A.A., a Weird Higher Power, and Departure from the Creator
Outline of Proposed Points to Be Reviewed
© 2011 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Idolatry is Not a New Phenomenon
Exodus 20:3 – “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
Leviticus 26:1 – “Ye shall make make you no idols nor graven image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.”
Deuteronomy 5:8 – “Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth”
Psalm 115 (stating that idols are the work of men’s hands, mouths but cannot speak, eyes but cannot see, ears but cannot hear, noses, but cannot smell, hands that cannot handle, feet that cannot walk, throats that cannot speak – they that make them are like them, so are they that trust then)
Nor is the Power of God Anything but Available and Mighty
Genesis 18:14 [God said to Abraham:] “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?”
Psalm 103:2-4 -- “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindess and tender mercies.”
Luke 1: 37 [The angel said to Mary:] “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”
Luke 4:6:-8 – “And the devil taking him [Jesus] up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, And this power will I give thee. . .If thou therefore will worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
Ye do err, in not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God, said Jesus
Matthew 22:29 – “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God.’”
The Long Trail of Manufacturers Who Produced the Nonsense gods
The reader can check out these sources to see a century of those who attempted to invent a nonsense god which they called a “higher power” and said could heal those who were sick, or at least keep the sick people busy trying to “find” him, her, or it.
The absurd names for “a” god: The ridiculous array of documented definitions given for a “higher power” by AAs, counselors, writers, clergy, and A.A. itself includes: a) the A.A. group, b) good orderly direction, c) a group of drunks, d) a table, e) a chair, f) a bulldozer, g) a radiator, h) a goddess, i) Something, k) Somebody, l) any god you want, m) yourself as not-god, n) the Big Dipper, o) Santa Claus, p) Ralph, q) Gertrude, r) a light bulb, s) a door knob, t) the Great Pumpkin, u) a Coke bottle, v) the back end of a city bus, w) a rock, x) a tree, y) anybody, z) Buddha, aa) Nature, bb) Mighty Mouse, cc) him, her, or it, dd) that which keeps me sober, ee) Allah, ff) God, gg) Prime Cause, hh) Divine Mind, ii) nothing at all, jj) a stone, kk) Spirit of the Universe, ll) Creative Intelligence, mm) Good, nn) Czar of the heavens, oo) Man upstairs, pp) Universal Mind qq) Mohammed, rr) Christ, . See Dick B., God and Alcoholism: Our Growing Opportunity in the 21st Century, 2002; The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living that Works, Newton ed., 1998; The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible, Bridge Builders ed., 1997.
A century of champions for an “higher power”: As we pointed out from the Bible, the erection and worship of nonsense gods is not a new phenomenon. What has been new is the strange array of those who invented or perpetuated the nonsense idea of some peculiar, ill-defined “higher power”—one that belonged in the recovery arena. They include: a) Ralph Waldo Trine. b) William James. c) The New Thought writers. d) The Emmanuel Movement. e) Emmet Fox. f) A.A. historians. (g) Treatment programs. (h) A. A. General Services Conference-approved books. i) Clergy. (j) psychiatrists. (k) government agencies. (l) Christians who claim that Jesus is their “higher power.” See Ralph Waldo Trine, In Tune with the Infinite: Or Fullness of Peace, Power, and Plenty (NY: Thomas H. Crowell, 1897); William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, (NY: First Vintage Press/The Library of America Edition, 1990); Elwood Worcester, Samuel McComb, and Isador H. Coriat, Religion and Medicine: TheMoral Control of Nervous Disorders (NY: Moffat, Yard & Company, 1908); Walter Houston Clark, The Psychology of Religion: An Introduction to Religious Experience and Behavior (NY: MacMillan, 1958); Terrence Gorski, Understanding the Twleve Steps: A Guide for Counselors, Therapists, and Recovering People (Missouri: Herald/ House/Independence Press, 1980; Marianne W. Gilliam, How Alcoholics Anonymous Failed Me: My Personal Journey to Sobriety Through Self-Empowerment (NY: William Morrow, 1998); Morris E. Chafetz and Harold W. Demone, Jr., Alcoholism & Society (NY: Oxford Univeristy Press, 1962); Katherine Ketcham, et. al., Beyond the Influence: Understanding and Defeating Alcoholism (NY: Bantam Books,2000); Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham, The Spirituality of Imperfection: Modern Wisdom from Classic Stories (NY: Bantam Books, 1992); William L. White, Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America (Bloomington IL: Chesnut Health Systems, 1998); Glenn F. Chesnut, The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program: For Believers & Non-believers, (IN: Hindsfoot, September 2001)
Reviewing the Evidence
If I were talking to a suffering newcomer in A.A. (as I have often done for 24 years), I would ask the simple question: “Do you believe in God?” This is the question Dr. Bob asked all the newcomers in the early days. And they, like those I have addressed, responded, “Yes.” And Dr. Bob would then often say, “Now we are getting some place.” And years later, at the end of his personal story now on page 181 of the 4th edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, this A.A. cofounder – named the “Prince of All Twelfth-steppers” by his partner Bill Wilson—simply wrote: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”
And I firmly believe that if I asked a newcomer if he or she would like to seek the help of a doorknob, a tree, the Big Dipper, or a bulldozer, he or she would walk away in disgust and look for the help of someone who knew and said what the real “Power” behind Alcoholics Anonymous is: the power of Almighty God.
A Sad Contemporary Discussion in Wikipedia—Looking for a Loving, Caring, Light Bulb
“Sources that may have contributed to the adoption of the term in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), the first twelve-step group, include spiritualism, New Thought and the work of William James. James, who wrote "The only cure for dipsomania is religiomania" in The Varieties of Religious Experience, is cited in the 'Spiritual Experience' appendix of Alcoholics Anonymous (also known as the "Big Book").
“Sociologist Darren Sherkat researched the belief of Americans in a Higher Power. He based his research on data from 8,000 adults polled by the Chicago-based National Opinion Research Center between 1988 and 2000. Amongst his findings were that 8% stated "I don't believe in a personal god, but I do believe in a higher power of some kind." This is the same figure as found by the 1999 Gallup national poll of Americans. Sherkat also found that 16% of the Jewish people surveyed agreed with the statement about a 'higher power', whilst 13.2% of liberal Protestants and 10.6% of Episcopalians also agreed with it.
“An empirically based recovery framework likened faith in a Higher Power to motivation for personal growth as described by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers.
“In current twelve-step program usage a Higher Power can be anything at all that the member believes is adequate. Reported examples include their twelve-step group, Nature, consciousness, existential freedom, God, science, gravity, Buddha. It is frequently stipulated that as long as a Higher Power is "greater" than the individual, then the only condition is that it should also be loving and caring.”