Gresham’s Law and Alcholics Anonymous (By Tom P. Jr.)
June 11, 2008, 8:17 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

If you haven’t read this one yet, you probably should. Gresham’s Law and Alcoholics Anonymous by Tom P. Jr. is a classic critique of modern AA, which uses AA history to explain the gradually weakening emphasis on spiritual experiences in the program over time. This article has resonated strongly with those members of AA who place a high value on “the God stuff.”

Gresham’s Law is all over the web. You can read it here, here, here, and here (just to name a few).

Tom P. Jr. is the son of Tom P. Sr., who helped edit the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. We’ll post a more recent article by Tom Jr. tomorrow.

5 Comments so far
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Wow. Thank you for this. It comes to me at the right time. I’m currently 24 years sober and looking for a deeper program within the program. Nice to know (though of course I knew) that I am not alone.

Comment by Lydia

Thanks for posting

Comment by accufateews

This article by Tom P., Jr. was published in 1976. Its doomsday prediction for AA if members failed to “return” to the “strong AA” (read old-time AA) has not materialized in the last 33 years. I frequently hear variations on this fear-based theme in meetings. It is suspiciously similar to the call for a “return” to the “old time religion” heard in many churches on Sunday mornings. However, as I read Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book), the Program of Recovery is a path alcoholics’ experience has proved an effective way for an alcoholic to accept spiritual help – as opposed to human aid. So the undelying idea of this essay – that strong AA rather than medium AA or weak AA works to get and keep people sober demonstrates the author’s basic misunderstanding – that the Program of Recovery gets people sober and keeps them sober. Only a Higher Power (God) performs this miracle – and the Program of Recovery is not God, just an experience proven path to the consciousness of a connection to a Higher Power (God). It is always well to remember Rule 62 – Don’t take yourself so damn seriously!!

Comment by Bill

While some who practice a mild or weak program fail to achieve a spiritual experience others who practice a mild program (weak I am not so sure) do in time. The description of all such old timers as unhappy, sick, bored, etc. is simply not true. I have known some like that and some not. The rejection of the appendix on the spiritual experience is the core of this article.
I might add that one could write a similar article on some of the “strong” practitioners and point out their tendencies toward spiritual arrogance and sense of superiority. (In a world since 1976 where we have seen this occur in other spiritual and religious paths as well.) But that would an unfair article if it, too, said all such “strong” practitioners were like that.

Comment by DW

Been constantly in recovery from alcoholism (pure) since 2000, seen newcomers spreading the mess while those with time listen. Yet those of us who try to share the solution are ignored & sometime snubbed.

Comment by Bob Foran

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