Using the Big Book (literature as a tool)

IMG_0152I’ve thought about this and hesitated and tried to think of what to write.  This blog is of my experience, and I’m sure my experience has value, at least to me, myself.  If the value doesn’t go beyond that, at least I’ve been a sober, self-supporting and somewhat good citizen member of AA for the past 29 years.  This is a much, much better thing than I was before.

So, the Big Book.  I looked up the meaning of the word “text.”  After looking it up, I’m not sure what it means in regard to the Big Book.  It is a book of instructions, to be sure, but it is so much more than that.

I think it started because the demand for contact with sober members of AA was more than the pioneers could handle.  By the time I first touched a Big Book, in 1978, it had become something entirely different, at least in the place where I first went to meetings.  I was handed a Big Book and told to read it.  I read it.  I’m a bright enough person, and good reader for sure, but my mind was so polluted by alcohol that I couldn’t understand much of it.

I remember taking it babysitting with me, almost like I would take a novel.

In my early sobriety and my early non-sobriety, I relied much more on the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.  I went to step meetings but I honestly don’t remember any particular Big Book meetings.  That’s not to say there weren’t any, just that there weren’t tons, and they weren’t prominent in my experience.

Where I live now there are many Big Book meetings, and one of my favorite meetings is a Big Book meeting.

It’s hard for me to know if things change or if I just pay different attention to things at different times.  I want to say that it seems to me that lately people where I am are quoting the Big Book and mentioning page numbers a lot more than they used to, but that could be my perception.

I don’t have any page numbers memorized except for 449, which shows my age, it is 417 in the “new” edition and even as I know that page number and know what the page says, I also always feel compelled to point out that these words about acceptance are from a personal story, not from the proper “text” of the Big Book.

I’ve heard the language of the Big Book criticized and I know there are “translations” into modern English.  I want to check those out but I haven’t yet.  The language can be a bit of a barrier, but mostly I’m grateful that the writer was such a good writer, and the book has stood the test of this short time very well.  I believe that I’ve seen people become much more literate by reading from the Big Book and other AA literature over time.

So I really haven’t said much about the Big Book or how I use it now.  I don’t really use it now, except when I go to a Big Book meeting, or when I’m trying to help someone with a concept that’s mentioned there.  I have the “original” Big Book that came out a few years ago and I’ve enjoyed looking at the revisions and changes, though I haven’t made it through the whole thing.  I have an extra Big Book waiting for someone to need it from me.  Eventually, someone will.  It’s still the first thing I hand a struggling newcomer or someone else who I want to introduce to the program.  It’s still something I read and I know that I will continue to read it as I go on.

I just have to say that I hope the ideas in the Big Book don’t get frozen in time. Maybe the most important phrase in the Big Book is

more will be revealed

And no, I don’t know what page that’s on, I don’t even know if that’s a direct quote.  But I know that it’s true.

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6 thoughts on “Using the Big Book (literature as a tool)

  1. thanks Lydia im still kind of a newcomer to this spiritual kindergarten you people talk about—I like what im getting so im gonna keep doin what im doin

  2. i’m 79 this year. getting a bit cranky but for the most part i am a happy camper. wheelchiar and all. i appreciate the big book for the guidance i receive from it. usually though, i refer to notes. either noted when reading it or after a big book meeting. i do take what i want and put the rest on the shelf. i like the Jewish Rabbi hillwl’s comment that this is the Torah, now go and learn. actually it was a bit longer but i am best studying something by reading the ‘text’ and then going on to read and listen to the discussion that is available. either from friends or at meetings. i will end this rant withm i tell someone i go to meetings. i do not tell someone he should go to meetings cheers

    • The musts in the big book do not tell me I must do anything. They are the comments of people speaking of how they, or alcoholics must do…whatever. I am a fan of Melodie Beatles ‘co dependence and the 12 steps. It is an up to date, relative book. Bill W sent a message to a group just before he died stating that changes must happen. (para phrased). I have had experience with cults and some of the AA members are guity (good word) of brainwashing and disallowing open thinking in place of memorized rants to be shared at meetings and elsewhare. That is not passing it on, to me. Passing it on is telling others how I have beniffoited

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