Religion and AA

By Dean W

For about twenty-five years I was your average, traditional AA member. Then over about five years I gradually became an agnostic AA member. In 2018 I helped start an agnostic group, which is now my home group and the only group I attend regularly. Two things recently bothered me. First, I visited my previous home group, a traditional AA meeting. Second, I read the AA pamphlet “The God Word.” The meeting at my old home group consisted of God-oriented readings, the introduction of a topic by the chairperson, and a very God-oriented discussion, all bracketed by prayer. The incessant God talk and prayer to a god I don’t believe in annoyed me. “The God Word” pamphlet bothered me because the first sentence claims that “AA is not a religious organization.” My response is, “Since when?”

Although AA claims to be spiritual, not religious, people outside AA generally see through this semantic fog. Historian Ernest Kurtz addresses the issue in Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous (1979). He notes that from AA’s beginning, “ministers… sociologists, psychologists, and anthropologists” have “clearly and consistently” seen “the key to the program and the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous… to be ‘religion’” (p. 176).

In his book, Religious Worlds: The Comparative Study of Religion (1988), William E. Paden includes AA with other religious groups in his analysis of religious systems. He asks, “What is it that makes anything religious?” His answer: “religion… constitutes a special kind of phenomena, a special kind of experience, a special kind of system positing its own kind of world” (p. 47-48). The idea of differing religious worlds is key. Each religion creates and lives in its own universe (p. 51). While religious worlds vary greatly, in Paden’s comparative framework they are all composed of four common elements: gods, myths, rituals, and systems of purity. These elements establish, delineate, and maintain religious worlds, and it is easy to identify these four elements in AA. Note that Paden’s use of the word myth does not mean untrue. His method is used only to describe religious systems, not to determine their veracity.

When AA left the Oxford Group it took with it the Oxford Group’s god and mythology. The Big Book describes God as the monotheistic, omnipotent, and interventionist Creator and Father, your basic Biblical deity. When Bill Wilson had his hot flash conversion at Towns Hospital in 1934 he exclaimed, “So this is the God of the preachers!” (AA Comes of Age, 1957, p. 63). In 1940, as Bill recounted his first attempts to help other alcoholics, he wrote, “Believing so firmly that Christ can do anything, I had the unconscious conceit to suppose that He would do everything through me – right then and in the manner I chose” (As Bill Sees It, 1967, p. 114).

Bill’s hot flash conversion combined with the Oxford Group’s mythology is the basic AA myth. In addition to god and myth, a religious world needs rituals. There are many rituals in AA, but perhaps the most fundamental is identified by William L. White in Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America (1988). White describes recovery in AA as a process of “identity reconstruction” that involves, among other  things, the “ritual retelling” of our personal stories. “The recitation seems to serve as a life-saving incantation that quells cravings and compulsions. And story telling, in its need for an audience, links the alcoholic to others” (p. 145-147). Religious worlds also need a system of purity, and AA’s Twelve Steps, with their emphasis on removing character defects, are an obvious example.

So traditional AA consists of all four of Paden’s elements: god, myth, ritual, and a system of purity. Traditional AA is a religious world. As an agnostic, no wonder I felt out of place at my old home group. And since I see the AA fellowship as a religious group, no wonder I was bothered by “The God Word” pamphlet’s denial of this. At my current, agnostic home group we don’t pray. We don’t read the Daily Reflection, How It Works, or The Promises. We don’t extol the Twelve Steps as printed in 1939 as the only true AA path. We don’t believe that any god is expressing himself in our group conscience. Unlike my old home group and the AA fellowship in general, we are not religious.

Or are we? Paden’s framework is broad enough to include secular systems. He says, “the sacred is not just a possession of theistic religions. The sacred is that on which life is believed to be inviolably based” and examples of the sacred can include “the sanctity of individual rights, social justice, freedom, and equality.” So the sacred, as Paden uses the term, can be nonreligious. And “the sacred defines the world” (p. 167, emphasis mine). A key to understanding any religious system is to ask, “Where is the sacred?” (p. 59).

