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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: we begin to dismantle the apparatus of ego and will that blocks us off from a God who does not make too hard terms for those who seek Him.
Author: Fraser Trevor
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Cover via Amazon As I began taking the steps a couple years ago, my sponsor pointed out to me that the steps written in the Big Book ...
Cover of "Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story...
Cover via Amazon
As I began taking the steps a couple years ago, my sponsor pointed out to me that the steps written in the Big Book reflected the first 100 or so alcoholics looking back at their experience.  That is, they did not have the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous that we're familiar with, but six steps, or concepts, of the Oxford Group:
1. We admitted that we were licked, that we were powerless over alcohol.

2. We made a moral inventory of our defects or sins.

3. We confessed or shared our shortcomings with another person in confidence.

4. We made restitution to all those we had harmed by our drinking.

5. We tried to help other alcoholics, with no thought of reward in money or prestige.

6. We prayed to whatever God we thought there was for power to practice these precepts. 
When you consider this, it's interesting to list what's been added in the 12 steps that is missing from the 6 steps, particularly before Step 4:
1. The second half of the first step:  "and our lives had become unmanageable."
2.  Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3.  Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
In fact, there is no mention of God in the Oxford group steps before the last step, and certainly not before we begin the work of an inventory.
Why is this important?  The majority of AA people nowadays do not "do" the steps as they were intended, most of them bogging down on either Step 2 or 3 (or believing that reading the steps like the 10 commandments is sufficient).  Steps 2 and 3 are arguably the most heady concepts we tackle in recovery--the idea of a God or power greater than ourselves, and a decision to turn our will and lives over to this power.  While sponsees are often told they must not be ready if they can't take these steps with conviction, I was blessed with a sponsor who told me that I did not need to "get" the God idea in Step 2, I just had to be willing.  And in Step 3, all I needed to do was make a decision to do Step 4.  Nothing more, nothing less.  All of the steps bring you to God, he explained, not just 2 and 3, which should simply be conclusions of the mind--yes, I need help that's not of this world even if I don't believe in it, and yes, I'm ready to do the work that will allow me to believe in and connect me to that help.  Writing was going to be far more productive in saving my ass than me contemplating the existence of God and waiting for an epiphany.
He told me all this before I ever laid eyes on the Oxford Group "steps."  And when I read back now, a couple years removed from that work, I can't help but wonder if in their zeal to relate what had happened to them, the first 100 alcoholics ordered the steps in a way that presents some roadblocks for the new alcoholic.
My point here is not to advocate for step revision.  But an understanding of the real experience of the first 100 or so alcoholics indirectly sheds light on the "1, 2, 3 and out" phenomenon we see quite a bit in AA. We don't "work" steps 1-3-- they are admissions, concessions, and decisions that can be accomplished in an hour.  We work, and write, Step 4.  And when we launch on that vigorous housecleaning, we begin to dismantle the apparatus of ego and will that blocks us off from a God who does not make too hard terms for those who seek Him.
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