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Non-Jews aka Gentiles were not part of this family. It was here and at that time that Jesus instituted the Eucharist. It was not until a little later that the followers of Christ were called Christians in the city of Antioch 1. It was also from Antioch that the term Catholic came to describe Christians first recorded in the Letter to the Smyrnaeans 2 addressed Christian Jews in Rome in about 57AD attesting to their presence there by at least that time.

Of course, St Paul himself was kept under house arrest here twice in Rome whilst awaiting his trial, and it is here the first time that he wrote many of his epistles. At this time, Christianity was an underground movement attracting persecution from Jews who said that they were still the only chosen people and Romans who have no king but Caesar alike.

The first Christians therefore met for the Eucharist what we now call the Mass in private houses 3. You can learn more about this on our Rome Catacombs Tour which visits the underground house of Pope St Clement before moving on to the underground Catacombs.

Of course it was not just women who hosted the Eucharist where Christians gathered. The 12 Apostles journeyed far and wide and all were eventually martyred except John the Evangelist who lived with Mary the Mother of Jesus in Ephesus before his natural death in around AD. With the rapid growth of the Church so too did the hierarchy grow quickly with new deacons, priests and bishops being ordained to help shepherd these new converts.

This rapid growth also meant that there was a need for codification and uniformity with various writings being distributed for the faithful to read at the Eucharist. Some of these writings were later recognised to be divinely inspired and included in the New Testament Canon by the Council of Rome in Others such as the Didache or Epistles of St Clement , although lauded, were not chosen by the bishops at this Council to be included in the Bible.

The liturgical praxis too, although already based on Jewish priestly rituals, and the experience of the apostles with Jesus, was also requiring written comment to cope with the rapid expansion. These remodelled houses were rented, purchased by or given to the Church and were the earliest Domus Ecclesia or Titulus Ecclesia which architecturally grew to be churches once the persecutions ended with Emperor Constantine in the 4th Century. The best known example of a remodelled Roman house is the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo.

With the growth of the Catholic Church by the blood of the martyrs came also a need by the authorities to intensify the persecutions. In , Emperor Decius ordered the systematic persecution of anyone who refused to sacrifice to the Roman Gods, and in , Emperor Valerian ordered the persecution of bishops and senior clergy.

Catholics believe that martyrs, having been washed clean by the Blood of the Paschal Lamb Jesus Christ and their own blood, are now with God in heaven. More fundamentally too though, the Catholic Church is the mystical Body of Christ. The Church is not just the living known as the Church Militant , but also the dead, whether they be in a process of purification in purgatory Church Suffering or in heaven the Church Triumphant. But there is an infinite difference between "hard" and "impossible. Bush, says that he just quit drinking when the consequences of heavy drinking and doping got to be too much.

He says he didn't use A. And this time, I believe him. Guess where George B. Just keep coming to the meetings, and doing The Steps, and don't let some outside interest like politics interfere with your recovery. Question: Shouldn't the A. Bush a "dry drunk"? He quit drinking without doing the Twelve Steps, and that is the A. So what do the A. The Bible has more to say about miracles on demand: Matthew He said to them in reply, "In the evening you say, 'Tomorrow will be fair, for the sky is red'; and, in the morning, 'Today will be stormy, for the sky is red and threatening.

An evil and unfaithful generation seeks a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. Jesus just didn't like people demanding miracles and signs, did he? I have to comment: Yes, God can do anything. But where, true believers, does it say that God will do anything for you? When did God become your slave? When did God become like Aladdin's Genie who has to grant you three wishes when you rub his lamp?

Countless millions of other people on this planet are suffering and dying from all kinds of things, particularly starvation and diseases, and God won't do just any old special favor for them. God lets them die. Sixty thousand people die of starvation every day on this planet, and most of them are children. That's just how it is. It's beyond being an epidemic — entire regions of Africa are being depopulated. Those people are far too poor to be able to afford drugs like AZT; their entire countries are too poor; it's totally out of the question; so they die without medicines.

And God just lets them die, in spite of their prayers. But somehow, you Steppers think that you are so special that you rate God's favors when they don't? What makes you think you are so special? Drinking and drugging too much? Brain damage? Having white skin? Imagining that only you and your group are doing the Will of God, and everyone else in the world isn't? Inquiring minds want to know. And mind you, that is not a criticism of God. It is a criticism of the stupidity of people. In the rather hokey movie Oh God!

Isn't it enough that the Lord created the entire physical Universe in a blindingly brilliant flash of light? Must the Lord also hang around this backwater planet and do cheap magic tricks to amuse the local yokels? If you can accept the idea that the Lord simply does not do cheap magic tricks, then you can accept the idea that God doesn't play Santa Claus, and God doesn't deliver miracles on demand. That's a tough one to accept, but that's just the way it is. But if you do come to terms with that idea, the idea that God is not Santa Claus and does not grant wishes like a Genie who just popped out of a bottle, then it really blows a big hole in the theology of Alcoholics Anonymous.

All of the people in meetings yammering about how their "Higher Power" is giving them a bunch of wonderful things becomes ludicrous. This is childish nonsense and wishful thinking: Of course, the often disputed question of whether God can — and will, under certain conditions — remove defects of character will be answered with a prompt affirmative by almost any A. To him, this proposition will be no theory at all; it will be just about the largest fact in his life.

