Jesus; MLK, Jr.; and Alcoholics Anonymous
Posted in the Spenard Forum
#1 Dec 16, 2013
Just came across some notes I took from The Papers of MLK, Jr. Volume VI (pgs. 544-545. It relates to AA teaching how it believes we alcoholics created our own misery, that our troubles were of our own making. That instead of being thereby unhappy, "we absolutely insist upon enjoying life".
Not much wrong with that, except when taken out of context or applied absolutely. Which it is, particularly in the influential group(s) i was involved in during early sobriety. The sobriety that seemed most attractive, those seeming to have the best quality sobriety, laughed often and demonstrated much merriment and "levity" over life's problems. If you weren't part of that stream of consciousness so to speak, you weren't "working the program" very well.
So were MLK, Jr. an AA member, and shared the following, he probably would have been judged as not working the program:
..."One Monday evening, after having gone through a tension packed week which included being arrested and receiving numerous threatening calls, I went to the mass meeting depressed and fear stricken. In my address i tried desperately to give an overt impression of strength and courage, but deep down within the soil of my inner life was the nagging serpent of fear which left me poisoned with the fangs of depression."
Also, Jesus did not let go absolutely...
#2 Dec 16, 2013
"...Since that dreary night in 1956 I have known very few quiet days. I have been tortured without and tormented within by the raging fires of TRIBULATION (caps added by me since tribulation is something AA neatly avoids addressing in its positivistic teachings). Day in and day out I have been forced to stand up amid howling winds of pain and jostling storms of adversity. Times wihtout number I have learned that life has not only sun-lit moments of joy but also fog-packed moments of sorrow...."
King follows that with encouraging words of faith, but the point here is that MLK, Jr. was one of the greatest Christians in our time. Yet if in AA, he most likely would have been told he needed to "work the steps" or talk to his sponsor. Perhaps shamed on the group level if circumstances allowed it.
And I've mentioned before that Jews, gypsies, homosexuals in Nazi concentration camps suffered greatly but it was not because they'd created their own misery, or that their troubles were of their own making.
It's these specific AA teachings that I noticed carried much harm when applied in the wrong manner.
#3 Dec 16, 2013
And, again, Jesus did not let go absolutely from the very start (as AA's 'How It Works', read aloud at the start of AA meetings, insists one must in order to work the program sufficiently; "half measures availed us nothing", etc.). Jesus did not let go absolutely when baptized by John or else He would not have struggled in the Garden of Gethsemene. Jesus did not let go absolutely until saying "It is finished" on the Cross.
#4 Dec 16, 2013
Just re-read above posts, wrote them sloppily, hopefully the points come through to the reader.
#5 Dec 16, 2013
Other notes I have help explain the abuse on AA's group level (besides, or along with, AA's evasion of tribulation as a reality for the Christian):
King examines Niebuhr's (Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr) views both on the role of love and justice in society and on the tensions between individual and corporate ethics.
[see AA World Services, Inc.]
He observed a great distinction between the relatively decent, good behaviour of man as an individual and man as society....
"Individual men may be more moral in the sense that they are able to consider interests other thna their own in determining problems of conduct, and are capable, on occasion, of preferring the advantages of others to their own...But all these achievements are made more difficult, if not impossible, for human societies and social groups. In every human group there is less reasaon to guide and to check impulse, less capacity for self-transcendence, less ability to comprehend the need of others and therefore more unrestrained egoism than the individuals, who compose the groups, reveal in their personal relationships." Etc.
#6 Dec 16, 2013
Thus, on the group level, MLK, Jr. might have been shamed for "whining" when sharing the things he does (in post #1 and 2), thereby learning to share of tribulation on the group level is unacceptable; tribulation is not a reality for the member that practices AA teachings. Or so it is meant to appear if only theoretically.....
#7 Dec 17, 2013
Those posts were written sloppily. Was trying to hurry, and since I hunt and peck just threw those thoughts up there. Hopefully the points come through though.
See thread "Some of Us" for more on this subject.
#8 Dec 17, 2013
Attended an AA meeting a couple months ago. The woman chairing the meeting said when she was knew old-timers told her to shut up beacsue she had nothing to offer (that she should listen). The woman shared that in a way to agree the oldtimers were correct in doing that.
Oldtimers did similarly with me (actually the admonition "shut up, take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth" is common in AA). They said I shouldn't speka because all I had to offer was the disease and they'd already had enough of that. I too accepted that as a necessary rebuke and laughed self-deprecatingly, retelling that in meetings from time to time.
But what is the solution in AA that AA oldtimers "have"? "If you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it" is recited aloud in 'How It Works' before AA meetings. So what do they actually have the newcomer doesn't?
Well, numerous things such as more peace of mind perhaps. Etc. But what most specifically is it that they "have"? What is the solution--specifically? It's "trust God, clean house, and help others"; altruism.
Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (author of the Serenity Prayer said aloud at start of AA meetings) explains the difefrence between eros love and agape love. That agape love is love that is not dependent on reciprocation, whereas eros love involves reciprocation.
An interesting comparison to that perspective is heard in Jean Luc Godards French existentialist film "Breathless' wherein the man being interviewed (reportedly the author of "Candide', though that was Voltaire) is asked if he believes eroticism and love are the same thing. He's presented as a wise philosopher, and he replies something to the effect that yes, he believes they are the same. He may have lacked the wisdom of Niebuhr in this respect.
Anyhow, after giving this much consideration, concluding the essence of AA's solution is agape/altruism (or as Dr. Bob said AA's message when boiled down is "love and service").
