Six Years Old!

Fireworks

By Roger C.

An Anniversary

Today – on this very day – AA Agnostica is six years old!

The website was first launched into the internet universe on June 15, 2011. And it quickly became a very unique and special “space for AA agnostics, atheists and freethinkers worldwide”.

Imagine that. Who would have thunk it? A website devoted exclusively to non-believers within Alcoholics Anonymous, a fellowship for those in recovery from alcoholism.

And it has thrived, my friends. While six years is also 312 weeks, AA Agnostica has posted – counting today’s article – a total of 404 articles. And these have been written by hundreds of women and men from different parts of our planet Earth.

But wait! Hold on a second!

Hadn’t AA Agnostica chosen to stop actively posting articles?

The Last Post?

Hmm. Yes. That’s true. Exactly one year ago today – on our fifth anniversary – an article was posted called The Last Post. And it said, very specifically, “This will be the last post on AA Agnostica”. And there were no articles posted on the website for a full two months.

So what happened?

Good question.

At the time – a year ago – we were working with John S. as he launched the new website, AA Beyond Belief. John is very talented, both as a website manager and as a writer. And he is a hard worker. AA Beyond Belief was meant to be a successor to AA Agnostica. And it was. And it is, with a commitment to regular posts and podcasts every Sunday.

So why more posts on AA Agnostica? We’ll fire a few bullets to answer the question:

  • First, inspired by our Torontonian origins, we felt obliged to post articles dealing with the Human Rights Tribunal and the resolution of the excommunication of agnostic AA groups by the Greater Toronto Area Intergroup. Obliged. We felt.

  • Second, people often express appreciation for articles posted on AA Agnostica and that, my friends, is an inspiration and mighty hard to resist.

  • Third and last bullet: Our secular movement within AA continues to grow. We actually need more than a few websites for us folks to share our stories. And that is exactly what has happened over the last few years.

More on this – and the role of AA Agnostica – towards the end of this post.

Year Six

But first let’s talk about the past year. And the past six years.

Over the past year we have posted a total of 42 articles. Bob K., the author of Key Players in AA History, wrote the most: four articles. And we published three articles by our friend, life-j, one of which was published in the October 2016 issue of the AA Grapevine: Open-Minded.

And guess what?

We published two more books! That brings to eight the number of books published over the past six years.

A History of Agnostics in AA

It was rather inevitable that one of those books would eventually be published, and it is called: A History of Agnostics in AA. Many of the articles posted on the website have been about our history, and our struggles, within Alcoholics Anonymous. And nine of the articles posted on AA Agnostica over the past year have been, in order, the chapters of the book, beginning with a review by Robin R, a member of the We Agnostics group in Hamilton. One of my favourite chapters – I could maybe be a tad biased though – is the first one: An Agnostic in AA.  There are a total of sixteen chapters in the book and all of them will be posted on AA Agnostica over the next few months.

A History of Agnostics in AAAnd we will post two of the appendices. Appendix I contains three secular versions of “How It Works”. Imagine! There are not only secular versions of the 12 Steps but now there are rewritten and secular versions of the “God could and would if He were sought” part of the Big Book. One of them, written by Hilary J., a member of the Sober Agnostics group in Vancouver, was originally posted in mid-September of last year: An Updated “How It Works”.

Finally, A History of Agnostics in AA also has an appendix which contains the histories of ten agnostic groups in Canada. This is most interesting and will also be posted on AA Agnostica.

Each Breath a Gift

And just two days ago we published another book. It’s a memoir by Thomas B., who has written 18 articles for AA Agnostica and another 5 articles for AA Beyond Belief. Thomas is in his 45th year of sobriety and his book is called Each Breath a Gift: A Story of Continuing Sobriety. The Foreword is written by Joe C., author of Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life, and here is an excerpt from it (also included on the back cover of the book):

Storytelling, vulnerable and sincere storytelling, unites us. More than just an ageless form of teaching and entertaining, storytelling is healing and nurturing for both the teller and the audience. Books, songs, movies, podcasts, chat-rooms, YouTube videos and meetings are places where gifts given are also gifts received. Each Breath is such a gift. Thomas may be new to authorship, but he’s a master storyteller.