My own willpower just wouldn't work on alcohol. Change of scene, the best efforts of family, friends, doctors, and clergymen got no place with my alcoholism. I simply couldn't stop drinking, and no human being could seem to do the job for me. But when I became willing to clean house and then asked a Higher Power, God as I understood Him, to give me release, my obsession to drink vanished. It was lifted right out of me Alcohol must be really wonderful stuff for it to make God care about us so much.

God doesn't seem to care about the starving children in Bengladesh or Biafra or Ethiopia; and God doesn't care about people dying in wars in Chechnya, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, or Africa; and God doesn't care about people getting sick from AIDS or tuberculosis or Ebola, but God sure does seem to care a lot if some white Americans get sick from drinking too much alcohol.

All praise be to the alcohol that makes God care about us so much. People who imagine that God will grant all of their wishes and solve all of their problems and take away all of their difficulties do not understand the story of Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane in his last night of freedom. The answer was "No. Nevertheless, the A. As if they rate getting their wishes granted more than Jesus did. And Bill also quoted another A. Wilson, Chapter 3, page It sounds like Santa Claus is coming to town.

You're going to church to pray that God will make Frank call you Y'know, you're turning God into a telephone operator. We shouldn't be shy on this matter of prayer. Better men than we are using it constantly. It works, if we have the proper attitude and work at it.

The Big Book , pages It works — it really does. The Big Book , page Bill Wilson wrote on page 87, "We are careful never to pray for our own selfish ends" , but the giddy believers who are getting the goodies ignore that, and happily brag at meetings about all of the wonderful stuff that God has given them lately, like this I have no other explanation for the many good things that have happened to me since I have been in A. Those good things couldn't have been caused by quitting drinking? They couldn't have been caused by no longer constantly shooting yourself in the foot by always being drunk at the wrong times?

They couldn't possibly have been caused by being clear-headed, healthy, and able to work and get stuff done — just for a change? And then the enthusiastic believers pray for even more goodies, as if God is their Divine Butler, on call day and night, always eager to solve all of their problems for them. Oh Lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends. Worked hard all my lifetime, no help from my friends.


So oh Lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz? Oh Lord won't you buy me a color TV? Dialing for dollars is trying to find me. I wait for delivery each day until three. So oh Lord won't you buy me a color TV? Oh Lord, won't you buy me a night on the town? I'm counting on you Lord, please don't let me down.

115 Responses

Prove that you love me and buy the next round. Speaking only for myself, I believe they could not be more wrong because I cannot think God considers any prayer worthless. Just as most children creep before they walk, and walk before they run, so we progress spiritually from "gimme" prayers to selfless ones where we ask only to know God's Will and to follow it.

No one says the child is wasting his time creeping — he's just learning, just as we have to learn to pray. Furthermore, I cannot see that it is wrong to ask for material help, when the Lord's Prayer itself contains our plea for daily bread. I believe we get beyond the point of asking for purely material things just as some of our members are able to thank God for their having married an alcoholic and thus learning about our program.

Al-Anon's favorite forum editorials , pages Al-Anon actually says that Al-Anon is so wonderful that it was worth it to marry an alcoholic and go through Hell just so that you would be forced to join Bill Wilson's version of Frank Buchman's fascist cult religion. You should be grateful to alcohol for having messed up your family's lives.

And greedily praying for all of the things on your wish list is just good practice in praying, they say. You are allegedly just getting used to praying, and learning to be a passive dependent and learning to expect some "Higher Power" to give you everything you want That is some grossly heretical superstitious nonsense, of course. It is totally narcissistic for someone to expect Big Daddy, Big God , or "Higher Power" to take care of her and grant all of her wishes, as if she were a little child and God was the stern but loving parent who will bring gifts to His child when she is good.

The Heresy of the Twelve Steps

As Dr. Charlotte Kasl pointed out in her book , Many Roads, One Journey: Moving Beyond the 12 Steps , that is a descent into infantile narcissism, where people regress to being helpless "powerless" babies who lay in their beds and wait for their all-powerful "Higher Power" Mommies and Daddies to grant all of their wishes and satisfy their every demand just because they cry.

It is an attempt to return to infancy, where the baby lays helplessly on his backside and waits for Big Mommy and Big Daddy to satisfy all of his desires and screams if they are slow about it. Time to grow up and learn to stand on your own two feet, and not expect Santa Clause to bring the goodies.

And Al-Anon says: "God never considers any prayer to be worthless. Not even if it is Adolf Hitler, praying for all of the Jews to die? I find it amusing that the Hazelden Foundation step religious propaganda says that Al-Anon is all wrong and is practicing black magic: The wrong kinds of prayer can be a form of black magic, for when we seek to use a supernatural force to help us achieve our goals, it ceases to be supernatural and becomes superhuman. To make God into a servant is to place him under our superhuman power. Yet is this not exactly what we have long been taught to do?

To get down on our knees and pray for God to go to work for us? And, as usual, I am left with the question: "What does any of this theological argument have to do with quitting drinking? That is faith healing, pure and simple, just as insane as those Christian cults that don't believe in going to doctors for medical care when they are sick, even deathly ill.

