Guinevere Gets Sober

Recovery news, reviews and stories, by Jennifer Matesa.

Sober life: Roger Ebert on recovery and AA.

A very cool blog post by film critic Roger Ebert on getting sober and what Alcoholics Anonymous is all about.

For those who have questions about whether AA is a “cult,” and what a “higher power” is, Ebert provides some perspective that I hadn’t heard before:

The God word. … Nobody in A.A. cares how you understand [God], and would never tell you how you should understand him. I went to a few meetings of “4A” (“Alcoholics and Agnostics in A.A.”), but they spent too much time talking about God. The important thing is not how you define a Higher Power. The important thing is that you don’t consider yourself to be your own Higher Power, because your own best thinking found your bottom for you. One sweet lady said her higher power was a radiator in the Mustard Seed [a Chicago meeting place], “because when I see it, I know I’m sober.”

The column is great, and so are the 1,300 (!!) comments, to some of which Ebert takes the time to respond.

Reader: I am a dyed in the wool atheist. I do not believe in anything remotely concerning a higher power, and I find the concept of submissions to a bogey man impossible to swallow. Hitchens and Dawkins are on my bedside table. How can there possibly be a place for me at an organization like AA?

Ebert: They’re on my bedside table too–symbolically, anyway.

I do not believe in God. I did not submit to a bogey man. But my own best efforts always ended in drinking. I needed to learn from those who had my problems, or sometimes much worse, and were staying sober. For me, the meetings accomplished for me what I could not do on my own. At any meeting, I welcome and applaud whatever Higher Power works for any other member. I value their sobriety. If they disagree with me on theological matters, that is truly insignificant.

Lots of interesting links under the column… check it out.


  1. Guinevere – what timing! I’ve been thinking about blogging and celebrity and anonymity ( ) and I’d love to hear your opinion.



  2. Incidentally, I think Ebert’s comments are very wise, but I do question the wisdom of making them publicly . . .

  3. guinevere

    June 8, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Ebert addresses the 12th tradition in his column: “You may be wondering, in fact, why I’m violating the A.A. policy of anonymity and outing myself. A.A. is anonymous not because of shame but because of prudence; people who go public with their newly-found sobriety have an alarming tendency to relapse. Case studies: those pathetic celebrities who check into rehab and hold a press conference.

    “In my case, I haven’t taken a drink for 30 years, and this is God’s truth: Since the first A.A. meeting I attended, I have never wanted to. … So consider this blog entry what A.A. calls a ’12th step,’ which means sharing the program with others. There’s a chance somebody will read this and take the steps toward sobriety.”

    I respect this attitude… And I consider this to be what I’m doing on this site. I learned early: We’re either moving toward the drink/drug, or away from it. Whatever moves me away from it is good… And that’s what this project does…

    Dude, thanks for being here. We’re all connected.

  4. I had read parts of this before. Thanks for sharing it here.

  5. I applaud Mr. Ebert. The “god” word is hard for a lot of people. The only requirement is you find something greater than yourself. Religion has no part in the process at all. You can get sober and never set foot in a church. The real results are in working the steps and learning to live without your substance of choice. I sincerely hope he succeeds!

  6. I look at it this way. When the cop pulled me over he was a higher power,when I stood before the judge he to was a higher power and when I joined AA I found a higher power who had protected me from alot of trouble in my 30+ years drinking. Thanks AA

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