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Episode 139: Steps 8 and 9

In this episode, Angela and John take a look at the amends steps, 8 and 9. John talks about his experience with direct and indirect amends, and explains why in some situations he felt that indirect or “living amends” were the better choice. Angela describes the process she used as she learned it from the book, The Alternative 12 Steps: A Secular Guide.  Transcript 00:00 John S: This...

Episode 138: Christmas at the Paseo Group

A few days before Christmas, I spoke at the Paseo Group’s Alkathon in Kansas City, Missouri. I wasn’t terribly prepared for my talk, but I arrived about half an hour early which gave me time to jot down a few ideas on a napkin. Using the napkin as a guide, I talked about the language of recovery, the action I took and continue to take in recovery, and my thoughts about the steps and AA literature...

Episode 137: Secular Al-Anon Boise

In this episode, you will meet Kim L., who helped start a secular Al-Anon meeting in Boise, Idaho. While Kim isn’t entirely uncomfortable at traditional Al-Anon meetings, she was motivated to start a secular meeting because she knows of people who wouldn’t avail themselves to the help they can find in Al-Anon because of their perception that it is religious. Unfortunately, her group...

Episode 136: Are the 12 Steps Relevant?

Are the Twelve Steps really relevant in the 21st Century, and is there any point for an atheist or agnostic to work out secular interpretations? Maybe it’s better to abandon them altogether? John H. from the We Agnostics Group in Washington DC thinks so, and he makes a compelling case in this talk that he delivered at the third biennial International Conference of Secular AA that was held...

Episode 135: Steps Six and Seven with Angela and John

Angela is back to discuss the steps from a more secular point of view, and in this episode, we take a look at steps six and seven, which in their original wording read as “were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character”, and “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. Sounds like these are steps that should be completely discarded if you are an atheist, agnostic or...

Episode 134: Wes B.

This episode features a talk by Wes B., who attends meetings at the Freethinkers and We Agnostics groups in Kansas City, Missouri. Addiction to drugs and alcohol brought Wes close to death several times, and as a self-described strident atheist, he had difficulty with the overly religious language that he was confronted with during treatment and at the AA meetings he attended early in his...

Episode 133: A Conversation with Barbara G.

Barbara G. had her last drink in Munich, Germany in 1983, and the god bit gave her trouble from her first AA meeting. However, she quickly learned to interpret the Steps to comport with her agnostic worldview. Now living in Maryland, Barbara attends meetings at the We Agnostics, Atheists, and Freethinkers group in Frederick, Maryland. In this episode, Barbara briefly shares her story, and then we...

Episode 132: International Conference of Secular AA-An Update

In this episode, Gregg O., Chair of the Host Committee for the International Conference of Secular AA provides an update on the conference to be held from October 30 – November 1, 2020, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Bethesda, Maryland. Registration is $125 and is now open at the Secular AA website. Conference attendees will receive a special hotel rate of $129 per night, which is available...

Episode 131: Step Five with Angela and John

In this episode, Angela and I continue our discussion of the 12 Ssteps, today, focusing on Step Five, which involves sharing our story with another person. We cover a lot of ground here, taking a look at who we should choose to listen to our fourth step, what role should that person play as the hearer, what value is gained from doing this and how thorough should we be. This is followed with a...

Episode 130: Dancing on a Piece of Wood

I met Douglas at my home group We Agnostics, and last summer after a meeting, we were talking about recovery-related movies as topics for future podcasts and he suggested “The Way Out”, a short film by Jim Greco. Douglas has been skateboarding his entire life, and Jim Greco is a professional skateboarder who made this film about his 11th and 12th year of sobriety. This sounded like an intriguing...

Episode 129: Dave E.

In this episode you will meet Dave E. from Toronto, Ontario. Our conversation begins with Dave sharing his personal story of recovery, the difficulty he had with interpreting the god-speak that he heard in AA meetings, and the relief he felt from finding secular AA meetings. Later in the podcast, we talk about what we do with our sobriety, how we spend our time, and what we do to stay engaged and...

Episode 127: Benn B. at the KC Secular AA Speaker Meeting

This episode features a talk by Benn B. from Omaha, Nebraska who visited Kansas City last summer to speak at the KC Secular AA Speaker Meeting. Benn covers a lot of ground in this short talk. He describes his years growing up before he started drinking, how his drinking became a problem, and his experience with AA as he got sober. The overall take-away is the important role a supportive community...

