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.