I Never Shut Up

Cleverly Disguised As A Responsible Adult

Turning Your Will Over To What?

Posted by christ davis on December 17, 2007

Many people who are or have been associated with one of the Anonymous groups, principally Alcoholics, Narcotics or Cocaine Anonymous, are aware that they are based in evangelic Christianity. The Oxford Group of Frank Buchman specifically. I will not talk of this, as the industrious Agent Orange has done this exhaustively.

I would like to address the perceived necessity of what is called “turning your will over” to god as a prerequisite to autonomy. Every drunk ( any addict, but for brevity I will use drunks universally) comes to recovery pretty much wrung out, desperate for a solution, whether they have any previous exposure to the A’s or not. I can speak best of my own experiences, but these are likely universal, or as close to it as makes no difference.

I knew that I was a drunk for nearly the whole time that I drank. Always excessive drinking followed closely by catastrophes. This was my lot in life; not the most pleasant life, but oh well. So, when I got to the brink and decided that I did not want to die under an overpass in the midst of another week long blackout, I reached out. Immediately the chorus began chanting: “only god can save you; we were once as you are; your best thinking got you here”, etc. Having been atheist as long as I can remember, I almost bolted that day. But weariness made me hold off while I looked for the loopholes. This turned out to be easy, although I wasted a year or so battling the god people, rather than thanking them for their suggestions and promptly forgetting what they said that was higher powered.

The myriad A’s have convinced the world that they have the only answer to drink, dope, gambling, sex, and nearly any behavior that can be overdone by humans. Everything is a Disease, which can only be cured by a spiritual conversion to god worship. Nothing in AA dogma has been changed since Bill Wilson tripped on a Belladonna cocktail and saw whatever he thought he saw. Drop the pretense that you can make a rational decision to save your own ass; this is impossible, because in and of yourself you are powerless against any random chemical or behavior. This is undiluted nonsense, of course, but humans have a need for community and this is the lever, or more accurately, the rack that a drunk gets stretched on. Pretend that autonomy is defined by completely abdicating autonomy, or die.

I have a friend who I have known almost as long as I have been sober. He went head first into god. Rapture Ready was the start page in his browser. If I cracked the tiniest joke about imaginary 6 foot rabbits he would not talk to me for a week. He knows I am Hellbound. But, for many years we traipsed all over this city looking for serious minded people in recovery. We watched dozens of men fall off here through not making themselves stay sober. Neither of us could understand why the other refused to see the manifest truth of the others position.

The rigid insistence on the idea that only gods allow one to stay sober is untrue. My experience and the experiences of many open and secret atheists in recovery is the evidence. The, I’m sure, tens of thousands who had to quit for whatever reason, without going to AA are evidence. The thousands who use Rational Recovery are evidence. The hundreds that I have seen come through our tiny facility who were convinced that they had no power in themselves to stop a behavior that had ruined marriages, health and jobs is evidence that god is not interested in drunks. I have seen men come back to this place three and four times, desperate to stop smoking or drinking their lives away, absolutely certain that if they had only groveled a bit more earnestly to god and tithed another 5% to the church, when they were subsisting on Ramen fucking noodles already, then they might be delivered of their compulsions. These men see me still here, sober, still denying gods, and ask how I do it. I tell them: stop using, stand on your decision, take responsibility for that. If you feel the need to pray, do so, but you must not give away your autonomy. Gods are a tool that work for some people, I think, because they do not invest every iota of their being into the tool. They are still responsible for their actions and words. They do not pretend to be the embodiment of their god on Earth, or its slave.

My worst thinking got me into the bottom of a bottle for nearly three decades. My best thinking is slowly allowing me to make sense of my corner of the world. I would no sooner give the responsibility for either state to a god than I would eat ground glass for breakfast.

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2 Responses to “Turning Your Will Over To What?”

  1. Interested said

    I just found you site and have been reading through it. This post caught my eye because my daughter is an AA advocate. She has been sober for 12 years and swears that only god could have made it happen. I want her to understand that she did it, she made the changes, the sacrifices and she walked that line herself. She did and I am very proud of her accomplishments but the god thing really bothers me.

    Alas, enough of my rants. I enjoy you site and have linked in on mine.

  2. Thanks, Interested. I will be over to your place in a bit, then you’ll see a rant!

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