Saturday, 4 April 2015

Is discussion OK?

The man who was largely responsible for the writing of the Big Book, Bill W., went on to write other materials. From him, we have numerous Grapevine articles, the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, correspondence, and other items.

Apparently, therefore, the Big Book was not the last word, at least according to the person who wrote it (see also page 164: 'We realize we know only a little. God will constantly disclose more to you and to us.')

The experience of AA since 1939 has suggested the same. All over the world, people share their stories with each other, and share the experiences and insights they have gained. This benefits people. This was also the intention behind the Book: We hope no one will consider these self-revealing accounts in bad taste. Our hope is that many alcoholic men and women, desperately in need, will see these pages, and we believe that it is only by fully disclosing ourselves and our problems that they will be persuaded to say, 'Yes, I am one of them too; I must have this thing.'

A disturbing trend can sometimes be observed in AA, however, a culture which has a number of unwritten rules:

•    Quote only the Big Book (i.e. this is the only book you're allowed to quote).
•    Only quote the Big Book (i.e. do nothing but quote the Big Book).
•    Do not put things in your own language.
•    Do not share experience, other than a general indication that one has followed the instructions in the Book and that they worked.
•    Do not elaborate upon anything in the Big Book.
•    Do not analyse, explain, or try to understand anything.
•    Deny the utility of any AA materials other than the Big Book.
•    Deny the utility of any non-AA materials.
•    Do not imply or state that any experience or insight gained since 1939 is of value.
•    Disparage anyone breaking the above rules with quips such as: 'keep it simple', 'don't rewrite the Big Book', 'you're killing newcomers with that watered-down c**p', 'that's treatment centre b******t', 'that isn't in the Big Book', 'I don't know about yours, but my Big Book says ...', 'read the Book', etc.

Apart from the fact that this is tiresome, it is out of step with the Big Book itself, which encourages enquiry, discussion, disclosure, and joy at the ever-expanding universe of God's revelation.

AA was never meant to be a straitjacket, with the Big Book the set of buckles holding the inmate in confinement.


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