AA Beyond Belief Podcast: Myth of the Angry Atheist

In episode three, I interview John H. from the We Agnostics AA Group in Washington DC. We talk about his story, the beginnings of the DC We Agnostics Group, and his views on atheism and AA.

During the interview I reference a book, The History of Gay People in Alcoholics Anonymous, by Audrey Borden. This is an interesting book that I would recommend to anyone with an interest in AA history. From this book, I can draw many comparisons to agnostic AA and our relationship with the Fellowship as a whole.

We also discussed a convention for agnostics and atheists in AA that will be held in Olympia Washington on January 16th, learn more at the convention website, Widening the Gateway.

I had a lot of fun speaking with John and I think you will enjoy the conversation.

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  1. David B January 30, 2016 at 5:17 pm - Reply

    Interesting episode and ironically titled. Your guest seems to have quite an axe to grind with believers, going to far as to lump Buddhists in with Christians and conflating spirituality with religion. Ah, well. One can’t really be surprised that a self-described militant would be, well, militant.

    The saddest part for me, however, is that he gleefully tramples on the First Tradition with his constant “us-versus-them” approach to the conversation. Unity matters to recovery, and I genuinely worry that this idea that one “side” is “right” and the other less so is erosive to AA unity and, consequently, to our common goal of recovery.

    And, finally, I’d caution anyone who is in recovery against making the incredibly arrogant statement that, with 29 years of sobriety, it’s “very unlikely” that he will ever drink again. Might want to take a look at that cherished Step One and remember that our sobriety is achieved one day at a time.

    Still listening in Maryland.

     

    David B

    • John S January 30, 2016 at 7:04 pm Reply

      Thanks for listening David. John also saw the irony in the title. I don’t know quite what to make of the militant atheist. I don’t consider myself militant about anything.

      I understand John’s concern about spirituality if people who are spiritual insist  that we all be spiritual, but I don’t have a problem with someone incorporating spirituality in their life.

      I see it as nothing more than a form of language that many of us use to describe our recovery. Sometimes the language can be useful and other times confusing. I’ve read books that are beautifully written such as Marya Hornbaher’s Waiting: A Nonbeliever’s Higher Power, and I think that spiritual style of communication makes the message somehow more palatable when reading. So there are good uses for spiritual language. It’s like poetry in a way.

      I consider myself bilingual, in that I can speak the spiritual language of the steps and I can also talk about them in more practical terms. I just tailor my approach to the person with whom I am talking.

      We will be doing another podcast with John H in the future. On the next round, I’ll have another person join in the conversation more John’s equal intellectually. I think that could be interesting.

      Thank you for listening to the podcast and participating with the site. I’m very grateful for that.

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