You don't need medications. The Twelve Steps will get at the underlying causes. Those Steps have no such powers. The 12 Steps are Dr. Frank Buchman's cult religion practices for recruiting and converting newcomers. They have no healing powers. They have only brain-washing powers. Attempting to use the 12 Steps to do magical healings is essentially an attempt at practicing black magic. But nowhere in the Bible does it say that if you practice the 12 Steps, you will get healing powers.

And demanding that God heal people just because they are A. Here is a long list of A. Founder Bill Wilson, pretending to be a faith healer. Bill Wilson posed for a staged "Man On The Bed" publicity photograph, where Bill allegedly performed miraculous faith healings , making the drunks "pick up their beds and walk. Notice the cross on the wall. This photograph was very carefully staged for best effect.

Occult Practices Many churches will object to the occult practices inherent in Alcoholics Anonymous. Essentially, Step Eleven demands that the A. Yes, channelling, just like Shirley MacLaine taught. Then he assumes that his own internal mental noise, the voices in his head, are The Voice of God , talking to him and giving him religious instruction and marching orders: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

Note the contradiction here: The standard A. Bill Wilson learned this particular technique from the notorious fascist cult leader Dr. Frank N. Buchman , whose Oxford Groups would sit silently during the " Quiet Hour " and listen for God to give them messages. The whole Buchmanite family participates in the Quiet Time. They sit quietly with notebooks in hand, ready to write down the messages that they believe they receive from God.

Step Eleven suggests prayer and meditation. When we retire at night, we constructively review our day. On awakening, let us think about the twenty-four hours ahead. We consider our plans for the day. Before we begin, we ask God to direct our thinking Here we ask God for inspiration What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times.

We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely on it. Wilson, pages 86 to So, if we practice the Twelve Steps enough, we will supposedly end up in a state of mind where we are in constant conscious contact with God , and God is just always talking to us and guiding us and telling us what to do, all day long.

We may get into trouble by doing all kinds of absurd things and believing all kinds of absurd ideas because we think that God is telling us to do it. We may, in fact, become totally delusional and crazy. Nevertheless, Bill Wilson says that "We come to rely on it" anyway. Obviously, the "God" to Whom Bill Wilson is referring here is not a bedpan, a motorcycle, or the "Group Of Drunks" in whom Bill generously declared that we could believe, if we so chose, just a little earlier. It cannot even be a nice, vague "Higher Power" or "God as we understand Him"; It has to be Bill Wilson's fascist, willful Old-Testament dictator Who orders His followers around all day long, because teddy bears, door knobs, motorcycles, bed pans, cats, parakeets, and vague, foggy entities like "Good Orderly Direction" do not psychically dictate work orders and give "sure power".

So much for the freedom of religion that Bill promised us. Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world I saw a T-shirt today that said, "I do what the voices in my head tell me to do. And then it occurred to me that if the T-shirt was being worn by a Buchmanite, or a true-believer Alcoholics Anonymous member, that it wasn't a joke. The same criticisms of the doctrine of Guidance that theologians and clergy leveled at Frank Buchman's Oxford Groups apply to Alcoholics Anonymous: The person who is under Guidance discards his rational thinking mind and just follows impulses that he receives from he knows not where.

He abandons intelligent planning of his life in favor of following sudden impulses that just come from somewhere — hopefully, but not necessarily, from a good source. His life often becomes erratic and impulsive, following now this moment's Guidance , and now that, breaking appointments and commitments on a whim. And of course, there is the unavoidable question of "What is the real source of this 'Guidance'? The subconscious mind? Or one's favorite demon or devil? In fact, the Old Testament declares a death sentence for mediums who do such practices. Herbert Hensley Henson, the Bishop of Durham Church of England , said in his criticism of the Oxford Groups: Groupism discloses in its conception of 'Guidance' precisely the same error as that which infects its conception of 'witness'.

It 'seeks a sign'. It insists on something precise, concrete, calculable. Its temper of mind is rather Pharisaic than Christian. It seeks proofs of Divine action in what is abnormal, amazing, even miraculous. Its view of inspiration is mechanical, and its treatment of Scripture literalist. Thus it comes about that, even in the process of exalting the genuinely Christian conception of the 'guided life', it perverts and lowers it.

The people who advocate the practice of Guidance only use it to replace rational thought and intelligent thinking. They never suggest that someone should put on a blindfold and use "Guidance from God" to cross busy freeways, trusting his " vital new sixth sense " to tell him how to dodge cars, trucks and buses. I am reminded of a criticism of Frank Buchman's doctrine of Guidance : "Guidance is only to be sought in those matters which are usually matters for reason and common sense or for principles and conscience.

No suggestion is ever made that we should substitute 'guidance' for our eyesight and walk across a busy street under 'guidance' with our eyes blindfolded. In other words, that in man which he shares with other animals is honored and trusted to do its work. The reason, which most obviously distinguishes him from other animals, is dethroned. John A. Richardson, pages Morehouse Publishing Co. If you really "have faith" and truly believe that God is guiding you in your every activity and inserting thoughts into your head all day long, then you should have no problem with making another "leap of faith" and walking across freeways blindfolded, trusting that the Lord will tell you when to go and where to place your feet If the Lord is capable of giving you infallible Guidance in all important matters, then surely the Lord can be trusted to tell you how to safely cross busy highways and freeways.

