The Cult of AA

topic posted Wed, May 2, 2007 - 8:59 AM by  gÃNgst€® Bo¥...
I picked this up off another recovery tribe.

Thoughts and opinions?
posted by:
gÃNgst€® Bo¥s¢oUt
SF Bay Area
  • Re: The Cult of AA

    Wed, May 2, 2007 - 9:00 AM
    Here's my thought on it:

    What comes to mind is the 4th Tradition.

    "An AA group may conduct itself as it sees fit provided it doesnt affect other groups or AA as a whole."

    That said, the first thing that comes to mind is my discomfort with the same things going on in our own backyard in the form of The Pacific Group, Clancy's gang, Dod On the Roof and more recently increasingly Fireside Drunx. I've always been uncomfortable with this dynamic and it's very dangerous potential for abuse. I am also very libertarian in my view of the traditions however and hold a hand's off opinion on such matters. I prefer to let each group fly or die on it's own merits. A group's ability to conduct itself based on spritual principles or not will likely guage it's buoyancy.
    There is also the plain fact that these groups have survived in most cases for quite awhile whether they appeal to my vision of AA or not. They apparently appeal to some and thus serve a purpose. that sort of structure would strangle the life out of me. For some it is likely filling a very empty spot within themselves.

    And the bottom line for me is that as much as I feel disdain for their application of the group dynamic - none has sunk AA, nor barely caused a ripple.
    • Unsu...

      Re: The Cult of AA

      Wed, May 2, 2007 - 10:11 AM
      "same things going on in our own backyard in the form of The Pacific Group, Clancy's gang"

      *jumps up and down waving arms shouting HELL YES!*


      Speaking as one who was originally sponsored by a previous member of the Bellflower/Pacific group gang; What I found was the micromanagement of ones life verses an illumination of ones capacity to add to the stream of life. I think there is a place for everyone in AA. That group specifically in mind, I've seen be very helpful to the person walking through the door needing to be completely taken in hand as far as learning to live again, period. BUT, when it comes down to how you look in a meeting verses how you live your life I balked. There are many times I've seen peoples egos becoming their message and like in the leaders of those sorts of groups, they tend to forget that they are not the original thinkers either. Often times the principles that were being totted as a basis to live by were in direct conflict to how lives were being conducted when the meeting was over.

      The other side of the coin is, since coming to your area, I hear talk of you and the SJ crew often. This isn't a blow sunshine up your ass thing but more along the lines of my having been exposed to the difference between guruism and a respected individual in the fellowship with the 20 + years time. This coupled with "that guys knows his shit" sort of thing. It's the only parallel I know of that I can speak first hand on. Whether you are liked or not, you are respected. I can honestly say I've never heard anyone say you require the dog poop scooped up by your sponsees every Sunday in order for them to attend a "required or you won't be sponsored by me anymore" brunch. I tend to have more respect for those that people either love or hate, you know? Seems that if they are spending time being uncomfortable by the message, they are because of what is going on within them, not because someon told them how to dress at a meeting. All that "pain/discomfort is the touchstone of spiritual growth thing again.

      Thankfully, because each group is autonomous and group conscious rules the day, no one need to stay a bird in the flying V of self proclaimed AA guru. Those of us who split from the pigeon formation to further seek how to live this day and those to follow successfully can really feel the difference working in our spiritual lives. I got a great foundation in the step, traditions, and concepts my first three years so I can't fault that crew for that but I'm really glad there are those around who go further into deepening their desire for service to others and expansion of spiritual principles.

      Thank GOD that no one person has complete control of this great machine. We all stay just another rider on the bus. If someone wants to get up and dance in the aisles, well.....more power to them. Happily it doesn't change the buses' ulitimate destination.
    • RK
      offline 37

      Re: The Cult of AA

      Thu, May 3, 2007 - 9:09 PM
      "An AA group may conduct itself as it sees fit provided it doesnt affect other groups or AA as a whole."

      I got sober in Southern California. There is a lot of respect for the "Pacific Group Model" down there. The respect comes from the fact that it fills a need for certain individuals who, without it wouldn't have a chance at getting sober. I also have experience with the guys from the "Dog on the Roof" group. Again, the same dynamic works for them as well.

