Dysfunction Junction, How's That Function?

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Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#1
Mar 6, 2013
 
AA's How It Works absolutism:..."With all the earnestness at our command, we beg of you to be fearless and thorough from the very start. Some of us have tried to hold onto our old ideas and the result was nil until we let go absolutely. Remember that we deal with alcohol -- cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power--that One is God. May you find Him now! Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at the turning point. We asked His protection and care with complete abandon. Here are the steps we took..." (see also 'AA Comes of Age, pages 304-309: "...under these conditions, the patient turns to religion with an entire willingness and readily accepts, without reservation, a simple religious proposal.")

Caveats rescinding the above absolutism do not appear until after the 12 steps, meaning the 3rd step is to be taken under pressure of absolutist perfectionism. P. 85 of AA's Big Book states: "We are not cured of alcoholism. What we have is a daily reprieve contingent upon the maintenance of our spiritual condition." Yet what is to be maintained when one has (purportedly) let go absolutely?

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Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#2
Mar 6, 2013
 
The first caveat following the 12 steps:
"....No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection." At this point perfectionism (absolutism) is referred to as impossible. But it had already been emphatically insisted upon preceding the 12 steps. Regarding the next caveat--many of us were relieved to find a sudden religious experience (like Bill W.'s) was unnecessary to successfully work the steps (it can be a gradual process of the educational variety--William James''Varieties of Religious Experience' is cited): Is the alcoholic relieved, or confused? The letting go absolutely had already been established; now AA grants working the steps a lifelong process and not an event. Except that's not what it says: "Here are the steps we *took*", not "Here are the steps we are taking over the span of a lifetime." Moreover, "If you want what we *have* and are willing to go to any length to get it", not "If you want what we are gradually getting over a lifetime of working the steps." Finally, "Having *had* a spiritual awakening as a *result* of these steps", not otherwise, we thence commenced to require newcomers to get on their knees and turn their lives and wills over to god as we understood Him. That's what Dr. Bob did, with AA following his example as mutuality was lost. Ebby T. hadn't required Bill W. to get on his knees; Bill W. hadn't required Dr. Bob to get on his knees; it had only involved one alcoholic sharing with another on a mutual basis.

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Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#3
Mar 6, 2013
 
Speaking of the aforementioned three and How it Works "we beg of you" (to be absolutist); none had let go absolutely: Ebby T. darnk again. Bill W. had a sudden religious experience removing his desire to drink, followed by his working the steps, yet shared of suffering waves of self-pity and resentment during his first two years of sobriety. Bill W.'s "dry drunk" periods later led to his (and wife Lois, Father Dowling, and other AA's) experimenting with LSD in sobriety, believing it to improve the alcoholics relationship with God by removing self--ego--and making room for God (see AA's 'Pass it On'). Dr. Bob fought cravings for alcohol his first year and a half of sobriety, cravings which had continued *after* he had worked the steps (they were 6 steps back then). So the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous had, and could not, let go absolutely being mortal men (see "Forgetting Reinhold Niebuhr"; New York Times; 9/18/2005; Reinhold Niebuhr was a Protestant theologian and author of 'The Serenity Prayer' recited aloud at the start of AA meetings).

For AA to continue insisting upon the impossible, cavetas notwithstanding, is manipulative and dishonest. False guilt is induced which can lead the alcoholic back to drinking to assauge their troubled conscience. By the way... "Happy, Joyous and Free" gained at the expense of others is counterfeit.
Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#4
Mar 6, 2013
 
From "Forgetting Reinhold Niebuhr" (New York Times; 9/18/2005):

...."Original sin, by tainting all human perceptions, is the enemy of absolutes. Mortal man's apprehension of truth is fitful, shadowy and imperfect; he sees through the glass darkly. Against absolutism Niebuhr insisted on the "relativity of all human perspectives," as well as on the sinfulness of those who claimed divine sanction for their opinions. He declared himself "in broad agreement with the relativist position in the matter of freedom, as upon every other social and political right or principle." In pointing to the dangers of what Justice Robert H. Jackson called "compulsory godliness," Niebuhr argued that "religion is so frequently a source of confusion in political life, and so frequently dangerous to democracy, precisely because it introduces absolutes into the realm of relative values." Religion, he warned, could be a source of error as well as wisdom and light. Its role should be to inculcate, not a sense of infallibility, but a sense of humility. Indeed, "the worst corruption is a corrupt religion."

One imagines a meeting between two men - say, for example, the president of the United States and the last pope - who have private lines to the Almighty but discover fundamental disagreements over the message each receives. Thus Bush is the fervent champion of the war against Iraq; John Paul II stoutly opposed the war. Bush is the fervent champion of capital punishment; John Paul II stoutly opposed capital punishment. How do these two absolutists reconcile contradictory and incompatible communications from the Almighty?"
Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#5
Mar 6, 2013
 
Court ordered AA: "compulsory godliness"
Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#6
Mar 6, 2013
 
Ooops...that should say (in post #3): "So the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous had not let go absolutely...

