Two Years Old!

Two years old!

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.

* * *

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.

Posts by Category

You can click to view posts by category on the AA Agnostica homepage.

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.

* * *

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.”

18 Responses

  1. John M. says:


    The more I see how excited people are to see more and more WAFT groups getting started and how many contacts with other like-minded people we are all making these days, the more I think of you, my friend, and the decision you made a couple of years ago to start our marvelous AA Agnostica website.

    The only higher power I know and the only type of providence I understand comes from people like you who have the insight and courage to decide to do something and follow through with it and then sustain and nurture it.

    There ain’t no mystery involved with your decision but there is certainly majesty!!!!

    When I came across W. H. Murray’s quotation a year into my sobriety 5 and 1/2 years ago I embraced it.

    It describes your decision to a tee!!!!!

    “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness, concerning all acts of initiative and creation. There is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
    Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
    Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!

    –W.H. Murray, The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951) [Entire quotation often mis-attributed to Goethe]

  2. Glenna R. says:

    Roger: Congratulations on 2 years! Many thanks for all your efforts and committment. Before I bought Joe C.’s Beyond Belief, your weekly posting was my weekly meditation. Along with joining Widening Our Gateway in Richmond Hill, it was your writing and that of others on the website that provided the nurturing I needed in AA. Not only that but you linked me up with Toronto Groups and others in North America, so I felt a real sense of belonging for the first time in AA after over 15 years in the programme. I trust you will keep up the site as it means so much to many. Thanks and love and peace, Glenna.

  3. Dorothy H. says:

    Roger and AA Agostica;

    You have done a wonderful job of informing the (We Agnostics/Freethinkers) WAFT fellowship! I personally am constantly referring people to this site to demonstrate the breath and depth of the history and struggle of WAFT within AA. AA Agnostica is an invaluable tool to mine and other WAFT’s recovery from this life threatening disease! Keep up this important 12 step work…we need you!

  4. Aitch says:

    Congratulations on two years success and many more to come. I’m in Scotland and this has been an invaluable site for me: connection, information, and enjoyment are all welcome. Keep the faith!!!!

  5. Barbara R. says:

    Happy Anniversary! I so look forward to Sundays when I can read your post. I really appreciate all of the history and the thoughtful articles on your website. I also appreciate how respectful, understanding, and tolerant you are of those who would hope to exclude us from the fellowship. Many non theist sites can be as toxic as the bible crowd. Fundamentalists of any stripe are not exactly forgiving and open minded. Keep up the good work!

  6. John L. says:

    Thanks and congratulations, Roger!

    The posts to AA Agnostica will be a great resource for future recovering alcoholics. The website is, I hope, thoroughly and securely backed up. I mention this because the hard drive on my main computer started getting slightly flakey, so I’ve backed up the whole thing to an external HD. Now that I can breathe easier I have the *tedious* task of housecleaning — getting rid of several years of accumulated junk and trying to organize what’s left. Thank goodness (HP, whatever) I’m sober.

  7. Eric T says:

    Happy Birthday! Thanks to all who contribute here. I’m so grateful for this resource as I move through my second year of continuous sobriety, agnostically!
    We are no longer alone indeed.

  8. Denis K. says:


    Thank you for all you have done on this website and thank you to all others involved with this important and much required oracle.

    Since over the past year and a bit I have pointed kindred spirits to this site; also, I have pointed not so kindred spirits to the site to do some “investigation prior to nursing their contempt.”
    Net result, AA members from out of Vancouver have called me to discuss Agnostica and buy copies of “Beyond Belief”, I sold half a dozen copies this week while in Prince George BC to some previously sceptical members.
    Regarding the hostile doubters here in Vancouver, several are now attending both the groups we have established; the others who were directed to Agnostica website have simply put a lid on their caustic comments and hopefully practicing “Live and let live.”
    Looking forward to seeing everyone at Beyond Belief in Toronto in a couple of weeks!

  9. Laurie A says:

    Yes, satisfying milestone. Well done. AAAgnostica meets a definite need and is a healthy alternative to toxic anti-AA websites and those generated by dogmatic and fundamentalist AAs.

  10. Lon Mc. says:

    It is a pleasure to come here weekly for an unbridled romp in your fresh breeze of reality. Thanks.

  11. Neil F says:

    Congratulations to all who have contributed to the success of this site with a special thanks and congratulations to Roger.

    This site and its many contributors play a key role in my sobriety today. It was so good to find a community of like minded alcoholics who were willing to share what works for them.

    Thanks again.

  12. Andy Mc says:

    Roger, thanks for everything you do in regards to AAagnotica, I am not a big reader but I so look forward to the Sunday morning writings you or others put forth. You have all helped me come to terms with being a non-believer surrounded in rooms of believers. I no longer feel afraid to speak out about a great life in sobriety without the shrouds of superstition.
    Thank-you Roger, and keep up the amazing work.
    Andy Mc, London, On

  13. Thomas B. says:

    Indeed, Roger, this is a most auspicious occasion. Happy Birthday to us !~!~! Two years old — watch out bleeding deacons and Bible-of-whatever-brand-thumpers, we are in our terrible twos. Nevertheless, I am certain that due to the combined wisdom among us as we continue to share our “experience, strength and hope” with each other, we shall also continue to insure that “love and tolerance of others is our goal” (BB, p.84). I know that this is my own personal challenge to spiritual progress, not perfection.

    As an avid reader in books and online of AA History, I am certain that we remain within the spirit of all inclusiveness that our co-founders, Dr. Bob and Bill W., along with those instrumental in spreading our message of spirituality, not religion, throughout the world intended. This perhaps was best summarized in the “Responsibility Declaration” augmented in 1965. It is as relevant to AA and to us today as it was almost 50 years ago.

    Thank you, Roger, for your inspiration and guidance as we move together with you “onwards and upwards”.

  14. Boyd P. says:

    It is hard to imagine sobriety without you! That’s probably because I haven’t reached my third birthday yet. Still, my other birthday is the same year as “The Grapevine”. Our history is rich. As we explore, a reminder, keep it simple, stupid.

    But I can’t resist a Bill W. anniversary note, “So went the happy monthly journal paroxysm of creating . . . ” The Grapevine. (June 1959)

  15. Hillary G says:

    Happy Birthday

  16. John M. says:

    Yes, congratulations on the two years. And special thanks to you, Roger, for your dedication to this site.

    And to all you readers, and to those of you who respond to the articles, and to those who contribute to the richness of this site by offering your heartfelt and insightful pieces.

    I know I am bordering on the religious with what I am about to say, Roger, but by gawd I think you have found your “calling.”

  17. Pat N. says:

    Happy Birthday, and many happy returns! I think you have created an invaluable resource, one from which I have forwarded many articles to likeminded folks. Between AAAgnostica and the forthcoming conference in Santa Monica, we mavericks are finally finding each other. In the past year, I’ve attended agtypes in Massachusetts, California, Washington State, and soon in Paris. I’ll always attend regular meetings while travelling if an agtype isn’t available, but if any of my grandkids turn out to be addicted, they may not have to make that choice, thanks to your efforts.

    And kudos to the folks in NY who post a helpful agype meeting list online – perhaps AAAgnostica could duplicate it?

    And bully for you for supporting other fellowships which exist to help alkies. I particularly like LifeRing, and think its format would make for a good AA meeting. No one should have to go through the hell of active addiction, and we’re all in this together. I even approve of the overtly Christian fellowships, although I can’t imagine becoming desperate enough to attend one.

  18. David H. says:

    Good article. Thanks for all you do, Roger.

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