My Faithlessness: The atheist way through AA
Six of AA's 12 steps explicitly refer to God, a Higher Power, or He.
August 28th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Faithlessness: The atheist way through AA

Editor's note: Marya Hornbacher's latest book, "Waiting: A Nonbeliever’s Higher Power," explores what spirituality can mean to the recovering person who does not believe in God.

By Marya Hornbacher, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Kicked back with his boots on the table at the head of the smoke-dense room, the meeting's leader banged his fist and bellowed, “By the grace of this program and the blood of Jesus Christ, I’m sober today!”

I blinked.

This was not an auspicious beginning for the project of getting my vaguely atheistic, very alcoholic self off the sauce.

I wondered if perhaps I’d wandered into the wrong room. I thought maybe I’d wound up in Alcoholics Anonymous for crown-of-thorn Christians, and in the next room might find AA for lapsed Catholics, and downstairs a group for AA Hare Krishnas and one for AA Ukrainian Jews.

But a decade later, I’ve become aware that 12-step programs are home to people from every religion, denomination, sect, cult, political tilt, gender identity, sexual preference, economic strata, racial and ethnic background, believers in gun rights and abortion rights and the right to home schooling, drinkers of coffee and tea, whiskey and mouthwash, people who sleep on their sides or their stomachs or sidewalks.

Anyone who cares to sober up, in other words, can give it a shot the 12-step way.  The official preamble Alcoholics Anonymous states: "The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

And millions of people want that and find a way to do it in this program. I’m one of them. I was, not to put too fine a point on it, a raging drunk. Now I’m not.

It wasn’t magic; it was brutally hard work to get from point A to B. I do believe I’d be dead without the help of the people and the structure of the steps in AA.

But I don’t believe in God.

And this can be something of a sticking point when you’re sitting in a meeting room, desperate for almost any route out of hell, and someone cites “the blood of Jesus” as the only way to go. Or when you realize that six of AA's 12 steps explicitly refer to God, a Higher Power or He.

But this shouldn't be a dealbreaker. I’m going to make a lot of old-style AA’s cranky with this, but it’s perfectly possible to sober up sans belief in God.

At first that wasn’t clear to me. It’s unclear to most people because AA has a reputation as a cult, a religion unto itself, a bunch of blathering self-helpers, a herd of lemmings or morons, and it isn’t those things, either. It’s a pretty straightforward series of steps, based on spiritual principles, that helps people clean up their lives in a whole lot of ways.

But if you are of an atheistic or strongly agnostic mindset, chances are you’ll walk into a meeting, see the steps hanging on the wall and want to scream, laugh or walk back out.

I tried another tack: I made a valiant attempt to believe. I figured a) these people were funny, kind, and not plastered; b) they believed that some kind of higher power had helped them get sober; c) they knew something I did not.

So I did research. I read every word of AA literature I could find. I read up on the history of half a dozen important religions and a wide variety of frou-frou nonsense. I earnestly discussed my lack of belief with priests, rabbis, fanatics and my father.

People told me their stories — of God, the divine, the power of love, an intelligent creator. Something that made all this. Some origin, some end.

I told them I believed in math. Chaos, I said. Infinity. That sort of thing.

They looked at me in despair.

And not infrequently, they said, “So you think you’re the biggest, most important thing in the universe?”

On the contrary. I think I am among the smallest. Cosmically speaking, I barely exist.

Like anything else, I came into being by the chance, consist mostly of water, am composed of cells that can be reduced and reduced, down to the quarks and leptons and so forth, that make up matter and force. If you broke down all matter, the atom or my body, you’d arrive at the same thing: what scientists call one strange quark, with its half-integer spin.

And I find that not only fascinating but wondrous, awe-inspiring and humbling.

I believe that the most important spiritual principle of AA is humility. The recognition that we are flawed, that we can and must change and that our purpose not only in sobriety but in life is to be of service to others.

I believe that I exist at random, but I do not exist alone; and that as long as my quarks cohere, my entire function on this hurtling planet is to give what I can to the other extant things.