Also, a capital "G" is missing in post #2--meant to write God, not god.
Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#7
Mar 7, 2013
 
Distributed 'Dysfunction Junction, How's That Function'(in above posts) to various Tucson AA meetings. One of them was the place where the man rudely crossed talk me last week. That was when I'd shared with the group of about 30 people that even though I have 26 years of sobriety I'm unable to find the willingness to "let go absolutely"--still hold on to bitterness, lack of forgiveness, etc.; the man replied "if you want to hold onto all that sh*t go right ahead--I want to be 'happy, joyous and free!" Numerous people laughed at me as it appeared someone with 26 years had just been, as they say in AA's "tough love" parlance, "called on their sh*t". It was for falling short of AA's absolutism/perfectionism that had been used to belittle me on the group level. I shared again at the end of the meeting, unable to engage in a rebuttal but simply said it wasn't the first time I'd been ridiculed and laughed at on the group level. The man cross-talked me again and said "Keep coming back!" in a derisive tone meant to humiliate me further.

It was that incident that motivated me to finally write 'Dysfunction Junction...' since it's been on my mind for quite some time.

Well, distributed copies last night at that same meeting and mebers there began to murmur agaisnt me, numerous men cornered me in back near the coffee machine (in the kitchen area), one theratened to grab the copies from my hand. Another man was quite lareg, he was physically threatening to remove me from the meeting. All I'd done was quietly hand out copies, and it was five minutes before the meeting was to begin. Nothing wrong with that but the intolernace grew and they all but ousted me.

Today distributed the copies at a university AA meeting (on UofA campus). Shared in the meeting along the lines of what was in 'Dysfunctuion...', explained it a bit more, and it was acceptable in a tolerant atmosphere. I thanked the man chairing the meeting for stating at the beginning for people to refrain from cross-talk, and shared that at the other meeting (eastside on Broadway) a note on the wall explains AA's General Service Office does not suggest meetings refrain from cross-talk--that it is up to the group if they want people to refrain from that. Basically giving permission for cross-talking on the group level. And lo and behold--the man had cross-talked me in a counter-productive manner. What was good about the university meeting was that they cited Tradition One--AA's common welfare and unity--as a reason for refraining from cross-talk. What a huge difference! If only all groups did that a tremendous amount of abuse could be diminished. Granted, some positive cross-talk might be sacrificed, but in 26 years of attending AA meetings (wait--less than that--I stopped going for a five year period), I can say I've noticed far more negative cross-talk shared on group levels, some extremely hateful, than positive.
Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#8
Mar 7, 2013
 
One other thing...at the University meeting today a man shared he had 23 years of sobriety, and finds it necessary to "let go absolutely" on a daily basis. That at 17 years of sobriety he held a gun to his mouth and was going to commit suicide. Even though he'd sponsored many, many people in the years leading up to that moment.

I didn't want to argue, so didn't try to correct him after the meeting, but that is what is meant in 'Dysfunction...'. to "let go absolutely" means you would no longer have a need to "let go absolutely"--ever. Absolutely means absolutely. At least when considered in the perfectionistic context it's given.

In other words, to let go absolutely, and let go of all our "old ideas", without "half-measures", means a daily inventory (10th step) would be unnecessary. We'd be living in a state of absolute perfection having let go of, in religious terms, original sin. But that isn't possible as AA later goes on to tell us, etc.
Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#9
Mar 7, 2013
 
Submitted 'Dysfunction...' to AA's Central Office in Tucson in hopes they'll publish it for discussion. Mentioned to them there that although opinionated, it doesn't have to be considered controversial,rather as constructive criticism. Like an AA Group Inventory, only addressing AA as a whole. They were a bit hesitant, but said "we'll see". It would be interesting to see if my perception gets corrected. Because I really don't know--could change my mind about it all at some future date if convinced otherwise.

The only improvement on "Dysfunction..' is if it were stated in a less opinionated manner. Simply left it up to AA's insisting upon absolutism from the start, then later saying perfection is not possible. To go on and take the opinion letting go absolutely is impossible may have been to go too far since who really knows? At that point you are talking about not just yourself being unable to let go absolutely but everyone in general. Otherwise, I think it raises good points for consideration.
Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#10
Mar 8, 2013
 
Submitting 'Dysfunction...' to Christianity Today. They often publish positive articles about AA, wonder if they'll publish something questioning AA's teachings. AA is rife with abuse and much of it could be coming from false teaching.
Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#11
Mar 8, 2013
 
Yeah, and although asking people to refrain from cross talk can help, it can't completely diminis the abuse that could be coming from false teachings. People simply then resort to innuendo, etc.; greater deftness and precision in exacting harm on others--less blatantly.
Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#12
Mar 8, 2013
 
President Obama recently referred to the NRA as "absolutist". President Obama has been influenced by Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's writings from years ago opposing absolutism and perfectionism. However, U.S. citizens are court ordered to Alcoholics Anonymous daily while AA empasizes absolutist perfectionism in it's "How It Works" ("we beg of you to be fearless...half measures availed us nothing...let go absolutely", etc.). Caveats later rescinding the emphasis on absolutist perfectionism, "we claim spiritual progress not spiritual perfection", for example, follow that which has already been established. Thereby false guilt is induced which may lead an alcoholic back to drinking since, as Neibuhr believed, no human mortal can "let go absolutely" as AA demands for the working of its court-ordered program.
Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#13
Mar 9, 2013
 
Here is another example of AA contradiction...

