The future is bright, we’ll have to wear shades in Austin, Texas

Attendance began at a little under 200 0n Thursday afternoon and by Saturday night we had reached nearly 300 AAers packed in the sanctuary of the Unitarian Universalist church to hear the Very Reverend Ward Ewing speak.  A former GSO trustee, many were curious to hear what a reverend would have to say at a convention for agnostics, freethinkers, atheists and others.  He reminded us that the impossible was possible.  It had become clear throughout the event.  Fellowship abounded above all.  There were some bumps in the road, but as first conventions go, despite the painful loss of one of our steering committee, Jonathon G., Dorothy and I, found ourselves surrounded and supported by many who stepped up without reservation to assist in putting the finishing touches on the days of details.  We are eternally grateful, for it is in love and service that we put this convention together and it is with love and service of the fellowship that it was a success.

There is hope and a certain future for the inclusiveness we envisioned.  There is a newly elected (and larger) board of directors which includes Dorothy and myself, Chairwoman and Secretary, respectively, along with Alex K., Berkeley, CA (VP), Dianne P., Toronto, Canada(Treas), and Board Members at Large: Jesse S. (Reno, Nevada), Nik H. (Austin, Texas), Michelle B. (Alta Loma, Calif.), Stuart S. (Atlanta, Georgia), Don F. (Vermont/Florida), Ken S. (Melbourne, Australia) and Jayne J. (New York, New York).  This is an amazingly wonderful and unique group of individuals who are committed to the success of our conventions going forward.

So, onward we go to 2016 in Austin, Texas.  Hope to see you there.

In love and service,

Pam W.

 

By Scott A. ~ Thoughts on attending the convention

This is just a babble about deciding to attend the WAFT convention….
your choices are, of course, your own.
Perhaps I should have titled the thread “one alcoholic talking with another,”
but I can’t resist a good joke…nor even a bad pun.
Tis approaching the season to play with our merriment,
even though I don’t think of my fellow heathens as “faithless” since
I consider myself to have put my “faith” in AA to help me stay sober,
and it has been a faith that has worked for me… so far…
After months of hemming and hawing,
two days ago I finally “pulled the trigger” and decided to strive
to make my attendance at the WAFT IAAC November 6, 7, & 8.
For me the journey there will be arduous, expensive, and ill-timed with work projects.
Though I grew up atheist and long resisted AA in part because of the gawdstoof,
I have, for a while, managed to endure “in” AA.
It has only been in the past year+ that I have found any atheist/WAFT AA connections online.
I’ve known many an open minded AAer with perhaps an equally vague or semantic “HP” as me and mine,
sober with a wink and a nod, but not with the clear and precise declaration
“sober without a god, because there isn’t one” as this site says.
Gravity… “a force I can not see, but cannot deny, that connects me to every part of the universe”
had long been my paganized version of an “HP”
(though I don’t especially find it “loving” as the big book urges of an HP)
For me, AA has long and patiently invited me to join my universe,
to be “a part of…not apart from”
while my dis-ease (whether actual drinking or just my “character defects”)
is very much about isolating me from my universe.
When I learned of the convention, I registered for it,
partly in the hope I might actually get to it, partly figuring even if I didn’t,
at least my registration would “contribute” to the worthwhile cause.
Two days ago, as the clock ticked on…
in the middle of my work day I took a short walk around the back way.
The walk began with the jumble of thoughts competing to tell me
“too expensive, bad timing, I don’t like crowds anyways…”
and as I turned the corner, the thought bubbled up,
the line I am so fond of repeating, what has always been for me the CORE of AA,
“one (sober minded) alcoholic sharing with another.”
… I have to go!
I’ve long said “I am NOT a ‘people person,’… I’m a person person.”
I could spend all day talking with one individual at a time,
and carry on with my life quite comfortably, but a couple hours with a group or a crowd
and my “social energy reserves” begin to rapidly deplete.
I don’t expect to have life altering experiences because of some magnanimous speech from the podium.
But perhaps I’ll long remember some off handed comment shared in the chow line
by a newcomer or a curmudgeonly centuries long sober soul.
I have expressed my fears that I may be activating my own AA indignations by hanging out (online)
with righteously put-off fellow atheist/WAFT AAers,
but I am glad the conference is aimed at “fitting in” within AA WHILE being true to ourselves,
and perhaps even more importantly broadening the gateway for those who have yet to peer in.
Thanks for your help in keeping me sober.
…Hope to see you there.

