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times are changing

Sometimes I Just Cringe

The 1960s reminded us that, “Things they are a-changin.” This theme still echoes into today’s AA meeting room customs. Some of these alterations have been beneficial, but in my somewhat-humble opinion—not all!

Of course, these are only customs, not Traditions. The fourth of which allows groups to do as they choose so long as not affecting other groups or AA as a whole.

Consequently, when old customs are cast aside by the new of which I believe detrimental to recovery, I remain silent. However, if I belong to that particular group, I may discuss my opinion at the next group conscience.

Here are a few of the newer practices that cause me to cringe:

  • When the chairperson ignores the readers name and instead announces: “I have asked a friend to read . . .”, etc. How impersonal is that! Are we just impersonal strangers?
  • During the reading of Chapter Five at the beginning some members “call out.” (What’s the point, etc.). To newcomers the 12 Steps needs to be considered very important; such disruptive joking tends to diminish newcomer respect for the AA program.
  • I believe the original opening readings are necessary, e.g., the Steps, Traditions and Promises. However, some meetings read, and read! Such over-reading destroys the intended message—too many words become a meaningless blur—besides, how boring!
  • The practice of announcing as an “alcoholic and-a something else” is becoming increasingly prevalent—well, who isn’t! This practice dilutes our primary purpose. Alcoholic and-a jaywalker, indeed!
  • Lastly, I cringe at the silly “chicken-dance and chanting” following the Lord’s Prayer. I believe this diminishes sincerity of this special prayer.

Of course, many groups still hang on to the old tried and successful customs and have not changed one iota. Thank you, God!

By Bob S.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the AA Cleveland District Office.