Tuesday, 12 July 2016

No, it's not a bridge to normal living

A piece of Al-Anon literature once described AA as a bridge to normal living. That is certainly how it may look from the outside, and Al-Anon is indeed looking at AA from the outside. One minute we're drunk and tottering down the street. The next we're turning up at work, feeding the canary, and taking granny out for dinner.

The reason this idea is pernicious, however, is two-fold. Firstly, it implies AA provides temporary assistance, and once we have reached 'normal living' we are supposed to discard AA as the bridge we cross to reach normal living. This is clearly dangerous as experience suggests that the spiritual way of life must be maintained in perpetuity in order to avoid relapse into alcoholic drinking. Secondly, it implies that there is somehow something normal about renouncing selfish values and devoting our lives to serving God. This is not remotely normal, in a statistical sense. Conduct a poll amongst your friends outside AA. Question 1: have you renounced selfishness, self-seeking, fear, and resentment? It won't take long to establish that normality is not what we are seeking.

We may indeed look normal, when we're turning up for the everyday business of life, but the everyday business of life is not the substance of life. What is the substance of life, you may ask? Well, being spearheads of God's ever-advancing creation, from now until we drop off our perches.

Not a bridge. Not normal. Instead: a new kingdom where we are to reside permanently, ever-protected servants of a loving God.

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