That keeps me sober. Amen.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Marya Hornbacher.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief

soundoff (3,939 Responses)
  1. Jason

    I guess CNN is now quickly becoming the Fox News of the left. I understand that atheism is all cool right now, kinda like a Justin Beiber of the religious world, but is this really news?

    August 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Is the Pope really news either?

      August 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • john

      Justyion beiber is more interesting than a god, mostly because justin beiber actually exists and god is imaginary. Although both are lame.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Jason

      Not really, but all this constant outspoken atheism is just another cool thing for smug RichardHeads to me.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Jason

      But isn't Justin Beiber's talent also imaginary?

      August 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Amistavia

      Maybe you can pray away articles like this? Surely your faith isn't lacking, is it?

      August 28, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Joost Schuur

      No, it's an opinion piece written on their religion blog. And it happened to be linked from the front page for diversity.

      CNN makes no claims that everything on their cnn.com domain name is news that everyone needs to know. Diversity of content and opinion allows people to broaden their minds.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  2. fredgreene

    i guess marya missed the part in the meetings where they talk about "personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, tv, and films."

    August 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • God

      Apparently that wasn't important to her, Freddie. But I still love her...and you, too.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Peace2All

      And... that makes her experiences/opinions, etc... any less tangible and real, how exactly...?



      August 28, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • sam

      I guess you missed the part where that's already been commented on about 50 times or so, each dumber than the last.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
    • fredgreene

      well Peace2, it shows that her knowledge of the subject of her own book is sub-par at best. this really is akin to one claiming to have foreign policy experience because of their proximity to a foreign country...

      August 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Peace2All


      You Said: " Well @Peace2, it shows that her knowledge of the subject of her own book is sub-par at best. this really is akin to one claiming to have foreign policy experience because of their proximity to a foreign country..."

      How specifically does her talking in the media about her experiences, *show* that the knowledge of her own book is sub-par at best...?

      You are making a very big assumption here, -fred.

      Again, her writing a book and talking to the media to relate her 'direct' and 'tangible' experiences, is not, in any way negated, because of her communications with the media.

      You are making an assumption 'as if' that somehow 'invalidates' the "reality" and truth of her experiences.

      And as far as your analogy, i.e...foreign policy... She wasn't just in proximity, she was directly living within the foreign country itself. Had to learn to speak the language, learn the customs, the culture...and... find a way to live, and survive...and... get sobriety as an 'atheist.'

      Important to note that one doesn't have to believe in God to get sober.

      In essence, fred, there is no relevant causal connection to support your assertions, however, I'll check in from time to time to see if you can further elaborate on your posting.

      Thanks for the discussion !



      August 30, 2011 at 3:34 am |
  3. Bo

    ===========@Fred1.6:00================== A pro lifer doesn't necessarly have to be a Christian. Even an atheist can be a pro lifer. These are people who believe life begans a conception. I believe all life begans at conception, even plant life. I say this because there was one pro choice person who tried to say if you have an apple seed you don't have an apple tree, but that's not true. In side every fertalized seed is a leaf, a stem and a root, that makes a complete plant. The life is in the seed, it just needs to be planted in the soil to complete growing..The same with a fetus. A complete body, but not ready for birth. Don't mis understand me killing a plant is not murder. If you were to kill, on purpose, all the fetus of a cattlemam's herd, believe me, you have commited a crime. If you were to destroy a farmer's seed on purpose, again, you have commited a crime. Why shouldn't be a crime to kill an unborn human baby?

    August 28, 2011 at 7:01 pm |
    • Dog

      And some people believe life begins after college graduation. And some people believe life begins after church lets out. And some people life begins when the inheritance check arrives. We all see things differently.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  4. Max

    Interesting article and I am glad you are sober! Just curious what are your thoughts on AA's tradition 11? "Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films..."

