Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Serenity Prayer, P.S.

I'm delighted by the response to yesterday's post about the second section of the Serenity Prayer. Both publicly and privately, people have written to thank me for introducing them to the rest of that prayer. I have some thoughts about why the second section might come as illuminating news.

My guess is that by the time Alcoholics Anonymous decided to adopt Niebuhr's prayer, those in leadership had noticed some resistance to "God language" in Twelve Step materials. Maybe Bill Wilson et. al. figured adding "Jesus" to the mix would make recovery even more challenging for non-Christians as well as atheists and agnostics. Certainly, the presence of Chapter Four, "We Agnostics," in the 1939 (and each subsequent) edition of the "Big Book" would indicate such an awareness.

For a wonderfully readable account about how the Oxford Group (aka, First Century Christian Fellowship and Moral Rearmament) influenced the principles and process of Alcoholics Anonymous, I recommend Bill W.: A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson by Francis Hartigan.

In it, Hartigan writes about Bill Wilson's weekly meetings in 1947 with Reverend Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen and speculates about why Wilson eventually decided against converting to Roman Catholicism. Pretty fascinating stuff, especially if you're interested in the sociology of social movements.

If you're interested in the basics of Twelve Step recovery for addiction in general, or have a loved one (or colleague) you wish would get interested, I recommend my book, Staying Sober: Working a Twelve Step Program of Recovery. I wrote this after deciding it was not-high time for amusing and up-to-date materials. It's my only book that pays royalties, something I find somewhat astonishing given who the audiences are for all my other babies.


  1. Part 2 gratefully read and enjoyed. Thank you again!

  2. I should have said the follow up post - part 2 already being the topic!

    Your book looks like a great addition to any recovery and other spiritual matter library.

  3. Yo Meredith,

    He's a derivative version for your consideration:

    "God grant me the serenity to accept the PEOPLE I can not change;

    The courage to change the ONE'S I can;

    And, the wisdom to know that's ME"

  4. I followed the link and read the first few pages of your book. What articulate good sense! It's on my recommended list for sure.


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