In Buchmanism, the best of the human mind is thrown into the trash can, while the lower centers of the animal brain are retained. Rational thought and intelligent thinking — the best of what separates us from the lower animals — are distrusted and discarded, while the optical centers, which even toads and snakes have, are still trusted to do their jobs properly. If anything, Frank Buchman got it all backwards. Carried to its logical conclusion, Buchmanism would reduce us to being dumb, stupid, unthinking animals who just mindlessly obey orders, or into brainless robots that are under external control.

Seeking Guidance is a lot like using the I Ching to make every decision. The Buchmanite practice of constantly seeking Guidance for every decision reminds me of those people who, in the nineteen-sixties, became obsessed with the I Ching , and used it to make every decision in their lives.


One consults the I Ching by drawing straws or throwing coins, the outcome of which determines which pages of the book one should read to get guidance, advice, and vague, suggestive platitudes "Perseverence furthers". Some people who are knowledgeable about the I Ching say that you are not supposed to consult it more than a few times in your life — that it was never intended to be a daily guide in all matters.

It is easy to see that someone who uses the I Ching and the random outcome of coin tosses to determine his whole life is misguided and obsessed with the occult. What is less obvious is that someone who uses mainstream religions even Christianity and the Bible in the same manner is making the same error.

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When God wasn't talkative enough, the A. Robert Smith turned to the Ouija board to get more messages from the spirits. The official A. They believed that it demonstrated the existence of the "Higher Power" so central to their A. Page It was a passion directly related to AA which went on for many years. It is still there. You can go visit the house "Stepping Stones" and see the spook room, downstairs to the left, complete with book shelves loaded with occult books.

Pages Actually, that conversation with the old ghosts of Nantucket looks suspiciously like a faked psychic stunt. Henrietta Seiberling wrote that Wilson also practiced automatic writing , which is supposed to be a way of receiving the thoughts of a dead person. How it works is, you relax and clear your mind, and then just write down whatever comes into your head.

Then you imagine that your writings are messages from departed people or other spirits. Bill imagined that he wrote dictation from a Catholic priest who had lived in the period in Barcelona, Spain. In the official A. Francis, diverse archangels with odd names, deceased friends — some in purgatory and others doing nicely, thank you!

There were malign and mischievous ones of all descriptions, telling of vices quite beyond my ken, even as former alcoholics. Then, the seemingly virtuous entities would elbow them out with messages of comfort, information, advice — and sometimes just sheer nonsense. Anne B. He would 'get' these things. He kept doing it every week or so.

Each time, certain people would 'come in. There would be long sentences; word by word would come through. This time, instead of word by word, it was letter by letter. Anne put them down letter by letter. See larger quote here. Notice how Bill Wilson clearly stated that he received messages from evil spirits, something that he also denied or minimized when it suited him to do so. Bill Wilson declared that the A. In a lengthy letter to Rev. Sam Shoemaker in , Bill wrote: Throughout A. Alcoholic after alcoholic tells me of such experiences and asks if these denote lunacy — or do they have real meaning?

These psychic experiences have run nearly the full gamut of everything we see in the books. In addition to my original mystical experience, I've had a lot of such phenomenalism myself. Bill enthusiastically wrote to his Catholic Priest friend, Father Ed Dowling, telling about the help and guidance he was receiving from spirits of the dead while writing his second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions July 17, Bill adds, "But I have good help — of that I am certain.

Both over here and over there. Bill slipped in this voice from the other side like this was an everyday happening. It was, he said, the voice of Boniface, an apostle from England to Germany, Bavaria, and France, who reformed old church structures, and as bishop with powers from Rome, set up new monasteries and bishoprics.

Amazing, that Bill with hangups on the hierarchical church was open to receiving help from a dead bishop. One turned up the other day calling himself Boniface. Said he was a Benedictine missionary and English. Had been a man of learning, knew missionary work and a lot about structures. I think he said this all the more modestly but that was the gist of it. I'd never heard of this gentleman but he checked out pretty well in the Encyclopedia. If this one is who he says he is — and of course there is no certain way of knowing — would this be licit contact in your book?

He checked with Dowling to discern the spirit. Bill ended this letter by saying that he is "coming back to earth" from Boniface and that Harper was interested in publishing the book. Pass It On , Chapter 16, has a wonderful description of the time Bill heard voices who gave him their names in Nantucket.

Their exact names checked out both in the graveyard and in the whaling museum. Ed Dowling, S. The reason that "their exact names checked out" was probably because it was a faked psychic stunt. And so was the stunt with Boniface. He recited them letter by letter, so he didn't even have to get the pronunciation correct. And how was the message verified as coming from Boniface? By a scholar or minister looking it up and finding it in an old book about Boniface.

And if you think about it for a while, you have to wonder: "If it were really the spirit of Boniface, why would Boniface waste a precious opportunity to communicate with humanity by just repeating one of his old sermons that had already been written down and printed in a book? Why wouldn't Boniface send a new message, something that he had learned from five centuries of dwelling in Heaven?

