By Roger C.
This website is now two years old! Launched in the summer of 2011, it was originally called AA Toronto Agnostics and its purpose was to let people know about the times and locations of two agnostic meetings, after they had been removed from the official AA meeting list by the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup. You can read that classic tale here: Does religion belong at AA?
A year later it morphed into AA Agnostica and since that time has described itself as “a space for AA agnostics, atheists and freethinkers worldwide.” It is indeed a place where those from absolutely anywhere on the planet who do not profess to a belief in an interventionist deity – a portion of the population growing at an incredible pace – may share their “experience, strength and hope” as they tread the wondrous road to recovery.
And share our stories we have! Over the past year, there have been a total of 46 brand new posts on the website, one every Sunday morning. These have been written by 26 people from three different countries: the United States, Canada, and Great Britain. Another six have been reprinted from the AA Grapevine, for a grand total of 53 posts.
Let’s break those numbers down even further.
Twenty-six of them were written by Canadians, but these numbers are a bit misleading since ten of those were written by yours truly, Roger C., and another six by the wonderful writer from Whitby, Ontario, Bob K. That skews the math rather badly. Bob’s most recent piece, as usual, involved a good bit of research: Anonymity in the 21st Century. Another sixteen were written by Americans and, of those, there is a decided tilt towards the west coast, with half a dozen coming from California. That’s no doubt because Frank M., the Hollywoodian, has shared three marvellous pieces on AA Agnostica. Frank now has the honour of having the most viewed post on AA Agnostica: An Atheist’s Guide to 12 Step Recovery. And it’s a pleasure to report that five posts were written by folks from Great Britain. Again these numbers do not include reprints from the AA Grapevine.
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Everybody will have their own favourite posts, which appear in several categories on AA Agnostica.
One of our more popular categories is the 12 Steps. Seven articles were written on that topic, two by Gabe S. from London, England. His first was A Higher Power of My Understanding. Canada has a few western provinces, and a fellow from Alberta, just west of Saskatchewan, wrote Personalizing the 12 Steps, which has turned out to be a popular post on the website. I wrote an historical piece, The Origins of the 12 Steps, largely because I needed to include this history in The Little Book: A Collection of Alternative 12 Steps, which was published in February.
Reviews. We also do book reviews on AA Agnostica and some wonderful books were reviewed over the past year. One book, written by Joe C., a founder of the first agnostic AA group in Canada, was reviewed by Carol M., Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life. One of my favourite reviews is of the book by Stephanie Covington, A Woman’s Way through the Twelve Steps. Linda R. wrote that review almost a year ago.
History and AA. We enjoy our history on AA Agnostica! Over the past year, 16 posts fell into that category. John L. from Boston wrote a classic piece with his Washingtonian Forebears of Alcoholics Anonymous. There is much to be learned in John’s piece. Our Bob K. wrote an outstanding biography of Edwin Throckmorton Thacher (Ebby) that connects a lot of people from Wikipedia to AA Agnostica. And the story of Girl Scouts by Frank. M., A Lesson for AA from our Betters, is brilliant.
The Lord’s Prayer. We’ve only had one post in this category over the last year, but it could be argued that it is a must-read: The Lord’s Prayer and the Law.
And our second favourite category is Experience, Strength and Hope. There were some lovely posts on this topic over the last year. Let’s just mention a few of them. After being sober for 59 years, Ivan K. wrote The Bird in Your Hand for AA Agnostica. That was followed by My Name is Marnin, written by Marnin M. who, with 42 years of sobriety, two few weeks ago started a “reformed” AA meeting in Hobe Sound, Florida. And finally we have the marvellous post by Megan D. The author has 33 years of continuous sobriety. She and Charlie P. founded the first AA meeting ever to be called “We Agnostics” in Los Angeles in 1980. Megan is an inspiration to at least two members of the steering committee for the upcoming We Agnostics and Freethinkers (WAFT) convention in Santa Monica.
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Where do we go from here?
Well, there is only one proper answer to that: “Onwards and upwards!”
The traffic to AA Agnostica is increasing at a truly impressive rate. Since January 2012, when the website was moved to a private server, the number of visitors has increased every month. Certainly there is a great deal of interest in the message found at AA Agnostica and that is exactly as it should be: the 26 people who contributed articles over the past year were from an astonishing array of backgrounds and what they shared with us was often startling, compelling, disturbing and, sometimes, an inspiration. Just what we have come to expect in AA.
We invite all who are reading this – you – to consider writing a post to be shared on AA Agnostica.
We will continue to post a new piece every Sunday. These will follow the themes and categories that have been used over the past two years. And we will add a brand new category, called “Many Paths,” where we will have posts about other recovery programs and organizations. As one path simply will not work for everybody, it’s important to have choices and this category will celebrate the many paths of recovery.
The raison d’être of AA Agnostica will continue to be to provide agnostics, atheists and freethinkers with an opportunity to share our experience, strength and hope with each other, to encourage the fellowship of AA to be more accommodating towards non-believers in recovery and to affirm that, as Bill White put it in the Foreword to The Little Book, ”all pathways of recovery are cause for mutual celebration.”
Those of you who read The General Service Conference Stumbles will understand that AA’s entry into the twenty-first century is not an easy one, nor is there any guarantee it will end in success. No doubt you knew that from your own experience anyway. But the effort within the fellowship to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century – “especially those frikkin doubters messing with the program” – is a worthy one, if we place any value at all in the principles expressed in the Responsibility Declaration.
AA Agnostica is not about what we want others in AA to do, an approach which would come with an unbearably high dose of belligerence and negativity. It’s about what we do, and how we go forward. You knew that too, of course. We learn some stuff in recovery, after all. And so the We Agnostics and Freethinkers International AA Convention. And so more agnostic AA meetings and groups. And so our continued celebration of the many paths of recovery. And so this website. And so our support for all in recovery and especially, in our case, given our own understanding of the need, the non-believing alcoholic in AA.
See you next Sunday. “Onwards and upwards.”