Last Thursday, I was at a discussion meeting where they ask for three topics and then discuss them. The topics given were “God as I understand him,” “powerlessness” and “expectations.” As they started around the room, I noticed a picture of the Last Supper on a bookcase. It was not put there by AA and had nothing to do with AA, it was just in the room. On the opposite wall there was an AA picture of the man on the bed. There was also someone attending an AA meeeting for the first time, sent there by the courts after having gotten a DUI.
Some of the people talked about having been brought up Catholic, and how that influenced their AA. I thought it was important to point out that AA is not a religious program, since here we were talking about religion, God, and praying the usual prayers.
The two pictures gave me an excellent metaphor. The Last Supper represents God as I could never understand him. For me, the picture has meaning and symbolism I can’t begin to understand. The man on the bed, however, represents God as I can grow in my understanding of him. To me it represents how it works. The three could not achieve sobriety alone, only together, and what they did has flowed down through uncounted people to me and the people sitting in the room with me and many of the people reading these words.
In my last post I wrote about how AA softened me up and lead me back to church. It works that way for many many people. That’s not the entirety of my experience though. I did start to attend a Lutheran church at that time, and I still do so. I don’t, however, agree with all the tenents and teachings of the Lutheran church. I don’t take communion and I don’t recite the Apostle’s Creed. The list of what I don’t do is lengthy.
I mostly don’t believe in that stuff, but for me, it’s OK and I can still attend. At one time I was looking into attending Quaker services. On one of the online “What is Your Religion” quizzes I come out as mostly liberal Quaker. My wife attended a Lutheran church, though, and when I met her she was heavily involved in it, so I decided to stay.
So although my AA experience made it possible for me to go to church again, I haven’t embraced it totally. And I do want say again that this is only my experience, and AA does not demand a belief in anything at all. Through the years I’ve met many people who have found AA to be compatible enough with their various religious beliefs that there is no conflict, and many people are able to appreciate their religion much more due to the influence of AA.