So how then are oldtimers in possession of that? Agape love and altruism are open to anyone. How is that something a newcomer is put in a position to need the willingness to "go to any lengths" to get?
The solution is hijacked in such a manner so that certain individuals are able to lord it over others. And AA's teachings foster and allow that.
#9 Dec 17, 2013
Writing sloppy again. Pardon me. But it was very helpful to read Niebuhr's distinction between agape and eros love.
Because it's that willingness to practice agape love I seemed to have early on in sobriety but then it waned for some reason. So King's writing "Times wihtout number I have learned that life has not only sun-lit moments of joy but also fog-packed moments of sorrow...." is helpful too in that there have been times when I've been willing to practice agape love/altruism and that brought moments of sun-lit joy. But it's never been even remotely, as AA implies it is for members in recovery, a constant.
Niebuhr's stipulation (in post #5 above) that altruism happens when individuals "are able to consider interests other than their own in determining problems of conduct, and are capable, on occasion, of preferring the advantages of others to their own", and that it is "on occasion", and not consistently, helps to understand misperception learned in AA.
Particularly in a competitive society controlled by Social-Darwinists burning incense to Ayn Rand and Herbert Spencer. Altruism and agape are not to be expected of anyone on a near consistent basis, let alone demanded in an absolutist sense.
#10 Dec 24, 2013
Just read Chekhov's short story Ward 6 and it addresses the points raised on this thread. It specifically cites Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane as well. Very interesting, quite a coincidence.
#11 Dec 24, 2013
Ward 6 addresses stoicism (as impractical), bringing to mind AA's page 449 (acceptance is the answer to all of life's problems, etc.) which is basically asserting stoic philosophy.
#12 Dec 28, 2013
Just found this the other day--a fabulous sounding song....love Carmen Villani and Cocki Mazzetti in the early 60's, and Carmen Villani's I Love You = Amore from 1959:
Carmen Villani T'ho Voluto Tanto Bene (1962)
video by Aniello Salatiello
#13 Dec 29, 2013
I tried this months ago and it didn't really grab me; changed my mind--really enjoyed it today:
Michèle Torr - Dandy (1966)
video by cinnamonK
#14 Dec 29, 2013
Yeah, that's an excellent video--Michele Torr is excellent in it. Must have been in a hurry that day when first viewing it and didn't give it a chance. It's one of her best videos.
#16 Dec 30, 2013
And here's part of the quote from Chekhov's short story 'Ward 6'(disputing AA's emphasis on being "Happy, Joyous and Free" even though it was written long before AA):
He's referring to the stoics earlier on, then says:
"But what about Christ? Christ responded to reality by weeping, smiling, grieving, being angry, and even by feeling miserable. He didn't go forth to meet suffering with a smile. He didn't despise death. He prayed in the garden of Gethsemane that the cup might pass from him!"
(p.162; David Magarshack translation of Chekhov's 'Lady With Lapdog and Other Stories')
--I recall the most influential oldtimer there in Anchorage walking into an AA meeting one day wearing a "no sniveling" t-shirt. It seemed like a Godly rebuke of "half-measures" members not working the program and who were "living in the problem and not the solution". It was extremely oppressive to me, because it was emphasizing how you risked public humiliation in the meetings for being called a whiner on the group level if you shared of suffering or having a problem.
But that's inconsistent with Christian tribulation, and Jesus.
#17 Dec 30, 2013
Wow. Another fabulous Gigliol Cinquetti video:
Gigliola Cinquetti - Le Chemin Qui Mène A L'amour
video by Elo Dali
--it was only posted about two months ago--hadn't yet seen it--one a good one that is!·
#18 Dec 30, 2013
And those influential old-timers there in Anchorage 1985-86, etc., were emphasizing how they believed in Emmet Fox's 'Sermon on the Mount'--scientific Christianity, and that they were seated in the "God-conscious corner".
I was so thoroughly hoodwinked, deeply believed these people were the closest to God I'd ever met. They were humorous and street wise, clever, intelligent people that had also been low down drunks but were now powerfully demonstarting God's will.
Again, more inconsistency: Fox's Sermon on the Mount (and it was also handed out to AA newcomers in the 1930's before the Big Book was published), Chapter 2 I think if remembering correctly, takes an OT proverb and applies it absolutely. That if a man's ways are right with God he'll make even his enemies be at peace with him.
Emmet Fox takes that proverb and says the reason the Christian martyr's were persecuted is ebcasue they failed to love their enemies sufficiently. had they only loved their enemies better, their enemies would have been at peace with them.
It's not hard to imagine the martyrs' persecutors said the same exact thing to them as they stoned them to death, etc. As in, "We wouldn't be doing this to you if only you had loved us more!--It's your own fault (we are stoning you to death)", etc.
They probably said the same thing to Jesus asJesus's enemies were not at peace with him either.
So Emmet Fox brazenly repersecutes the Christian martyr's by writing that, and AA members saw nothing wrong with that?
#19 Dec 30, 2013
Another one! Released only 2 months ago:
Gigliola Cinquetti - Un' Altra Donna Un' Altra Canzone ( live )
video by Elo Dali·
#20 Dec 30, 2013
Classic oldie--fantastic photo's of Michele Torr; love the one @ 1:45 and the one following it--have alwyas loved that one, seen it before, think it is of Michele Torr and her first husband Christoph:
Michèle Torr - Je Me Demande
video by noma35
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