Father Edward Dowling, S. Father Dowling's response was far less enthusiastic. He felt that Bill was messing with lying evil spirits from the dark side: "Boniface sounds like the Apostle of Germany. I still feel, like Macbeth, that these folks tell us truth in small matters in order to fool us in larger. I suppose that is my lazy orthodoxy. Bill wrote back that he felt that the attitude of the Catholic Church towards his psychic contacts was narrow-minded and unreasonable: "It doesn't seem reasonable to think that the Devil's agents have such direct and wide open access to us when other well-disposed discarnates including the Saints themselves cannot get through.

That is, in any direct way. Since prudent discrimination and good morality is necessary when we deal with people in the flesh, why shouldn't these be the rule with discarnate, too. So motivated, I don't see why the aperture should be so large in the direction of the Devil and so small in the direction of all the good folks who have gone ahead of us. One can't blame the Church for being cautious but I do sometimes wonder if the view isn't rather narrow and even monopolistic. To assume that all communications, not received under Church auspices, are necessarily malign seems going pretty far.

I'm not sure the Church says this but that is what the inference always seems to be. I do say this, though, more in the nature of speculation than argument, for the spook business is no longer any burning issue so far as I am concerned. Without inviting it, I still sometimes get an intrusion such as the one I described in the case of the purported Boniface.

The ghosts were talking to Bill Wilson without him even inviting them? Bill really did have mental problems, didn't he? Also notice the mind game that Bill Wilson was playing. Bill first wrote to Father Dowling with a "wowy-zowy look-at-me" attitude, bragging about his psychic contacts, but when Father Dowling expressed disapproval and wouldn't bite on that hook, Bill changed his rap and declared that he had lost interest in "the spook business". Many of the early A. One, Sumner Campbell, wrote to a man whom they all respected, C. Lewis at Cambridge University in England, describing Bill Wilson's spook sessions and asking his opinion.

Lewis wrote back with total disapproval, saying, "This is necromancy. Have nothing to do with it. Father Dowling's skepticism and reluctance to endorse Bill's forays into the occult isn't very surprising, considering that the Bible explicitly bans such superstitious nonsense, under penalty of death: Don't sacrifice your son or daughter. And don't try to use any kind of magic or witchcraft to tell fortunes or to cast spells or to talk with the spirits of the dead. The LORD is disgusted with anyone who does these things, and that's why he will help you destroy the nations that are in the land.

Never be guilty of doing any of these disgusting things! Deuteronomy Do not turn to mediums or seek out spiritists, for you will be defiled by them. Leviticus I will set my face against the person who turns to mediums and spiritists to prostitute himself by following them, and I will cut him off from his people.

Leviticus They sacrificed their sons and daughters in the fire. They practiced divination and sorcery and sold themselves to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. Exodus A man or woman who is a medium and has a familiar spirit or is a wizard shall surely be put to death, be stoned with stones; their blood shall be upon them. Leviticus Unfortunately, the A. Speaking of people trying to hide the truth, the lengths to which some true-believer Alcoholics Anonymous apologists will go to rationalize and explain away Bill Wilson's occult practices are both disgusting and amusing.

Or perhaps that isn't what has happened. Perhaps what has happened is that our modern world distracts us and distances us so completely that we no longer hear the voices of the dead. Even when we are present at a deathbed, and this is a rare occurrence, the corpse is whisked away by men from the funeral home and reappears in a sanitized version, dressed and made up and laid in an expensive box.

Usually, though, the coffin is closed, and the grave prepared by strangers and then filled in by them after everyone has gone home. Today we are so removed from the process of dying and burying the dead that it's no wonder that the dead don't seem to be around. Both Bill Wilson and Bob Smith came from a different world, an old-fashioned world where the difference between the living and the dead was not as clear. Sometimes the Wilsons used a Ouija board. A flat piece of wood marked with two lines of alphabet and two lines of numbers What unmitigated bull.

I have personally seen a family member die. Also notice how Susan Cheever is actually trying to rationalize away Bill Wilson's crazy occult practices with " Sly Suggestions " : "Perhaps Did Susan conduct spook sessions and contact the spirit of Bill Wilson during her research for her book, to get more intimate details about Bill's life? If not, why not? Doesn't she really believe in it? Does Susan Cheever really believe that practicing necromancy is crazy? Susan Cheever appears to be in denial when it comes to the truth about Bill Wilson, and she will go to extreme lengths to try to make Bill Wilson out to be a great man — even a genuine psychic — rather than a mental case and a fraud.

She even ended her chapter about The Spook Room by strongly implying that Bill was right — that he really did talk with dead people. Lois would calm her beating heart and gaze out at her gardens. Up the hill, in the fading light, she could just make out the outline of Wit's End. Bill would take his place on the long sofa — one of the few pieces of furniture that could accommodate his entire length.

Outside, they could hear birdsong, the warblers and finches from the garden. Sometimes Bill would unfold his body from the sofa, take down one of his violins, and saw out some sweet country tune. Then he would lie down and there would be silence again in the room, now lit with a few candles. There would be a slight, almost imperceptible stir in the silent air, as if someone had come invisibly to keep them company.

The curtains rustled in the evening breeze. The smoke rising from the ashtray wavered. The smell of the outdoors, the new-mown grass in the summer or smoke from the piles of burning leaves in the autumn, would fade from their senses. Even the sounds from nature seemed to enter the trance. They could hear a silence beyond silence. Then there would be an almost inaudible tap, or Bill's quiet voice would begin to form a letter.

