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May 19, 2014

Quick Recovery, As the Founders Did It

by Brendan

At A.A. meetings, I often hear people talking about “working” on their 4th Step, with about 150 pages “so far.”  Or how it took them 2 years to do the first 3 Steps.

Made me think of my favorite part in Alcoholics Anonymous, often referred to as The Big Book.  It occurs about 15 pages in, during “Bill’s Story.” Bill Wilson is still drinking, drinking hard.  His old school chum calls him — his name isn’t given in the text, but we know from the history that it’s Ebby Thatcher.  Ebby wants to come by for a visit, and Bill agrees.  He’s nearly chortling and rubbing his hands together at the opportunity to drink with his old buddy — he’s got plenty of gin in the house.

But Ebby refuses a drink, saying, “I’ve got religion.”  Oh no, thinks Bill — a few weeks ago Ebby was a  drunken madman, and now he’s a religious zealot.  This allows Wilson to go on for a few pages about his objections to religion and to God; the usual things, being forced into church as a child, his mom, his grandfather wanting him to publicly pledge to abstain from alcohol, which Bill didn’t.  The same things we hear from all sorts of A.A. members about their difficulties with “the God thing.”  Amazing how many people have been wounded by organized religion.

And then Ebby delivers the bombshell: “Why,” he asks, “don’t you choose your own conception of God?”

Problem solved, for Bill Wilson and for the burgeoning A.A. program — not so much chance of driving people out the door by talking about God if they can choose their own conception of God.

What really interests me here, though, is that Bill pretty much instantly can now do Steps 2 and 3.  And then, a few weeks later, he “ruthlessly faced [his] sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away.”  Ebby returns, and Bill “fully acquainted him with my problems and deficiencies.”

I make that Steps 4, 5, 6, and 7; Bill and Ebby are rocketing through the program in a matter of weeks.  If our founders could make that much progress that quickly, seems as though it shouldn’t take us, 75-80 years later, any longer.  By the end of that same paragraph, Bill starts working on Steps 8 and 9.  If you’re a Greek Orthodox A.A. member like I am, who wants to do it like the Founders did it originally, seems that going right to it and doing it quickly is the way to go.

YMMV, as we say in The Dead Runners’ Society — Your Mileage May Vary.

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