“We’re Spiritual, Not Religious.” “Oh. Please!!”
By Bobby Beach
In order to resolve a debate about words, it seems wise that we consult an authority on words. Peter Mark Roget was a young physician when he assembled a collection of synonyms in 1805. His thesaurus was eventually printed in 1852. Those dates confirm that Roget’s Thesaurus is a very old book, unlike publications from more recent years like 2018, or 1939. Not being divinely inspired, Monsieur Roget’s book is revised with every new printing.
Many of us know intuitively that the words “spiritual” and “religious” are worlds apart, one being yummy and delicious, while the other is yucky. Let’s consult Dr. Roget:
- “spiritual” – sacred, divine, holy, non-secular, church, ecclesiastical, devotional and (in bold print) religious
- “religious” – ecclesiastical, church, churchy, holy, divine, sacred, and (in bold print) spiritual
As any fool can plainly see, the order of the synonyms is entirely different! Furthermore, only “religious” is called “churchy.”
But aren’t most of the synonyms exactly the same for both words? What’s the deal with that, Bobby Beach?
Look, this Roget guy probably wasn’t even an alcoholic, let alone a “real” alcoholic who would need to take all 12 Steps to recover. If he was, he wouldn’t be breaking his anonymity at the level of press, radio, and thesauruses, or thesauri, or whatever! “Roget” is his last name, right? Anyway, there is plenty of other evidence that we AA folks are “spiritual, not religious.”
Nameless AA had its genesis in the Oxford Group, a totally non-denominational organization. Apart from accepting Jesus H. Christ as their personal savior, worshiping the Bible and the Ten Commandments, and waging war against sin, they were almost totally non-religious. Frank Buchman, founder of the group was a former Lutheran minister. I stress “former” because lots of spiritual people used to be religious before being led to God by learning that religion is yucky and spirituality is yummy.
“Religion is for people who are afraid of going to Hell, while spirituality is for those who have been there.”
But, Bobby Beach, most of the world’s religious people don’t believe in Hell. Fewer and fewer Christians buy into the “fire and brimstone” narrative. The Progressive Movement started ages ago. Besides that, the whole “I’ve been to Hell” thing smacks of self-centeredness and self-pity. Aren’t “recovered” alcoholics supposed to move past all of that “Poor me” stuff?
Do you want me to sponsor you or not?? What’s with you, Man? Why are you giving me a hard time? Do you think Roger C. opens up the vault and pays me for writing this schlock? Just play along, okay? Where was I? Oh yeah, the Buchmanites.
Alcoholics Anonymous sprang for the very spiritual Oxford Group. Just because Frank Buchman had an ambition to get Adolf Hitler to accept Jesus Christ as his personal savior – in a spiritual way, and totally not in a religious way – some judgmental people thought he was an egomaniac. Reinhold Neibuhr, penner of the Serenity Prayer, called Buchman a megalomaniac. As we all know, Megalomania is not a Christian denomination.
Lutheranism? Check. Methodism? Check. Mormonism? Maybe. Megalomania? Nope. Nein. Non. Nyet. No sirree, Bob! Frank Buchman had his picture on the cover of Time Magazine in the 1930s. The article inside was about cults, and Buchman and his people got lambasted. Christianity isn’t a cult. Buchman operated a cult. Therefore, the Oxford Group wasn’t a Christian organization. It’s Logic 101, Kid.
You seem to be implying that being in Christianity is worse than being in a cult. Is that really what you’re saying, Bobby?
Draw your own conclusions, my good man. I just lay out the facts for your consideration. We talk a lot in AA about letting go of resentments. That’s normally a good idea but the religion of your childhood, exes, and a few other things get a pass. Hate away and bad-mouth that shit ’til the day you die.
The Lawd’s Pray-uh
Mean-spirited, God-hating atheists are consistently whining that the use of the Lord’s Prayer in AA meetings is entirely inappropriate. Those dissidents and chronic malcontents offer the spurious claim that reciting the Lord’s Prayer in AA contradicts our clearly expressed policy of non-alliance and non-affiliation.
To that I counter with: “Boo hoo hoo. Boo freaken hoo!! Cry me a river, savages.”
Although Emmett Fox called the Lawd’s Pray-uh “Christianity’s Number One document,” and although Fox did a clause-by-clause analysis showing that the prayer expressed the principal tenets (that’s “principle tenants” for you Facebookers) of the Christian faith, I ask, “Was Fox an alcoholic?” Other clergymen – notably, Billy Graham – have said much the same thing. So what? Not a damned one of those preachers was alcoholic?
For the truth, I suggest we turn to the legendary Sandy Beach who anonymously authored the “WHITE PAPER ON THE MATTER OF AA ATHEIST/AGNOSTIC GROUPS AND RELATED CONCERNS.”
Here’s what a real alcoholic has to say about this: “I especially didn’t like the Lord’s Prayer. I was told to keep an open mind and eventually I would come to love it. This turned out to be true as it was for all the others who didn’t like the prayer. We come to love it as AA’s prayer… When I sometimes attend church with a friend and the Lord’s Prayer is recited, I think to myself, ‘Why, they are using our prayer.'”
You’ve got to be freaken kidding, Bobby Beach!!!! There’s no way he really spewed that ridiculous tripe!!!!
Read it for yourself, Grasshopper. And get your own tagline. I’m in the process of getting “freaken” trademarked as a Bobby Beach exclusive.
William James and Becoming Your Own Pope
“Beliefs were ways of acting with reference to a precarious environment, and to say that they were true was to say they (were efficacious) in this environment.” (Pragmatism, Bruce Kuklick, p. xiv) William James defined true beliefs as those that prove useful to the believer.
Spirituality offers a tremendous benefits package compared to old school religion with all its “Thou shalt not’s.” The fact that there’s no going to church is awesome in itself – sleeping in, Sunday brunch, golfing on 100% more weekend mornings, no damned hymns. The list could go on and on. Spirituality is much less expensive. Don’t even get me started on tithing!
Religion has rules, and rules, and more rules. Truckloads more. The restrictions interfering with your sex life alone are unbelievable! Let’s say you want to sleep with a movie star, and he or she is drunk enough to be willing. There are like 42 rules against that. It’s sinful, etc.! With spirituality, you ask God directly what to do and He responds in a voice that sounds much like your own: “Go for it!!”
Spirituality is awesome! It’s personal. Instead of consulting with your minister, priest, rabbi, or bishop – you decide. Instead of consulting some ancient texts from way before 1939 – you make your own ruling. Just you and God. It’s like you’re the freaken Pope of your own freaken spirituality. I even bought myself a pointy hat and some robes. Accessorize that with an upscale Covid mask, and you’re looking pretty hot! Feel free to get creative. An added bonus is that my self-esteem has skyrocketed as the direct result of looking down on religious people.
What’s that funny smell, Bobby Beach?
That my friend is the sweet aroma of the legal free weed provided to all senior citizens by the Canadian government. I love you Justin Trudeau!! Have a hit, Kid – you’re a little uptight. And remember: “We do not want to be the arbiter of anyone’s sex conduct.”
Should you be smoking that stuff?
Why not? I’m the freaken Pope!!
Bobby Beach is an atheist, sober almost three decades in AA. He sees himself as not at all anti-AA, but definitely and unapologetically anti-Thumper. He likes to focus on tales of groups who help drunks through human connection and the principle of one drunk helping the next. On the other hand, he also likes to write about Freaken Big Book Fundamentalists Who Hate Freaken Everything!