|Volume IV||Number 9||September/October, 1997|
|"Shoemaker, stick to thy last!"||"Our common welfare should come first ..."|
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.
Our next business meeting will be Wednesday, November 5, 1997, at the La Mina Mexican Restaurant, 16060 Saticoy St., (at Woodley) in Van Nuys, CA. The meeting will start 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
When we began publishing, I had hoped that OPPF would become a true forum for the discussion of problems within the Fellowship. After three years it remains a catalog of the views of a very small number of members. Either everyone agrees with us or nobody cares. Either way, I get a feeling that I'm talking at people.
How many times have I heard people say, "Oh, I've thought about sending some thing in," or, "I really should send you something." But participation by our readers remains fitful at best.
I haven't given up on the idea that those of us who are concerned about the future of A.A. need to stay in contact. I believe that we need to know each other and that we are not alone. So I have not made a decision to stop publishing OPPF, just to cut back a bit.
What began as a labor of love has begun to seem like a monthly chore -- something I have to do rather than some thing I want to do. I want to thank those of you who noticed that OPPF didn't appear last month. It's nice to know that it was missed. Perhaps if reader participation improves, we can go back to a monthly presentation.
In the back of the Big Book we have an article titled "Spiritual Experience," where our needed experience is referred to as a "personality change." This must have been created by some person outside of the fellowship also, or at least by some person outside of the fellowship of the spirit.
Even though I am not a dictionary thumper I decided to look these two terms up. What I discovered is very interesting as it seems to reflect some changes in the direction our fellowship seems to be headed today further away from the intent of the earlier days in Alcoholics Anonymous.
From Websters Unabridged Dictionary and a Thesaurus:
Psychic -- of or pertaining to the human soul or mind -- pertaining to or noting mental phenomena -- outside of natural or scientific knowledge; spiritual -- sensitive to influences or forces of a nonphysical or supernatural nature.
Playing around with words associated with the term psychic I can find many relationships to all of them. From "supernatural" I find: "metaphysical, extrasensory, telepathic." From "meta physical" I see: "mystical, spiritual, transcendental, unearthly." From "spiritual" I notice the terms: "airy, holy, religious," and from "airy" I see "ethereal" which is related to "heavenly, divine, unearthly, celestial." From "heavenly" comes "divine, angelic, godly, hollowed," and "holy" which brings us back to "spiritual."
Personality -- the visible aspect of one's character as it impresses others (outward appearance?) -- embodiment of a collection of qualities -- the sum total of the physical, emotional, mental, and social qualities of an individual -- existence as a self-conscious human being, personal identity -- famous, notable, or prominent person, celebrity -- a disparaging or offensive statement referring to a particular person.
Some words associated with the term "personality" are: "character, nature, management, temperament, individuality, identity, temper, singularity, idiosyncrasy, predilections, habit, leaning, mind bent, bias, mood, passion, adapt, blend, harden."
The Twelve Promises, as they are referred to, are descriptions of what I would think would be a pretty profound psychic change, brought about by a profound spiritual experience or many spiritual experiences. (Of course I think the first real good nights sleep for a newly sobered drunk is a major spiritual experience and a gift from God) The Big Book says quickly or slowly -- "They will always materialize if we work for them." Is the Big Book not being honest when it guarantees this experience?
Personality change or psychic change, which do you want? I will give a bottle back guarantee that if you thoroughly follow our path you will experience and recognize a miracle in you life.
Miracle -- "an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause -- such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God -- a wonder, marvel." Now that's worth staying sober for.
Not everyone has been rigorous about contributing! Contributions have been down and our reserve is beginning to run low again. For those of you who can contribute, please remember those who are unable to do so. Come on now, get rigorous!
The professed purpose is "thereby to reach more alcoholics."[AA, page xi] As we know, however, the real purpose is to reach more people, not necessarily more alcoholics -- although one might make the argument that reaching more people will ultimately reach more alcoholics.
Unfortunately, the fourth edition has already violated the sense of the last couple of Conferences (the fellowship has seen no pressing need for a new edition at this time.) As we mentioned when we first called for opposition to a new edition, it probably won't stop THEM from putting one out. THEY want the money that a new edition will generate.
