We Agnostics Shine in Atlanta

Joe C., author of Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life, which we use for topics of our meetings, posted on Rebellion Dogs a report about the 2015 International Convention recently held in Atlanta, celebrating A.A.’s 80th anniversary.

With the theme “Happy, Joyous and Free,” the report includes an mp3 recording of the “We Agnostics” panel, whose three speakers certainly exuded mucho happiness, joy & freedom about being agnostics in A.A. with longtime sobriety. The first speaker, Diggins, mentioned how grateful he was to see posters spread throughout the convention announcing the 2nd International Conference of We Agnostics, Atheists and Freethinkers November 11-13, 2016 in Austin, Texas. For me, an added bonus was hearing Mike, whom I went to meetings with on Long Island in the 90s, share his bountiful spirit again.

An extra bonus was the link that Joe C. put up to the talk of the last speaker on the last panel of the last day — John K. from New York spoke on the topic from page 164 of the Big Book, “We Know But A Little.” The talk includes a segment of Bill Wilson’s remarks at the Toronto International A.A. convention 50 years ago in 1965 on the dangers of too much dogma in A.A. Our Responsibility Declaration was the theme of the Toronto convention

Thomas B.

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Many Paths to Recovery . . .

It’s been a most exciting time for me the last couple of weeks. Jill and I took an exciting and fun trip to Tucson, AZ with visits in Flagstaff, The Grand Canyon, the White Mountains and Sedona before we ended up in Tucson. I know, who  the F . . . visits Arizona in the summer when temps range from 105 – 115 degrees? Well, we had a special reason to go. Our son, Tommy, also aka Thomas B., celebrated his 10th year of being clean & sober in NA. His mother, Sara, her husband, Michael, and Tommy’s wife, Mica, celebrated with us.

Tommy hit his first rehab at Hazelden when he was 14, but spent the next ten years in and out of rehabs, psyche wards, long-term residential programs, jails, living in a crack house, robbing drug dealers in East Harlem, wearing an ankle bracelet, etc. Primarily addicted to Special K in the Rave scene of  ’90s, it took him many relapses with beer to get it that, yes though primarily addicted to Special K, he was also a drunk, just like his Daddy. I moved him to live with me out in Tucson in 2002, and eventually after another experience with the law while drunk, he got clean and sober again in 2005. When I returned from a two-year stint as an ex-pat in Sri Lanka, working as an unarmed peace keeper between the Sinhala Buddhist Army and the Tamil Tigers, I gave him his 90 day coin in August of 2005.

Married, with budding careers both in business and as a DJ, Tommy’s recovery today is focused on a weekly NA men’s meeting, weekly yoga sessions and weekly Buddhist meditation with a group in Tucson who follow the dharma of Noah Levine.

It was truly one of the most specially gifted days of my longterm sobriety in AA, to give son, Tommy, his ten year clean & sober medallion at the Monday night NA meeting in Tucson on June 29th !~!~!

Thomas B.

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We Carry the Message of AA Recovery . . .

When I visited the Beyond Belief Meeting in Toronto last summer I was most impressed that they took a meeting into a dual-diagnosis detox  for alcohol addicts with other mental health issues at one of Toronto’s hospitals. Now I’m most happy to report that likewise do the secular AA recovery groups in Portland.

Under the excellent coordination of Rob B., we now have two H & I assignments arranged through the Portland Intergroup Office hospital desk:

  • On the first Wednesday of each month we take a men’s meeting into the Hazelden Rehab in Newberg
  • On the first and third Thursday of each month, we take a meeting with a woman and a man speaker into the dual-diagnosis unit of St. Vincent Hospital

Men with a minimum of one year sober can coordinate with Rob to share at the Hazelden Rehab. Women and men with a minimum of 90 days sober can coordinate with Rob to take a meeting into the dual-diagnosis detox for women and men at St. Vincent Hospital.

These meetings are listed in a sub-menu under the Meetings Tab at the top of the website homepage.

Thomas B.

