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The Little Book: A Collection of Alternative 12 Steps Paperback – February 20, 2013
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About the Author
Roger C. is a member of Beyond Belief, an agnostic AA group in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He has a Masters degree in Religious Studies from McGill University. He is the author of many essays on recovery and is the administrator of the popular website, AA Agnostica.
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I grew up in the fifties thinking that a typical American push-saw was the only way to cut wood - and it worked. But the first time I used a Japanese razor-edged pull-saw, it blew me away. What a wonderful new idea - new to me - from across the world!
So it was for me when I read the variations of the Steps in this little gem of a book.
Take Step 7: "Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings" in AA's Big Book. Over the years I've tried really hard to get this to work, but for me the idea of a divine hand reaching down from the clouds and plucking out the bad bits just worked less and less. In The Little Book I find, as just some examples that appeal to me personally, "Work honestly, humbly and courageously to develop our assets and to release our personal shortcomings." In another set of Steps there is "Humbly began the process of deep change, so we could overcome our weakness." Any yet again, "With the assistance of others, and our own firm resolve, we transformed unskillful aspects of ourselves and cultivated positive ones." Now these are translations of the original intent that I can get a grip on.
I mention Step 7 because it is a hot button for me; it was depressing me. With these ideas I can get it restarted and find new ways to tackle the job. Just like that first cut I made with a Japanese saw. But all the Steps are here in the book, with the same wide range of interpretations.
Roger includes interpretations of each step by four well qualified and thoughtful authors, which gives a nice background and idea-starters for all the newer variations. There is also an excellent essay on where the Steps came from in the first place--from the cultural and religious background of Bill W. and the original AAs through to the arguments that took place over their final form, the place of God in them, and what this means for agnostics and atheists.
I found this little book useful, refreshing and enlightening. I really recommend it for anyone wanting a new view of the Steps - especially to any agnostic, who, like me, just can't see the point of getting sore knees over it.
Roger C’s work is perfect. It does an outstanding job of exposing us to the variety of ways in which people have constructively re-interpreted the original twelve steps. It then offers an excellent series of reflections on the meaning and value of each step to various interpreters. There is even a section devoted to elucidating the history of the original steps. Perhaps most importantly, Roger C presents us with the idea that every person’s working of the 12 steps is, in fact, a process of personalizing and thereby interpreting, the twelve steps. There is a section of the book devoted specifically to this personalizing process. His work acknowledges this truth and encourages this type of personal engagement. The Little Book does an outstanding job of illuminating these important cultural tools and the alternative interpretations which they have inspired, and continue to inspire, in us all.
The steps were meant to be suggestions only. This book has many other suggestions with the same import as the originals, but having more currency now. Six of the 12 steps in the "Big Book" mentioned a theistic higher power that seems out of date now. Recovery does not need any specific belief system to work. Recovery simply needs belief in yourself and working with others.
The "Little Book" has become a staple in my home group's literature.