The entire Foreword will be posted on AA Agnostica very soon, along with information on where the book can be acquired.

Six Years

As mentioned earlier, to date 404 articles have been posted on AA Agnostica. Plus there are five pages: “About Us”, “Links”, “How to Start an AA Meeting”, “Alternative 12 Steps” and “Literature”. Let’s have a bit of a look at some of the most popular posts and pages over the last six years.

This popularity is generated by and based upon the use of search engines. It’s what women and men are looking for online, and finding at AA Agnostica. And, of course, the numbers grow over the years.

Without question the most popular post to date is An Atheist’s Guide to 12 Step Recovery. Written by Frank M. and published on August 12, 2012 it has now been viewed just under 150,000 times. We have considered making it into a pamphlet but that is ferociously expensive and distribution is still far too complicated and difficult.

Each Breath Two articles have now had roughly 30,000 viewers each. One is Rewriting the 12 Steps for Atheists which was originally written by Tracy Chabala and published by RehabReviews.com. It was re-posted on AA Agnostica on July 26, 2015. The other one, oddly enough, is called Bill Wilson’s Experience with LSD. It was written by Thomas B. and posted on May 10, 2015. Both of these posts in 2017 have attracted roughly 50 viewers each and every day.

The most popular page on the website is the Alternative 12 Steps. It has been around since the beginning and has had just under 100,000 viewers. Again, that amounts to roughly 70 per day over the last year, 2017.

That is interesting. People apparently do seek a “program” to assist them in their recovery. Clearly many are driven to or are personally interested in the “suggested” AA program, the 12 Steps, but would like a version without all of the “God bit” that was included in the, you know, perhaps slightly outdated 1939 version.

Just a thought.

Moving Forward

So, where to now, folks?

AA Agnostica will remain online.

As demonstrated above, there are a large number of posts and pages that are of interest to readers, and especially those women and men in AA who are turned off by the “God bit”. They need to know that they are not alone. That is precisely what AA Agnostica has been doing for the past six years and why it will remain part of the worldwide web universe for the foreseeable future.

As mentioned above, we will continue to post the chapters of A History of Agnostics in AA on the website. That will happen roughly once a week and thus won’t be completed until September.

And shall we post other articles from time to time?

Yes. Occasionally. When something strikes us as of special interest to we agnostics and atheists in AA and really ought to be posted. For example, last Fall we simply couldn’t resist posting some of the articles that were published in the October issue of the AA Grapevine, an issue devoted to “Atheist and Agnostic Members” of AA.

So we will post the occasional article on AA Agnostica.

But these posts will have a hit and miss quality to them, which is to say articles will not be posted regularly.

For regular posts, I would invite folks to visit AA Beyond Belief. It’s a rich and wonderful website. And John S. and Doris A. recently announced that AA Beyond Belief will be alternating between podcasts and articles each and every Sunday.

And now I can’t resist mentioning two other websites. A website well worth visiting for the musings of an agnostic in AA is one created by Joe C., Rebellion Dogs Publishing. Just after the Austin Convention, a great website came into existence in our online and Wi-Fi galaxy and it is very simply and clearly called Secular AA. It now has the list of agnostic and atheist meetings worldwide. It has lots of wonderful information on starting a secular AA meeting. Also check out its Events tab for info on upcoming secular roundups and conferences. The creation of this website is a clear sign of the growth and importance of our secular movement within the AA Fellowship.

All right.

Back to AA Agnostica.

Six years old!

We celebrate this anniversary today. Then it’s back to the old normal work stuff. Posting chapters from A History of Agnostics in AA. Working with others and posting the occasional article on AA Agnostica. Getting ready for SOAAR (Secular Ontario AA Roundup).

As we like to say, folks: Onwards and Upwards.