    August 28, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Realist

      Those with alcohol problems need to seek out proper medical attention. Alcoholism is not a disease. it is a mask for a much larger problem that needs addressing. AA methods are simply another escape, complicating matters worse.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • An Anonymous Alcoholic

      Realist, alcoholism is usually a hereditary condition, proven by studies at the University of Wisconsin and also a university in Sweden whose name escapes me. Seek medical help for it, and you are likely going to be referred to AA, which is recognized by the medical professions as a viable treatment. Some alcoholics do have other problems besides alcoholism that require treatment, but AA is complimentary to other treatments. Many alcoholics do not require other programs, therapies, or treatments. They become sober and live productive lives. AA is not a hindrance, it does not compliment matters, and it certainly is not an escape, since the first thing it does is make the alcoholic face his/her problems and resolve to do something about them.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • An Anonymous Alcoholic

      *it does not complicate matters*. Please pardon the typo.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Ryan

      I enjoyed this article; however it is a clear violation of the traditions of the fellowship. The autor's personal experience with AA should not be made public. What if the author were to relapse tomorrow and this became public news? Then it appears that AA does not work and could dissuade somebody from trying the fellowship. There is a reason there are 12 traditions in addition to the 12 steps; it is how the fellowship has survived over 75 years.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • peter_g

      Thank you

      August 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Ed

      The 11th Tradition was the first thing I thought of as I began reading this article. Also, I believe, the second part of the 10th Tradition is being disrespected: "Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy." By its nature, this article invites public controversy. I think the author's personal issues with a higher power should remain personal, to be discussed with a sponsor or other AA members, either in meetings or outside meetings. I treasure my sobriety. For that reason I respect the steps and traditions. Period.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • sam

      What, exactly, does it matter? Why don't you all turn her in to AA, maybe she'll get a good talking to. Shut the hell up about it already!

      August 28, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Realist

      Dysfunctional families is the underlying commonality, not genetics. Chemical disorders are a result of physical changes to the brain. The pleasure disorders as some universities claim are many times as I indicated. All after the fact; the real diagnosis missed.

      August 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  5. itoldyouso10

    As an athiest, I can relate to this article so much (not as an alcholic though). I have had to put up with religion being forced upon me for so long and how frustrating that can be. I am SO glad she mentioned views on physics, as in the end, it's what is correct. It's very refreshing to read an article that supports your views and reminds you there are other's out there with your view points. Marya Hornbacher, Great job!

    August 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  6. Sam

    That must have been a difficult experience for her. I'm not an alcoholic, and I've never been to AA, but I'm sure I would not appreciate insulting comments like “So you think you’re the biggest, most important thing in the universe?” simply because I do not believe in god(s). I thought the point of AA was to help people stop drinking - not evangelize religion. So much for support.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  7. An Anonymous Alcoholic

    An alcoholic who is still drinking revolves around alcohol as thoroughly as any zealot revolves around any deity you can think of. Alcohol is their be-all and end-all. Alcoholics Anonymous teaches the alcoholic to replace the bottled deity with some other higher power, be it God or whatever else is greater than the alcoholic. Many people who are atheist or agnostic have gotten sober and stayed sober by replacing the bottle they worshiped with a philosophy (AA is a philosophy, by the by, a way of looking at Life and Being), with the wisdom of the group or even of humanity in general, with whatever works for them. Many others either turn to a religion they had been raised in or they find one for themselves. What is important is they all, atheist, agnostic, or believer in God(s) stay sober and repair their lives. Like the lady says, it takes humility. Not all succeed, humility is misunderstood and downplayed by today's society, and for all it takes work to truly acquire humility, but many do succeed. As we say in AA, it works if you work it.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Lee

      I also tried Al Anon in the early 90's, trying to understand my alcoholic husband. The religion part of Al-Anon was something I struggled with also, as I was not raised in a religious home. I found great support and acceptance despite this and was able to work the steps in my own way. I find it so distressing that supposedly "Christian" people have so much hate for people who do not feel the same way they do. Atheists are the last minority that are OK to hate, how sad.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @An Anonymous Alcoholic

      From the article: " I believe that the most important spiritual principle of AA is *humility*. The recognition that we are *flawed* "

      In the last part of your posting you talk about how important humility is. I'm curious for you to elaborate a bit as to how recognizing that somehow we are 'flawed' human beings, somehow is the most important thing...?

      It still smacks to me of the whole "original sin" notion that a lot of hard-core Christians believe in.

      I've never found that notion that we are 'broken' or 'flawed' to be useful whatsoever.

      Enlighten me... again, sincerely curious.



