Author Topic: A Brief History Of God In NA  (Read 4469 times)

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Offline CD

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Re: A Brief History Of God In NA
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2014, 04:13:35 PM »
k.hansford, God in NA is the power to believe that you can do it . I have had 5 way bypass and an artery replaced in my heart almost 20 years ago . I used on the way home from the hospital , it almost killed me. That is how powerful our stupidity can be in addiction.We are capable of making bad decisions. I was born into a very religious family , mom's dad was a preacher , my uncle and his son both were preachers. I attend church most every Sunday , I know the power of God and religion.Don't let the terminology in NA change your belief's , it's there for those who need something to believe in.
Being stuck way up north I read literature do service in my area,region,and homegroup.New friends new ways of life.Left old friend out there same old story they have .Like helping newcomers , I was one once,have to give back what was freely given to me .

Offline k.hansford

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Re: A Brief History Of God In NA
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2014, 09:45:04 PM »
I just wanted to write a little about how this conflicts with the journey that I am on with Jesus as my savior. I had struggled with meth and alcohol addiction for nearly 15 years. I am now 27 years old and the mother of three beautiful children. I was diagnosed with heart failure 7 months ago and when I was diagnosed I tested positive for methamphetamines. After being told I would not live with out a heart transplant.... I still could not stop using. I went to rehab and meetings and it wasn't enough for me... God was enough. And with out God and relying completely and totally on him, I could not have stayed clean and sober. Hearts are hot commodities and there are a select few who get them. It is my duty now to prove to the transplant committee that I am serious about my recovery. These meetings are meeting their requirements, but they don't completely fulfill my needs. I am not saying that there is no benefit for me in these meetings, it would just be nice if there were a meeting that provided more of Jesus and our Highest Power, and being able to lean on God for the answers and the healing that we need. Thank you for your time.

Offline CD

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A Brief History Of God In NA
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2011, 12:05:31 PM »
 A Brief History of “God�  in Narcotics Anonymous
   


Narcotics Anonymous mentions God in five out of twelve of its steps, four times by using the word “God�  and once as “Him.�   Some also believe that the “Power greater than ourselves�  mentioned in the Second Step is the same as the “God as we understood Him�  in Steps Three and Eleven.
You wouldn’t necessarily assume, therefore, that the word “God�  occupies a somewhat controversial place in Narcotics Anonymous.  But that’s been exactly the case ever since NA started to grow and attract different kinds of people as members.

NA’s tradition of having no opinion on outside issues doesn’t mean that outside forces don’t affect NA or that its members aren’t shaped by cultural factors.  Just the opposite!

When NA as we know it today first started in 1953 in Southern California, it adopted a slightly modified version of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Perhaps without intending to, NA also adopted quite a bit of AA’s conventional wisdom of the time.  Some insight into AA’s philosophy regarding “God�  can perhaps be gained by reading the following excerpt from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, written by Bill W, the program’s founder:

“Lack of power, that was our dilemma.  We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves.… We are going to talk about God.  Here difficulty arises with agnostics.  Many times we talk to a new man and watch his hope rise . . . but his face falls when we speak of spiritual matters, especially when we mention God.

“We know how he feels.  We have shared his honest doubt and prejudice.  Some of us have been violently anti-religious.  To others, the word ‘God’ brought up a particular idea of Him with which someone had tried to impress them during childhood.

“Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another’s conception of God.  Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient.�

Drawing from this, it appears that AA’s original idea of a Higher Power, as put forth by Bill W., was not a radical departure from the Judeo-Christian beliefs of the majority culture at the time—that is, America in the 1930s.

Things hadn’t changed much by the time NA began forming in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  It is interesting to note that a version of “the steps,�  which was developed in New York about 1950, did not mention the word “God�  at all in the first twelve steps, but the thirteenth step read simply “God help me�  (quite a difference from what is sneeringly called “the thirteenth step�  today).

Though it’s impossible to know what the original members of Narcotics Anonymous shared about in recovery meetings and how they talked about a Higher Power, the earliest NA literature uses the word “God�  only in its adaptation of AA’s Twelve Steps and in the Serenity Prayer.  There is no mention of “God,�  a “Power greater than ourselves,�  or a “Higher Power�  in the other parts of the original brownish-beige pamphlet written in 1954.  A few sentences from “What Is the NA Program?�  appear in that pamphlet almost exactly as they do in the White Booklet today, with a couple of notable exceptions.  The assurance that “anyone may join�  does not have the final phrase “lack of religion.�   This was added to the first White Booklet published in the early 1960s.  The statement that today reads “Many of us . . . sought help through medicine, religion, and psychiatry.  None of these methods was sufficient for us�  originally read “Medicine and psychiatry had no answers for us.�   Religion wasn’t mentioned.

From this we can conclude that these ideas were added to NA literature because a majority of the members believed that the “spiritual, not religious�  nature of the NA program needed additional emphasis.

