For every movement and idea, there will always be skeptics and even contrarians. AA and the 12 Steps are no exception. AA has been called a 'cult,' which is pretty hilarious considering that it is probably one of the loosest associations of human beings the world has ever seen.
So, a friend sent me a link to an anti-AA documentary movie still in production. The producer is still trying to raise funds. At first, it seemed pretty intriguing. She even interviewed a former member of AA's World Services board, who was critical of how AA deals with sexual predators who come to AA meetings. As with most issues, the Board simply leaves group discipline to the local groups. For some, that is not enough (personally, I think AA should come out and tell members that if you are the victim of a crime or being stalked by an AA member, call the police).
Yes, AA is an open association, and it is made up of as many unsavory characters as there are in our overall society. AA isn't 'safe' because there is nowhere 'safe' these days. Churches are much the same way: nobody is checking IDs at the door. Only now are most churches running background checks on their volunteers and employees, though this is far from universal.
The documentary was also critical of something which I think is also a major problem: the courts are ordering all kinds of criminals to attend AA meetings even though they are not willing to get sober. It is flooding meetings with unwilling people who do not agree with AA's principles. How are people supposed to be honest in a room with a bunch of unwilling participants. Yes, there are closed meetings, and there are also meetings where court cards are not signed (listen to the scrape of chairs followed by the tidal wave of newcomers hitting the door when that is announced), but vast majority are 'open.'
My opinion is that all 12 Step groups (I believe SA does not have open meetings, and you are 'screened' before they give you a directory) should stop participating in court-ordered sign-in cards. The courts can do what they want, but groups need to stay focused on group recovery. If necessary, sign cards at speaker meetings or introductory presentations, but not the average group.
Well, I decided to contact the producer and ask her to specify what reforms she wants to see from AA World Services, since she is demanding 'reform' but didn't specify what exactly she wants them to do. In two emails, she hasn't been able to formulate a single, specific action. That sent up red flags in my head.
A reformer who demands reform but can't name one must have another motive. She sent me a link to her blog, and so I checked it out. It turns out she left AA for one of the 'no God' recovery groups, and she is maaaaaaaaaaad at AA in principle. She does not want 'this cult' reformed, she wants it gone. Her version of reform is like urban renewal through carpet bombing.
After wading through a bunch of obscenities and profanity, I realized that her 'sobriety,' or at least her criticism of AA and the 12 Steps, was based on rage. That's where the red flags came from.
Anger and rage are simply too dangerous. I don't mind principled disagreement. I'm not here to force anyone into the Orthodox Church or the 12 Steps. I believe they are for everyone, but they don't work if you are unwilling. In fact, they can make you miserable if you are unwilling or just want them to think for you. They both require synergy.
You can stay abstinent on rage, and you don't need any groups to encourage you. I have seen it with my own eyes. But, in principle, someone who is doing something with rage as a motivation is letting their emotions get the best of them, and they certainly are not happy people. Anger and happiness are not bed-fellows. You cannot have peace while cultivating hatred.
I pressed the eject button on life without God because my own rage, hostility, fear, and loathing were killing me. Literally. My basic rule of daily life is to avoid hostile people unless absolutely necessary, and avoid those situations which tempt me to hostility. When I get angry, I know I am wrong even if I am 'right' to be furious.
As you poke around the interwebs, you too may discover a Raging Blogger, since there are any number of blogs with angry people spilling out their venom. Pray for their peace, and perhaps learn from the constructive things they have to say, but do not share in their disquiet. It is an unpleasant illness to be filled with indignation.
Despite her pleadings, I'm not going to share this bloggers blog or her project, because she has not answered my simple question about what reforms she wants to see. Shouting 'reform!' is not enough. My sense is that her avoidance of my question indicates another agenda.
There are lots of folks these days who are good at manipulation. If they are holding back some cards, then you know they are playing a game, and they are seriously playing it. You need to figure out if you are a gambler, and, if so, what the stakes are. Otherwise, you might be getting played...