Bill and Lois had a rich past together, and on these evenings they were in the presence of the past, in the company of the Yankee householders clustered around their kitchen tables on cold nights before they had electricity. They were in the presence of all their own dead, of Bill's cousin Clarence whose sad violin had been Bill's first fiddle, and the stern Fayette and Ella Griffith, of Lois's beloved mother, and her handsome father who read Swedenborg's teachings to his children in their Clinton Street living room, of all those who had passed on before them.

You have to give Susan Cheever credit where credit is due — she has a poetic way with words. You can almost smell the autumn leaves burning. You can almost see the Bedford Hills woods in the fall. But all of that picturesque fluff has absolutely nothing to do with Bill Wilson being a phony psychic and a nut-case who dabbled in the occult. Cheever should learn that there is an immense difference between spirituality and superstition. There is also a big difference between "spirituality" and "spiritism". And there is a huge difference between a real biography and creative fiction: "someone had come invisibly to keep them company", "The smoke rising from the ashtray wavered.

If Cheever helps to write the NCADD promotional literature, then I would guess that there will be even less of a connection between their propaganda and reality. Channelling Some of the friendly spirits who wish to contact you from the other side Logically, if people turn into ghosts, then there must be all kinds of evil ghosts around, left over from evil people, of whom there is certainly no shortage in this world. Why couldn't Bill or any other channeller be accidentally channelling the ghost of Adolf Hitler or Caligula or some serial killer who just got executed?

Why should death transform an evil personality like Adolf Hitler into a kindly, loving spirit who will just always tell us the truth and only pass on the best of cosmic wisdom to us? I see little reason to believe that death would just suddenly make an angel out of Adolf. If we are channelling and opening ourselves up to random spirits, why wouldn't a creep like Hitler occasionally show up and lie to us about who he is, and try to fool us into thinking that he was a good ghost, and then try to poison our hearts and minds with his evil and his hatred?

After all, that's pretty much what he did while he was alive. And Bill Wilson was assuming a lot when he assumed that he would always be able to tell the difference between the good ghosts and the bad ghosts who came a'visiting. Presumably, the really clever bad ghosts won't tell you that they have evil ulterior motives. They will lie to you. After all, they are evil spirits, aren't they?

For that matter, why mess around with the small fry? So why couldn't — wouldn't — the Big Guy for the Other Side show up? And how could we tell for sure which one was talking to us?

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After all, Lucifer was said to be very beautiful — he was The Angel of Light before his big fall. One of the problems with channelling that they brought up was just how many completely unfounded assumptions come along with the idea of channelling, in an unconsciously accepted package deal: Being disembodied makes the entity a pure or purer voice of cosmic wisdom and spirituality. The entity not only knows more, but can access information otherwise inaccessible, or at least exceedingly difficult to get on one's own. The entity tells the truth.

People's well-being is the entity's basic interest. The entity knows what's best for a given human or humans in general. These entities would not be motivated by power or wrongly manipulate those who come to them. In short, they have no self-interest. One is better off getting the information than not. The fact that most channels put forth a similar message and share a similar worldview is sufficient proof that what they say must be for the most part true. So, like we were saying, everybody just assumes that they are not channelling the spirit of Hannibal Lecter or Theodore Bundy or Jeffrey Dahmer.

And, for that matter, nobody ever seems to get Forrest Gump, either. It's always Cleopatra or St. Francis of Assisi or Joan of Arc or some genius like Einstein Worse yet, everybody just happily assumes that "the spirits" know what they are talking about, and tell the truth, and really do have peoples' best interests at heart.

We have, of course, no evidence to support such giddy Pollyanna beliefs. Kramer and Alstad go on to describe A Course in Miracles , which is described by its promoters as a manual that will teach you how to be a channeller, and which will even put you in contact with the spirit of Jesus Christ, they say.

In their book Crazy Therapies , Prof. Helen Schucman, a psychologist at Columbia University, claimed that for seven years, starting in , she had been the channel for the voice of none other than Jesus. According to Schucman, "the Voice" began by saying, "This is a course in miracles The Voice's dictations resulted in a twelve-hundred-page work, including a teacher's manual, which was published in three volumes by several of Schucman's colleagues.

Initially, hundreds of thousands of sets were sold by word of mouth. To date, the current publisher claims that more than a million copies of the three-volume set have been sold. The Course , or ACIM as it is sometimes referred to by its advocates , has been wildly popular and regarded as helpful by many since the s.

Yet in discussions or reviews it is rarely mentioned that Schucman was raised in a metaphysical environment, that she professed to receive signs from God as early as age four, and that the Course was little different from much of her own previous writings that weren't "channelled. Do They Work? All channelled information, including religions, creates a closed system that is entirely self-referential. Any challenges from outside can be deflected by calling them limited understanding. So there is little to be gained from debating the validity of the Course's worldview.

Rather, we want to show that its worldview is renunciate, and contrary to the posture that people must rely on themselves, A Course in Miracles is authoritarian. We single it out because it is a classic example of programming thought to renunciate beliefs. Although the Course calls itself essentially Christian, it does away with Christianity's more unpalatable dogmas, such as sin, a judgemental God, and damnation. Instead, like the Eastern Oneness perspective, it calls the world we live in an illusion to be transcended and is specific about calling all separation an illusion.

