12-Step Brainwashing
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23-09-2010, 10:42 PM
 
12-Step Brainwashing
Lots of members of my family are involved in the 12-step program for families of alcoholics called Al-Anon. I went a few times and really found a lot of the suggestions helpful for dealing with people with substance abuse problems and life in general ... BUT ...

at the end of every meeting, the group insists on injecting the lord's prayer. (This is not long after saying that the group is not affiliated with any religion or creed.) The big book of AA has an entire section written to atheists that basically says, "give prayer a chance and you'll come to believe god is real."

Of course, many members say that you can believe in any kind of higher power you wish (they use the doorknob as an example as if someone who had a hard time with god would have an easier time believing in a conscious doorknob.)

I'd really like to keep going, but I just can't get past the not-so-thinly veiled religiosity of it all. The constant talk of god rescuing people from their poor thinking just drives me crazy. Could it be possible your thinking changed not because of god but because you exposed your brain to new patterns of thought and behavior?!?Anyone out there been through a similar experience?
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23-09-2010, 10:52 PM
RE: 12-Step Brainwashing
I went to a primary school where the head master would always note "god helped us with this new out building" "god was on your side in this test I see" and made us sing religious songs at break and say grace at lunch. It was also supposed to be a state school, not a religious school. That count?

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24-09-2010, 12:47 AM
RE: 12-Step Brainwashing
Religion will do anything to bring in new converts, including infiltration and co-ersion.

I was at a funeral a few years ago and was appalled by the priest pushing his religion instead of honoring the deceased. Talk about "how low can you go?" Very low, obviously.
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24-09-2010, 03:16 AM
RE: 12-Step Brainwashing
(23-09-2010 10:52 PM)Cetaceaphile Wrote:  I went to a primary school where the head master would always note "god helped us with this new out building" "god was on your side in this test I see" and made us sing religious songs at break and say grace at lunch. It was also supposed to be a state school, not a religious school. That count?

I think I went to the last very christian primary school in Finland, where every morning we had to stand (no leaning was allowed) and listen to to a 10-20minute speech about squirrels collecting cones just like we collect the cones of life and stuff like that and after that we had to sing hymns (I almost passed out once, the air was'nt good in a classroom filled with 50-60 students[the whole school] with windows closed). And always before getting food we had to stand(no leaning!) and sing a food hymn. The headmaster (also the teacher of classes 5 and 6) was lestadiolan.

athnostic Wrote:Could it be possible your thinking changed not because of god but because you exposed your brain to new patterns of thought and behavior?!
I spent the whole last week with old superstitious christians who only talked about god and Jesus.
I do'nt think you can give up your thinking system just by spending time with people with completely different thought systems (I'm not sure about spending years with them without any connection to the outside world), if that's what you're concerned about.

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24-09-2010, 04:34 AM
RE: 12-Step Brainwashing
Well isn't this just the can of worms I've been waiting for someone to open. My wife is a FORMER alcoholic (they hate it when you say that) who went to a center that based it's recovery strategy on AA, and I attempted al-anon. We are both atheists. Long story to come....

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24-09-2010, 04:41 AM
RE: 12-Step Brainwashing
Don't the people at Al-Anon feel insulted that they have to thank God? They're the ones who changed their behavior and resisted the temptation to drink. That's not an easy thing to do. They should be thanking themselves and each other for support, not God.

Can I tell you how awkward it is to go to a friend's house for dinner (his family is very Christian) and be sitting near six other people who are saying grace with their hands clasped together and their eyes closed, and I'm the only one who's sitting there with my head up?

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24-09-2010, 06:08 AM
 
RE: 12-Step Brainwashing
Long ago, I gave up being embarrassed or feeling awkward about being the only one not bowing my head in prayer (or saying 'amen' at the end) at occasions where this happens. In principle, the believers are all supposed to have their eyes shut, so they shouldn't notice. If they do say something (a rare event), I like to ask them why their eyes weren't closed. Although I don't push atheism on my believer friends, I don't mind asking pointed questions about their beliefs if they expect me to go along with their rituals.