      August 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • An Anonymous Alcoholic

      @ Peace2All: Believe me, an alcoholic is usually about as self-centered a person as you will ever meet. Before we can get and stay sober, we have to have the humility to actually admit the fact we are alcoholics, and then have the humility to accept help. Hitting bottom usually takes us down enough pegs to realize we actually have problems with drinking (you'd be surprised how many drunken days and nights can pass before an alcoholic actually starts to even consider there just might be a problem, the rationalizations are amazingly strong and persistent), but then there's actually asking for help and doing what is suggested. Not easy for this old alkie and most of my fellow alcoholics. My own life had to pound it into me that I'm not always right. Has not one thing to do with original sin, by the by. You don't have to have any religious beliefs to have a screwed up life, through drinking or other problems.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @An Anonymous Alcoholic

      Thanks for your opinions.



      August 28, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  8. Michael

    Lots of words, lots of thoughts. She's right. God is not a necessary part of our lives some of us think he is and that's alright to.
    The life we live today is just a prelude until the next, the one that counts. So it really doesn't matter what we say or think in this life. You can look forward to the next. Call it heaven/paradise whatever it's for all and that's no bull!

    August 28, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  9. Rocky

    Marya: The beautiful thing about God, and about America is that you get to enjoy free will. Just like you have the free will to pick up a drink, or the free will to remain sober. I would like to go on record publicly as both a recovering alcoholic and a strong believer in the higher power. The reason I believe is not because someone told me to, or forced me to out of fear. It is because in my own wretchedness when I reached out to the light, to the father of us all, to the one who created us, he answered back. Yes, he answered back. Now I have seen to much in my life not to believe. I have experienced his touch, his embrace and his intervention too many times to just call it chance. You have chosen to finish the rest of your life under your own power. I have chosen to finish the rest under the power of the Holy Spirit. The beauty of the gift is that you are free not to believe anything, without force. Enjoy that gift. I wish you well. May God abundantly bless you. He believes in you, even if you don't believe in him.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • In Reason I Trust

      Rocky, have you ever noticed that every single night, when you dream, you believe it's real. That is what is happening when you "feel" God. The mind is fully capable of creating this delusion. Forget that "Free Will" nonsense the church tells you, that's to explain away evil existing in a universe that has an all powerful all loving god. You've been able to overcome your addiction using a delusion, just get pass the delusion and overcome it with a clear mind.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  10. Realist

    What is known for sure; AA have virtually 1% success rate. 50% drop out and drink, and 49% still go to meetings. If they had any success, then the 49% wouldn't still be going to meetings.

    Alcoholism IS NOT a disease. It is however a mask for some greater concern. That is what needs to be addressed and AA has no concept. AA exists because they get lots of tax dollars, that simple. If AA will do anything for you, they will rob your personality. You will forever be challenged by the fear of 'just one drink'. You are better and stronger than AA, get help through proper medical channels. You will be much happier or go through life as a half human.

    Doing it right means the need for alcohol will diminish and you will be care-free about it.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • David C.

      Once again you prove the old adage "don't believe what you read on the InterWebs."

      August 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Albert

      AA gets tax money? Not sure where you got that notion but you are incorrect.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Realist

      Grant money.. our tax dollars

      August 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Coffee

      @Realist: if it were as simple as "being stronger", AA wouldn't be around, nor any alcoholics. I can't say whether you are an alcoholic, are in recovery, or have never had an issue with alcohol. Unless you have experienced the depth of alcoholism yourself, you may want to throw your stones elsewhere. If you are a recovering alcoholic and were able to find a solution outside of AA, that's great. But it's somewhat arrogant of you to assume your personal life experience applies to all others.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Serenity

      Realist – AA is self-supporting. That is the 7th tradition. Alcoholics support AA because AA works for them. Just because you don't believe something doesn't mean that it doesn't work for others.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • simon

      grant money? wrong again. you obviously have no idea what you are talking about.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
  11. pigfarmer