It likewise denigrates the self and self-centeredness with such statements as "Either God or ego is insane.

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The essential methodology used to achieve this is forgiveness. Instead of being forgiven for sin through Christ, however, the new message is that through forgiving one can transform one's life and become Christ-like. Forgiving consists of letting go of all judgements and grievances towards others and towards the circumstances of the world at large.

The ideal is to forgive unconditionally. Sin is redefined as lack of love, so forgiveness is not of sin, but instead of error, or rather of one's own and other's illusions. Illusions are presented as the cause of all enmity and suffering, which is similar to certain Hindu and Buddhist perspectives. Letting go of past pains can have psychological benefits; but to turn this into a prescription for salvation ensures doing so becomes an idealized mold that denies and represses vital aspects of being human.

This is the real danger of the Course , and of renunciate religion in general. Its sections "Forgiving and Letting Go" and "The Religious Freedom of Unconditional Love" show how these ideals mask their underlying authoritarianism and why they are unlivable. Ideals of unconditional forgiveness or unconditional compassion the Buddhist version are variations on the same theme that create unlivable standards of emotional purity.

To start at the top, Alcoholics Anonymous is also a channelled religion. Step Eleven specifically instructs members to practice channelling every day. This is simply a continuation of Frank Buchman's doctrine of The Quiet Time where one makes oneself into a channel to receive Guidance from God: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him , praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

The authors correctly point out that a channelled religion creates a completely self-referential system. One cannot criticize it or find fault with it because any criticism can be deflected by saying, "Well, you just haven't done the practices long enough to know the truth.

Try our path for a year, and then you will see. Anyone who questions A. He is "still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God It is difficult to counter the claims that if you just practice the Steps long enough, hard enough, "working a strong enough program" , that you, too, will eventually receive Divine Guidance and begin to see the truth of the A. Then we have several other points of similarity between Alcoholics Anonymous and A Course in Miracles : Both are authoritarian and renunciate, both demand that your "self, self-centeredness, and ego" be crushed, both demand that you "surrender to God's will" [really, surrender to the cult] , and both indulge in grandiose babbling about super-human purity and unconditional love.

Look closely at the A. Such grandiose claims are ridiculous on the face of it — because they are actually accompanied by veiled demands that the newcomer quit drinking, Keep Coming Back , get a sponsor, Work The Steps , and believe in A. Then there is the problem that, as a member, you must suppress your own feelings about other people, and your own moral standards, too. You cannot form your own opinions of other members or their conduct — that would be judgemental and "unloving". They call it "taking someone else's inventory". You are supposed to just keep giving others that "complete acceptance" and "unconditional love", and never criticize their behavior, no matter what The relevant slogan is: "If you point a finger at someone else, you will find three pointed back at you.

Apologize for what? Kramer and Alstad point out: Love and self-sacrifice are joined in all renunciate moralities. When unconditional love is made into a prescription of how to be, it is really an authoritarian mechanism of control. If one gives, or loves, or forgives willingly, it isn't a sacrifice. They become sacrifices when done because of an ideal. Here one is not only controlled by the ideal but wants others to be controlled by it, too.

So all of the appeals for, and demands for, complete acceptance and unconditional love are really just another mechanism of authoritarian control — especially, of authoritarian mind control: "You must feel unconditional love for the other members. You must feel acceptance, and grant it to the others. But the grandiose demands for "complete acceptance" and "unconditional love" are basically impossible to fulfill, because they are too lofty, too angelic, and totally unrealistic.

As Kramer and Alstad wrote: "Ideals of unconditional forgiveness or unconditional compassion the Buddhist version are variations on the same theme that create unlivable standards of emotional purity. Such standards are things which are great for making people feel inadequate, inferior, and guilty, because people can't live up to them, but those super-human standards are not much good for anything else.

No sane person would even want to live by such high-falutin' standards. Imagine that you are in an A. Would you really feel obligated to give him "complete acceptance" and "unconditional love"? I sincerely hope that you would feel disgust and anger and call the police on him, fast. And that example is not too much of an exaggeration: The Paul Cox case featured an A. Another A. On a more mundane level, would you wish to give him complete acceptance if he confesses that he throws temper tantrums and beats his wife and kids regularly? Or mugs gays and blacks for the fun of it?

Shouldn't you rightly criticize him and tell him to stop behaving in such a despicable manner? But if you do, that's "cross-talk", which is forbidden And they might silence you with the slogan: "When I point a finger at my neighbor, I find three pointed back at me. And I certainly don't want to look like I am granting complete acceptance, or even approval, when they tell me about some of their bad habits. And I don't feel guilty about that, either — as a functional adult, I claim the right to decide for myself whom I will accept into my life, and to what I will give my approval and acceptance.

Kramer and Alstad continued describing the Course in Miracles : What is not noteworthy about the Course is its worldview, which is not essentially new, but a mixture of Eastern mysticism with Christian love and forgiveness. Of more interest to us is its claim of not being authoritarian. It is overtly stated that it is not necessary to believe any of the Course's assertions to experience the promised transformations: You need not believe the ideas Some of them you may actively resist. None of this will matter, or decrease their efficacy. All that is required is conscientious daily practice of the lessons.