      At one point, I actually thought that I had a few friends among the group, until I was travelling through on business one evening and came to one of their meetings. As soon as some of these guys, found out that I was just visiting and not there to drink the kool-aid with them, well they didn't have the time of day for me and I even found myself unwelcome at their meeting. Today, I thank God for that eye-opening experience.

      For every nut in AA, there's a wrench, fortunately, that type of regimented & controlled living wasn't the wrench for this nut. I was still in the military when I got sober, and the last thing that I needed when I was off the ship was that shit.

      I was fortunate to be involved with a group of people in San Diego who actually read the book and the traditions and realized that this way of life was supposed to teach us how to get back into the mainstream of life unobtrusively, not isolate us from life itself. And when I moved to San Jose just short of two years sober in '88, I was just as blessed to find the same type of people here. The funny thing was, that the contact that I got that led me to Saturday Nite Live, was Jim Bayard, and you guessed it, the man that gave me his number was Keith Moon, the leader of the Dog On The Roof Group. Go figure.

      As far as the scary dynamic at Fireside, again they serve a purpose. That said, I don't attend any groups that isolate even one gender from another. When I drank, to quote George Thorogood, "I drank alone" and isolated myself from society in general, why would I want to do it now from even half the population. I hear the common thread that at men's groups, you can say things that you can't say in front of women and vice versa. To that, I say that it is my understanding that I am supposed to share in a general way, my experience, strength, and hope. If there is something that I can't say in an AA meeting without offending the women in the room or if I am worried about my ego and if I am embarrassed to say whatever it is, then, It is not the purpose of the meeting to be a dumping ground for my shit, which I see all too often. Whatever that is, is probably best shared confidentially with a sponsor within the confidentiality of the steps, then I can get back to carrying the message that I've had a spiritual awakening as THE result of these steps to newcomers and doing my best to practice the priciples behind the steps in ALL of my affairs.
      • Re: The Cult of AA

        Thu, May 10, 2007 - 9:36 AM
        "...That said, I don't attend any groups that isolate even one gender from another."

        I think this group makes a pretty decent argument for splitting up the genders at least for some of our meetings. I'm all for the "fellowship of men and women", but some of us need to be split off to get a chance of learning how to interact with the universe before we start looking for a new mate in a meeting. It also gives the newcomer a bit of a break from the fuckcing predators.

        I'm not one who ever told anyone they needed to wait a year before they date,( I couldn't bear the hypocricy) but If not for the men's meetings I never would have heard more than the voices in my head plotting and scheeming about who I wanted to go home with, or if she was going to talk to her, and blow what I had working, or mess up my plans for later. Later on it became a real mess with my fiancee sitting in meetings among sooo much wreckage. Not that I frown on all that stuff, just that the men's meetings helped me to hear a message while I was running around in all the insanity of my early sobriety dating exploits.

        Not an indictment of you experience, just an explanation of mine. Peace!!
        • RK
          offline 37

          Re: The Cult of AA

          Fri, May 11, 2007 - 8:14 AM
          My brother, I know this isn't an indictment of my experience, I value you and your experience, like you said, it just isn't mine.
      • Re: The Cult of AA

        Thu, August 13, 2009 - 7:06 PM

        I got sober my first year thru the Pacific Group and let me tell you, I had a similar expierience, 2 years ago I was working in West LA and one evening I decided to go to my old"PG" meeting place. I came across a few people I have trudged with and they knew I left the group the previous year to move further south to my hometown and i got a "chilly" welcoming, I was 'thrown off" by it but on the other hand it was something I'm glad I did. To be fair, some of the PG's were OK with me.

        I don't regret my first year of sobriety with PG, but I'm glad I moved on. I saw what goes on with that group first hand and it made me sick but I stayed away from those"rubes" and keep in mind some are just sicker than others. Now I just do my meetings in my hometown and sponsor people the right way. I just mearly try to carry the message that was carried to me and pass it on. I got invited to the PG 5 years banquet this month but I opted not to go becouse of a prior commitment. I'm not putting PG down, As time passes I valued my year there but I moved on my own path with no regrets.