 

Emergency Steering Committee Meeting

There will be an emergency steering committee meeting on Monday, Oct. 27th at 7 p.m.   


Location: Denny’s Banquet Room, 5751 Sunset Blvd. (at Van Ness Ave.) 

Please come and join us even if you don’t know what you can do to help.   We need your help.

For those of you who knew Jonathon G., we  ask if you have stories or memories  that you would like to share, please feel free to email them to weagconvention@gmail.com so we can include them in the memorial at the convention.

Details regarding memorial services by the family are not known at this time.  We will keep you informed as we know and details of the memorial at the convention will be shared as well, once we know more.

In Love and Service – a memorial to Jonathon G.

By Dorothy H.

The Unknown
“Man can learn nothing except by going from the known to the unknown.”
~ Claude Bernard

To say that Saturday, October 18, 2014, was a stunning and shocking day would be akin to saying that if the earth spun off its axle it would be a bad day.

At 10:00 am, Pam W. called me in a controlled panic saying that she hadn’t spoken to Jonathon Goley, the third member of the We Agnostics and Free Thinkers (WAFT) International AA Convention (IAAC) steering committee, for over a week and was fearful. Pam went to his place to see if she could help Jonathon out of a possible depression. When she got there she saw that Jonathon’s smokes were on the porch, his car was in the garage and his condo neighbors had not seen him for over a week. Pam contacted his sister, Dorathy. Dorathy told Pam that he didn’t show up for his 62nd birthday party that they had for him a few days before.

Pam called the police.

I felt powerless.

Like many other things in my alcoholic life, I wanted to refuse the reality of life for my benefit.

I lived too far away to pack my hammers to go break into his condo myself. To prove to everyone he actually found the love of his life and flew away with him to a warm tropical island, where they were sitting on the beach by exquisite waterfalls.

Two hours later

Pam called back

Her voice was flat

She spoke slowly

Without tone.

“Dorothy… Jonathon has passed away. The police called me and said they found him in his home… the police said that there was no foul play, no evidence of an overdose or suicide. They are saying it’s natural causes.”

“No, no… NO!… WATERFALLS… Pam… WATERFALLS…”

I said as all that makes me who I am collapsed inside me…

“I know, I know, honey,” Pam said. “I want to remember him as the successful artist he was on the verge of becoming. The mural work he was doing, the recent art show awards he received, the freelance book illustrations, and how he was getting a new pension from the studios he worked for, and how that was going to pull him out of his financial troubles.”

Broken Hearted
“A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”
~ Buddha

Jonathon grounded me, loved me, supported me, opened his home to me, cooked for me, and explored the internal and external world with anyone who would take his hand in friendship.

I had known Jonathon since my third week of sobriety. He gave me my first year medallion and my birthday cakes.

From the first time I heard him speak at the meeting, I was impressed with him. He was thoughtful, insightful and gentle. Jonathon struggled with depression and childhood issues and had a history of drug use. He traveled the world. He loved Buddhism and was beginning to explore Druidism/Paganism and Taoism.

Often, when I was stressed or in a complaining mood, Jonathon would stop the conversation, point to the sky and ask me how many colors I saw in the sunset. He asked me if I could describe the colors to him. Then he asked me to breathe and watch the sunset with him.