AA is not a "voluntary" program when "cooperating with the professional community" (see AA pamphlet under that same title--it's dishonest and misleading because it should say "cooperation with the government--it's the government threatening people with imprisonment if they do not attend, and AA "cooperating" with that process by signing court appointees court slips in the AA meetings).
Court appointed AA is unconstitutional; gov't establishment of religion:

In 'AA Comes of Age'(AA Conference Approved), both W.D. Silkworth and Harry M. Tiebout refer to AA as religious:

p.304: "...under these conditions, the patient turns to religion with an entire willingness and readily accepts, without reservation, a simple religious proposal...etc.

p.305: "considering the presence of the religious factor"

p.306: "Because of this initial confidence, identical experience, and the fact that the discussion is pitched on moral and religious grounds,..."

4. "...It is paramount to note that the religious factor is all important even from the beginning..."

p.309: "Alcoholics Anonymous is the name applied to a group of ex-alcoholics who, through a therapeutic program which a definite religious element....found an answer to his drinking problem in a personal religous experience."

--In the Big Book, p. 292 of the 3rd edition explains how Dr. Bob always emphasized the religious angle very strongly when working with others (other AA literature explains further that Dr. Bob required those he worked with (newcomers) to get on their knees when taking the 3rd step turning their lives and wills over to the care of God). Pgs. 216-217 of Big Book 3rd ed. show Bill W. crediting Jesus Christ as the source for change in the lives of those in AA.

So AA is being dishonest when it says it is voluntary, and when it says it is spiritual and not religious.

Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#14
Mar 11, 2013
 
Distributed "Dysfunction Junction..." to Little House meeting today, and last night to a large meeting near Mountain ave. It was well received at Little House, although of course there was some defensiveness at first with AA being criticized. But the poor people, and the only AA member I recall seeing from 20 years ago, were good about it. Didn't demonstrate any intolerance as numerous other meeting places had. Mentioned it may or may not be published in Central office newsletter.
Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#15
Mar 12, 2013
 
Distributed 'Dysfunction Junction...' at Pima County Board of Supervisors meeting ealrlier this morning. Spoke during public comment: "Influenced by Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's writings opposing absolutism, President Obama recently referred to the gun lobby as "absolutist". However, U.S. citizens are court ordered daily into Alcoholics Anonymous where absolutism is emphatically insisted upon in How It Works...".

Read from How It Works, then quoted doctors Tiebout and Silkworth from 'AA Comes of Age' and their numerous references to AA being religious. Spoke of Dr. Bob, that he "always emphasized the religious angle very strongly when working with others" (Big Book; 3rd Edition; p.292). Concluded by saying decades of court ordered AA hasn't diminished drunk driving. Far more severe laws are needed to deter drunk driving. And that AA is unconstitutional (government establishment of religion).
Bruce Deile

Tucson, AZ

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#16
Mar 12, 2013
 
To be fair, I also mentioned about the caveats regarding absolutism in AA, but pointed out they don't appear until after absolutism had already been established.
Bruce Deile

Prescott, AZ

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#17
Mar 13, 2013
 
I wrote in post #12 that (post 12) was being submitted to the Arizona Republic newspaper. It hasn't appeared as of yet. That was March 8th--five days ago. Maybe yet. Nothing as yet in Arizona Daily Star either, submitted "Dysfunction Junction..." to them March 7th, and then again to the press box at Pima County Supervisor's meeting yesterday, March 12.
Bruce Deile

Prescott, AZ

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#18
Mar 13, 2013
 
Found online from a King James website:

Mt 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect. To carry out fully this great law of love would lift man to the Divine standard of perfection. This must be the aim of life. We have before us as a pattern for the perfect God; we have the Divine perfection embodied in Christ. It will require a constant struggle while in the flesh to come near so high an ideal, but it must be our continual aim. This does not teach such sanctification that we cannot sin, nor that we, here on earth, attain absolute perfection, but we have placed before us, as a model, the perfect ideal, and we will constantly ascend higher by striving to attain it.
Bruce Deile

Prescott, AZ

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#19
Mar 13, 2013
 
Other translations say "ye shall be perfect", perhaps meant as in future tense.

The problem with AA's How it Works, again caveats notwithstanding, is that it appears "we" who beg of you to let go of old ideas absolutely have done so ourselves. And that is how guru's and self-proclaimed sages are made. I guess.
Bruce Deile

Bullhead City, AZ

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#20
Mar 15, 2013
 
The other angle is Hegel absolutism. Unable to understand much of it, but the point remains that whether or not absolutism is true is irrelevant when considering How It Works emphasizes the neccessity of one's actualizing absolutism while claiming none are perfect.

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