Higher Power The Light Bulb' was copied from the old
web page of the Recover Or Die group that used to
meet in Washingtonville, New York, not far from Cornwall,
New York. The Recover Or Die group, Mitchell K.'s
old home group, no longer exists.
heard of Cornwall, NY? Well, Cornwall was the birthplace
of the A.A. Big Book. All 16 printing's of the First
Edition of the Big Book were printed at the Cornwall
Press as were many of the Second Editions. Bill W.,
Hank P., Dorothy S. and Ruth Hock (non-alcoholic secretary
of AA) went to Cornwall to give the final OK for the
printing early in 1939. Bill made many trips up to
the beautiful Orange County in preparation for the
printing of the book. Orange County holds an important
place in AA's History.
Higher Power The Light Bulb
written by Clarence S.
their sincere and honest attempt to maintain a "hands-off"
policy regarding fellow members' religious beliefs and
perhaps sensitivities, our founding fathers exercised
gentle wisdom and proffered spiritual freedom. No one,
it was rightly thought, should be permitted to impose
their own religious concepts and beliefs upon any other
member of the fellowship. The area was much too important
to the prospective recoveree to be tampered with by
mortal man. The very life of the prospect depends, ultimately,
upon his or her "personal relationship" with
a "Power greater than themselves." The notion
was valid in the Program's earlier days - and
it still is!
no way, shape or form, however, was the idea conceived
to avoid guiding our beloved newcomer along the path
of spiritual progress. Quite the contrary, our whole
purpose as recovered alcoholics, was and is to help
the next person achieve sobriety. If that person is
a real alcoholic his only hope is God.
So in its most basic and simplest terms our only real
purpose is to help the still-suffering alcoholic to
find God. A loving God, a healing God is the alcoholic's
only real hope.
is no easy task. A vast array of difficulties present
themselves to thwart the new person on his journey.
The foremost adversary, of course, is the illness itself.
It seems that many, many alcoholics have a very fierce,
emotionally charged resistance to accepting any dependency
upon a Power which, to them, may seem an abstract and
remotely distant concept. This internal resistance is
most effectively broken down by the potential recoveree's
initial desperation. (It seems such a shame that today's
AA actually encourages the newcomer to avoid reaping
the blessings of that desperation.) If intense enough
and deep enough, this emotional "bottom" will
be the very propellant the prospect needs to thrust
him into the recovery process offered by AA through
its 12 Steps.
stumbling block, which many people who are new to the
program are currently encountering, is us! We seem to
be full of fear as regarding the responsibility we have
been given in the area of spiritual guidance. We shirk
this responsibility by evasiveness or by the direct
side-stepping of the issue by such statements as, "It's
God as you understand Him, and it's
up to you to come to your own conclusions." So
the newcomer is left to his own devices. He is expected
to arrive, alone and unguided, at a relationship with
of the most powerful and hope-filled statements to be
found in the entire text of Alcoholics Anonymous
can be found on page 25. "The great fact is just
this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective
spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our
whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward
God's universe. The central fact of our lives today
is the absolute certainty that our creator has entered
into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous.
He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which
we could never do for ourselves." Are we, today,
so far removed from our founder's results of our recovery
program that these words are nothing more than a "nice
thought" or an exaggeration due to artificially
elated emotions? If so, we "obviously cannot transmit
something we don't have." We cannot share awareness
we don't have. Cannot give guidance we have never gotten.
We cannot share a vision of God we have never seen.
Our lack, thereby, becomes the newcomer's and he may
die because of it!
resistance becomes his license. In his liquor befogged
mind he does not seek and experience God but begins
to "create" one. It's no wonder his dryness
becomes so barren that in a short while he returns to
drink. His "Higher Power" was a light bulb!
(No joke. We have heard this comment voiced more
than once and not only by a newcomer!) Or perhaps
this power greater than himself was a chair, or a wall,
or even a mere mortal sponsor. A quick glance at the
top of page 93 of the "Big Book" makes instantly
clear a very important qualification in the concept
of "...as you understand Him," and that is:
"He can choose any conception he likes, PROVIDED
IT MAKES SENSE TO HIM."
greater than himself - a light bulb? A simple flick
of a switch turns off that power. A wall? Not so powerful
when confronted with a bulldozer. A chair? An axe can
make quick kindling of that higher power. A sponsor
then? If he fails to perfect his spiritual life, his
old foe alcohol is sure to reclaim him. So he won't
do very well as a greater power. How about a whole group?
Possibly for someone else, but not for us. If one person
is powerless over alcohol, and another, and another,
we would have a group of people who are powerless over
alcohol. We do not have a group of people who ARE POWERFUL
over alcohol. Yet they do not drink! They have gained
access to something more powerful than alcohol.
was never intended that phrases such as "higher
power," "power greater than ourselves,"
or "as we understood Him" were created as
an enabling device to justify our membership's continued
avoidance of a connection with our Creator. Page 46
of the AA book says, "We found that as soon as
we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even
a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves,
we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible
for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power
which is God." Again, "...that Power, which
is God." Our founders apparently held no reservations,
whatsoever, with Who was dealing with them. Perhaps,
we would be well advised to think twice before we attempt
any ourselves. Alcoholics Anonymous is not allied with
any religion, as we well know. But it is allied with
God, "for our very lives as ex-problem drinkers
depend on it." It is allied with spirituality,
for despite what our preamble states, AA is not a "fellowship,"
it is a spiritual way of life.
is our most earnest desire that no one reading this
feel that we are trying to impose any presentation of
God of His nature on anyone. Our real hope is that a
reader may be jolted from a position of complacency
or spiritual evasion and get about the business of recovery.
following was also copied from the same page:
at RECOVER OR DIE take our committment to recovery
seriously. We believe that the way of life as outlined
in AA's Big Book is just as much of a suggestion as
it is suggested to use a parachute when jumping out
of a flying airplane.
believe in a committment to sobriety, to a Home Group,
to sponsorship and to helping other alcoholics achieve
you are an alcoholic, get AND
read the Big Book - Get a sponsor - Join and support
a Home Group. If you are unsure of these "suggestions,"
try jumping from the plane without a parachute.