I was upfront and honest. I am a member of alcoholics anonymous. I was firm when I said that I would continue helping drunks sober up and I would not leave my drunks behind.
Last Tuesday the priest said in the catechumen class that he doubted my dedication to the church. This hurt and infuriated me as I have thrown myself into the church, attending church three times a week, volunteering for menial jobs, setting aside AA commitments, helping others as I can. The truth came out in a phone call tonight when I expressed my hurt and bewilderment at being accused of not being committed to the church. The truth came out that I have been lied to for a year and a half and the obstacle to my becoming Orthodox in this church is my continued involvement in AA.
I was a homeless skid row drunk when AA reached out and helped me become human. Every thing I am and every thing I have, including my relationship with God I owe to alcoholics anonymous. I will not leave my drunks behind.
ps. Don't lie to an alcoholic. We're better at it that you are.
just to be clear, I don't hold this against the Orthodox church as this happened at a baptist church too.
Darn-it I cant remember the name of the priest out in Los Angeles who has a google blog on AA/Orthodoxy - but you should look for that if you dont already know about it.In one of his last blogs he said something that surprised me though Ive noticed it seems true.He said that most priests are not very spiritually advanced.Like theyre just simple sinners like you and me and its not a requirement to be real enlightened for them to do their job.My first priest/spiritual father seemed to fit this description and offended me too ( I have a huge pet-peeve for people - especially Orthodox Christians - who have the worldiness in their mentality of social stigmas.In other words people who misunderstand sinners who's sins manifest as drug addictions and value them by worldy stigmatized standards [or something like that].So many Orthodox though believe AA is a God-send....Im sorry that happened to you.Anyways here what I just so happened to have written today on http://www.deathtotheworld.com on this subject: "Yeah Fr. Meletios Weber who alot of people have recently realized is way too liberal wrote a good book but this doesnt back up my argument(for a loss of a better word) of course.He wrote this book "12 Steps of Transformation" - Its an AA book for Orthodox Christians basicly.He gives a translation of that step (26,section 111)(this is totally gonna confirm LeFeu's convictions) and explains how it relates to an AA meeting....Heres a mysterious thing.In AA everyone knows or learns that God speaks through people.And it seems to me that that is just a fact of life.Now of course you dont want to just listen to what anyone says and take it as if its God speaking but at the same time I believe God can tell you something you need to hear from a drunk in the gutter.But in AA and what Fr. Meletios Weber explains is more referring to in an AA or church group or from a sponsor or spiritual adviser....Its weird how AA tends to be Orthodox-approved amongst alot of Orthodoc Christians and believed to be God-given even though by legalistic standards it can seem utterly heretical(at best.) This is why I stopped going to AA though.A while back I seemed ( I use the words "seem" or "seemed" or "seemingly" alot because I know I should not trust my own thinking yet feel a need to communicate this kinda stuff)..Anyway a while back I seemed to have realized that the philosophys that go hand in hand with AA are like those expressed by Eckhart Tolle ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eckhart_Tolle ) and Emmet Fox with his "New Thought Christianity"( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emmet_Fox ). It seems to me that these two guys might just be - much like Lao Tzu - people who have become as enlightened as a soul can get on a persons own without the Orthodox Church,etc.(these people pray and meditate of course - but if God heard and responds to them I wouldnt know) but whose teachings are incomplete or heretical.And Bill W. - the guy who started AA - I do believe he was enlightened by God (he was a Protestant Christian) and that people working the steps are often guided by the Holy Spirit. Anyway Ill write more on this later."
I'm curious about what you feel is heretical about AA.
Here is what I have observed.
Synergy. This is a central concept in Orthodoxy but in western protestantism, depending on how much they are influenced by calvinism there is often only lip service paid to this concept. In AA it is central. The steps of AA make it central. God may do the heavy lifting but we must chop the wood and carry the water.
At the 4th step of AA, AA parts again with much of western christianity with it's focus on introspection. I have often heard AA referred to "humanistic" due to it's introspective aspect. I think it was Issac the Syrian that said "one who sees himself is greater than one who sees the angels". This, I have found is very important in Orthodoxy. It has made my transition much easier when I can discuss issues with my priest from this aspect.
The lack of introspection is directly tied to protestants view of sin. In the west sin is seen as the individual act itself. The very moment the horse escapes the barn if you will. In AA this was passed by and there is discussion of "character defects". These are the discussion of what actions and attitudes that led up to the horse getting out of the barn. In Orthodoxy I find these called passions.
Next is the issue that led my right to the doors of Orthodoxy, step 11, on prayer and meditation. Lets face it, western christianity has no discernable tradition on meditation what so ever. I was listening to an AA speaker talk on the 11th step and he talked about the Jesus prayer, the desert fathers and the Philokalia. Looking into those will only lead you to orthodoxy.
Principles like humility and forgiveness are not given much more than a passing thought in many churches while in AA and Orthodoxy they are indispensible.
Gotta take you to task. You sobered up, you got yours and you have moved on. Good for you. you did what it takes and made good.
What about those you left behind.
The science of recovery from alcoholism is brand new. It is being written as we speak. I believe that the Orthodox church can bring a tremendous amount of healing to a tremendous amount of people. The history is made right now by those that show up and chop the wood and carry the water. People like us.