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21st Century Recovery


This week Joe C., author of Beyond Belief — the name of our meeting and the book we use as the suggested topic for our meetings — put up on his website, Rebellion Dogs Publishing, a podcast of an interview he did with Erica Spiegelman, author of the book pictured above. Rewired updates recovery from addiction into the 21st century, as it’s subtitle proclaims, “A Bold New Approach to Addiction and Recovery.” I was fascinated by her interview, which follows Joe speaking about AA’s inverted triangle of organizational structure. Ms. Spiegleman makes imminent good sense, discussing how recovery occurs by finding not only physical recovery, but also mental, emotional and spiritual recovery within oneself, rather than by seeking it from above, as is intimated in the Big Book.

Thomas B.

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New Attendance Records

An earlier post described the accelerating numbers of groups in North America for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers and those with different beliefs from the predominant Christian belief in the majority of AA meetings throughout North America. Well, the growth of Portland’s  secular AA meetings is also accelerating !~!~!

This week Jill and I attended both the Secular Sobriety Friday night meeting and the Beyond Belief Sunday meeting. Both meetings broke new attendance records: 28 for Secular Sobriety and 41 for Beyond Belief.

I was also most impressed that some 15 or 16 members of Secular Sobriety stayed for the Business Meeting afterwards. That’s a much higher percentage of group members at a Biz Meeting than most groups I’ve belonged to. The informed group conscience  of Secular Sobriety determined to start a new meeting at Tabor Space on Monday nights commencing July 6th. YEAH !~!~!

Thomas B.

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Hello Sober Secular Members of AA !~!~!

This is the beta build of the Portland Oregon Secular AA website that Rob B. and I have been working on for the past several months, but especially the last couple of weeks. It is a work in progress, and we want to incorporate the Secular AA recovering community in Portland to help us reach out the hand of AA digitally to alcohol addicts and anyone who has a desire to stop drinking.

Please read thru the posts and pages on the website and give us your feedback. You can either email/telephone us or leave us a comment in the comment box. We also welcome any of you to contribute posts for the blog. We’ll figure out together how this process will work with Rob and I sharing admin responsibilities.

We’ll be tweaking this beta version between now and the Beyond Belief business meeting on June 14th, wherein we’ll have an informed group conscience decision about announcing it throughout the rest of the secular AA recovering community and the general AA community.

These are exciting times for the secular recovering community in AA. Together we can help insure that the hand of AA is available to all who seek recovery regardless of belief or lack thereof.

In love and service,

Thomas B.

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QUAD-A/WAAF Meetings Accelerating . . .


This graph, prepared by Deirdre S. of New York City who compiles the worldwide listing of Agnostic AA meetings,  is  posted on AA Agnostica. It amply demonstrates that We Agnostics, Atheists and Freethinkers are thriving in our recovery together within AA.

This bodes well for younger generations of alcohol addicts, many of whom are “nones” with no religious orientation according to the Pew Research Center, who shall need the hand of AA to always be there for them. For this to be:


I am so grateful that here in Portland the growth of our Secular AA meetings mirrors this growth of Quad-A/WAAF meetings worldwide.

Thomas B.

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Finally, a Book of Our Stories . . .

In 1975, the first request to publish the stories of agnostics, atheists and freethinkers was made to AA’s General Service Office. In 2014 a pamphlet, “Many Paths to Spirituality” was finally published. However, this did not include our stories, only snippets of quotes, including one from a Jewish pDo-Tell-Full-Blue-Front-Cover-200-FRAMEDerson who said he had no problem in reciting the Lord’s Prayer from the New Testament. Also, in 2014, members from AA Agnostica, requested the Grapevine to publish a book containing the some 40 stories previously published by the Grapevine since 1962 from agnostics, atheists and freethinkers. The Grapevine Board of Directors voted against putting this on the agenda for the General Service Conference this past April.

Therefore, Roger C., collected thirty stories from agnostics, atheists and freethinkers with a forward by Marya Hornbacher plus an Introduction by himself, and published Do Tell! Stories by Atheists and Agnostics in AAlast month. It is a must read for anyone who struggles with the religiosity found in many AA meetings. It demonstrates how  people with differing beliefs from the conventional Christian dogma of AA literature, or no belief at all, have found sobriety in AA and lead satisfied, productive and successful lives in recovery.

A must read for agnostic, atheists and freethinkers in recovery, it is available on AA Agnostica, Amazon, iTunes and other outlets. Limited copies are also available in the Portland Alano Club Office.

Thomas   B.

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