The claim that you don't have to believe in the stuff masks the fact that you have to believe in the stuff. Why else would you do it every day? Why else would you do it at all? Why else would you even want to do it? And, even if you are a bit skeptical to start with, you will gradually get converted into believing all of it: The Course is but another revealed by an unchallengeable authority renunciate ideology that separates the spiritual from the mundane, the pure from the impure, the selfless from the self-centered. It says listen to your own voice, but programs what your voice will say by taking away the validity of experience, reason, thoughts, and disapproved of emotions.

Like gurus, it then fills the vacuum it creates with its own renunciate worldview offering the same old coin of eternal bliss. Nothing could be more authoritarian, for who could argue against a disembodied spirit with the credentials of a traditional God? If one were to say as we do that one's inner voice says something quite different, then what?

When challenged, adherents often cavalierly reply, "Do the lessons and you'll see for yourself. Besides, you can't know the Course or criticize it until you try it. To understand why this is so, one must not only examine the exercises, but also the nature of the mind that is willing to do them daily for an extended time.

That's a standard cult dodge: "You can't judge our program until you've tried it. Just do our practices for a year, and you will see that it is all true. Bill Wilson described how the Alcoholics Anonymous practice of channelling also gradually converts the newcomer doubters into true believers: The persistent use of meditation and prayer, we found, did open the channel so that where there had been a trickle, there now was a river which led to sure power and safe guidance from God as we were increasingly better able to understand Him.

So, practicing these Steps, we had a spiritual awakening about which finally there was no question. Looking at those who were only beginning and still doubting themselves, the rest of us were able to see the change setting in. From great numbers of such experiences, we could predict that the doubter who still claimed that he hadn't got the "spiritual angle," and who still considered his well-loved A. Joel Kramer and Diana Alstad, the authors of The Guru Papers , went on to describe an adherent of this Course in Miracles : He was alienated from the real world — he wanted an ideal world "where non-violence, compassion, selflessness, and love would reign supreme.

The adherent said, "The more I faced the 'real world,' the less real I felt. He got his ideal world by denying the reality of this world where those ideals do not reign supreme, and insisting on the reality of a higher, more moral, truly spiritual world that was more to his liking: "This is all an illusion. He programs himself to only believe in and accept the reality of his perfect dream world. It's the ultimate escape artist's trick. Bill Wilson expressed almost exactly the same sentiments in his second book: Perhaps one of the greatest rewards of meditation and prayer is the sense of belonging that comes to us.

We no longer live in a completely hostile world. We are no longer lost and frightened and purposeless. The moment we catch even a glimpse of God's will, the moment we begin to see truth, justice, and love as the real and eternal things in life, we are no longer deeply disturbed by all the seeming evidence to the contrary that surrounds us in purely human affairs. We know that God lovingly watches over us.

We know that when we turn to Him, all will be well with us, here and hereafter. Wilson, Page Also see the bait-and-switch item " First it isn't political, and then it is ". The tendency to ignore this world, and only believe in the perfection of "the other world", leads many people to be politically reactionary, quite happily ignoring the plight of the poor and homeless, the down-trodden and unemployed, and the sick and dying, because it is obviously God's Will that they suffer so There are many striking similarities between that Course In Miracles and the Alcoholics Anonymous program: Both practice channelling.

Both say that you don't have to believe in the program for it to work: "Alcoholics Anonymous requires no beliefs. All of its Twelve Steps are but suggestions. But you really have to believe in it. Chapter Four teaches nothing about how to quit drinking — it's all about how you must believe in Bill Wilson's peculiar religious beliefs. And then they still use that deceptive "no beliefs required" slogan. Go figure. Both have practices that you must do every day. The Course in Miracles has its "lessons", and A.

What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities. Wilson, Into Action , page We just covered how you practice channelling — Step Eleven — during your morning " Quiet Hour " Another daily practice is the Twelfth Step — Go Recruiting : Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery.

A kindly act once in a while isn't enough. You have to act the Good Samaritan every day, if need be. Your wife may sometimes say she is neglected. Note that "helping others" is a euphemism — cult-speak — for recruiting new cult members. You "help them" by deceiving them and hiding the religious nature of the Alcoholics Anonymous program , until later.

Note how Bill Wilson recommended that you spend so much time recruiting that your wife complains that you are neglecting her. Bill did. That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Who cares anything about a Higher Power, let alone meditation and prayer? Who wants to sacrifice time and energy in trying to carry A. No, the average alcoholic, self-centered in the extreme, doesn't care for this prospect But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life or else.

Wilson, Chapter 4, We Agnostics , page Both demand that you rid yourself of "self, selfishness, self-centeredness, and ego": Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must , or it kills us! Wilson, How It Works , Chapter 5, page Our liquor was but a symptom. So we had to get down to causes and conditions. First, we searched out the flaws in our make-up which caused our failure. Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, was what had defeated us, we considered its common manifestations.

Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works , pages All Twelve Steps of A. And new Hazelden propaganda tells us the same old things: We must rid ourselves of this selfishness or it'll kill us. It's that serious. Selfishness usually leads to relapse. And relapse, in our case, is often fatal. Now, we can't rely on ourselves to be rid of our self-centeredness — it would be rather self-centered to think we could, don't you think?