OUR PRIMARY PURPOSE FORUM


Volume IV Number 1 January, 1997
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"Shoemaker, stick to thy last!" "Our common welfare should come first ..."

Table of Contents for This Issue

  1. Newsletter Committee Meetings
  2. From a Reader
  3. Editor's Note
  4. Frog AA
  5. IDENTIFICATION -- THE ESSENCE OF OUR COMMON BOND
  6. THE MIRACLE IS STILL AROUND
  7. From the Editor
  8. Freedom from Alcohol
  9. Getting in Touch with OPPF

OPPF Newsletter Meetings

Since some of the opinions printed in OPPF may be of a controversial nature and since full names are used [but edited out in the web edition], in accordance with our Tenth and Eleventh Traditions all views expressed in this publication are confidential and not for quotation outside the Fellowship.

OPPF is guided by a Newsletter Committee (Back to Basics) made up of interested and concerned members of our Fellowship. We hold regular monthly business meetings, usually on the last Friday of the month.

Our next business meeting is Friday, January 31, 1997, at the La Mina Mexican Restaurant, 16060 Saticoy St., (at Woodley) in Van Nuys, CA. The meeting starts at 7:00 pm with an optional pre-meeting dinner at 6:00 pm.

Membership in the OPPF Newsletter Committee (Back to Basics) is open to all active members of the Fellowship who attend. We invite your support and participation!

Jim H, Editor

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Dear Jim,

Been receiving OPPF for over a year and I do enjoy reading the articles. However I understand OPPF was formed to receive and give ways to deal with the "takeover" of the alcoholic/addict in the meetings. Re-reading back to 1994 and finding a partial solution to this problem, I decided to write and to go further with the solution.

It is found in the pamphlet "Problems Other than Alcohol" and is called "SPECIAL PURPOSE GROUPS." Written by Bill W, who saw the coming problem, as usual he was right on about how to eliminate it from A.A. meetings. He saw the chaos it would cause and how the A.A. message would be diluted and the breaking of our Traditions. Many alcoholics have read this pamphlet, which is quoted from "Language of the Heart," also written by Bill, and it appears for some reason I do not understand to be over looked or non-recognized as the solution. This group could meet and discuss any problem they wanted, there would be no further breaking of the A.A. Traditions because Bill tells us this "SPECIAL PURPOSE GROUP" would not be able to call itself an A.A. group. The two reasons most of "us" get upset about are the breaking of A.A. Traditions and all the drug/therapy talk that is rampant at most meetings we attend. Here at last would be a place for them to do as they like and we could turn the meetings around to helping the alcoholic Bill had in mind when he wrote the book.

If we truly are concerned at the way A.A. is going with the present attitude to keep things as they are and do not make use of the answer Bill has given us then I ask that we look at ourselves and not at others. The time to stop rehashing more episodes on how "they" are doing to the meetings is now, we cannot pretend any longer to not have a solution.

The only problem I see from this point on is how to get this out and well known among members, how to start these meetings (just copy any meeting now really except don't use any A.A. formats) and anyone who will criticize Bill's instructions to offer to any A.A. member the opportunity to have this "special purpose group."

There could be resistance by New York and local A.A. offices about loss of revenue because if they accept money from the special purpose meetings they would break tradition because we (A.A.) cannot accept money from outside sources and these groups as I have already pointed out cannot call themselves A.A. groups.

With this information so far I know there are others who could suggest ways to saturate and make known these meetings, perhaps flyers offering "A New Meeting" as an example, many members look forward to new meetings. Notice I did not say a new A.A. Meeting, just a new meeting. We could also see perhaps maybe having to give up meetings we are fond of because in effect they really are a special purpose meeting and starting a real A.A. meeting that is established by alcoholics for alcoholics, the kind Bill wrote the book for. I eagerly look for the response of the readership writing to share how we eliminated hearing the word "addict" and "alcoholic/addict" from a meeting I was associated with.

Sincerely, Peggy Y, El Cajon, CA


Editor's note:

My comments are not meant to disparage what Peggy has written. Indeed, the pamphlet "Problems Other Than Alcohol" is one which we quote often and wish everyone would read. When this pamphlet and its contents are shown to alcoholic/addicts and to nonalcoholic addicts, they tend either to ignore or deprecate it. "It was written before we learned so much about chemical dependency." "This is where Bill was wrong," etc. Those who wish to use the A.A. name, regardless of their alcoholism, will not be put off by such things as Tradition. Try it! That's why we have an ongoing problem with it all.