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Comments

Six Years Old! — 19 Comments

  1. Thanks and congratulations to you and AA Agnostica. You and this site have changed a number of lives in the bible belt buckle of Charleston, SC. As a result of me and a few other folks discovering your site, four years ago we started our own “Free Thinkers of the Lowcrounty,” now fully registered and operational. We meet at the Unity Church which advertises that they are more spiritual than religious, and they welcomed us with open arms. Don’t even charge us rent. Our size has remained relatively small, but the faces constantly change. The message is being passed and listened to.

    I’m glad you mentioned the Secular AA site. They run our address, with a map, and it’s really cool. Already had folks from out of state use it.

    Thanks again for all that you and this site have done!

  2. Happy birthday! Roger, I found AA Agnostica shortly after its founding, and oh, what a godsend it was (snicker).

    I was stewing on the slow burn of cognitive dissonance at traditional AA meetings when I found it – I don’t remember now what led to that; possibly a grasping-at-straws google of “agnostics in AA” or such. At any rate, it was like unexpectedly stumbling upon my heart’s desire. I devoured the articles ravenously, a feast of nourishment for a starving soul. I immediately ordered the book touted here, Beyond Belief. I introduced it at my home group, a generally open-minded group of folks, and though it was viewed with tolerance and curiosity, nobody wanted to use it for group discussions. It didn’t have AA’s stamp of approval.

    Shortly after that, on AA Agnostica I spotted a plug for We Agnostics Group of Dallas. I didn’t know it existed! One visit was all it took; I had come home. That group became my home group, and I had the pleasure and honor of introducing Beyond Belief there, where it was immediately appreciated and the group ordered a dozen copies for group discussion.

    I am very grateful to you and the others who have voluntarily taken this job of bringing secular AA to the besotted masses. A thousand blessings upon you. May your holdings increase and your taxes decrease.

  3. I consult this occasionally, and do, very much, appreciate the thoughts and insights… can be valuable when talking with new or prospective members… especially to emphasize “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” No religious affiliation needed!

  4. Consider this the reunion tour blog; haven’t The Who been doing farewell tours since the 1980s?

    So you planned to stop… “Man makes plans and Allah laughs.”

  5. Congratulations Roger and thank you for AA Agnostica!! Even more than that thank you so much for We Agnostics in Hamilton, my home group!! It is just so great to have an AA group where I feel free to say what I believe or don’t believe! And to listen to other like minded people! It is a breath of fresh air!

  6. Congratulations from Glasgow, Scotland to AA Agnostica on 6 years of service to the non-believer, and everyone else, in AA. I attend a weekly meeting called Tolerance Tuesday, a discussion based on that day’s reading from Beyond Belief, and closing with AA Declaration of Responsibility. It’s been down to AA Agnostica and the sharing of posts to AA friends that this group has changed from an initial BB discussion, to Living Sober reading, and now to Beyond Belief. Your site reaches far and wide and deep; oh, and as Beyond Belief says, the Tolerance Tuesday group is for everyone who wishes to attend. Hopefully I’ll be attending the 3rd International Conference in Toronto next August, 2018. Keep up the good work in keeping the door to AA open for all who wish to seek support from AA and it’s members.

    • When and where is that meeting? I have a long distance sponsee in scotland, and she would probably go, and I looked in the schedule the other day and didn’t find anything there. Please tell, and also make sure it gets listed in the ICSAA schedule

