Our new chatroom!

Chat

By Life J.

We are starting a chat room here on AA Agnostica! And launching it officially today!

All are welcome to participate, of course. We want to be there “whenever anyone, anywhere reaches out for help.” But we hope to be of assistance in particular to the newcomer who has a problem with the religiosity of some AA meeting rooms, both in church basements and online.

Let me tell you a bit about my own experience.

I started going to online live chat rooms about four years ago. At the time, my girlfriend went off to China on a teaching assignment, and I was left in the middle of nowhere, with long lonely evenings, feeling really, really sorry for myself, even with many years of sobriety.

I have participated in a number of chat rooms since, including AAOnline, stepchat, LifeRing, and a few others, and they were a great help to me in many ways.

Several kinds of recovery related activities happen in these online meeting areas. There are formal AA meeting rooms where shares (typed and with no “cross-talk”) often tend to be not much more than AA slogans. Then there are more open chat rooms where people talk about everything: TV, football, guns, food, etc. That’s fine, since there has to be a place where sober alcoholics can just hang out together. But when newcomers wander in they are lucky if they get two minutes of attention and this often consists of having the Big Book thrown at them by a hardline oldtimer, and being told that “if they aren’t ready to go to any length,” they can go back out and drink until they are ready. I found this approach hard to take.

It is even more difficult, however, when newcomers come in who are non-believers. They often are immediately jumped on by AA fundamentalists, and ridden hard until they leave. I’m not used to seeing a whole lot of this in live meetings (referred to as F2F – “Face to Face” – online) since I live in a fairly liberal area, but I began butting heads with some people in these online rooms. I imagine these fundies come from areas where AA is a lot more conservative, and although there were other easy going people in the rooms, their more relaxed approach often didn’t prevail.

So while these open online rooms were a great help to me, they are also where I began getting radicalized about being an agnostic.

More than I really wanted, really. I just wanted to live my recovery and help newcomers as best as I could, but now I am getting even deeper into taking action to accommodate these new and non-deist suffering alcoholics.

After witnessing and tolerating this for a while I found a place where we could at least have a “Living Sober Room,” a place where we could focus on the newcomers at length and – just like in our Living Sober book – leave the god stuff alone, and help them believe in the idea of not drinking.

You know, sit them down for a cup of cybercoffee, and help them make sense of recovery long enough to get them convinced, more or less, that going it alone is rarely good enough, and that going to live (F2F) meetings would help. Often we’d go online to help them find a meeting, if they dared tell us where they lived. Online you will meet newcomers who are way too scared to ever go to a live meeting. It’s safe because the exit is only a mouse click away, not all the way on the far side of a room full of staring people.

The Living Sober Room (LSR) worked really well for a couple of years, until the two of us who had worked the room regularly had changes happen to our lives that made it hard to keep up with it. My girlfriend came back; my LSR partner got a job.

Meanwhile I would get ever more bristly when god people badgered newcomers in the other chat rooms. But, you guessed it – mostly I bit my tongue.

Chat Widget

Click on this image on the AA Agnostica homepage – or here – to access the chat room.

AA Agnostica has really helped put things in motion. It is helping new agnostic and freethinkers meetings spring up all over. I started one here in my little Northern California mountain village. A few people come to support it from 50 miles away.

But we need a place where we agnostics can all meet each other easily, little by little, network, and share our recovery.

Thus an AA Agnostica chat room.

In many rural places the Wi-Fi speed is too slow for video to work, and that’s where the typing involved in a chat room is real good. In fact, in a group the typing is actually preferable, since everyone can type at once if they want to without it being a real problem, and moderation can be kept to a minimum.

For starters here at AA Agnostica, we are available in the chat room every single day of the week beginning at 5:30 PM Pacific time (8:30 Eastern). This is an open forum – not a formal meeting – with a moderator present to answer questions and, well, just chat. We will be there for at least 1/2 hour, and longer as needed.

We also have a formal AA meeting every Sunday at 9 AM (Pacific Time) (Noon, Eastern). This is a weekly meeting, one hour in length, and it starts today!

