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A Controversy of God

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A Controversy of God and SpiritualityA Controversy of God and Spirituality

I’m never sure what indicators or statistics any of us use to measure success in recovery. What I do know is that the fall off rate in Alcoholics Anonymous in the first three years is abysmal. As a regular member of this otherwise, steadfast support group I can only put this unfortunate fact down to a misunderstanding of what I, all too often, hear called, “The God thing.” So, with the risk of being controversial, might I suggest to the atheist or agnostic or those blinded by denial, that perhaps they take another look.

In all honesty the confusion can be understood if we look at what the programme say’s. Step 2 calls it, “A Power greater than ourselves.” Step 3 says, “God as we understood Him,” and in steps 5 and 6 it’s simply, “God.” Step 7 is more specific – it uses the word, “Him.” On page 84 of the Big Book it goes further by stating that, “Love and tolerance of others is our code.” Similarly, John 8:32 in the bible tells us to, “know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.” The Bible also claims that, “God is love.” Confused?

Instead of taking these descriptions as, ’Gospel’ let’s see what happens if we translate this outdated philosophy into a more modern programme of action. For instance:

  • A Power Greater could become any tangible resource outside of ourselves
  • God as we understood Him, would translate as the surrendering of the Ego
  • God, could be any divine being of our choosing
  • Him, a specific Deity
  • Love & Tolerance turns into a moral code
  • Love, becomes patience, tolerance, understanding, etc.
  • Truth is simply another word for Self-honesty
Are we now spoiled for choice?

First, let’s see what happens when we do the same thing with Spirituality. The dictionary definition is. “Relating to or affecting the human Spirit or Soul.” In programme terms this is nothing more than, an awareness of our inner conscience.

The dictionary also states that spirituality is, “A relationship based on a profound level of mental or emotional communion.” More simply put - The ability to honestly communicate the way we feel to another.

Finally the dictionary goes on to say that, “spirituality means not being concerned with material values or pursuits.” To change this, could only mean, a significant shift in our personal primary purpose.

My own definition of Spirituality is: ‘The continuous feeling of well-being brought about through the unending practice of the 12-Step Programme in all our Affairs.’ That means whatever definition you chose, it will require action!

An often missed and simple sentence at the beginning of the Big Book Promises, clearly states, “The spiritual life is not a theory, we have to live it.” In my words, practicing the programme is relatively simple – but not necessarily easy. But you do need to be willing to try. Action therefore equates to a continuous amount of effort and discipline and the avoidance of complacency. You must have seen the card. Which reads, ‘Easy does it – but do it.’

If you are to prosper in recovery, then be sure that you will most definitely need the help of others, by doing so you will develop lifelong relationships along the way. Continued positive action results in a passion about your own recovery, allowing you to enjoy the journey and willingly pass on what you learn, as and when you learn it. If you do all of this then spirituality is guaranteed.

Finally, consider this: If God is Love, as the bible states then consider that Spirituality as something we do to achieve that love, not just something we believe in or know or experience. Take into account the amount of effort needed to establish the importance of a Higher Power in your recovery and in doing so consider instead that the essential contributing factor to sustained, quality, recovery, is the effort itself, not the Higher Power.

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