cannot see a way out? Are you several days, weeks, months, or years sober but royally screwed in some other area of your life? Is ruin finally upon you? Are you facing the problem—the mother of them all—which will bring your downfall?

Is God not big, strong, clever, resourceful, creative, or caring enough to help you with this one, even though he appears to have sorted out the drink problem?

Have no fear! Quite literally!

The purpose of this exercise is to take me from Step One (powerlessness and unmanageability) to Step Three (the decision to turn my will and my life over to God) and the consequent action on ANY problem in my life.

The pages references are to 'Alcoholics Anonymous' (the Big Book).

Do I believe that the problem I am suffering from can be conquered only by a spiritual experience? (44:1)

Can I face the fact that I must find a spiritual basis for solving this problem or else? (44:3)

Or else what? (44:3)

Instruction: "But cheer up ... our experience shows that you need not be disconcerted." (44:3)

Can a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life solve my problem? (44:4)

When I wish to be moral or philosophically comforted, and will these things will all my might, do I find that the needed power is not there? (45:0)

Are my human resources, as marshalled by the will, insufficient—have they failed utterly? (45:0)

Do I believe that lack of power is my dilemma—that I need to find a power by which I could live? (45:1)

Is it obvious that that power must be greater than me? (45:1)

Do I have doubt and prejudice [an opinion on an experience I have not had] about God and his ability to solve my problem? What are those doubts and prejudices? (45:2, 45:3)

Prayer: "God, please lay aside for me doubt and prejudice and give me willingness to believe that you, God, can solve this problem, too, the way you have solved other problems." (46:1)

Promise: "We discovered we did not need to consider another's conception of God. Our own conception, however in adequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with him." (p. 46:2)

Instruction: If blocked by conceptions of God that you disagree with or are uncomfortable with, disregard such conceptions!

Promise: "We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all-inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men." (46:2)

Prayer: "God, please lay aside for me any prejudice I may have against spiritual terms so I can honestly ask myself what they mean to me." (47:1)

Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe, that there is a Power greater than myself? (47:2) (NB: this does not read 'believe in a Power greater than myself'; the question is merely whether there is such a power.)

Promise: "As soon as a man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe, we emphatically assure him that he is on his way." (47:2)

Prayer: "God, I can be blocked in my approach to you to solve my problem by obstinacy, sensitiveness, unreasoning prejudice, and touchiness, and I can bristle with antagonism. Please have me abandon this sort of thinking, and cast aside for me such feelings, so that I may approach you. Have me become as open-minded on spiritual matters as I try to be on other questions, so that I can have a new experience with you, God." (48:1)

Do I know people of faith who have a logical idea of what life is all about? Do they demonstrate stability, happiness and usefulness? (49:2)

Is this what I want to seek? (49:2)

Do I know people who, since they have come to believe in a Power greater than themselves, taken a certain attitude toward that Power, and done certain simple things, have had a revolutionary change in their way of living and thinking and have found a new power, peace, happiness, and sense of direction? (50:4)

Is this what I want to seek? (50:4)

Am I, by contrast, baffled by the seeming futility of existence? (51:0)

Am I making heavy going of life? (51:0)

Leaving aside the drink question, is living unsatisfactory? (51:0)

Am I having trouble with personal relationships? (52:2)

Is my emotional nature controlling me? (52:2)

Am I a prey to misery and depression? (52:2)

Am I having troubling making a living? Am I existing rather than living? (52:2)

Do I have a feeling of uselessness? (52:2)

Am I full of fear? (52:2)

Am I unhappy? (52:2)

Do I seem unable to be of real help to other people? (52:2)

Is the solution to these bedevilments more important than any material/practical/external concern of mine? (52:2)

Can I see others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe? (52:3)

Can I stop doubting the power of God? (52:3)

Am I convinced that my ideas—the ideas that have got me to this point—cannot get me any further, on their own? (52:3)

Am I convinced that the God idea will work? (52:3)

Am I crushed by a self-imposed crisis I cannot postpone or evade? (53:2)

Can I fearless face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing, that God either is, or he isn't? (53:2)

What is my choice to be? (53:2)

[If belief is the understanding in my MIND, prior to the experience, that God exists and can solve my problem, and knowing is the understanding in my HEART, after the experience, that God exists and can solve my problem, faith is the courage to leap into action so that I can have the experience to take this understanding from my mind to my heart.]

Do I have the capacity for faith? Have I shown this in other areas, in the past? (54:1)

Do I have the capacity for love or worship? Have I shown these in other areas, in the past? (54:1)

Have calamity [problems], pomp [ego], or worship of other things obscured the fundamental idea of God in me? (55:2)

Can I see that faith in some kind of God is part of my make-up, just as much as the feeling we have for a friend? (55:3)

Can I search for that faith fearlessly? (55:3)

Can I find that Great Reality deep down within me? (55:3)

Prayer: "God, help the testimony of those around me—both inside and outside AA—sweep away prejudice, enable me to think honestly, and encourage me to search diligently within myself. Help me join those people on the Broad Highway. Have me understand that, with this attitude, I cannot fail. Bring to me the consciousness of my belief. As I draw near to you, disclose yourself to me." (55:4, 57:2)

*****

Are these three pertinent ideas clear? (60:4–6)

(a) That I am screwed and cannot manage my own life or this area of my life.
(b) That no human power can solve this problem.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought?

"We had to quit playing God. It didn't work." Am I convinced of this? (60, last paragraph–62:2)

"Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children." (62:3)

Will I now sincerely take this position?

Prayer: "God, I offer myself to Thee—to build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love, and Thy Way of life. May I do Thy will always!" (63:2)

Promise: "All sorts of remarkable things followed. We had a new Employer. Being all powerful, He provided what we needed, if we kept close to Him and performed His work well. Established on such a footing, we became less and less interested in ourselves, our little plans and designs. More and more we became interested in seeing what we could contribute to life. As we felt new power flow in, as we enjoyed peace of mind, as we discovered we could face life successfully, as we became conscious of His presence, we began to lose our fear of today, tomorrow, or the hereafter. We were reborn." (63:1)

*****
"Next we launched out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning ... Though our decision [Step Three] was a vital and crucial step, it could have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in ourselves which had been blocking us." (63:4)

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