    All I can say is that I know nothing for sure. I was raised religious but with time and observation I have come to understand the reasons for religion and a god. We want the wheat to grow or for the storms of life to pass us by. We want success and safety. We worship idols of all sorts in the hope there will be some intervention rather than having to accept responsibility for our own fate. Alas it is futile never-the-less we persist because like the pigeon pecking for a food pellet the random reward as we observe it serves to reinforce our belief. I don't know whether we are "hard-wired" to believe in a god but I suspect we understand we must accept the reality of our having a place among all creatures and things for which we can be responsible.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • MissGrundy

      Very nicely put, pigfarmer.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  12. xpaperdude

    I applaud the author's sobriety. AA encourages a higher power as we know. When we think of a higher power of course we think of God. Many folks have used cars, boats, their motorcycle, even Elvis as their higher power. Obviously those folks for reasons maybe as the author chose an alternative higher power. The point being, whatever works to achieve and maintain sobriety.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  13. Brian A

    That was anti-climactic. Is it a three parter or am I missing a link to another page??? The way this was presented, I thought I was going to read something about how she actually works the program not believing in any sort of higher power. Instead, she just said she doesn't believe the same, this is what I believe, done. Did she get bored a paragraph in and move on to something else?? It would seem, that CNN could have gotten at least someone to write a complete article. That was a waste of a heading.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • me

      Agreed. I too was looking for the next page. Glad she's sober and all, but to me it looks like a rather half hearted attempt at 15 minutes of fame.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  14. Steven Kuchinsky

    Since the author believes in evolution – as do I – I invite her to consider this: Each fetus goes through more or less the evolutionary steps that humankind has gone through. This suggests that we have imbedded in us on an experiential level the various evolutionary stages leading up to humankind, starting with a one-celled creature.

    And it well may be that we have imbedded within us the evolutionary path preceding even that. If indeed we can have within us the evolutionary steps starting with cosmic creation – from nothingness into everything that IS, to open up to the part of our hearts and minds that experience this is to reestablish our connection with the oneness from which we came. HOW we came from nothing into everything is something that science does not comprehend but the latest theories of science do believe that is what happened. It doesn't matter whether you call this reconnection God or not (without the religious conceptual dogma which I find has much destructiveness in it). The important thing is that experiencing this oneness connects ourselves to all that is around us. We love our neighbor as ourselves to the extent that we experience our neighbor as being connected to ourselves. Please do not allow human conceptual distortion of this oneness prevent you from allowing an ever deepening experiential appreciation of the infinity that you do believe in. You sound like a good person to me just as you are and more moral than many religious people.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • D-Rob

      You do realize that the whole "fetus goes through evolutionary stages" was disproved as a hoax long ago, don't you?

      August 28, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Dr.K.

      Not necessarily a hoax, I don't think, but found to be incorrect. Science has that built-in quality of being self-correcting – some people find that frustrating (to them it seems like scientists keep changing their minds), but it is one of the fundamental strengths of science. Scientific ideas are continually tested and are subject to being discarded or revised if they are not supported. This is what separates science from other more dogmatic ways of knowing.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  15. Jennifer Salome

    I really like this article. You people that keep ripping on her about her non-belief are doing exactly what 'satan' wants you to do. Besides, you won't make her believe in anything she doesn't feel for herself. If Jesus was here, he would accept her for who she is. Sadly, a lot of the responses here are anything but 'Christian.' She should be applauded for being sober however she was able to accomplish it. Stop judging.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Sherri

      I can relate. I went to an OA (Over Eater's Anonymous) meeting and ran into that. I had/have a big problem with that whole idea. In the end,I stopped going. Several reasons. I don't know why believers think that everyone HAS to believe the same way they do. We DO have freedom of thought, do we not? I don't have to believe the same thing as you do. I think AA and other groups like this could get more members, and thereby help more people if they could find a way to get around the whole god thing, and higher being.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  16. Taylor

    Though I admire how the author draws focus onto the issue, I thought this article extremely underwhelming. A problem was identified; namely, that AA does not make accommodations for non-believers. However, no solution or explanation was presented; there was simply a statement of the author's own beliefs in describing her struggle with alcoholism. Overall, it was highly unsatisfying.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  17. Bo

    =======@Tallulah.contined================= Almost everyone who believes in evolution believes the 'big bang' therory. But there are problems that are rarely mentioned because they would destroy the therory. It is said that at one time all the mass in the universe formed a very small neculas. this neculas was spinning a high rate of speed and exploded and formed the universe. The laws of physics says that if an spinng object explodes the particles that come off spin at in the same direction on the same plane. There are many stars spinning in the wrong direction and on a diffrent plane. Not to mention all the nebuli. Two planets in our solar system are spinning the wrong way as well as about 30 moons. Poof! There goes the big bang therory. You ought to hear the problems with the formation of the Grand Canyon.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Realist

      You've proved nothing.. We are small minds in a vast universe. Likely there are many universes. The bible states there are many gods.. Makse far more sense aliens created us, and we just don't know any better.

