This week’s HTYH is taken from a book titled, The Higher Power of the Twelve Step Program, written for believers and non-believers by Glen Chesnut. Many friends will be offended by some of the professor’s comments, but please keep an open mind, and hear him out.


The old guys around AA say, “We have a wrench to fit most nuts!” Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob Smith, Sister Ignatia, Dr. Zweig, Dr. Tiebout, Dr. Silkworth, Dr. B. Robert F., Herb B., Ed Kennedy, Betty G., Hank and Edna W., Rodney M., Chic, the South Bend professor and countless thousands of other unnamed souls were and are the wrenches that fit the nuts. Here then is the South Bend Professor’s thoughts, comments and viewpoint: My first observation is that no one, absolutely no one, learns to work the twelve-step program well, who has not cut the umbilical cord connecting them with their childhood religious beliefs. As an adult, you cannot truly go back to your childhood religious beliefs.

Some people, when they begin the twelve–step program, make the mistake of trying to get a better grasp of the spiritual dimension by going to church or synagogue services, or reading the Bible, or something like that. But a lot of people who try it this way end up going back to their addiction. People’s old ideas and concepts are the problem because they contain major errors and misunderstandings. When old emotions and attitudes are taken up, it puts them into intolerable emotional states or drives them into unconscious self-destructive behavioral patterns, and they finally get drunk (or whatever their addiction was) to relive the pressure.

In fact, many of the people who make this mistake are trying to avoid working the steps, because the churches, synagogues and mosques won’t force them to do that. The twelve-step program is the greatest outpouring of real spirituality in today’s world, where people make more progress, and far faster than anywhere else, in genuinely learning how to live the spiritual life. If you can’t recognize real spirituality when you see it right in front of your face in the twelve-step program, you’ll never recognize it anyplace else.

I’m talking about just the first year of working the twelve-steps, because interestingly enough when we check back after three years, and look at the survivors who’ve stayed clean and sober, we discovered about two-thirds of them are attending religious services on a regular basis. But it’s not always the religious denomination that they were brought up in, and even if it is, they now see and hear it through different eyes and ears. And the most devout will insist that no one else in the twelve-step program needs to hold the same beliefs and practices as their religious group. To be continued…

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