Friday, October 24, 2014

Don't Tell,edited by Roger C.

Don't Tell: Stories and Essays by Agnostics and Atheists in AA, edited by Roger C.      Toronto: AA Agnostica, 2014. 
ebook, 368 pps.

     It took me a bit to realize that the first word in the title is the word "Don't" followed by the word "Tell." It seems to me that I read it wrong. I read "Don." I couldn't figure out who "Don" was but I got the book anyway. I was glad that I did.

     Don't Tell divides up the stories and essays into ten parts. These ten parts are, in order of appearance, In The Rooms, 12 Steps, Book Reviews, Founders of We Agnostics in 1980 (Hollywood), Lord's Prayer, Many Paths to Recovery, Early History, An AA Pamphlet for Agnostics and Atheists, Controversy in The New Millennium, and Moving Forward. Each section has between two and eleven stories or essays in it. The construction of the book was logical. And the material was highly readable.

     There was a bit of new information for me in Don't Tell. I hadn't known the name of the atheist salesman who got drunk. [Jim Burwell held on to his atheism and his sobriety for the rest of his life. Bill overstates his case for Jim's change in beliefs in the Big Book]. I didn't know that Bill W. gave permission for the first Buddhist A.A. groups to re-write the steps to fit in with their atheism [Some Buddhists are atheists and some are not. The first groups referred to apparently were]. (p.23)

     Nor was I aware of how the designation "Conference approved" is being used to de-list freethinker A.A. groups from various Intergroups' meeting lists. (p. 97). The info about the protracted fight to get the Literature Committee to produce and publish a pamphlet tentatively titled "AA - Spiritual Not Religious" for newer agnostic AA members and those who are religious who wish to understand more about those of us non-believers who are achieving long-term sobriety (pp. 273 - 276) was news to me. [N.B. I read somewhere that the Literature Committee has finally produced a pamphlet about "alternative spiritual paths" which should be coming out at the end of 2014 and which does not include atheists or agnostics. ~ sr].

     The best parts of Don't Tell for me were some A.A. history that I didn't know about along with finding some essays by agnostic and/or atheist members with long-term sobriety.

sapphoq reviews says: Roger C. has done a fine job of editing Don't Tell. I especially appreciated the non-judgmental tone taken toward believers in Alcoholics Anonymous. This book is written for those of us in recovery who have found ways to remain in recovery without recognizing any gods. Believers in recovery who are not threatened by the subject matter (and who understand that there is zero evidence of any attempts by anyone in the book to de-convert them) may also be interested in reading this book. Professional helpers within various rehab structures which use the twelve steps as a basis for treatment ought to be urged to read Don't Tell. Highly recommended.



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