By Roger C.
AA Agnostica is – on this day, June 15, 2014 – three years old!
It has been, in so very many ways, a remarkable year. The keyword that jumps to mind to describe the past twelve months is “growth.”
So: let’s have a look at what has happened at the website over the last fifty-two weeks.
Sixty-two posts and a book
Over the course of the year sixty-two different articles were posted on AA Agnostica. Most of these were posted on Sunday mornings, with reviews of new books and individual chapters of The Alternative Twelve Steps: A Secular Guide to Recovery posted on Wednesdays.
These articles were written by 31 different people, eight of whom were women. This year, all of the writers were from North America and came from a dozen difference provinces and states. I wrote the most articles – eleven – while our history guru, bob k, came a close second with eight pieces. A number of people wrote two or more: life-j, Joe C, Thomas B, John M, Chris G and Sher G. While we want more posts from these wonderful folks, over the next year we will be looking for more articles from other parts of the world and, most assuredly, from more women. We remain convinced that the often unique perspective that women can bring to alcoholism and recovery is frequently ignored or in other ways lost within the rooms of AA.
And what did people write about?
A lot of stuff!
We are history buffs, so twenty-two of our articles were about the history of Alcoholics Anonymous. These were evenly divided between early history and the more modern developments within the fellowship. Many of the early pieces were by bob k, such as Frank Buchman and the Oxford Group, while current history focussed, naturally enough, on the status of agnostic groups within Intergroups and the fellowship itself.
We love to do reviews of new books on AA Agnostica, especially those that are supportive of agnostics and atheists in AA. A few examples: Thomas B. did a review of the wonderful book, A Freethinker in Alcoholics Anonymous, authored by John L. and Experiencing Spirituality was reviewed by John M. This book was co-authored by our long time supporter and AA historian, Ernie Kurtz.
And we published our own book!
Don’t Tell: Stories and essays by agnostics and atheists in AA, reviewed by Chris G., is the very first book of its kind and was published in April. It contains a total of 64 stories and essays originally posted on AA Agnostica over the last three years and is a diverse and eclectic sampling of writings by women and men for whom sobriety within the fellowship of AA had nothing at all to with an interventionist God.
A crucial work to share with our fellowship, which has always chosen to pretend that there is no problem with the religiosity of AA.
A new category for AA Agnostica articles over the past year has been “Many Paths.” Our purpose here has been simply to acknowledge that AA is ultimately and essentially an umbrella under which all alcoholics are welcome regardless of belief or lack of belief and regardless of what program of recovery is being followed, if, indeed, any is being followed at all. AA is “one alchoholic talking to another alcoholic,” as Bill W. once put it.
Over the past year we have published nine articles about the experience, strength and hope of agnostics and atheists in AA. Some of the more notable articles in this category include John L.’s Perry Street Workshop, in which he talks about attending his first AA meeting – in January, 1968. Last Sunday, we published an article by Sher G., My Last Traditional AA Meeting, which attracted the most intelligent thread of comments I have ever read online. We look forward to more from Sher, and from others sharing their personal experience in recovery.
One of my favourite posts was written by my dear friend, Wayne M. who died on March 21. It is called A higher purpose and inspired quite a number of readers, with its wonderfully secular and comprehensible approach to Step 2. Wayne and I discussed this issue a lot, and I like to think that he was happy that I talked him into writing this bit of inspiration.
But there are, of course, a lot more great articles that were posted on AA Agnostica over the past twelve months. You can access a complete list of them right here: Third Year List.
A chat room and more agnostic meetings
Over the past year, indeed over the past three years, the number of visitors to AA Agnostica has increased every month. That is quite inspiring – must be doing something right! – and actually surprising since there are very few websites that link to AA Agnostica and that is always one of the most important sources of traffic for any website. The vast majority of people get here because they have been told about us by a friend.
Because of all this traffic, life-j. decided back in January that it would be a good idea to start a chat room on AA Agnostica.
And right he was!
Participants join in from Australia, Argentina, England, South Africa, New Zealand, all over Canada and the U.S., and more.
Continuous sobriety for the people joining us online ranges from having drunk earlier that day to 40+ years. Meeting numbers range from 5 to 12.
Based on feedback, online meetings are most valued when a recovery topic is suggested and discussed and it’s not just about bashing the AA fundamentalists or about being bashed by them.
Moderators for meet-ups (mostly informal, some formal) include Gord, Soda, JHG, life-j, Jaye, Bob Mc. and Thomas B.
Meanwhile another feature of AA Agnostica that has been getting a wicked amount of attention over the past year is “An Agnostic Group in My Community.” This is a form that people fill out if they want to be part of starting an agnostic AA meeting in their own town or city.
A lot of people have been filling out the form. We have completed forms from Russia, United Arab Emirates, UK, Netherlands, Spain, El Salvadore, Poland, and Taiwan, as well as all over North America.
Chris G., who also produces e-books for AA Agnostica and recently helped start an agnostic group in his own southwestern Ontario town, contacts people when at least three have completed the form and asks them if they are still interested. Here is a typical response, received only yesterday:
I would love it!!! I know a few people who expressed interest and we thought about starting a group but the politics and the time commitment were a deterrent. I am almost a year sober but have all but stopped going to meetings since the last few times the readings seemed to be more anti agnostic than pro recovery. I couldn’t take it. But I am grateful to AA for starting me on this path and want to continue.
There is a lot of enthusiasm; and plenty of comments about how the religious bent of normal meetings isn’t helping any more, and they really want to meet with like-minded folks.
In January of this year, Deirdre S., the website weaver for AgnosticAANYC.org, put together some encouraging statistics about the growth of agnostic meetings in AA. If the chart on the right looks impressive, we here at AA Agnostica can guarantee that you will be astonished at the numbers for January 2015. We are witness now to a true explosion of new agnostic meetings and groups.
Growth and more growth
Sixty-two posts over the last year. A book of stories and essays by agnostics and atheists in AA. A chat room. More agnostic groups and meetings in AA.
Are we missing anything?
Oh yes, a convention!
A WAFT IAAC (We Agnostics and Free Thinkers International AA Convention) to be exact. Coming to Santa Monica in November.
We first posted an article about the convention, An AA Convention for We Agnostics, almost exactly a year ago, on June 16, 2013. We hope to post a progress report from the convention steering committee over the next few weeks.
There is a saying in the political world about being “in the right place at the right time.” That expression, we figure, applies one hundred percent to AA Agnostica.
We certainly don’t take credit for the growth of agnostic groups and meetings and conventions yet to come for we alcoholics with a non-religious understanding of ourselves, our recovery and the world we inhabit.
But we’re sure as hell happy and proud to be a part of it.