To mark this monumental day, and for this day only, the chat-room will be open all day, until 10 PM (Pacific Time) (1 AM Monday, Eastern). For now, all chatting will take place in the Lobby (except for the formal meeting mentioned above, which will be in a separate room).

You can see the schedule on the chat room page. Outside of the meeting and open forum times, when there is a moderator present, the rooms will be closed. If you happen by at those times, check out the schedule, and by all means, plan your return!

You will need to register and choose a user name. A password is sent to your email address (you can change it later). I’m life-j. May as well make it easy for people to remember your name instead of choosing wbratfunk2020 or something odd like that. How am I going to remember your name is Bob? My name is Life. But it’s up to you.

We currently have three “moderators:” myself, Jaye and Annalia. As traffic in the chat room grows we will look to expand our available chat times and the number of meetings. We anticipate the need for more moderators to accommodate this increase and will approach people we get to know “in the rooms,” as they say, with the opportunity to join us in that capacity. Time will tell.

There are several nice features about the AA Agnostica chat room, such as different platforms like Flash and Java. I like Java: you can “float” the chat window independently of your browser, and place it anywhere on your screen, and minimize your browser window, and multitask. You can also open a one-on-one Private Chat – a “pc” with someone – or with several people at once while sitting in the main room, too. And, as needed, we can have different “rooms.” So, for example, if we want to have women’s meetings, they can be set up in a separate room, accessed through the chat room lobby.

If you have any questions or suggestions, or run into any technical problems, you are welcome to contact me at chatroom@aaagnostica.org.

I look forward to seeing you in our chat room!

And thanks to AA Agnostica for providing yet another opportunity for we agnostics in AA.

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Comments

Our new chatroom! — 28 Comments

  1. Hey, um… I’m agnostic but my Christian parents don’t know, our family hasn’t really been very church-going, and my sister has recently become a Mormon, but my parents don’t know about that either; however, I think my mom has sensed that I don’t share her beliefs, and has begun to take us to church and is forcing me and my sister into joining a christian youth group! I want to tell her that i’m agnostic, but I don’t know how.
    Help?

  2. Just grateful to have another place online to connect with the fellowship. It’s vital that anyone, anywhere be included in AA, oldtimer and newcomer alike.

  3. Just dicovered this forum… I like the “We Agnostics” theme. Too much religious talk in AA for me. As far as I know, there are no “agnostic/atheist” groups in the UK. Maybe i’ll start one in my home city (Manchester). Good luck to you all…

    • Thanks for your comment Patrick. I sometimes feel like I am sitting in a church service rather than an AA meeting. I’m very grateful for this site and people like yourself who share “your truth”. Best of luck from New Jersey!

  4. Great to read this today. Just came back from another meeting in which a person, who is a Christian Fundamentalist and who has an agenda to proselytize rather than share, talked once again about how only God can stop us from drinking and kept referring to passages from the “Big Book” as if it was the bible. I have been in AA for almost four decades and it seems to me that the program is becoming more religious and less tolerant. This is depressing and it had me depressed until I went on the Web to find the group closest to my heart and to read your excellent post.

  5. In my morning meeting (regular, not agnostic) we read today’s Daily Reflections (Feb 10, I Don’t Run the Show). It’s one of the most “God-awful” in the book from my perspective. Yet the shares were surprisingly circumspect relative to the “God is everything” message. It surprised me. I guess we have more freethinking members in that particular old school AA meeting than I would have guessed. Anybody else start the day with that reading?

    • Perry,

      I also attend a “traditional type” AA meeting, and we read from the Daily Reflections at every meeting. I find most of the readings nothing other than theistic parroting, and often downright derogatory toward nonbelief. Don’t know about your group, but most groups I’ve attended during my four years sober, I’ve found people all over the map with regard to theism proper. Close observation is pretty handy on that score. Get used to it. Hang in there!