My son is an alcoholic, who converted to catholicism from the state in which I raised him (to think for himself), and he goes to Al-Anon meetings, apparently accepting the religious hocus-pocus they push onto those seeking help for their alcoholism. His conversion apparently was motivated by his deeply religious wife-to-be. Apart from what I see as a basic character flaw (being a catholic), I love my daughter-in-law and she's been good for my son. I have to accept such things from my immediate family but they all know where I stand and never, ever begin to push it on me, because they know what they'll get in return.

Live and let live seems like a reasonable policy for dealing with theists in your life. For the most part, anyway.
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24-09-2010, 09:15 AM
 
RE: 12-Step Brainwashing
Quote:In principle, the believers are all supposed to have their eyes shut, so they shouldn't notice. If they do say something (a rare event), I like to ask them why their eyes weren't closed.

Please explain why you think believers are supposed to close their eyes when they pray. Prayer is talking to God. I don't close my eyes when talking to anyone else (including you right now...I never learned how to touch-type). Why should I close my eyes when talking to God?

If you are going to reference what organized religion or tradition teaches, I can't accept that as a valid answer, as that is not what the bible teaches. Jesus does say that when you pray, do it in private so as to not make a hypocritical display of virtue. So in that sense, I can see how saying grace in the presence of a non-believer would not be christian-like bahavior if done to "show up" the non-believer.
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24-09-2010, 11:39 AM
RE: 12-Step Brainwashing
My wife is also a recovering alcoholic (I've never heard it referred to as a "former" before) and has been sober for 20 years. She went into rehab when she was young, long before I knew her. She has not had a drink in our almost 13 years of marriage or in the 14 1/2 years we've known each other.

She claims that AA is a big part of the reason she stays sober. My view on it is if that's what she believe then where is the harm in it? I have no idea if she's right or wrong, but what I do know is that I know other alcoholics who are either not in recovery or who lapsed and they are not fun to be around, much less married. So, if her involvement with AA is what keeps her sober, then fine by me.

I think the religious aspects of it are over played, though. There are some religious over tones to be sure, but my wife is not religious and no one pushes their beliefs on her. The whole point of it is to remain sober.

Finally, I have attended more than my share of meetings over the years and they all end with the serenity prayer, which goes as follows: "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference."

I don't believe you need a God to grant you these things but I think the basic message here is still very good advice and a concept I try to live my own life by. There are things we can control and there are things we can't. We should focus on the things we should control and roll with the punches the best we can on those things that we cannot. We should not be defined by the uncontrollable things that happen to us - illness, job loss - but on how we react to and deal with them.

In terms of Athnostics original question, my take is this: we all have to do what is best for ourselves. If attending Al-Anon makes you uncomfortable to a point that you question the whole purpose of it, you probably won't get any benefits out of it. However, sometimes the what is best for us as individuals is influenced by our relationships with others. So, if you are doing this just for you, then make your own choice. If you are doing this for someone else you care about, then maybe suck it up and remember you are there for them. For what it's worth, I know many people who have been helped by Al-Anon. As with anything else, you take the parts of the message and experience that work for you and leave the rest behind.

I don't mean to direct this at anyone in particular but I really think we've all gotten very sensitive as a society. For me, I find being offended by a religious reference as silly as a Christian being offended by "Seasons Greetings" in December.

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24-09-2010, 01:22 PM
 
RE: 12-Step Brainwashing
(24-09-2010 09:15 AM)BarleyMcFlexo Wrote:  
Quote:In principle, the believers are all supposed to have their eyes shut, so they shouldn't notice. If they do say something (a rare event), I like to ask them why their eyes weren't closed.

Please explain why you think believers are supposed to close their eyes when they pray. Prayer is talking to God.

And does he talk back?
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