Once, I was talking with Jonathon about my struggles to understand my role in the growing WAFT movement, and the world we live as he drove me to my commuter train. Jonathon gave me love and support, and at the end of it, he told me about the old movies and biographies of women he loved watching and reading. Jonathon said he admired and loved strong-willed, determined, fiery women and said not to give up on what I know what was right no matter what others think.

He hugged me and waved as the train left.

The Loss to the WAFT Movement
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.”
~ Pema Chödrön

Jonathon was an unsung hero in the WAFT movement. Unlike me, Jonathon was not someone who felt comfortable entering into the larger WAFT debates. To many in the global WAFT AA Fellowship, he was the anonymous steering committee member, but he was not like that to the LA WAFT groups.

To the LA WAFT groups, he was a community builder. He was known for throwing BBQs and potlucks where he brought the different WAFT groups together.

Jonathon made my transition into sobriety smoother. The parties brought us all together where we could relate to each other outside of the shares at meetings, but to one another in a daily human level.

It was Jonathon’s love of fellowship that inspired him to be a part of creating WAFT IAAC. Jonathon wanted to create a warm, loving, safe environment for all AAers at the convention and within global AA. He was hoping to incorporate an art show into the convention events. He was going to create all the signage for the days of the convention by hand. Jonathon helped design the WAFT IAAC logo and created the graphics for it. He also designed our fliers and traveled with me on various outreach trips around southern California. Jonathon, Pam W. and I all worked collaboratively on every decision the Steering Committee has made.

We NEED Your Help
“We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.”
~ Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

Don’t worry; we are determined to follow through with the convention! The Los Angeles groups are closing ranks to help with the technical aspects of the convention and to love and support Pam W., each other and me through this difficult time.

WAFT IAAC was built on the belief in AA and the WAFT fellowship. The Steering Committee has always known, without the help of the international WAFT Fellowship at large, this event would not happen!

We are calling on our WAFT brothers and sisters for your love and patience with Pam W. and me, along with the Los Angeles WAFT groups. Organizing an international convention itself is a stressful and daunting undertaking, but it is a 100 times more daunting as we are trying to push through our grief in this process.

We may not be able to make updates to our site as quickly, emails may not be answered immediately, phone calls may not be return right away, and we might forget many other important details at the days of the convention. When we meet you in person we may not be as sociable as we may like to be.

In asking our WAFT brothers and sisters for love and support, we ask that when you arrive at the convention, if there is any way you see you can be of service to the convention, please don’t be shy. Move into service any and every possible opportunity you can humanly do so.

With you, we know we can continue the work that Jonathon and many other WAFTS have dedicated the last two years of their lives to.

Pam W. and I are working out the details for a memorial service for Jonathon at the convention. Once we have those details down, we will make an announcement about it.

If you are able to arrive to Santa Monica on Wednesday, we will be having a volunteer meeting at the Unitarian Universalist church where the convention will be held at 3 PM.

We are looking forward to meeting you in November!

Yours in Love and Service,
Dorothy H.
Chair/Founder of WAFT IAAC

in our hearts – a memorial to Jonathon G.

Dear friends,
Some of you may have heard and for those of you who haven’t, it is with the deepest sadness in my heart that I tell you of the passing of our dear friend, Jonathon G.

Jonathon wasn’t just a member of our steering committee, but my closest friend.  He was a confidant who held my secrets safely and daily brought me joy without measure.  When Jonathon came to our Friday night meeting for the first time, I remember.  He was a man facing loss, frightened and fearful.  He was losing his home of sixteen years  and the ground below him was shaking.  He kept coming back, gingerly embracing the fellowship, and slowly opening up to us.

Over the years, we started to bond.  Initially, it was our art backgrounds.  He:  Self-taught with a catalog of work behind him at Warner Brothers.  Me: Art college graduate who recently had a little solo show.  He wanted to make art again. We talked about it.  I reveled in his pursuit of technique and soon, he began making art again.  He loved the craft of creation and was passionate about every aspect, be it his work or others.  You could hear it when he spoke.  His voice.  That I will miss.

