Episode 16: Spiritual John

When John H. attended his first A.A. meeting in 1957, he  was the youngest person in the room, and the speaker that night was a man in a  suit, talking about the business he lost. John’s drinking got bad fast and he was never able to put much together, let alone a business. He just couldn’t relate, so he left that meeting and drank for another eight years.

Finally, hitting bottom, John returned to A.A. in 1965, and he’s been sober ever since.  John was never able to buy into the God business and has been an agnostic throughout his fifty years of sobriety.

The old-timers at the meetings used to tell John that he could use a door knob as his higher power, a suggestion that John found ridiculous. In defiance, he wore a doorknob around his neck at meetings. Defiance became John’s greatest asset, giving him the courage of his convictions. He believes that AA is an honest program,, and he knew if he was going to stay sober, he had to be honest about his agnosticism.

John helped start an agnostic AA meeting in Orange County several years ago that he hopes to revive in the next few months. He is grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous for his sobriety, and he is happy to see more A.A. meetings starting up for agnostics, atheists and freethinkers.

Thank you John for allowing us to record your story. You are a pioneer and we are grateful to you for all you have done.


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  1. John S April 10, 2016 at 8:37 am - Reply

    This was one of my favorite podcast episodes to record. I have known John through periodic telephone conversations over the past year, and I always felt that his story needed to be captured and documented. He is really a wonderful person, he has a great sense of humor about himself and he really loves this fellowship. Though the religiosity in AA really bothered him for sometime, he is now pretty relaxed about it and there is a lot of back and forth goodnatured ribbing between him and his more religiously oriented friends.

    John’s wife has been a member of Al-Anon for as long as John has been sober, December 10, 1965. It’s obvious during my phone conversations with John that he has a deep love and devotion to his wife. I was able to speak with her briefly by phone. She’s been having a hard time with her health for the past few months and John has been spending more time taking care of her and watching out for her, which he is glad to do.

    When I listen to John’s story there are times that I start tearing up, and other times I laugh. His honesty is compelling. I think this podcast is one of the best AA speaker audios you will ever hear.

    Thank you John for sharing your story and for being my friend. We will continue our work together to help make AA ever more inclusive.

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