Where indeed? The sacred in traditional AA is sometimes obvious, as when God is invoked. Other times it is implied, as when members appeal to the alleged authority of the Big Book. It’s not surprising that the Big Book is treated as scripture in many groups. Paden notes that new religious groups “often elevate the ‘inspired’ words of the founder to mythic status” (p. 81). I think the AA fellowship also holds the original “AA message” sacred. The forwards to all four editions of the Big Book mention the AA message, and documenting and preserving “the integrity of the AA message” is emphasized (4th edition, 2001, p. xxiv). Exactly what constitutes the “AA message” is debatable, but in my opinion the traditional AA message is the Twelve Steps as written in the Big Book, hence Step Twelve’s suggestion that we try to carry “this message.” Of course the Steps are only suggestions, but apparently for the majority of our fellowship they are deified suggestions. Holy cognitive dissonance, Batman! How can the Steps be both suggested and sacred?!

How indeed? I see our fellowship’s continuing failure to look critically at the Big Book (and the rest of our foundational literature) as a serious credibility issue. Today many newcomers to AA, like the outsiders described by Kurtz, can see through our semantic fog as we claim to be nonreligious. And the proliferation of secular AA shows that the Big Book paradigm of recovery, that all real alcoholics need a god-based recovery, is simply wrong. Yet as a fellowship, we still cling to that religious paradigm. Our continuing failure to put our fellowship into clear historical, social, and ideological contexts surely turns off a lot of people. I see our fellowship’s continuing emphasis on “the integrity of the AA message” as a stubborn unwillingness to question a clearly outdated concept of the sacred.

Even though my home group is secular, what we consider the inviolable basis of life still creates a world for us. In my group I think we consider the power of the group inviolable; alcoholics helping alcoholics. I think we see freedom of conscience, each member’s right to their own beliefs and practices, as inviolable. I think this is particularly true regarding the freedom to choose a personal recovery path, even if that path doesn’t fit the Big Book’s religious paradigm. I imagine most secular AA groups have similar ideas about what is inviolable.

I spent twenty-five years in traditional AA. I am a relative newcomer to secular AA, and I don’t claim to have my finger on its pulse, but my personal experience plus the stories I read and the podcasts I listen to convince me that traditional AA and secular AA are different worlds. And these worlds appear to be mutually exclusive. Members of the other world are sometimes tolerated but rarely embraced. When I attend traditional meetings and share my story, I’m often met with suspicion, fear, and even hostility. And unfortunately I think traditional AA members have experienced the same negative feedback at my agnostic home group. Online I see secular AAs deriding traditional AAs, and vice versa. I don’t think this bodes well for AA’s future, but to a degree it is understandable. As Paden says, “If the sacred is the foundation of a world, then whatever denies that sacredness will be intolerable” (p. 61).

My examination of AA and religion leads to several questions:

  • Will traditional AAs and secular AAs continue to live in mutually exclusive worlds?

  • Will AA continue to be a majority religious fellowship tolerating a secular minority?

  • Will secular AA develop enough influence to significantly change the fellowship and if so, what changes will be made?

  • Some newcomers need god-based recovery, while others need secular recovery; can traditional AAs and secular AAs work together to create groups and a fellowship that works for both?

  • Can AA become a god-neutral or god-optional fellowship?

My final question, to use Paden’s terminology, can we – and will we – create a new AA world?


Dean W went to his first AA meeting around 1980, and has been clean and sober since 1988. He got sober in a very conservative AA environment – lots of Big Book and Twelve and Twelve meetings, along with the Joe and Charley Big Book seminar tapes. For about 25 years he was a traditional, God-oriented AA member; a believer, if only a nominal and often skeptical one. Then, over a period of about five years he had another “spiritual awakening” and became an agnostic. In June 2018 Dean helped start the We Agnostics group in Elkhart, Indiana. This is now his home group, though he occasionally still attends traditional AA meetings. He is something of a jack of all trades – he’s worked as a warehouse foreperson, an autoworker, a tool and die maker, and a college adjunct instructor, among other things. Dean presently works as a high school substitute teacher.


 

 

32 Responses

  1. Andrew says:

    Well done! I only attend one traditional meeting a week now. The reason being that several members of the noon meeting bore witness to me coming in to get sober and having been sober for a while now friendships, in spite of my overt atheism, have developed. However, when one is deliberately skipped over in shares due to ones non-belief in a HP that’s when I get a little angsty.