In the first years in the rooms, Jonathon was dealing with serious financial pains.  He did lose his home.  But, he was able to buy a nice condo and filled it with beautiful artwork from his travels in Asia.  Many of our local WAFTs were privileged to share in his ultimate hosting experience.  Jonathon developed a reputation for opening his home to AA potluck/barbecues.  We would sit on the back patio of his condo complex, surrounded by a garden he had singularly planted and brought to life.  And he hosted infamous Halloween parties, where costumes were encouraged and you could always count on scary decorations and some yummy home-made shortbread.  His signature was on it all and it was fabulously decadent!

As with many of our fellowship, Jonathon faced bouts of depression, stepping away for a while to hide from the world.  He talked to me of these moments and in the past year, without self-pity, he climbed out of these moments and grew stronger.  Depression had less and less of a grip on him.  He was gleeful about this growth.   He was an avid reader – a seeker – and most of his shares were about what he was learning through this journey, a road to recovery focused on emotional sobriety.  Even as I mourn him, I am comforted by his words, when he would remind me of Buddhist teachings, that “everything is impermanent, moving and changing” sending me validation with my own love for Marcus Aurelius meditations, “Everything is only for a day….”

Jonathon had just turned 61 when his spirit was taken from this place.  I can say that he was moving forward through his life.  We spoke on his birthday.  He was excited about his birthday party, the convention and all the details we were working on, our group art show two weeks after the convention, and he was embracing the challenges of working on the children’s book illustrations and the looming deadline before him.  But, he was positive and I expected to talk to him the next day.  That didn’t happen.  He was already gone but I didn’t know.  I would know later.

I will miss his voice.  I am sad that we can’t go to the Huntington Gardens again to walk through the gardens, or to the Pantages to see  Kinky Boots, or surprise my parents with a mural on their back fence, like we discussed.  And I can’t  lean my head on his shoulder in a meeting and feel better having done so.

I will mourn the way I must, as we all must, in our own way.  I will think of the special times and keep some close, and share the rest.   Laying on a blanket at the Huntington Gardens, singing Disney tunes while we wait for the screening of Sleeping Beauty this past summer.  Taking walks in his neighborhood, just talking about life  and stuff and nothing at all. How he cared for his mother in her dying days.  When we were at Patti’s play (which we LOVED forever!), when I was star-struck by Tim Robbins and he told me to “go for it. Susan’s out of the picture”.

How he made me laugh.  His hugs.  His calm.  His love.  His heart.   

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart)
ee cummings

O Captain! My Captain!
O Friend! My Friend!
Pam W.

ELECTIONS

CALL FOR ELECTION

In order to guarantee the success of future WAFT IAACs, the current steering committee is calling for the election of a new board /steering committee on Thursday November 6th after the first official day of the convention.  There will be a business meeting to nominate and vote in new board members.at 5:30 that evening.  There are a total of eleven positions to be filled.  Four officers, which will also be board members, chairperson/president, secretary, treasurer, and vice-chair/vice-president and seven board members at large. with nominations from the fellowship and the current steering committee will present nominations for new board members and officers.  Anyone in the fellowship can be nominated and people can nominate themselves.

NOMINATIONS COME FROM THE FELLOWSHIP

We  need regional and international representation.  Anyone in the fellowship can be nominated and people can nominate themselves.

RESPONSIBILITIES

All board members  will have equal votes as officers.  Officers  will have the delegated responsibilities of the business side of the WAFT IAAC LLC, which is a pending 501(3)c that was formed to be able to take donations and sell tickets.  Board members will not only be responsible for spreading the word about the convention but will also be responsible for WAFT IAAC LLC’s legal protocols, such as board meeting minutes, public disclosure and proper accounting practices, as mandated by the State of California and the U.S. Federal Government under the 501(c)3 formation.