  6. It’s nice to have this format to be able to communicate with other AA’s who understand that you don’t need to believe in a god in order to live a sober life. When I first came to AA it was suggested that I “fake it till I make it”. I tried that for a long time but then had to move on to “to thine own self be true”. I am an atheist and have not had a drink since June 10, 1984. My sponsor is sober 38 years and is also an atheist. People in AA who tell others that you can not get sober unless you believe in god are not factually correct. I will always be grateful to AA and all my AA friends who helped me to get sober and stay sober, but I think it’s important for me to be honest about my experience. No one has to live the life of an active alcoholic and/or addict simply because the do not believe in god.

  7. Holy Moly this is awesome. I’m just finding this site. I’ve been sober 18 years and have been a pretty hardcore non believer for the last 10. I moved to San Antonio, TX 18 months ago, and there aren’t any agnostic meetings here. One was shut down at a clubhouse years ago according to lore. I too get put off by all the simplistic god talk . It’s hard to tune out when it’s such a common theme in meetings. Uggh. I will be back to this site often. Thanks for creating it. Cheers everyone!!

    • I’m with you Sam. It can get lonesome when you are the only one in a room that does not believe in god. I find this site to be awesome also!

  8. Here in Santa Barbara I go to a lot of meetings and have only found The Lord’s Prayer used in a few – usually when chosen by a random person to end the meeting. The most common is the Serenity Prayer. But I do find the use of The Third Step Prayer (pg 63 in AA) used quite frequently, as well. To my atheist ears this prayer is every bit as off-putting as The Lord’s Prayer. Anyone else hear it that way?

    • Prayer is not part of my life. Who would I be praying to? That being said, I appreciate much of what is in the Prayer Of Saint Francis. In particular, the thought that it is better to understand than to be understood. I’m a big fan of “take what you need, and leave the rest”.

      • I actually have revised that prayer to be a sort of Daily Aspirations mantra. I left out (or revised) the mentions of God and Him and left in the good stuff, because I agree, it is full of good ideas to live by.

  9. I am so thankful to have found this page! I can’t wait to be able to try out the chat room and so much more! I am newly sober, new to AA, etc. I have so many questions! I look forward to it!

  10. Nice to see another venue where people can talk about recovery without getting bogged down in religion. Thanks for making the effort!

  11. Excellent life-j & Roger !!!

    I’m looking forward to participating in the open chats. My F2F Beyond Belief meeting conflicts with the Sunday meeting also.

  12. Problem I have with most Agnostic/Atheist/Secular/ is that seems to be the focus. There’s really little I like about AA/NA. I never took the religious aspects seriously it’s all the other crap, when will recovery F2F/online get back to talking about recovery? I will check it out.

    • I agree, Bob. I like the idea of having meetings where I’m not likely to have to listen to someone thumping the Bible. But it seems best when a meeting sticks to the subject at hand rather than the fact that they’re a group of non-believers.

  13. Why don’t you give more creditability to SMART & LifeRing. Their programs are very significant. Also, I don’t like the 12 Steps of AAAgnostica because there is still too much dogma; i.e., powerlessness. I prefer self-empowerment. I think this focus is better with your brand new publication by the two women. I have the book. As a UU, I cannot abide by creeds.

    • Hi Tinna,
      As true AAs we celebrate and support all paths of recovery.
      We have posted an article on SOS, What is SOS?, and will soon have wonderful articles on LifeRing and SMART Recovery.
      Your points on empowerment and creeds are very well taken, and appreciated.
      Roger.

    • Hey Tinna, solidarity! I don’t like the idea of “powerlessness” either, and by and large I actively dislike the Big Book. I’m still a happy part of this community because the folks are awesome. Nobody gives a damn that I don’t work the steps. Hope you stick around.

  14. Great! Only problem is my weekly WE AGNOSTICS group meets at 9:30, so I can’t do much until the hours extend, but I sure look forward to it, especially for the many isolated seekers. (I will hang around in the evenings).

    Thanks again.

  15. Good news. Chat rooms have really expanded my perspectives. It’s great for members who don’t have a face-to-face (f2f) community of agnostic 12 Step fellows.
    It’s also great for someone like me who does because the customs and points of view can get somewhat homogenized in a single town or city and hearing from those in other regions helps keep my mind open.
    I’ll be around.

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