    The religions issue is another burr under my saddle. How many times does someone have to hear themselves say they are not religious but “spiritual” before they wake up to the utter nonsense of what they are saying. It is not only in AA but in the rather large New Age community in our area (notably the presence of SRF). So I was out of breath and ready to try sobriety without any program when a friend told me about Freethinkers/atheist/agnostic groups. Hallelujah! I found a place where I do not have to hear about God and miracles or only with an HP can one quit drinking and be truly sober.

    Also thanks for the reference to Paden’s book. It was through the work of Joseph Campbell that I found that my native Baptist/Calvinist percept to be just another expression of our species attempt to grapple with a “bizarre and inexplicable universe”. So yes, be well, be sober and think while it is still legal.

  2. Mark C. says:

    The questions posed in this essay:

    1. Will traditional AAs and secular AAs continue to live in mutually exclusive worlds?

    2. Will AA continue to be a majority religious fellowship tolerating a secular minority?

    3. Will secular AA develop enough influence to significantly change the fellowship and if so, what changes will be made?

    4. Some newcomers need god-based recovery, while others need secular recovery; can traditional AAs and secular AAs work together to create groups and a fellowship that works for both?

    5. Can AA become a god-neutral or god-optional fellowship?

    6. My final question, to use Paden’s terminology, can we – and will we – create a new AA world?

    I’ll risk a thought or two on a couple of the questions.

    Question 1. Yes in one very important sense, and No in another important sense. Yes , metaphysically speaking, Supernaturalism and Naturalism, or Metaphysical Naturalism are two mutually exclusive descriptions of “reality,” and in that sense… AA members live in “different,” “incompatible” and “irreconcilable” worlds… oil and water.

    Yet, in meetings we humans sit together, “sharing our experience, strength, and hope,” or however we’d “describe” what we do in meetings… that is a horizontal Human, All Too Human plane… one human drunk yapping with another human drunk. On that horizontal human plane we drunks have MUCH in common. And it has always been the case that “we are people who would not ordinarily mix,” seemingly. That admixture of folks show a wide diversity… of thought, belief, and opinion, eh?

    My entire time sober has been in the context of traditional “AA” in the West Texas Bible Belt AA… as an out of the closet atheist. If ya think that’s an “easier, softer way” give that a whirl and get back to me. Ha. I continue to fill Service Positions in my old raggedy ass home group. It is definitely tailored for the Low, and Very Low Bottom set of drunks. I have a “thing” for underdogs… probably because I am one of those… we have that in common too it seems.

    Though “seculars” are starting groups and meetings in pretty astonishing growing numbers… we are still “AA’s” in that sense, as most of those groups consider themselves “AA.” And many of them (key) are involved somehow or other within the General Service Structure… as open nonbelievers… that’s a game changer over time. We’ve already seen some very significant things happen that serve to “widen the gates” for nonbelievers take place in those structures.

    Question 2. This depends on the continued, consistent, principled ACTIONS of “language and service” taken by the heathen hordes of atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, and other forms of Non-Theism. It is not an easy task to be openly honest about ourselves in the context of what is not much other than a warmed over Protestant Revivalistic Sunday School, complete with it’s own Holy Book sporting Supernatural Interventions… in spades.

    The question gains some “fat” when we look at the trajectories of the “demographics of belief” in Western Democracies. That trajectory is fully in secular, non-religious directions… everywhere you look… A shit ton of these youngsters who drink WILL develop enormous problems… If we heathens are silent, cowered, hiding in dishonesty about ourselves in “conventional” AA… then… what are those youngsters going to hear? We know what they will hear. They are metaphysically ill-disposed to buy fantasy land stories of Supernatural Interventions, and all the other metaphysical nonsense that is so much a part of the Rhetorical Situation in any given AA meeting. A drop of reason and rational clarity in a pool of confusion… matters.

    Our voices, our stories, our honest narratives about ourselves, “alters” the Rhetorical Situation by small degrees and opens up the Possibility that one can get sober without converting to some “God” belief and a warmed-over Evangelical Devotional life and practices… (the 12 Steps). We will be the only ones to “widen the gates” for the fastest growing demographic of “belief”, the Nones.

    Just a few thoughts, and observations from an ex-evangelical, atheist in “AA.” I “get” “belief.” I get disbelief. If a person has basic theistic “beliefs,” I’ll say… Ye old Big Book can work pretty damned good for them… they already hold most of it’s “presuppositions” even though many have no idea what that term may mean. I’m ALL for THAT, for THEM… hell, I even push them in those directions. I encourage them… whatever it takes, right?