SUMMARY STATEMENT

If you are interested in one of the board member positions, please draft a brief statement of your qualification.  Please consider some of the points and questions asked below, so people may review them before the vote on November 6th’s business meeting.  Be prepared as well to give a 2-3 minute statement during the meeting before votes are taken.

 

  • Do you have stable sobriety?
  •  Are you humble? Can you put your ego aside?
  •  Do you believe in the mission of WAFT IAAC?
  •  Do you have a business background that can assist WAFT IAAC LLC?
  • Can you remain neutral on ALL internal WAFT AA politics to make the best objective decisions for WAFT IAAC?
  •  Can you make a 2 to 4 year commitment?
  •  Can you financially contribute?
  •  Do you have experience in other AA conferences, round ups, POW WOWs etc…? If you don’t have this direct experience is there anything from the outside world that are transferable skills to this project?
  •  Are you willing to think outside of the box?
  •  As AA members we will diligently protect people’s anonymity but the reality is there may be possible risks to anonymity. Would the loss of your anonymity be a deal breaker for you?
  •  Are you willing to learn from mistakes and not give up?
  •  Can you work collaboratively for the greater good?
  •  Do you believe in the importance of the WAFT geographical 12th step goal?

 

PLEASE BE SURE TO POST YOUR NAME (in the traditional anonymous AA fashion – first name, last initial, as well as your home group and city) AND YOUR CREDENTIALS/EXPERIENCE IN THE COMMENTS ATTACHED TO THIS PAGE/SECTION

Just a little over three weeks away!

I don’t know about you, but I can hardly believe we are just a little over three weeks away from the first biennial* We Agnostics and Freethinkers International AA Convention (WAFT IAAC).  Things are moving fast over here in So Cal, kind of like autumn, which came upon us immediately with heat and our infamous Santa Ana winds.  Hopefully, we’ll have a mild November warmth for you all.
*that’s every two years, not a typo


I don’t know about you, but I can hardly believe we are just a little over three weeks away from the first biennial* We Agnostics and Freethinkers International AA Convention (WAFT IAAC).  Things are moving fast over here in So Cal, kind of like autumn, which came upon us immediately with heat and our infamous Santa Ana winds.  Hopefully, we’ll have a mild November warmth for you all.

*That’s every two years, not a typo, by the way.

We have a lot of updates to share with you.

Schedule
The days’ events are mostly complete, however, we have had some last minute changes as a few of our fellowship have informed us they won’t be able to make it.  We are very sad that one of our fellowship speakers, Wally K., won’t be joining us in Santa Monica.  He will be greatly missed as he has been a wonderfully supportive part of the convention’s progress.  In his place, we are pleased to have John C., who met our Charlie Polachek while living in Texas. John now resides in Paris where he has started more than one Agnostic meeting.  You’ll be able to read more about him and all our fellowship speakers this Sunday on http://aaagnostica.org/,

We have some new workshops added to our original slated schedule.  Check them out on the website link below.  And, if you have an idea for a workshop and want to host one, there is still some space, so reach out by email at
weagconvention@gmail.com and let us know.

We have some new panelists joining the Young Timers and Relapse panels who are guaranteed to be inspiring.  You can see the revised schedule here: http://waftiaac.org/schedule/

Volunteers
Dorothy has been organizing the sign-ups for volunteer positions on the days of the convention.  You can still volunteer by reaching out to her by email at weagconvention@gmail.com.
For those who will or already have signed up, there will be a Volunteer Orientation meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 5th at the church at 3 p.m.  Please mark your calendar.  We’ll forward more specifics in a separate email soon.  And, we’ll remind you again, because that’s what we do!