Profits from a new edition will further insulate GSO from the fellowship, although THEY already have enough money to be able to ignore the power of the fellowship's purse. Adding further distance is economic "overkill." The spirit of the Seventh Tradition has been exorcised. Why depend on God when you can do it yourself? The old-fashioned idea of corporate poverty has been replaced by modern schemes of money-making. A fourth edition means money. That may be a worse threat to the fellowship than the invitation to dilution from the inclusion of more "and- a" stories.
What THEY say is, "The emphasis will be on stories of alcoholics which reflect a broad range of experience and diversity. The most important thing is to find good A.A. stories and then, among those, to identify some stories that reflect the experiences of folks not now well represented in the Big Book."
The danger, of course, is the stories of "folks not now well represented." The Big Book contains stories of alcoholics, mostly. THEY didn't say "ALCOHOLICS not now well represented," THEY said "folks not now well represented." I think this is not merely an academic exercise in semantics. In my opinion the advance of a fourth edition has already demonstrated the sad fact that our fellowship has been divided and diluted from "above," and I don't mean by a higher power called God. More members mean more money and more division of opinion and more dilution of the message. I wonder where a real alcoholic will go to find an answer to his or her "common problem."
I think the fact that A.A. has gone this far down the road of abandoning God for Mammon is a part of why I feel disheartened about the prospects ahead. There has long been a part of the fellowship that has said that there is nothing we can do but let it fail and then start again. Regrettably it appears that THEY are taking the next step down that road. When will it become apparent that THEY are killing real alcoholics by pandering to "wanabees"? By diluting the spiritual message of A.A., they are recruiting more bodies, but increasing the body count of those suffering alcoholics who most need the real, old-fashioned, fundamental message of A.A.
A.A. can and does work for alcoholics when real A.A. is practiced. When "CC" (Casual Commitment) is practiced, the total membership grows, but the number of hopeless alcoholics who are actually helped only diminishes. It has been years since NYHAA (New York Headquarters A.A.) made the decision to go for growth rather than fidelity to the spiritual principles upon which the fellowship was built. It may well be too late to stop or reverse the direction NYHAA has seen fit to steer.
If it is true that NYHAA has gone too far down the materialistic path, there is even more work for those of us who want to see our spiritual fellowship survive. These are disappointing and disheartening times, but they are also times of challenge and opportunity for those of us who have seen the miracle, to protect the message and pass it on.
A couple of issues ago, we announced that we were in the process of building a web site, www.ourprimarypurpose.com, in order to make information generally available to the fellowship about matters that recur here in the newsletter and matters which we deem significant, but that do not get covered in the newsletter. Building a web site is not as easy as it looked in the first stages.
We have encountered a couple of problems that we hope will be cleared up soon. One problem is that we state in the first article of every issue that its contents are not for distribution outside the fellowship, and putting the newsletter on a web site would violate our own disclaimer statement. So we need to select from the newsletters rather than put them directly on the web site, even in a sanitized version.
We are still learning how to manage a site, although we have learned HTML and we now understand the basics of web publishing. Hopefully we will be able to put up a site with real content before too long. I want to thank those of you who have taken the time and trouble of sending us marked- up versions of the newsletter for site publication. They will ultimately be useful, but not until we have rethought the process -- very soon, we hope.
What we need is input from you. Is it a good idea to put our "dirty laundry" out in public? How else can we make available the tremendous amount of information and background material that we have in regard to the many issues and concerns that we have reviewed in and out of these pages? We feel confident that a great many A.A. members would understand our positions and concerns better if we could get these materials out in an easily obtainable format such as the web site.
In this, as in much else, we can't really act without input from all of you. We need your ideas and concerns, your objections and inspirations. We have long thought that a web site might be our best tool in making these issues available, but there are still reservations we have about how best to accomplish the task. Please help us out here, would you?
OPPF understands that an informed group conscience must hear about all issues, including controversial topics, and that all sides of every issue must be heard; therefore, it affords the opportunity to AA members to voice their opinions on any vital issues they may discover in the course of maintaining their sober lives.
For voluntary contributions according to our 7th tradition please make checks payable to: Back to Basics