        Keep On Trudging,

        Jamie M.
        • This post was deleted by just-shannon
        • Re: The Cult of AA

          Sun, April 24, 2011 - 7:57 PM
          Interesting that you would mention a "chilly" welcoming...I'm noticing this myself....I've been sober a little over a year now and would not have been able to do it without the Pacific Group. I tried and tried for years and years and finally they whipped my ass into shape...And thank god....However....I will say this.....due to the fact that my life is getting back together, I'm busier and not able to attend as many meetings OR have as many a result...I'm recieving "chilly" welcomes...more regularly now. Usually from people with around 1-2- 3 or 4 years. Old timers are always cool. My sponsor rules. And Clancy, is nothing like what I hear some AA's describe him as. Without a doubt one the most amazingly, giving people I have ever met. Kind and wise. Off color sense of humor? Yes. Cult leader? Not by a long shot. He doesn't even seem to accept or acknowledge compliments or real praise usually. He jokes about stuff like that but takes none of it seriously.

          Forgive me for writing so much but I thought an opinion on PG from the inside might give a more accurate idea to anyone who's really curious...SO.

          From what I've heard from people w time and seen with my own eyes, PG has changed a bit in past 5 or 10 years. There is a very "odd" newcomer vibe that exists in the west side PG meetings. SOME...SOME (not all) of the new people are a little culty. They have TONS of commitments, go to all the functions etc. and finally, most likely for the first times in their lives, feel a part of in swings the ego. They become cliquey, gossipy and judgemental of each other (how many commitments etc.) and can seem VERY, VERY "chilly" to those who don't "do as they do"....Old timers or people with over 5 or 10 years don't do this as much and above 15 years (usually) you don't find this mentality at all...
          ALSO... Westside PG is where this exists most. VALLEY PG is where the super friendly, super amazing PG is found. Amazing speakers. Amazing people.

          The "yard", has more to do with a person "getting out of ones self" so to speak, than picking up shit in Clancy's back yard. Theres hardly anything to pick up back there anyway. It's about practice. Practice of the art of doing for others and not thinking about yourself. The general principles of PG and the way things are done, create a foundation for major and extreem, spiritual, psycholical and personal growth. More than I've seen anywhere else. (I've been around the AA community for many years) Most of the "chillyness" I see comes from newcomers on the west side. Ohio street mainly. It can be off putting. I'd reccommend to new people who need the structure of PG to find and associate w people who have 5 -7 years or more. It's worth the search and and a little discomfort if your spiritual growth is important to you.

          And, as a woman I can say, the men in PG are not nearly as preditory as they are in say Hollywood.. In fact for the most part they are really cool and work really hard at their recovery. The women, are a little caty...again...almost exclusivly newcomers.
    • Re: The Cult of AA

      Fri, June 1, 2007 - 11:38 AM
      "none has sunk AA"

      I don't know how many times I have looked at other AA meetings or its members and had the thought...

      "How do these people stay sober?"
      Of course this is a foolish question, but none the less it passes through my mind.

      If I were to tend my own garden, my time would be full.
      If I do as suggested, to live and let live, peace would be my cross to bare.

      But NO, that is not my experience. One day at a time, I have hope it will be.

      AA as a whole is a spiritual movement. Our Higher Power as He expresses Himself.
      The member and the group get out of it what they put into it.
      This is my experience.
  • Hi! When I got sober, I had a sober twin just 4 days less sober than me. His sponsor recommended PG for his initial sobriety. When he went to PG meetings, I went to some of them, too.

    I can say that PG-ers can get some newcomers and retreaders sober when no other bunch of AAs could or would.

    As a newcomer, PG-ers paid more attention to me and to other newcomers than I got at most meetings at the time. People were always talking to the newcomers, giving them their phone numbers, telling them good meetings to go to (PG meetings mostly).

    PG-ers know how to have a good time. There's a ton of laughter in PG meetings. It's common knowledge in So Cal AA that the most entertaining speakers are PG-ers, and they do carry the AA message.

    PG-ers are very seriously into the Big Book. They teach newcomers the Big Book.

    I have never seen any group of AAs being more of service than PG-ers. EVERYONE in PG has several commitments. That's just what they do there.