Raffle
One of the things about the convention that has organically evolved  is the openness of different literature that will be presented for browsing (and some for purchasing) during the days of the convention – both AA and non-AA literature.  Despite the controversies, it speaks to our theme, “Many Paths to Recovery” and let’s not forget that even our founders and Bill W. expressed there can be a value in other resources.  So, with that idea in mind, we have decided to have a fundraising raffle for some of the literature.  Besides our traditional Big Book, there will be Grapevine books and non-AA literature in the raffle.  Tickets can be purchased throughout the convention.

And, over the next few days there will be a couple of very important emails about the process going forward to make future WAFT IAACs a success.  As the WAFT fellowship, you can play a part in the next phase of developments, so stay tuned!

You can still buy tickets any time.  Here:  http://waftiaac.tix.com/Schedule.aspx?OrgNum=4665 or clicking the button above.

See you in November!

It’s Never One

Alcoholics Anonymous is defined by one drunk talking to another. If self will was enough for us to stay sober, alcoholism wouldn’t exist at all. Yet, we have AA to help us on the path of recovery, healing and true self honesty. In that vein of gratitude for AA, the Steering Committee is delighted to announce our final headline speakers.

Total Inclusion and Acceptance

As many of you already know we have two esteemed keynote speakers – Marya H., an award winning author and respected educator and Reverend Ward Ewing, a long-time ally of WAFTs for over 30 years and a former non-alcoholic trustee of GSO. In addition to these superb speakers, we are proud to announce our final main speaker, Phyllis H., from New York! Phyllis is excited to be a part of this historic event that will affirm AA’s foundation of total inclusion and acceptance of all alcoholics which is imperative for global AA to thrive.

Never One

In July of 2010, Phyllis H.’s opening statement at the Old Grandad Conference in Hot Springs, Arkansas reflects the tone of the convention. “It takes a number of people, it is NEVER one. Just like we do in our sobriety. It’s NEVER one. A number of us, groups of us, working together….working together makes a success for everyone…it’s times like this that we can come together and form new fellowship that is so meaningful in our sobriety and enriches us in so many ways.”

We agree!

It has taken more than one, more than the Steering Committee, more than a single WAFT group. It is an abiding international fellowship dedicated to recovery, love, and service that keeps the doors of AA open to everyone and ensures our primary purpose “to help ALL suffering alcoholics” find sobriety.

It’s All of Us

This village, or, as we like to say, “our tribe” is what will make WAFT IAAC a success! Yes, this means you. We are just days away from confirming dates/times of the last few planning meetings for the convention, which need to be attended by YOU! We will need individuals to work on projects before the convention as well as taking commitments the day of the convention as volunteers , registration, greeters, ushers, etc.

Details

So, as we’ve said before, keep your calendar handy so you can write these dates down and join us at the Santa Monica library for on-the-ground final planning.

You will not want to miss out on playing your part in this historic first, guaranteeing it to be the amazing experience it is destined to become.

Details on meeting dates/times/location will be sent out very soon!! We are just awaiting confirmation from the Santa Monica Library within the next few days. Stay tuned!!

Yours in sobriety,
Steering Committee
WAFT IAAC

brain with door inset, microphone with door inset

WAFTIAAC Fundraiser August 17, 2014

Open Minds, Open Mic

brain with door inset, microphone with door inset

Sunday, August 17, 2–5 pm
1944 Sunset Drive
Vista, CA 92081

Schedule:

A.A. Meeting 2–3
Open Mic 3–5

Contribution:

$10 suggested contribution.

Benefit For:

Pre-conference event for the We Agnostics and Free Thinkers International AA Conference Nov 6-8, 2014 in Santa Monica CA.

Participate!

To ensure a spot in the open mic lineup, bring your own instruments and sign up before 3:00.

Questions? Call 760-560-6351

We

by Ernie K.

Alcoholics Anonymous is fellowship as well as program, and it is significant that the first word on WAFT, as in the Twelve Steps, is “We.”