      Does a dog wonder how food gets into a can of dog food? Same holds true for the many limitations we have. One thing for sure; as humans we love to create stuff, especially when we need to get even. This is why more than one religion exists.

      However, no god has shown himself and the religious fear death. That makes, god, jesus, heaven and hell work for them? Yet none of these can be proven, without making up excuses as to why they don't.

      Face the delusion, become a human and care for one another.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • a person of the Name

      @ reallist.... what you talking about? The bible says the is only one God under Heaven. It does say that men may serve many gods but these are man made gods not God Himself. This is address to ppl who serve money, drugs and so on.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Realist

      Genesis 1:26
      And God said, let us make man in our image.
      Genesis 3:22
      And the Lord God said, Behold, then man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.
      Genesis 11:7
      Let us go down, and there confound their language.
      Exodus 12:12
      And against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment.
      Exodus 15:11
      Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods?
      Exodus 18:11
      Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Dave

      Bo, have you examined physics for yourself? If an object of great mass spins clockwise with a great force, any mass lost will spin counterclockwise. Now there are objects of great mass spinning counterclockwise, any mass lost from that will spin clockwise. Don't believe me? Does "science" say I am wrong? Examine physics, you will see that I am not.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • knels

      "Thou shalt have no other GODS before me". Doesn't say they don't exist (in fact it suggests they do exist). Simply requirers the Hebrew god to be first (among equals?).

      August 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
  18. Alex L Sober 21 years

    Does any one of you realize that this author violated the 12th tradition AA does not belong in this forum. Never bring it into public controversary. Call your sponsors.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • SB

      Never talk about Fight Club, eh? Wow.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Mr. Dis-ease

      That is what is great about AA, there is no one to enforce the rules....

      August 28, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • jefe

      She doesn't speak for AA; she shares her experience. There's a difference. AA has a website, no? AA has books available. AA enters into public media in these ways.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Dave H. sober 23 years

      In responce to Alex L: I was just going to post something in regards to the 12th tradition. This souldn't even be discussed in public. If the author wants to disclose her annonminty, that's her business, but bringing AA into public eye by having discussions like this shouldn't be happening. If she follows the 12th step program, believing in God or not, the 12th tradition clearly states AA should not enter into public controversy.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • sam

      I thought it was the 11th. That's all anyone's been ranting about on this article. Quit making it sound like Fight Club. And if it's such a big deal, send out the AA hit squad.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  19. Mr. Dis-ease

    Hi all, I am the disease that lives and rots your soul from the inside out. I have most of you right where I want you. Please keep denying my existence. I can wait. The longer the better, the sicker you become. I am here to take your life, slowly and completely. You go from the consuming to the consumed. Once shameless you will be shameful. Your fear of a higher power makes me your higher power....alcohol.

    Once you had hope, soon you will be hopeless. Where there was light there will only be darkness. Your pain will know no bounds. I will drive you into insanity, first slowly, then completely. I will watch patiently as you try and stop me from killing you. I will watch as you try in vein to first control your drinking, but to no avail. I will be there when you swear over and over that it will not happen again, but I will make sure you do. I am there when you try and swerve into on coming traffic, into a telephone pole just wanting the dread and pain to end. As you put the cold steel barrel to your forehead you realize you have been beaten and when the click of the trigger forces the pin into the cartridge you finally get the relief you wanted...... Still I will remain, to torment your families, friends and loved ones..... I never go away..... Love, Mr. Dis-ease...

    August 28, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • Answer

      What a thoughtful and kind post that was Mr.

