change

Non-Theists in Alcoholics Anonymous

“God” is mentioned a little over one hundred and thirty times in the AA Twelve-and-Twelve book, a book that lays out all the steps with in-depth commentary about the meaning of those steps.

There can be little doubt that the co-founders of AA, Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith, were deeply steeped in the 1930s orthodox Christian notion of that God.

In all of the AA literature, God is always male. And “He” is portrayed as an intervener, a grace-giver, a miracle-worker, a creator, and a caring, non-judgmental patriarch. Hell and Heaven may be absent from the literature, but an activist, intervening divinity is vividly present as a kind of divine co-partner and activist healer of the recovering alcoholic and addict. Continue reading

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Impermanence

If Life is Impermanent, Why Bother? Seize the Day

The reality of impermanence has always seemed a no-brainer to me. People and animals come into existence; they live out their lives; and then they die. Or, in the words of the bumper-sticker, “Life’s a bitch, and then you die”

More importantly, my own experiences with memorial services, funerals, hospice, suicides, emergency rooms, psych wards, and drug and alcohol rehabs have helped me to understand the fragility of life.

On the other hand, I was recently confronted with someone’s concern that, in being aware of life’s impermanence, there may be a hidden agenda to “glorify” it as a license for moral relativism, an excuse to bow out of commitments and responsibilities. After all, if nothing in this world is permanent, why bother to be loyal, to love, to be grounded in anything?

The ancient carpe diem (“seize-the-day”) philosophy was certainly based on the notion that, since the world and its pleasures are finite, we should wring from life every moment of pleasure we can get. Continue reading

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Poem, “Change”

You will, of course, change.
We all know it.

From ragged-edged coat,
Smelling of beer and car oil,
Tested every day
In the blustery wind, near
Old, dank harbors,

To rose-odored concert-goer,
Your main of hair
Waving with each breath
Of lush spring air,
Not wild as the wolf,
But tender, as the pliant,
Nipple-sated child.

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