Friday, August 27, 2010

Discussions of Religion.

Syd posted a comment regarding this post, mentioning the Lord's prayer being said at the end of Al-Anon meetings - I've never experienced this - any meeting I've been to, closes with the Serenity Prayer.  So, that's interesting, must be a cultural thing, I guess.
From the Al-Anon pamplet: 3 OBSTACLES TO SUCCESS IN AL-ANON.

"All Al-Anon discussions should be constructive, helpful, loving and understanding. In striving toward these ideals, we avoid topics that can lead to dissension and distract us from our goals.

Al-Anon is not allied with any sect or denomination. It is a spiritual program, based on no particular form of religion. Everyone is welcome, no matter of what affiliation or none. Let us not defeat our purpose by entering into discussions concerning specific religious tenets."
When I was very new to Al-Anon, I was grateful for that aspect of the fellowship, because I believed myself to be a confirmed aetheist, and  talk of anything religious made me clench my teeth and stop listening. I did NOT want to hear it. I'd had sufficient organised religion stuffed down my throat as a child, that I felt I'd reached my earthly limit, and couldn't swallow another morsel.
I still feel gratitude for this tradition, but my reasons couldn't be more dissimilar. My spiritual beliefs have changed considerably over my time in program, so now it isn't that I don't want to listen to any "Higher Power talk," it's that I have a far deeper understanding of the wisdom of this tradition/policy/suggestion/guideline - call it what you will.
I've seen two individuals who might have been of great help and comfort to one another, divided by their religious beliefs - they didn't respect this Al-Anon guideline, and were soon engaged in heated discussions in which the words "sinner"  "misguided" "one true way" and "deluded" were bandied about. From a possible source of support and encouragement, the relationship became a maelstrom of acrimony.
They went from always arriving at the meetings in the same car, to refusing to attend any meeting at which they thought the other might be present. 
I've had to set a boundary on this issue with several relative newcomers to Al-Anon over the years I've been in program; some have respected it first time, and some have not. 
One of my main beliefs regarding this issue has to do with organised religion's unfortunate habit of choosing to see their members as the only ones who have "Seen the Light."
People who do not believe as they do, are regarded as anything from a poor misguided soul who just needs to be told "the truth," to serious sinners on a road hellbent to destruction.
If I regard myself as in possession of "the truth," and you as either misguided, or flat-out sinning wrong, what possible equality can there be for the two of us, in Al-Anon?
Can I learn from you if I regard you only through that lens? What is the likelihood that I will be offering you "welcome and comfort," and giving the alcoholic "understanding and encouragement?"
12 Step doesn't work very well if one person sees themselves as superior in any way, to another member of our fellowship. The equality we practise, the "feelings we have for you," are only possible if we see ourselves as two peas in the earthly pod.


  1. I am so glad you are back online. I began reading your blog last fall. Your thoughts always add to my alanon program.

  2. It is good to not have religion interjected, yet I have wondered why the Lord's prayer is usually said at the end. That has also confused some newcomers.

    Thanks for your comment. I am addressing it in a post script on my blog and in a post today. Your thoughts are always welcome.

  3. We are having an Area-wide dispute about the Lord's Prayer here in Georgia and it sucks. I wish these so-called "Christians" could let go of their strangle-hold on morality or comfort or whatever they call it.
    A long-time friend of mine has retired and taken up her church work with devotion, and since I disagree with her church's stands on nearly all human rights issues, some of them affecting my nearest and dearest kin, I find it difficult to continue my friendship.
    Does Al-Anon have comfort and peace to offer in these issues? sure. Can I easily access that comfort, no matter how long I've been doing this? nope. It's a hard road. I don't know where I am on it.