I’ve tried taking non-approved literature to regular AA meetings, and get met by looks of incredulity, and occasional abhorrence.
Many people think the conference approved literature is all we’re allowed to read in the meetings, and there is indeed an issue with that, since the AA publication smf-29 on conference approved literature states:
The term has no relation to material not published by G.S.O. It does not imply Conference disapproval of other material about A.A. A great deal of literature helpful to alcoholics is published by others, and A.A. does not try to tell any individual member what he or she may or may not read.
What it does not say is: AA does not try to tell any individual member or any group what they may read.
I have noticed this kind of unclear wording before in other places. It is of course problematic when things are left unsaid. One could almost think it is a deliberate omission when the preamble does not say “AA is not allied with any religion, sect, denomination, etc.”
When it comes down to arguing about it all, we have of course found a variety of quotes from Bill in support of groups being autonomous in every way, that we can throw at whoever is open-minded enough to listen. I won’t reiterate those here. I am on a different errand:
We need to get the term “conference approved” changed.
It originated at the 1951 General Service Conference, and the decision at that time reads as follows:
Prior to the vote on this subject it was pointed out that adoption of the suggestion would not preclude the continued issuance of various printed documents by non-Foundation sources. No desire to review, editor or censor non-Foundation material is implied. The objective is to provide, in the future, a means of distinguishing Foundation literature from that issued locally or by non-AA interests.
These assertions notwithstanding, at this point all non-approved literature is pretty much outlawed in regular AA meetings, and the term “approved” is in large part to blame for it.
So, I would ask that all, who are engaged in the AA service structure, start working on changing that. I know changing one word will take a minimum of two years to decide, and probably a couple more to implement, but let’s get started.
So, what’s it going to be? I would suggest “Conference published”, but let’s toss it around for a bit, see what’s the best we can come up with, and get going with it.
About the Author
ife-j got sober in Oakland in 1988. He moved to a Northern California coastal mountain village in 2002 and helped wake up the sleepy AA fellowship there. He’s been involved in service work of every kind all along, but now thinks the most important work is to help atheists and agnostics feel safe and welcome in AA. Events in the fellowship conspired to make him become way more radicalized than he ever wanted to be, and he finds it difficult to settle back down to focus on his own program again, for better or for worse. He’s spent parts of his life as a building contractor, part as a technical translator, and has dabbled a bit in artwork and writing. life-j is now semi-retired on a five-acre homestead together with his sweetie, and his dogs, chickens, and gardens.