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Frog AA

Weak AA is far away from the chances for recovery and from the redeeming features of medium AA. It is clearly at odds with the program as outlined in the Big Book. It bases itself on a flat and unnegotiable refusal to work with vital recovery principles. Weak AAs cop out and stay copped out on most of the Twelve Steps. [Withdrawal to a retreat position like: "This stuff is not of use for me"]. If once dry, they still look gloomy and with envy at someone who can drink. They water down the program to a point where the name "program" does not fit any more, because of its inner emptiness. [A friend in my home group who is about 25 years in AA, says she has often blocked her recovery process with three things. She names them in a impressing way as the three "F": Too f***ing idle, too famous and too fearful.] A more inclusive, more accurate, and more descriptive term than "weak AA" for this practice is "Fearful, reluctant, obscure, gloomy AA" or Frog-AA for short.

With the passage of time, a definite evolution has taken place in AA in the respective popularity and acceptability of the strong and frog ap proaches. In the first years of their existence, the frog AA tended to feel obliged to defend and sing the praises of their "heterodox" approaches and even to chide the rigorous AAs a bit for being rigid and holier-than-thou: "Watch your step and be careful that your halo doesn't block you from walking through the door!" The strong AAs, for their part, tended to be more relaxed and tolerant, less strident, less defensive. After all, their method was obviously safer since it involved taking more of the medicine. And it was obviously the original and genuine medicine as the Big Book eloquently attested.

But this juxtaposition of attitudes came to have a popular effect in a movement which prided itself on its good-natured inclination to let all kinds of maverick opinions and practices have their say and their way. The loudest voices came to be the voices of heterodoxy, and these came in time to have the greatest impact on newcomers. Copped-out and watered-down Frog-AA came to be the "in" thing, the wave of the future; rigorous AA came to be regarded - not universally, but widely - as a bit stodgy and a bit passť.

Had not the Frog-AAs proven Bill and the first hundred AAs wrong? If it said in the introduction to the Twelve Steps "we thought we could find an easier, softer way, but we could not", then wasn't it an unequivocal assertion that it was necessary to practice all the Steps? But the Frog- AAs did not take all the Steps, and they were staying sober. They had found an easier, softer way! Human nature being what it is, it was inevitable that the less demanding, medium-to-weak approach would grow in popularity while the older, more rigorous approach would decline. Who wants to do things the hard way when they do not have to? Who wants to drive a car with standard shift when the model with automatic is a thousand dollars cheaper?

AA has been in existence now more than 60 years. There is still widespread-lip service in the movement to the importance of the Twelve Steps - especially on bigger meetings or conventions. [You should "be in the program" and show up with rigorous honesty - mainly for yourself and if you feel so maybe for some others.] But as a matter of fact, precious few AAs continue to attempt seriously and consistently to work these Steps on a daily basis - also after their first months of sobriety in the fellowship.

Reversion to a lower, more "normal" level of aspiration is the order of the day. ["Stop your spiritual dreams, get real and put your feet back on earth!"] Those who do continue to practice rigorous AA have to be careful what they talk about and what they are doing in AA meetings. In many places, too much or too serious talk about God is considered bad form. [You might be blamed to violate Traditions, because we are not allied with any sect, denomination ...!] The same is true about talk on the subjects of confession, restitution, and rigorous honesty - especially where they affect such difficult and sensitive life areas as job applications, tax returns, business dealings, and sex relations.

But if weak AA works - if it produces recovery - what fault is there to find with it? In this case where heterodoxy turns out to be superior to orthodoxy - why should anyone anytime further go to the extra bother of practicing rigorous AA?

For one very good reason. Weak AA brings about a far less profound life alteration than rigorous AA does. In many cases that relatively superficial change is not enough to crack the alcoholic pattern. In many other cases, it results in an apparent recovery which does not last, but sooner or later eventuates in a relapse into drinking.

What the original AAs were shooting for - and what they aimed their program at - was not mere dryness. For this you would only need common-sense: "Drinking does harm to me. That's why I quit. Period!" This understanding would be accessible to every man, disregarding how worldly his way of thinking might be. You just sacrifice drinking because of a better insight. But the founders of AA were men moved by inspiration. They were coming at the problem with the uncommon sense of men under higher guidance.

The 'common sense approach' had already been tried and it had failed. If you set a drunk's level of aspiration at mere abstinence -- "Why don't you be a good fellow, use your will power, and give the stuff up" -- it is of little or no effect. The poor candidate for reform was back drinking again in short order. The discovery that launched AA in the first place was that an alcoholic lost his craving for alcohol if he was able to gain an utterly new relationship with God. If he could undergo a real spiritual conversion, he was somehow rocketed into a fourth-dimension-state, a position of neutrality beyond the vicious circle of 'abstinence and relapse.' Then permanent abstinence would automatically occur as a blessed and life-saving by-product. That was how it happened with Bill. That was how it happened with Dr. Bob and most of the first hundred members. And the authors of the Big Book thought it would have to happen with everyone.

