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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.
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on August 28, 2010
If you're looking for a twelve step perspective that's not steeped in God and religion, this is it. This book really shows how to expose and almost eradicate the Shadow in us all. A MUST for anyone in recovery or who works in the recovery field.
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on November 15, 2010
This is one of the most valuable books written in a twelve-step framework. Rami Shapiro's professional background in world religions gives him the expertise to analyze the problems of existence (and addiction) and the access to forms of spiritual practice that are tremendously helpful to the struggling addict (or any human life form). But it is his own experience of addiction to food and to control that give this book a depth and reality far beyond most contributions. In twelve step meetings, people often tell their stories in order to share their experience, strength and hope. Rabbi Shapiro has used his own life and the stories of a wide variety of people in a range of twelve step programs to make the fundamental set of arguments that take us through the steps. I think his most important contribution is his rock-solid understanding of the delusion of control and its powerful consequences for one's spiritual development. If you think your life is unmanageable, if you think you have an addiction, if you are "stuck" spiritually, and basically, if you are alive, you will find this book valuable. It has changed my life and that of everyone to whom I've given a copy.
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on November 20, 2009
This book seems to have been written for me. Rami Shapiro has opened my 12 step path up to many wonderful and challenging spiritual practices from a variety of spiritual traditions. I have always felt that the 12 steps could be placed within the perennial philosophy and lived as an interspiritual discipline. As someone not at home in any one religion but at home in many of them, Rami Shapiro blazes a path using story and practical wisdom to further enlighten the 12 step experience. Recovery The Sacred Art is definitely in the same class of deeply mature spirituality as The Spirituality of Imperfection by Ernest Kurtz.
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on February 5, 2011
This book is excellent. My personal addictions are food and smoking and every word of this book is inspirational. It is excellent advice for EVERYONE. I wonderful way to view our lives, our purpose, our woes and how to deal with all of it. I love this book.
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on August 8, 2010
I found this book at the NY public library by accident and read it cover to cover. I was so impressed that I immediately bought a copy so that I could have it as a ready refference. I have recommended the book to friends and sponsees in 12 step programs and feel that it is a useful tool for solv9ing lifes little problems. I love that Rami Shapiro talks about various spiritual traditions without prejudice or favoritism. The path to recovery is personal and varied. Rami Shapiro seems to get that.
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on June 21, 2011
This is not a review, but a commentary.

When Sister M. Ignatia (of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine) developed the Twelve Step program in Akron, Ohio at St. Thomas Hospital in unison with the founders of AA, she used the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola as her paradigm. This way was unknown to the men who were seeking a method to be of help with those who struggle. The Irish, witty, somewhat neurotic nun was able to adapt the Exercises, in part based on her own somewhat clandestine work with aclocholics in what was then the Rubber Capitol.

This tome is an excellent bit of growth within that genre of searching for a method to be of compassion and a source of growth. Kudos to the author. Courage to all who embark. Interesting to note is the fact that many Jesuits continue to use the Spiritual Exercises in their retreat work, and the adapted-by-Ignatia form. The movement is alive and well, and a source of great hope to so many. And, may we never forget Sr. M. Ignatia Gavin, CSA, for the insight and gift she shared so many years ago.

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on November 6, 2013
After finding this book and reading all the posted reviews I entered it enthusiastically. I was especially drawn to the authors understanding of Bill W's statement that first we must quit playing God. I found the idea of that relating to the delusion that we have control over life refreshing after 30 years in the rooms. I have been looking for an approach to the steps based on the principles of the program versus the way the steps are presented in a dogmatic way difficult for a non-believer to relate to. The understanding of my "disease" as the illusion of having any control over life on life's terms as presented in the first three steps has made my purchase of this book well worth the price. However, now that I have reached step four I am bogged down. All of a sudden sin, the devil and other religious dogma appear and are all just presented as fact based on quoting from different cannons. I guess I finally had to put the book down for now when I got to the biblical idea of not having blood on your hands. While I agree with the sanctity of life, I guess I have a hard time relating this to the Abrahamic God who by all accounts in the bible would make him the most blood thirsty genocidal killer ever. I do understand the author is a Rabbi so I shouldn't have expected otherwise but the reviews and the initial chapters had me hoping for a less dogmatic rehash of the steps from a religious point of view. There are so many of those already. I'm not giving up though. I try to keep my skepticism openminded. I just need to get up the energy to get through it. I might even be able to up the star rating if I do. If you are OK with the devil, sin and the "loving Abrahamic God" presented as reality than this will probably be a great help to you. I'm not looking for reading only what I believe but so far I feel as if the reviews and the first few chapters being helpful to non-believers smacks of bait and switch. I would enjoy a response from the Rabbi himself if he is so inclined.
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on February 21, 2013
This book is excellent for everyone. It is not limited to people struggling with an addiction. It offers a wonderful way of re-framing and dealing with life. If you want peace of mind regardless of your circumstances, read this book.
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on February 6, 2013
This is an excellent study and guide for using the twelve steps as a spiritual practice. The "addiction" one addresses is broadened to include any unhealthy way we seek control life and others.
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