    Thank you for the essay. Think, Think, Think… Good stuff Maynard!

  3. Bethany D. says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article and will return to it again! Thank you for your research and thoughtful expression. It really moves the conversation about integrating the secular into AA forward. (Or is it discovering the secular in AA….?)

    • Dean W says:

      Thank you Bethany. I look forward to continuing the conversation on the relationship of secular AA to the overall fellowship.

  4. Bob K says:

    The questions merit complex answers. I’ll have a go at the final one.

    At the risk of equivocating, it’s a clear “yes and no” for me.

    After backing away from Larry K’s (aka Satan) human rights complaint, I expected Toronto Intergroup to respond with some sort of counter-measures. Instead, we head to our 4th Lord’s Prayer-less Ontario Regional Conference (run by Toronto Intergroup). There are now two Lord’s Prayer-less meetings at the very conservative Alano Club in Oshawa. Oshawa is an Indian word meaning “bastion of rednecks.”

    On the other hand, the tail isn’t going to wag the dog. God-loving fundamentalist AA members have convinced the majority of the less dogmatic that the 1939 text is sacrosanct.

    In the internet era, it is possible to get a feeling as never before as to the broader attitude across AA. In North America, it ain’t terribly liberal. I don’t see the progress I’d like to see occurring within my lifetime.

    • Dean W says:

      Thanks for responding to one of my questions. I love hearing about AA in Canada. My experience here in Northern Indiana is quite different. And I completely agree that the tail isn’t going to wag the dog. The AA fellowship will change as individual members and groups change, and it will take time, if it happens at all. Many factors work against this change: the majority of AA may be too complacent, too enthralled with our own “success,” too afraid of godless heathens, or too much of any number of other things. All I can do is play my part and hope for the best.

  5. Neil L says:

    In Santa Clara valley, AA is pretty rigidly old school. When I helped create my home group, we came to dismiss the edict that we deal only with alcohol, preferring instead to be totally open to discussing mental health, trauma, sexuality, and related secondary issues as specifically not “outside issues”, as they’re definitely parts of our alcoholic stories and definitely pertinent.

    A few years ago I started two Secular Steptakers meetings and was pleasantly surprised that our Central Office included them in our local directory, along with a specific “S” for secular code. Our readings include mentioning that we have no opinion on specific religions or atheism, that you are free to believe or disbelieve whatever you want. All are welcome. And we do in fact get a fair amount of overlap between fellowships.

    So there’s hope!

  6. Dean W says:

    Thanks to all who read and commented on my essay, and a special thanks for the compliments. I hope this discussion continues and that it contributes to a better future for us all.

  7. Richard K. says:

    Love Joe C’s comments!!! I just set an example. I cease fighting anything. Good for today!!!

  8. Lise L. says:

    My sole interest in is We agnostic AA. We can’t change the traditional AA more than we could change our parents. I’m interested in seeing the agnostic AA movement be replicated into groups such as agnostic drug users, agnostic families of addicts and alcoholics, agnostic children of addicts and alcoholics, agnostic overeaters, agnostic sexual and love addicts and agnostic CODA of any race or color. As a former Addiction Counsellor, I often had to wrestle with more inclusive support groups for all. Let’s let the religious folks have their thoughts and prayers with each other and broaden the support for the rest of humanity.

  9. Bernadette says:

    40 years of AA enough for me. I have retired from being tired of all the BS.

  10. Thomas B. says:

    Thanks Dean for a most pertinent essay. The questions you pose are critical for AA as a whole to consider. Depending on how it answers them, I believe, will determine whether or not AA continues to evolve to achieve its goal of helping alcoholics anywhere get sober.

    • Dean W says:

      Thanks for mentioning our goal, which is supposed to be helping alcoholics get sober. Is remaining a religious group with a religion-based recovery program the best way to do this? I don’t think so but as you said, how AA as a whole deals with these issues will determine the fellowship’s future.

  11. Steve b says:

    It’s too bad that SOS has failed to catch on in Illinois. I helped start 2 SOS meetings only to see them both fail after some months. SOS is pretty much the same as secular AA, lacking only the name AA. I attend traditional AA meetings near my home in Orland Park, Illinois, maybe twice a month, and sometimes they annoy me more than they help me. I’m toying with the idea of quitting AA altogether because, after 40 years of sobriety, I’ve discovered that I don’t have any trouble staying sober whether I attend meetings or not.