No One is an Island

“We”: an acknowledgement of our ties with others. “No one is an island,” we all know. But how well do those who are “using” live that? Alcoholism is a lonely disease. Oh, sometimes especially introverts drank to feel more sociable, to feel that they “fit in” rather than standing uncomfortably on the edges of some social gathering. And then? At least in some cases the event would go on too long and one might get sloppy, or eventually retire home for some real “social drinking” and wake up on the floor or worse.

Getting Together

Friends? Pretty much out of necessity choosing those who drank pretty much the same way. Many good conversations, but rarely remembering what was said. Which was all right – you could have the same conversation the next evening, and the next. But so what? After all, “getting together” was not to talk or to listen but to drink. And God help any who tried to “help!” But “God” usually didn’t – unless in some form not very recognizable. More likely the doc or the judge, or sometimes, for the very fortunate, someone who was still able to love.

Spirituality

But then what? How did the drunk get from there to here, to something called “recovery?” According not only to Alcoholics Anonymous but to many serious students of alcoholism, essential to recovery is some form of “spirituality.” But what of those who have difficulty not so much with the term spirituality as with its so frequent association with various forms of religion? Well, for most, the understanding of that “spirituality” – the spirituality that allowed the drunk to become “an alcoholic” – evolved, changed over time. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, spirituality is “that which has a spiritual character” – fair enough, because the same source defines spiritual as “of or relating to, affecting or concerning, the spirit or higher moral qualities.” That, pretty much anyone can live with. Except, for some, for the baggage of their history, the story of a sad and often twisted experience.

Spiritual Experiences

Even before the dawn of Alcoholics Anonymous, many who were troubled by the devastation that some drinkers caused in their own lives as well as those of others thought that some sort of spiritual experience had to happen for an alcoholic to triumph over his (rarely her) drunkenness – only they usually called it a “religious” experience. And especially in the United States, there were just too many religions. Some thoughtful individuals, like the philosopher-psychologist William James, thought such experiences could be generic – not connected with any particular faith but the result of contact with some reality outside of and in some way larger than the self. For most people, that “power greater” or “higher power” is some transcendent being. Others, such as those in the 19th century termed “village atheists” and, more recently, the members of AAAgnostica and WAFT, find that power in some more immanent reality. Most in recent times have fortunately gotten past doorknobs, and find that power in “good orderly direction” or their AA group or the larger reality of Alcoholics Anonymous itself.

Transcendence

Observing all this as a longtime student of American religious/spiritual history, and immersed in it from my own experience with alcoholism and addiction, it seems to me that any/all spirituality can be summed up in two prepositions: beyond and between. Beyond: the first task of any spirituality is to help one escape being wrapped up in self: selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles.” The first definition of transcendence in the O.E.D. is “the action of surmounting, or rising above.” Fair enough: if we are going to live as fully human, we must escape, transcend, get beyond the narrow prison of self. The same source defines prison as “a place of captivity.” How accurate a description of alcoholism, of any addiction!

Trust and Confidence

Yet how comfortable that prison could be! One can get accustomed to the privations of addiction. The chemical is a faithful friend. Faithful. We can put our trust in it. The alcoholic knows what alcohol can do for her/him, for those feelings of emptiness or unease. Booze can be trusted. And that is what faith is: trust and confidence. We may not like to admit it, but we are all believers. And that belief is always in some kind of a higher power: the term “getting high” has layers of meaning. Belief is defined as “the mental action or habit of trusting or having confidence in a person or thing” – a pretty good description of how the active alcoholic relates to alcohol.

Transfer of Belief

In recovery we do not give up belief: we transfer it, and in that transfer is the dawn of spirituality. Most find a capitalized Higher Power, one Who transcends all ordinary reality, one customarily referred to as “God.” Others – may I call them “unconventional believers”? – do not make that discovery. Nor, usually, do they settle on some belief in doorknobs. And here is where the second preposition – between – comes in, for some find sufficient power greater than themselves horizontally, in others with whom they connect not in I-Thou or I-It relationships but as I-You, in a relationship of full equality. There are other such communities, but most find in their AA group, or in the larger reality of Alcoholics Anonymous itself, sufficient power to pull them beyond themselves and into some genuinely higher form of being than “getting high.” I am a conventional believer, but I think that I have some grasp of this in that I do find that my Higher Power seems to speak to me most often through others in my group at various meetings.