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IDENTIFICATION -- THE ESSENCE OF OUR COMMON BOND

There is a point I wish to make concerning the way we introduce ourselves in our A.A. meetings. A point which, I believe, puts a serious strain on our unity and our singleness of purpose. When I say, "I'm a drug addict and an alcoholic," or, "I'm a cross-addicted alcoholic," I'm telling you that I'm different from you. I'm a special kind of alcoholic. My disease of alcoholism is different from yours. I add an extra dimension to my disease which, because of our singleness of purpose, should not be addressed in a meeting of alcoholics anonymous. I have just cut our bond in half, and, more importantly, diluted my own chances of receiving help for my drinking problem.

I'm not saying that the destructive forces are within those who introduce themselves by any of the popular 'cross- addicted titles.' The destructiveness is in the attitudes of us members who sit back and often cloak ourselves in the deceit of "live and let live" and respond, if at all, "So what?" By our passiveness we are really giving our silent approval to their misguided conduct.

I need to know, and believe that they need to know, what we have in common. For our Big Book says, "The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action." Not likely if we emphasize that our problems are not common.

I need always be reminded that Alcoholics Anonymous is "our" fellowship. No one else runs it. No one else can make it work, no one else can destroy it. But if A.A. does not work, I'll have no one but myself to blame.

Les E.

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THE MIRACLE IS STILL AROUND

I just received my copy of the O.P.P.F. and it couldn't have arrived at a better time. Reading letters from other drunks who have seen and recognized a miracle in their life and in others and want to pass it on brings much joy and renewed hope to my life.

Last night I went to our District meeting to pass on the information that I had received about the German situation and passed out a copy of the report of the meeting between the General Manager of G.S.O. Inc., and A.A. members from the Big Book Study Group from Germany who are facing jail for passing out free copies of the original manuscript of the Big Book. It became clear to me that many A.A. members don't want the responsibility of upholding the 12 Traditions and 12 Concepts themselves. They would much rather it be someone else's job. The A.A. members who really want to grow along spiritual lines -- and honestly face the things in themselves that block them from God -- want the same for our fellowship, and those that don't, don't.

Those who continually work on themselves because they want to continue to grow along spiritual lines accept the responsibility of passing on their spiritual message. We are willing to face our mistakes, admit our wrongs, and have God take us to a better place where we can be of more help to others. I ask God daily for the willingness to look at myself, His will for me, and the power to carry it out. The power to grow along spiritual lines is too much power for individuals to have, and as a separated self I am powerless. But united together God freely gives us a gift, the needed power that we alcoholics need to recover. To protect this power from any selfish misuse He gave us principles for His power to flow through, the 12 Steps, 12 Traditions, and 12 Concepts. Only you drunks who practice these principles can receive and pass on the power I need to stay sober and help our fellowship grow along spiritual lines so that our fellowship may be of maximum service to other alcoholics.

From the drunks that brought us real A.A. meetings for free with Club Sober at the World Convention, the drunks that had the courage to bring the Censure action to the Conference, to the readers, supporters, and contributors of the many 'Back to Basics' newsletters, and our courageous members in Mexico, Germany, and elsewhere who have enlightened us all to our responsibilities, to every single drunk who wants to keep our miracle alive for others yet to come, I thank you. You all have been a source of hope and faith for my life, and a greater gift I can not imagine.

We have a bond with each other that few people can understand. We may disagree with each other from time to time but I know you will be there for a drunk in need, and I would not hesitate placing my life in your hands because if you are working these principals then God is working through you. Thank you for caring about our fellowship.

Dennis M.

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From the Editor

Although we are, from time to time, accused of being divisive or somehow "exclusive" because of our insistence on AA's Singleness of Purpose, our aim is not to exclude anyone. What we want to do is to unite those of us who have experi enced the great awakening of the spirit and who wish to preserve the Fellowship that made that experience possible for us.

Jim H.

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Freedom from Alcohol

"Sobriety -- freedom from alcohol -- through the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of an AA group. Groups have repeatedly tried other activities, and they have always failed. It has also been learned that there is no possible way to make non-alcoholics into AA members. We have to confine our membership to alcoholics, and we have to confine our AA groups to a single purpose. If we don't stick to these principles, we shall almost surely collapse. And if we collapse, we cannot help anyone."

From PROBLEMS OTHER THAN ALCOHOL

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Updated: 23 September 1998