Of Semantics and Spirituality

“Remember that we deal with alcohol–cunning, baffling, powerful!” – The Big Book.

Well, yes, we deal with alcohol, but more importantly, we deal with alcoholics and alcoholism. Alcohol itself can’t be cunning, baffling, or powerful. My addiction can be cunning (“Robert, just have one glass of wine…just one! You can handle that”) and my behavior under the influence of alcohol and the lengths to which I would get it could be baffling, and the totality of my addiction and the pull that alcohol has on me is powerful, indeed.

But when I read the quote above and hear it in AA meetings, it kind of falls flat. Obviously, the language is a bit stiff, as you would expect given the time during which the first part of the Big Book was written. I find it particularly helpful when people quote from the Big Book, I imagine Yoda saying it:

Master Yoda, if you please

Master Yoda, if you please

So, Yoda would say:”Remember we must that deal with alcohol we do: cunning, baffling, powerful!” Bam! Now I’m on-board.

Bill W. and Doctor Bob are wonderful, and I truly enjoy the stories I read in the Big Book because they speak to me across the generations. My fellow alcoholics, long since passed, still touch me and millions of others with their honesty.

But every now again, I need to frame their words and ideas in a context that speaks to me, and the Star Wars universe has spoken to me since I can remember.

I also like the fact that AA is also referred to as the Fellowship. Some of you know where this is heading…

Not pictured: millions of people in AA.

Not pictured: millions of people in AA.

AA is indeed a Fellowship, and we’re on a quest to destroy the One Ring achieve and maintain sobriety. I’m proud to be a part of such a group, too. It’s going to be a hard road with pitfalls and dangers, but it’s worth it. Like with Star Wars, I imagine myself trudging along with Frodo and Sam, or consulting with Gandalf when I’m troubled. I don’t care if he’s fond of the halfing’s leaf; let him have it. I just don’t need to go into any taverns with hobbits. Am I right or am I right?

In group last night, we covered all the Steps, and Katie showed a PowerPoint that had spiritual lessons attached to each Step. For the Third Step, she had typed, “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

“Thanks for adapting the language at the end,” I said. “God isn’t male to me, and the gender-specific pronoun really bothers me.”

“I get that,” Katie said, “and it used to really bother me, too. Just don’t get hung up on semantics.”

I was going to agree with her, and then the Giant Talking Ass said, “Hey, what’s the big deal? We hear the word God every day. It doesn’t matter.”

I turned around, again being careful not to sound terribly angry, and said, “Words have power, especially the word God. It’s freighted with meaning.”

Other people chimed in, and Katie did, too, agreeing that not everyone in room is comfortable with language in the Steps, especially when it comes to God. The Giant Talking Ass replied, “Well, it says as you understand him, doesn’t it?”

Him,” I said, wanting to whack him in the head. “God isn’t male for everyone. The word brings up patriarchy and misery for a lot of people. I’ve changed it to Her because I can get behind the female divine. I’m just glad Katie changed the language.”

I can dig this much more than the Sky Daddy.

I can dig this much more than the Sky Daddy.

The Giant Talking Ass conceded that point and sat back in his chair, and we moved on. Katie’s right about not getting caught up in semantics, but words are my stock and trade, and words have lasting power.

When I’m in the creative writing zone or writing music–and some of you have heard me say this–I feel like I often plug into the Cosmic Signal. Words and notes flow through me, and I’m not entirely aware of how the process occurs. The writer Robert Olen Butler refers to this as accessing “the dream space.” It seems to follow that if I believe in a universal creative force that’s present when I write poetry and music, then that same universal force is present when I actively engage with other people. I’m not used to actively engaging with anyone, but it’s worth a shot, no?

I have work to do on Step Three, and I will approach it slowly, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. I’ll approach it as a writer, musician, a lover of words, and a recovering alcoholic. I won’t be ashamed of my journey. If you want to walk with me and support me, I’m glad to have you along.

On the other hand, if you’re a Giant Talking Ass, then kindly move on and pester someone else.


About Robert Crisp

Just a lad who likes to create.
This entry was posted in AA, addiction, alcoholism, early sobriety, recovery, sobriety, treatment, withdrawal and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Of Semantics and Spirituality

  1. kelleigh16 says:

    Hi. I came across your blog and wanted to say hello. I have been sober since June 11, 2001. Welcome to AA! It’s good to have you. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s