    [I miss the days in AA when everyone had commitments. I think commitments makes AA groups more cohesive.]

    Everyone in PG has a ton of sponsees and at least one sponsor. And PG-ers are talking with their sponsees and sponsors all the time.

    Most people in PG eventually emigrate from PG to "regular AA." But they have excellent foundations!

    I never went to Clancy's house for BBQ, playing baseball or cleaning up his yard. That just seemed too intimate and a little scary.

    PG can be strident, caustic and fanatical.

    There are important things that PG-ers do that I don't see a lot of in other AA meetings anymore. I'm being sentimental and judgmental, I know. But, IMHO, if you take the personality of Clancy out of the picture, you have great "old school" AA still being practiced there -- the language of the heart!

  • Re: The Cult of AA

    Fri, June 1, 2007 - 11:24 AM
    What we have here appears to be another skirmish in the agless battle that Roger Zelazny described here.

    “Consider. Choosing between the Logrus and myself [The Pattern] is not a mere matter of politics-of selecting this person or that to do a particular job. My adversary and I represent two fundamental principles by means of which the universe is organized. You may tag us with nouns and adjectives from most languages and dozens of disciplines, but we represent, basically, Order and Chaos- Apollonian and Dionysiac, if you like; reason and feeling, if you prefer; madness and sanity; light and dark; signal and noise. As much as this may seem to indicate it, however, neither of us seeks the other’s extinction. Heat death or fireball, classicism or anarchy, each of us proceeds along a single track, and without the other it would lead to a dead end. Both of us know this, and the game we have played since the beginning is a far more subtle thing- ultimately, perhaps, to be judged only esthetically.

    Page 1236, of Roger Zelazny’s The great book of Amber

    PS, I am of the Courts of Chaos (the Logrus) my self, but do frequent our Pac G meetings occasionally, their woman are hot!
    Unfortunately untouchable unless one is assimilated first. :(
    • Re: The Cult of AA

      Tue, June 19, 2007 - 11:10 AM
      How I long for the day when I can choose what meetings I will attend based on how the shoe fits...Its a lot of fun to go to meetings with different traditions and local customs. As a visitor I have never felt unwelcome. Maybe I just don't give a shit what others think...I'm there for me, and try to focus on what messages I can get out of the meeting. When I was in Chad with no meetings ANY meeting was the greatest ever....Coming here was a big part of my program then and now. Plenty of room for differences...its a big tent.
  • Re: The Cult of AA

    Thu, August 2, 2012 - 12:07 PM
    Found this website today and wanted to let people know of my experience with this "cult of AA". I was in "Dog on Roof" group for almost 3yrs. and left the group 31yrs ago. I wanted to share what happen to me only and maybe help anyone looking to get into a group seeing how this group is still around. I met them at work and they came into my life when I need friends the most, I didn't know much really about AA and thought that this is best thing to ever happen to me, and it might have been...except for what I was finding out 2yrs later. They told me what shift I would be on at work, the way I could groom myself, what meeting's to attend, and who I what girls I could talk to among a list of other things. It was all structured on a chain of command that ended with Clancey of the Pacific Group. This way it was in 1993. The reality of what I had became hit me at a day meeting in Huntington California, I ask a guy with long hair how he was able to stay sober, he explain that being sober comes from within and not how you look on the outside. Because of this, my thinking change and cause great resistance to the structure of the group, which ended up to my leaving. Because I left I was met with problems at work due to some of the members being in the group. Never thought I would ever come back to AA but now I am 12yr sober in Texas. They have a strong structure and results of long term sobriety but if your willing to go through the "process" of the group's rules and intimidation you can get what they have to offer. I can add more to the things I saw in this structured chain of groups but if I can show someone that there is different aspects every group and that AA is not having about having one leader because of his length of how long he/she has been sober, then maybe I can help someone who might not really understand what AA is and is not.
    • Re: The Cult of AA

      Sat, September 22, 2012 - 8:46 PM
      Thank you for sharing your experience with us James...Here in the South Bay we have been hearing about the Dog on the Roof group for years. Thats not AA (imo) but if it works for them, fantastic. new people just need to know that if it's not in The Book, it aint AA ;)

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