      • Hi Life-j, it’s not listed other than in the UK Where to Find in book and online; it’s viewed by the group as an AA meeting, plain and simple. It is announced at the outset that the group’s sole aim is to ensure that anyone can access AA without having to believe in any others god/hp nor give up their own belief/non-belief (the statement from starting a meeting info/resources AA Agnostica). It’s in Shawlands Kirk, Glasgow, on Tuesdays at 12:30 and ends at 1:45. Around 14 attending on average but can be more. Most of usual suspects are non-believers and it’s a real discussion, with attendees coming in more than one if they choose to. We go for coffee afterwards, all welcome, but pay your own, we’re Scots, haha. Usually 4 to 6 check-in for coffee. It’s very different from most meetings here, unique in fact, and some comments can be challenging to the odd fundamentalist dropping in. There are some of us regulars with long-terms of sobriety, 3 x 30 years +, a few not far short of 30, but a spread of terms of sobriety. Of course that doesn’t matter in the big picture, but what matters is that no matter your term of sobriety, beliefs, or gender, ethnicity, sexuality, age, etc, we aim to keep the meeting safe to share as you wish, and we read out a definition of Tolerance to that effect. As my buddy says, we’re not there to teach Tolerance but to practice it. Hope that helps, and maybe some others reading this will wish to drop by if visiting Glasgow. 👍 🤝

  7. Ah yes, Roger, I too along with Len above may very well have been shamed and shunned out of AA when Jill and I moved to the Southern Coast of Oregon in November of 2011. I am so grateful that it shall continue to occasionally post articles and publish books which further the growing evolution of the Secular AA community within AA, along with AA Beyond Belief, Secular AA and Rebellion Dogs.

    As you so rousingly urge us, “Onwards and Upwards” !~!~!

  8. Congratulations on the anniversary. We of the Freethinkers Meeting of Rochester NY appreciate what you do.

    The discussion and posting of the Human Rights Tribunal story has made it possible for us to know and understand what you were doing to encourage AAWS and the GTAI to recognize that we, as non believers, can use the steps to our advantage without their permission.

    Thank you very much.

    Tim

    I remain glad to know that I am alcoholic.

  9. Congratulations. If I hadn’t found this site I’d likely be drunk or more likely dead. You and the others who contributed to the secular movement have indeed saved many alcoholics who couldn’t handle the AA God bit.

  10. Well, happy birthday, Roger. Good to know you and have you for a friend. And I was very grateful when I found this site.

    I think I found it in early 2013, and it was still small enough to where it was possible to read practically every post there, and I did, and I got fired up.

    I almost immediately started the good fight with my local intergroup, and only prevailed 3 years later.

    And just like Bob, this site has been the beginning of a devotion to writing, something I had tried 20 years earlier, but hadn’t found neither my voice, my cause or my venue.

    Interesting that it took someone just a couple of years sober to launch this project. I guess it was necessary to have someone who hadn’t been lulled into the resigned semi-sleepwalking state of having “stopped fighting everything and everyone” which so many of us oldtimers evidently suffered from, to wake us up.

    I’m grateful.

  11. My association with AAAgnostica.org goes back to 2011 when I found here a place to post my anti-Lord’s Prayer rant that had been rejected by The Grapevine. These were the early days, and my dear friend Roger had a need for content. Like the endlessly fascinating Bill Wilson, Roger is a visionary. He very wisely foresaw something far beyond a personal blog.

    It has been intensely exciting to see reality surpass the visions that danced in our heads. Toronto was to become the epi-center of a worldwide movement. I’ve shared in the thrill of seeing brilliantly written articles arrive from all over the world.

    AAAgnostica.org gave these essays an audience, and it gave the writers a voice. In doing so, a voice was also given to the movement that has revitalized the recovery experience for so many of us.

    For me, writing has been a late life fulfillment of a lifelong fantasy. My drunken musings had me bantering with Johnny Carson, delighting America with my wit and sophistication. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

    But other great things did. My dozens of articles published here spurred me to pen a secularist’s perspective on AA history. AAAgnostica became the publisher, and Roger got the late Ernie Kurtz and the estimable William L. White to do a Foreword. These are the giants in the recovery history field. What an experience!!! What an honor!!

    My association with John and the Beyond Belief folks has also been rewarding, but my heart is here, and Roger is MY MAN!!

    Je t’aime, mon cher ami!!

  12. Finding your site evoked a similar response from me to fellow “other” believers as that of Marty Mann to her sanitarium roommate after her first AA meeting: “We are not alone.” Thanks for your continuing efforts.