Monday, 27 June 2011

a land of fiery serpents, scorpions and thirst

Shell has a good post on addiction and the 12 Steps. I'd always say that if someone gets something out of the 12 steps AA approach then they must keep going, however it is not for everyone, in much the same way as Ignatian Sprituality isn't the only "method" for moving to higher levels of holiness.

Where I think the AA approach falls down is that it doesn't necessarily address (in a language of the heart) the needs of an addict who is a devout believer. The higher power is essentially quite vague and nowhere is there the loving, creative genius of the Blessed Trinity. God for a devout Christian is a higher power who made Himself vulnerable, who was wounded, who loves us more than we can ever know, who died for us so that we can be redeemed. With language like that the higher power can just seem too impersonal, too remote. A devout Christian will often want to talk about God (in particular Jesus) in the meetings and have virtually no common ground with the other members of the group.

If this happens AA can leave one big empty hole where help and support ought to be. It is not the fault of the group.

Years ago there was a Catholic AA group called Calyx, I don't think they are still going. I wonder what it was like? Was concupiscence mentioned, were the twin assaults of the world and the Devil on the addict ever touched upon? Was there the chance for frequent Confession? Was there the chance for time before the Blessed Sacrament.

You see, the Catholic addict is just like the rest of us Catholics, only in more vivid technicolour: ever trying to be good, loved by God, deeply feeling God's presence at times, deeply repelled by their own depravity at others, often hopelessly optimistic about the future, mainly chaotic about the present, wounded by the world and teased mercilessly by the Devil, insanley creative, deeply passionate, generous and caring, and maddeningly frustrating to everyone around them.

My worry is that when an addict asks the Church for help, the response often is "have you tried AA?" , just maybe this isn't enough, just maybe we could do so much more in our own spiritual frameworks, with 5000+ years of experience of human suffering (including Old Testament times) and 2000 years experience of Redemptive Sacrificial Love.


This is not nearly as bad as the rejection from the medical profession I fear many alcoholics face. Consider the sex addict who repeatedly picks up venereal disease; are they denied a visit to the clap clinic to pick up some magic brew to soothe their ills? No they are not. Consider the compulsive overeater: are they denied treatment for the type 2 diabetes that has developed as a result of their dreadful affliction? No they are not. Why then is the alcoholic who has become chemically dependent on alcohol to the extent that removal of the drug may be fatal unless medically supervised, denied access to a secure detox? Something is very wrong.

As the most cerebral band* ever to make music out of an angle grinder once ranted:

"Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury: raise the double standard!"

*The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy

The assaults of the world (with all its screwy logic), on the weak and vulnerable can be more deadly than the assaults of the Devil.

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