God is Everything or Else He is Nothing

I heard it again this morning for the umpteenth time “…we had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t.” If you’re anything like me, it’s not lost on you that this flies in the face of ‘… or higher power as we understand …” not to say rational reasoning.

This saying and others in a similar vein nearly drove me from AA and invited me to argue and verbally spar. I’ve chosen to not drink every drink of alcohol that I desperately wanted to drink to escape since getting sober. I’ve chosen to go to every meeting that I’ve gone to. Though, I seem to know where I’m going at 7 am, my car does not just show up in the parking lot of Fitchburg Serenity Club.

Writing poems help me see and they help me be. They help me find a place when I sometimes feel like I do not fit in. For I do want to be part of rather than apart. Being apart almost killed me. I do believe that AA saved my life. Over time I’ve found a voice and a vocabulary that focuses on what I believe and what I do to stay sober and to live with presence, integrity, love and kindness rather than what I do not believe in.

The Chosen Ones

sometimes hear
And I can’t help but wonder
Why US and not THEM
The very idea wrinkles my skin
And rasps away at my soul
For you see that just
Does not feel right
For I know how special I am (not)
Lucky by birth the time and place
And choices made and not
Impulse and intentions
But I’d rather be me a part of WE
Rather than CHOSEN

About the Author

Robert B. is sober alcoholic in Madison, WI participating in AA and AlAnon at Fitchburg Serenity Club. He has been sober since April 21, 2007. He also began writing and sharing poetry on Facebook during his first year sober as part of his recovery from alcohol dependency, acute anxiety and chronic depression. He has found that creativity expressed primarily through writing poetry and playing various stringed instruments helped him heal and thrive.

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  1. Richard Oconnell March 10, 2019 at 9:44 pm - Reply

    It’s the beauty of Alcoholic’s Anonymous, not only can one’s identity be Anonymous but ones concept of a Higher Power is also part of the Anonymous structure of AA.

    We focus on the strings that bind us together as opposed to tge ones that tear us apart. I’m a believer in the Big Tent Concept, all are welcome, there’s many paths to sobriety , and the steps to reconcile my past with my present are a individual journey who’s meaning is personal and intimate to the individual. Staying connected is key as is looking past judgement and comparing.

  2. Robert February 18, 2019 at 3:00 pm - Reply

    Thanks David and Joe,

    I have few poems that end with what I thought that I was going to write. Sober and with the kind of presence that affords me, I don’t force the story into a preconceived narrative. I I have always sought truth somewhere in the range of p < 0.05 and on a good day < 0.001 in experiments I’ve done and models I’ve developed attempting to explain the ecology that I see around me. Little did I anticipate that some of the most important truths I’d find by writing little verses and sharing them, especially with others in recovery. I believe that they are very different than if if I had just written them and stored them away in a journal. I have some in pre-recovery, even pre-addiction journals and they were so pedantic, they make me wince. Pretty remarkable. And thanks for the kind words and encouragement.


  3. David B Bohl February 17, 2019 at 5:34 pm - Reply



    Very powerfully said.


    What we know is this:  Whether it be in AA literature asking whether god is everything or nothing versus your own conception of a higher power, AA members telling fellow members to “keep coming back” when they don’t surrender to their God, or in life when politicians try to hold their opponents to high values but seem not to adhere to those same values  (and many other examples, especially in relationships), CONFUSING MESSAGES CAUSE CONFUSION, and they prevent people from engaging in further inquiry and discussion.  Perhaps one of the grandest of ironies is that the message “keep coming back” as a response to someone struggling with the message often sends people away, many permanently.

  4. Joe C February 17, 2019 at 11:31 am - Reply

    I write way more non-fiction, very in-poetic content these days but when it comes to revealing the truth, the best art beats the best journalism almost always your. Nicely done.

    The question on a supernatural vs natural answer to existential questions (either he is is is not) is only a binary question is we are concrete thinkers. For the other 1/2 of humanity, abstract thinkers, binary discussion about complexity is daft – a fools errand in search of absolute answers to the unknown and unknowable.

    Not that I am a Big Book apologist – the book has no relevance in my day to day recovery – but I think this is the sort of thing the Spiritual Appendix is addressing. There were overstatements and generalizations in the first writing and Appendix II makes it clear that recovery can be learned vs divinely granted.

    Its more blah, blah, blah than is needed to “thank you, your work is appreciated” so let’s leave it st that.

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