      You really do need to put more fear in that advertisement of yourself.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Mr. Dis-ease

      Just laying out the reality of alcoholism my friend.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Jefe

      Dear Answer,

      He speaks the truth. Scary, I know. Go to an AA meeting, listen to some stories. Try to expand the boundaries of your intellect, let go of your ignorance and contempt for something that you wholly misunderstand.

      Talk to some doctors and psychiatrists who have dealt with addicts/alcoholics.

      Instead of providing us with so many cute, snarky quips, please, defile your perfect sense of self, come down from your ivory tower, dive in and find out more about the organization which has saved 2 million+ lives and counting. And saved many more from the extreme agony, anger, and despair of living with/loving an active alcoholic/addict.

      Go out into the streets where many of us lived before we came into the rooms. Take a look at the blank, dead eyes, or the agony of horrible depression, or the anger which thrives in our minds when we are intoxicated.

      Instead of claiming to be the Answer, go out and find some questions first, because you've clearly never had any about this subject (your pre/assumptions are profoundly unfortunate).

      August 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Answer

      I wasn't being confrontational as much as just being sarcastic.

      I don't need to read up on alcoholism. I have no use for alcohol.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Answer

      Jefe, just learn to know when you need to chill out.

      Don't always go on the offensive. Advice you probably need.

      August 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • me

      Answer, it was you who went on the offensive.

      Glad you have no need for alcohol. Good for you. Yes, and now, since you are the be-all-end-all of the universe, all of our attention is focused on you and we're waiting the next big pearl of wisdom to issue forth from your keyboard. We're all so impressed that your own perfection precludes all need for further self-education. How nice for you.

      Us, your fans.

      PS No one cares about you and nobody is waiting to hear from you and nobody is impressed with you. This post was sarcasm.

      August 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Jefe

      Sarcasm is naught but veiled anger. And anger is a secondary emotional reaction to fear. Anger is aggressive, which, when expressed, is inherently confrontational. Your comment was intentionally provocative, perhaps only a small jab, but the principles behind it remain the same.

      Notice how I never said "read"? Everything I suggested you do to educate yourself was action. In order to lay ignorance by the wayside, one must actively seek out knowledge. One can read about tragedy and misfortune one moment, and forget about it the next. But when you see it up close and personal, that is when you will truly know the damage alcoholism can cause.

      I was on the defensive, actually.

      And you're right, excessive anger is one of my character defects, and I am actually grateful that you pointed that out (I really am). It's a good ego-check lol. However, a wise person once said that "Advice freely given is worth less than what it cost."
      I appreciate the offer (again, I truly do), but I do not need advice on how to handle my anger from someone who does not know me or my disease.

      I appreciate this exchange, more for the lesson it has taught me about tolerance, than the idea of changing your mind or inflating my ego by defeating you intellectually, neither of which happened–it's hard to win a battle that was never fought to begin with. I hope that I have, if nothing else, challenged your views. I hope you will forgive me if I offended you in any way. And, on that note I must go (probably to a meeting haha)

      August 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Answer

      Few things are really a challenge if you use logic to challenge yourself first.

      August 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @jefe & @me

      Hmmm... Not sure how you got there with @Answers comments.

      From my reading it was the both of you @jefe & @me that went on the invective rants and attacks.

      @Answer seemed to respond cooly, straightforward and is spot-on. (IMHO).



      August 29, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  20. Jw

    While I share the authors disbelief and her sobriety, I don't believe in the complete "randomness" of it all. I don't believe some "higher power" arranged it but life and the arrangement/organization thereof doesn't appear to be random but inevitable. We just happen to be on one of the billions/trillions of habitable planets and that's just for life as we understand it to exist. Our understanding of the "must" haves for life, water, may not be the only way life can exist. We've discovered places on our own planet we thought were toxic to life but yet life found a way. Science tends to work from the known to the unknown. We live in a great age of discovery.

    I'm glad the author was able to get past the "higher power" part of the 12-step program and gather the information needed to stay sober. Life is so much better when you're present to experience it. The principles of the program are rooted in the social animals that we are. Religion is just our need to feel "a part of" some greater meaning, to organize, to classify the world around us.


    August 28, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.