Understanding

Others, I know, posit their belief in the grandeur of nature, or the wonders of science, or the magnificence of a universe that so transcends our petty attempts to understand it. How one understands “spirituality” or “recovery” is beside the point. The point is that they are real, and that we live them, and that whatever may happen no one can take them away from us.

A We Program

My admiration for WAFT and AAAgnostica and any other such groupings that may exist of what I prefer to term “unconventional believers” is rooted in this conviction: the future of Alcoholics Anonymous lies with those who do not have an overly rigid understanding of their “Higher Power.” Those who are too sure of themselves, too sure about just about anything, are a plague on serenity. Here as in so many areas concerning our sober lives in the fellowship, the virtue of tolerance suggests that we “live and let live.” The A.A. Big Book suggests, as I recall, that “we have ceased fighting anything or anyone – even alcohol.” It is my hope and even tentative faith that, perhaps inspired by the example of WAFT and AAAgnostica, all members and even camp-followers of Alcoholics Anonymous put this into their daily practice – their daily living of spirituality. For we are a “we” program as well as fellowship.

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Volunteer Planning Meeting

Volunteer Meeting June 15, 2014

Central courtyard with people walking and eating at the cafe with sun streaming down on circle motif sun shade.
We’re gathered here in beautiful downtown Santa Monica (you know… where the convention will be held:-) at the main public library branch. Megan D., who started the We Agnostics Friday night Hollywood meeting with Charlie Polacheck back in the 70s, is here to see things come full circle. From individual meetings around the world to our first international convention is quite a big evolution.

Unification

The General Service Office in New York is very positive about what we are doing and want to play a role in the convention. This is a wonderful development and we will see how this relationship will grow and help unification. This is further evidence that this is a real AA event.

Recovery

What we are talking about is reaching out to those who still suffer who may have issues that agnostics and free-thinker meetings might help with. Everyone’s experience is different, some will benefit from our approach. But not everyone knows about or has access to such meetings. For those who don’t know, we are hoping the convention can raise awareness that we exist.

We Are The World

People are coming from around the world coming to the convention, including 8 countries and 34 cities in the USA. There are already many sessions planned.

Dance Interpretation of the Steps

There will be panel discussions and workshops, and there will sessions led by individuals. We’re trying to be as inclusive as humanly possible. We are not able or capable of policing what individuals say but we are attempting to set the tone. Acceptance and tolerance of each other will be our guide.

Time To Get Involved

There is still time to put in topics for sessions. You can’t keep it if you don’t give it away. Get involved with the convention in any way you can. It’s your convention. Megan D. just volunteered to help with registration. How cool is that? Can’t get involved? Do some outreach at your very next meeting, especially non-WAFT meetings.

Volunteer Positions

Planning, Events, Food, Check-in

We need help in the planning and the work in the days before the convention. Registration and planning needs help, the events committee needs help. Do you have a meetup group or do you do other sorts of group events? Consider helping out. We intend to have a free coffee, water, and tea bar. You know Americans can’t do tea. Coming from the UK? This is your cue. We’re hoping to have box lunches for each day and a dinner for the last night. Now talking about catering and working with vendors who have point-of-sale tech to sell things during the day like snacks or other items. Check-in staff are needed.

General Logistics

Help will definitely be needed on the ground, on-site, days of the event. If you are local, please pitch in! Will we have music for the closing dinner? Perhaps. Will we have people who can help direct conference-goers, help with accessibility issues, keep people from smoking on church property? Perhaps. It will take volunteers. Please help!