Friday, 16 June 2017

Conceptions of God

I wouldn't bother, if I were you, with elaborate conceptions of God.

It might be helpful to stick just to this: God fills the universe and you and me, God is good, God's will is in everyone's best interests, and if you want to serve God and not self, He'll be happy to point you in the right direction and give you everything you need to be OK.

Anything more sophisticated than that, and you'll likely run into difficulties.

A lot of people tie themselves up in knots trying to come up with a conception of God they understand, discovering that it does not answer all the questions, then abandoning the effort to actually establish a relationship with God out of the cynicism that then develops.

I'm all for what a friend of mine once said: less thinking, and more believing.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Steps Ten and Eleven in a nutshell

· Step Ten: monitoring one’s own thinking and behaviour in real time and redirecting both outwards to service and contributing to the world whenever resentment, fear, selfishness, and dishonesty strike.

· Step Eleven: checking in with God in the morning to plan how to serve God that day, and checking in with God in the evening to debrief.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

No such thing as a bad meeting

Here's a checklist of how to approach going to a meeting where one might be tempted to call it a 'bad meeting' because no one talks coherently about either the nature of alcoholism or their experience of the solution.

  • Find a bunch of friends to go with.
  • Get there early.
  • Find something practical to help out with.
  • Talk to a bunch of people before, asking God to work through me so that we can all benefit.
  • Aim to learn something from what is shared, even if it is about what not to do or what does not work.
  • Use the three minutes or so I get to share to carry a message of hope.
  • Talk to a bunch of people after, asking God to work through me so that we can all benefit.
  • Swap my number with people and tell them about my home group (assuming my home group is a good group).
  • If irritation arises with the meeting, use this as an opportunity to set aside my demands and expectations and instead visualise God's presence within me and within everyone else in the room.
  • Help clear up the room afterwards.
  • Go for fellowship with people afterwards.
  • Pray continuously, asking God for who to talk to and listen to and, if relevant, what to say.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Step Eight: helpful questions

When I write Step Eight, for each incident or relationship, I write:

What did I do?
What should I have done instead?
Who suffered and how?

When I examine the results, I find that they fall into five categories:

The act constituted a definite harm for which an amend is necessary. Action: formal amend.
No real harm was done, but an apology is required as a courtesy. Action: low-key apology.
The act was an error which merely needs correcting in my future behaviour. Action: corrective measure.
The act was part of the normal rough and tumble of life. Action: none.
The act was entirely harmless. Action: none.

Common sense will usually resolve which category an item falls within.

Where common sense fails, these questions may help to focus the mind:

What principle, rule, or custom did I breach?
Is the principle, rule, or custom universal?
Is it specific to a particular social, familial, or professional context?
How do I know this is a principle, rule, or custom?
Where did that information come from?
Is the source reliable?
Is it a principle, rule, or custom I see others observing?
It is a principle, rule, or custom I am morally obliged to follow?
Are there are any moral precepts involved?
If so, which?
Is the principle, rule, or custom hard and fast or merely a flexible guideline?
Would acting differently have breached any other principle, rule, or custom?
Have I ever breached the principle, rule, or custom in other relationships?
Did/do such breaches require amends in those relationships?
Do I see that principle, rule, or custom breached between others around me?
If so, do I see lasting harm being done?
If so, do I see temporary upset?
If so, are formal amends made?
If so, are apologies made?
Has anyone ever breached that principle, rule, or custom with me?
If so, was I harmed, was I merely upset, or was I unaffected?
If I was upset, was that reasonable, or was that because I was unduly touchy or sensitive?
If the act in question is not generally harmful, why do I think it was harmful in this case?
Did the other person contribute to the harmful situation?
Did they express consent, actively participate, fail to object or withdraw, or otherwise show that they were not actually upset, affronted, harmed, etc.?
Is the other person mentally ill, mentally disabled, a minor, physically frail, or otherwise disadvantaged, subordinate, or dependent such that they are not able to withhold consent or participation or to object or withdraw?
Was otherwise harmful or hurtful behaviour justified as a defensive measure?
Did the other person say that they had been harmed or upset, temporarily or for longer?
Have you observed a change in the person's behaviour towards you since the action?
Has anyone else reported to you that the person was harmed or upset?
Has anyone told you that your behaviour was wrong?
Is that person of sound mind, rational, sensible, and emotionally mature?
Have you already apologised?
Was the apology accepted?
Have you already corrected the behaviour?
Has the relationship already returned to normal?

A careful consideration of these questions will likely make the penny drop.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions Meeting Format

Welcome to the ............ group of Alcoholics Anonymous. My name’s ............ and I’m an alcoholic. Could we please have a moment’s silence to remember why we’re here and the still-suffering alcoholic both in and out of the rooms?

I’ve asked ............ to read the preamble.

This is a closed meeting of AA. In support of AA’s singleness of purpose, attendance at closed meetings is limited to persons who have a desire to stop drinking. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, you are welcome to attend this meeting.

Are there any newcomers to AA who would like to introduce themselves? This is not to embarrass you; this is simply to give you the welcome we enjoyed when we first came in.

Are there any visitors from out of town or other groups who would like to introduce themselves?

The format of this Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions Meeting is as follows. The instructions for the Twelve Steps are contained within the book Alcoholics Anonymous, fondly termed the Big Book. The book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions provides commentaries by AA members on the Twelve Steps plus essays on the Twelve Traditions. At this group we read from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, starting from the text of Step One and working through to the end of the text on Tradition Twelve.

At each meeting, we go round the room clockwise, each reading the next paragraph, and then sharing for up to two minutes on that paragraph. Anyone else who wishes to share on that paragraph may do so, for up to two minutes. Attendees may share more than once per meeting but are encouraged to allow others to share first if they have already shared, and to wait for a silence of a few seconds if wishing to share for a second or subsequent time, to allow everyone to share at least once, if they want to.

If you have experience taking the Step in question or experience with the Tradition, please share. If you do not, we invite you to listen for now, and to come for fellowship after the meeting at a local restaurant, where we can talk about AA and recovery-related matters more broadly.

I’ve asked ............ to start the reading.


That’s all the time we have for sharing, I’m afraid, but it’s not quite the end of the meeting.

We now practise Tradition 7, which states that AA groups ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of their own members. Whilst the pot is going round, are there any AA-related announcements? [make sure pot makes it all the way round.]

In this group, we believe that sponsorship is an important resource in recovery. A sponsor is a guide to the Twelve Steps, fellowship, and service. Would all those willing to act as sponsors or answer questions about sponsorship please raise their hands now and keep them raised? If you are looking for a sponsor or have questions, please see one of these people afterwards.

I’d like to thank the service members of the group for making this meeting possible.

If you have enjoyed this meeting and would like to become a service member of the group in order to participate in its running, we invite you to attend our monthly business meetings, which are held immediately after the meeting on the first ............ of each month, and we will offer you a service assignment. Talk to any of the service members of the group, who are now raising their hands, if you have any questions.

Would you please join me in the Serenity Prayer to close our meeting. God ............