  12. Joe C says:

    Ditto on the complimentary feedback. Let me take a “one member’s view” to some of your questions:

    Will traditional AAs and secular AAs continue to live in mutually exclusive worlds?

    I’m an open atheist and part of mainstream AA. I was asked to sit on the Intergroup finance committee. I’m the secretary. Our group, at district, takes a regular rotation at detoxes and shelters. Three of us just hosted a Friday night meeting for a dozen Centre for Addiction & Mental Health detox clients. We aren’t an infomercial for secular AA but we are examples of secular AA, as part of the liberal structure of AA as a whole. So to this extent, our secular members and groups are not separate or independent of AA as a whole.

    Will AA continue to be a majority religious fellowship tolerating a secular minority?

    James Christopher, founder of SOS (Secular Organizations for Sobriety) told me in an interview that “AA is a religion in denial.” I shared this at a AA History Symposium presentation and everyone laughed. Agree or disagree, everyone knew what he meant. Not that I disagree with anything you say, I would add that AA’s majority enjoy religious beliefs and rituals making AA religious in this sense AND AAs structure is irreligious insofar as the autonomy our groups have the inalienable right to conduct ourselves. Few organized religions would tolerate sects that denounce key tenets but AA unapologetically invites my group and yours to be “Anti-god, Anti-AA” or what have you. We all know we can have a perfectly good AA group without any prayer or reciting of Steps or anything from the Big Book.

    So systemically AA is secular in this regard, to expel irreligious groups would require changing Concepts, Traditions and Warrantees which would then render AA no more. So as long as AA is guided by our service structure, fundies and atheists and everything in between will be here – so long as the group conscience so declares.

    I have thoughts on the other good questions but I’m not the second speaker so I will shut up, leave it there and say thanks to Dean and everyone who chimed in.

    Some newcomers need god-based recovery, while others need secular recovery; can traditional AAs and secular AAs work together to create groups and a fellowship that works for both?

    Can AA become a god-neutral or god-optional fellowship?

    • Dean W says:

      I appreciate you sharing your experience, and I commend you for your involvement in mainstream AA and in service work. Also, while I grant that our Traditions, Concepts, and Warrantees make secular AA possible, I don’t think this alone makes our service structure irreligious. After all, according to Tradition our fellowship ultimately answers to God as he expresses himself in our group conscience. This is hardly an irreligious principle.

      I don’t know where you live, but it sounds like you are accepted in your local mainstream meetings. In my locality AA is very conservative and god-oriented generally. Members of traditional AA groups here tend to look at me like a circus freak and/or try to “help” me by quoting the Big Book or 12&12, books which I probably know better than they do. I find this condescending to say the least. I can (and have) told them to f**c off, but I don’t find that particularly helpful to my serenity, and I wonder about the effect it has on newcomers. And newcomers are, after all, supposed to be the focus of each group’s primary purpose. So for now I stick to my agnostic home group, with only occasional forays into traditional AA.

  13. Lisa M. says:

    This is my favorite part of this super well written essay : White describes recovery in AA as a process of “identity reconstruction” that involves, among other things, the “ritual retelling” of our personal stories. “The recitation seems to serve as a life-saving incantation that quells cravings and compulsions. And story telling, in its need for an audience, links the alcoholic to others” (p. 145-147). On the itunes sobercast podcast I have listened to dozens of these (tapes of convention and meeting speakers) and almost all have the speaker enthralled with their drunkalogue saying “I will get sober soon” (about the last 5 % of the talk). This quote puts a name on this!

  14. Cameron F. says:

    The italics in the Twelve Steps are permits for provoking an independent understanding of the strength(s) essential to recovery, and are particular to the person taking them. Doorknobs still work.

    Additionally, by following the suggestion on page 84 to quit fighting, I can now take that misdirected energy and expend it toward a richer recovery experience.

    AA saved my life, and is making the world a better place.

  15. Bob K says:

    An impressive essay.

    Traditional AA’s biggest problem is inconsistency. That’s the kindest view of things. As Marc C. has pointed out in his comment, there’s a fundamental dishonesty about it all. “Let’s pretend that we’re not religion (or religious) because that’s yucky. Spirituality, on the other hand is delicious — yummy, yum, yum !!”

