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A Rabbi and Veteran Counselor Shows Us Universal Spiritual Wisdom in 12 Steps
on August 22, 2009
Historians of American religion now credit the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935 as a major innovation in American religious movements. When Bill W and friends began spreading the 12 Steps through the grassroots, they really were inventing a theologically wide-open spiritual movement that invited high commitment and pointed toward dramatic change in people's lives, families and communities.
Now, early in a new century, we all can appreciate the prophetic wisdom of that innovation. Of course, there is long-running debate about whether the 12 Steps are "religious." There's no question, though, that they are spiritual in the broad sense of focusing our daily living on a series of larger commitments to a higher power and to enduring relationships.
In his book "Recovery-the Sacred Art," Rabbi Shapiro (who is a veteran himself of one particular 12-step group) expands on these themes. This isn't a book of religious history or sociology, although Shapiro teaches these things at the university level. Rather, this is a book written for general readers-you and me-as we seek to find some deeper meaning and a larger framework for our lives.
Within the 12 Steps, he writes, we can find a fresh spiritual focus around themes of crucial importance to all of us--like realizing that we cannot control this turbulent world around us and that we need to focus our lives in more timeless places.
I highly recommend this book for individuals, but also for small-group conversation.