Although there were probably dramatic changes taking place in NA’s membership throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, especially as NA developed outside the United States in places where the predominant culture was not Judeo-Christian, there weren’t any significant changes to NA’s written ideas about a Higher Power during that time.  When the Basic Text was published in 1983, it was really the first time a wide variety of the fellowship’s views about spirituality, God, a Higher Power, etc., were compiled and presented as the collective wisdom and experience of NA as a whole.

The sum and substance of NA’s thinking about a Higher Power appears in the following quoted material, which has remained unchanged (except for a minor grammatical correction) through six different editions of the Basic Text:

“At some point, we realized that we needed the help of some Power greater than our addiction.  Our understanding of a Higher Power is up to us.  No one is going to decide for us.  We can call it the group, the program, or we can call it God.  The only suggested guidelines are that this Power be loving, caring, and greater than ourselves.  We don’t have to be religious to accept this idea.�

“Our concept of God comes not from dogma, but from what we believe and what works for us.  Many of us understand God to be simply whatever force keeps us clean.  The right to a God of your understanding is total and without any catches.�

Looking back at NA’s growth over the decades since this was written, only now can we truly appreciate the breadth and depth of spiritual bedrock laid by these statements.  It is almost as if the writers of the Basic Text could see into the future and knew that NA’s presentation of spirituality would have to be inclusive enough to accommodate members from all over the world with all of their accompanying languages and cultures.

Still, there have been efforts to build even more inclusiveness into NA’s program.  One of the most significant was embodied in the decision of the World Service Conference Literature Committee to make sure that all new literature created for the fellowship would refer to God in gender-neutral terms and try as often as possible to include the qualifier “of our understanding�  along with uses of the word “God.�

A few times, this resulted in some amusing comments during the development of It Works: How and Why.  During committee meetings, committee members reviewed draft material and pointed out places where the text read simply “God�  instead of “a God of our understanding.�   The phrase “naked God�  was coined to describe these places.  We can only imagine the reaction if someone had walked into a WSCLC meeting without knowing the background and heard a committee member say, “There’s a naked God on line four in the third paragraph.  Can we do something about that, please?�

Amusement aside, the decision stood.  With few exceptions, “God�  is usually “of our understanding�  in It Works: How and Why.  The committee also tried to use the phrases “Higher Power�  and “a Power greater than ourselves�  instead of “God�  as often as possible.

Some input received from a member of the fellowship during the development process pointed out that the committee’s efforts were still falling short in one area.  There was no material that addressed belief in a higher power that wasn’t a supernatural deity, and using various terms—God of our understanding, Higher Power, Power greater than ourselves—to describe the same concept did not promote inclusiveness.  In response, the committee included more discussion about non-supernatural higher powers such as the spiritual principles of the program, the NA group, etc.

In 1993, the same year It Works was approved by the fellowship, a motion was brought to the World Service Conference to change wording in the steps and traditions that referred to God as “He�  or “Him�  to language that was completely gender-neutral.  Conference participants believed that the issues surrounding the motion went far deeper than the language of the motion and decided to send the motion and some accompanying explanation out to the fellowship for further discussion.

The NA Way Magazine (it was a monthly publication at the time) joined in the effort to promote discussion of “Motion 39� —the number the motion was assigned in conference proceedings and by which the motion became widely known.  The magazine provided a special forum consisting of three or four pages in each issue for members to express their viewpoints about the language used to describe God in NA.

The discussions and sharing ranged far from the original motion to change the gender reference; many expressed the opinion that it was time to eliminate the word “God�  from NA’s vocabulary altogether.  Their opinions were answered in strongly worded editorials by those who believed just the opposite.

While it was true that much antagonism and disrespect accompanied the discussions, the positive effect of the discussions can’t be discounted.  Many members got the opportunity to hear about understandings of God that they may never have heard otherwise.  English-speaking members had the opportunity to learn that in other languages, not only did the word “God�  have a gender, so did regular old nouns and verbs.  The designation of a word as “masculine�  or “feminine�  had nothing to do with sexism; it was just a point of grammar.  Everybody had the opportunity to become more open-minded and more sensitive to other people’s viewpoints.

When the issue of changing the steps and traditions returned to the WSC in 1996 for a final decision, it was defeated, but the open-mindedness and sensitivity remained.  New literature, including the Step Working Guides approved at WSC’98, steadfastly maintained WSCLC’s commitment to using inclusive language and even elaborated on the concept of inclusiveness itself.

Throughout all the changes and discussions, at least one thing hasn’t changed a bit: the desire of NA members to carry the message of recovery to as many addicts as possible.  As it says in the introduction to the Basic Text, “Everything that occurs in the course of NA service must be motivated by the desire to more successfully carry the message of recovery to the addict who still suffers.�   Who could argue with that?!

by Cindy T, Editor
NA WAY 1999 Volume Sixteen
Number Three
Being stuck way up north I read literature do service in my area,region,and homegroup.New friends new ways of life.Left old friend out there same old story they have .Like helping newcomers , I was one once,have to give back what was freely given to me .