    “Oh yeah, and spirituality is COMPLETELY different!”

    The more simple-minded see religion as the church on the corner. AA’s delightful news is that we don’t have to go to church, except in the sense that we are very much our own church. As annoying as all this is, I can live with it for myself without flipping out. I am a regular participant in conventional AA.

    It does drive me crazy that intelligent newcomers arrive in AA with serious drinking (and life) problems, and see through our little “Let’s pretend this isn’t religion” charade. We will now close with the very spiritual and not at all religious “Lord’s Prayer.” As my friend Bobby Beach would say “Are you freaken kiddin’ me???!!!”

    I’ll have a go later at the questions posed.

  16. James B. says:

    Well written with prohibitive intellectual curiosity. Dares to ask questions beyond dogmatists capacity to reason. Ours is a path eminently more satisfying beyond the simpleton’s answer.

  17. Pat N. says:

    Good essay, Dean – clear and thoughtful. I guess we all ponder what will happen to AA if it clings to old and irrational religious ideas. All we can do (ODAAAT) is to keep doing what works, personally and as secular groups. We are having some influence, as more secular material appears belatedly in the AA catalog and as individual traditional groups become more tolerant. The “Lord’s Prayer” is being dropped by many traditional groups around here, and being replaced by the Responsibility Pledge.

    And thanks for helping start a new secular group! That’s part of the answer.

  18. Mark P. says:

    I have wrestled with the god thing for 22 years and have to acknowledge that traditional and tolerant AA (in the UK) has kept me sober despite my atheism. So whats the big deal? I am pleased AA Agnostica is out there, but let’s not let this become another crusade. At the end of the day AA is an honourable decent organisation that intends no harm. My only experience of non secular AA in the UK was not good as the leader of that group was on an anti AA crusade. He was another kind of tub-thumper. I hope AA Agnostica takes off in the UK and works happily alongside AA as a whole as part of the natural evolution of a vital weapon in the battle against alcoholism.

    • Pat N. says:

      I’ve had the good fortune to attend many traditional and a few secular meetings in the UK, Mark, and I get what you’re saying. Regular meetings there are far less “godly” than in the U.S., so I doubt there will ever be many secular meetings. I think that just reflects different cultural histories. Aside from our briefer history as a nation, we have always had noisy subgroups with adamant opinions on religious matters. The UK, it seems to me, despite an official national religion, is far less “religious” in general. Your magnificent cathedrals and wonderful village churches seem nearly vacant, as the millions of “nones” troop off to the football pitch, to their gardens, and to the pub.

  19. Gail says:

    This article sings my song! I couldn’t find any part of it I did not feel was right on the button. I have stopped going to the one meeting that I attended each week because I just couldn’t hear all the god and miracle talk any more. I will have six years this month so I will probably go and pick up a chip but I don’t expect to visit very often. Thank you Dean for writing this. When I send this I will be forwarding your post to a few people.

    Again, thank you.
    Gail l

  20. Mark C. says:

    Three thumbs up for this essay, Dean W! It raises several big, longer ranged questions. Thank you sir.

    It is easy enough for “secular folks” to flee conventional AA and form our own ghettos, if you will. In many cases, to do so might be deemed as absolutely necessary.

    If we are “out of sight,” away from contact with conventional AA, then we might as well not exist, in many respects.

    The claim “we are spiritual, not religious,” so often heard in “AA” is one of the most intellectually dishonest claims made in a Fellowship made up of people who would not ordinarily mix together, eh? Cognitive dissonance is a feature of the tapestry it seems. In Texas we have a saying for such tripe: “Don’t piss on my back and tell me it’s raining.” 🙂

  21. John L. says:

    An excellent and thoughtful article. At the end, Dean poses six questions. I don’t know the answers. Time will tell.

  22. Jeff P. says:

    To me it is this simple: in the AA paradigm, we are asked to accept that only some omnipresent, omnipowerful deity can save us from the “disease” of alcoholism. If this be so, we must necessarily accept that this same all-powerful entity created an incurable, life-destroying malady, infected us with it, let us flounder until the disease had destroyed our lives, and then, after reducing us to a groveling mess, stepped in at the very last minute, to take away our suffering. And you think I’m entrusting my sobriety to that? Would you be interested in a nice parcel of lunar real estate I have for sale?

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