Episode 126: Step Four with Angela and John

In this episode Angela and John discuss Step Four: Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. We will continue discussing this step as we go into Step Five, and we would love to hear from you. Please email your experiences, questions, or comments about this step to john@aabeyondbelief.org, and we may discuss your email on that episode. Transcript 00:00 John: This is AA Beyond...

Episode 125: The Arizona Secular AA Conference

In this episode, Gary S. from Sun City West Arizona provides information about the third biennial Arizona Secular AA Conference, which will be held on November 9th at the 24th Street Conference Center in Phoenix, Arizona.  Jeffrey Munn, author of Staying Sober Without God: The Practical 12 Steps to Long-Term Recovery from Alcoholism & Addiction will serve as the keynote speaker at the...

Episode 124: Step Three

Step Three, in its original form reads as “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.” The words “God” and “Him” lead many nonbelievers to disregard this stop altogether. However, is there a more practical way to view this step? In this episode Angela and John take a secular view of a step which is essentially...

Episode 123: Joe C. at the KC Secular AA Anniversary Celebration

This episode features a recording Joe C. speaking in Kansas City, Missouri at the anniversary celebration for the We Agnostics and Freethinkers groups. Joe is from Toronto’s Beyond Belief group. He is the host of the podcast Rebellion Dogs Radio, and author of “Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life. “ Transcript 00:00 John S: This is episode 123 of AA Beyond Belief...

Episode 122: Step Two

Angela and John respond to listener email and then have a conversation about Step Two. In its original form, Step Two reads, “came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” In everyday language, one might say, “I can stop drinking and have a decent life.” It is essentially the experience finding hope that sobriety is possible, but...

Episode 121: SOAAR 2019 Panel “The Practical 12 Steps”

This episode features a panel discussion about the twelve steps that was conducted by Jeffrey Munn, author of Staying Sober Without God, and myself. It was nice to meet Jeffrey and an honor to participate on this panel with him. Jeffrey discussed the Steps as he wrote them for his book and then went into a little detail behind some of those steps. I shared my experience with the Steps since I was...

Episode 120: When a Man Loves a Woman

This episode features a discussion of the 1994 film, When a Man Loves a Woman. The film starring Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia does an amazing job in depicting the relationship between an alcoholic and her spouse and how the dynamics of the relationship changes as the alcoholic gets sober and begins to recover. Benn B. and John S. bring their own experiences as recovering people into the conversation...

Episode 119: The First Step

In this episode, Angela B. and John S. discuss the first step in the recovery process, which for many of us is whatever happened that helped us escape the grip of denial, admit we had a problem with alcohol and to seek help. Angela and John go into more detail about Step One and the principles behind it, while covering a few other topics along the way.  Transcript 00:00 John S: This is episode...

Episode 118: Wally K.

This episode features Wally K.  from the Atheists, Agnostics, and All Others group in Boise, Idaho. Wally has been sober for 47 years, and this is his story. Links:  Secular AA Meetings in Boise  Atheists, Agnostics, And All Others Website Transcript 00:37 Wally K: Thanks for having me, John, I appreciate this opportunity. We don’t have a lot of speaker meetings here in the greater Boise...

Bonus Episode: Secular Ontario AA Roundup

On September 7, 2019, the Secular Ontario AA Roundup will be held at the First Unitarian Church at 170 Dundurn Street South, Hamilton, Ontario. Registration and information can be found at the website soaar.ca. In this special bonus episode, I’ll be speaking with Murray J. and Carolyn B. who will go into more detail about what you can expect at the roundup. Read more about SOAAR at AA Agnostica...

Episode 117: Taking Steps

This is the first in a series of episodes dedicated to understanding and working the Twelve Steps as an atheist, agnostic, freethinker, or anyone interested in a secular approach to the Twelve Steps. Angela B. from the Agnostics, Atheists, and All Others group in Boise, Idaho will bring her insight and perspective as co-host with John S. for the duration of the series. In this episode, Angela and...

Episode 116: The Sober She Devils

If you would like to attend a secular AA meeting, but don’t have one in your community, there are now several online meetings listed on the Secular AA website that you might want to try. In this episode, I speak with four women from The Sober She Devils, an online secular women’s meeting. Carol, Gail, Kimberly, and Maria join me to talk about their experiences with the meeting and how...

Episode 115: Sugar Addiction

Today’s episode features a conversation with Mike Collins, founder of sugaraddiction.com and Chair of the Food Addiction Institute, an organization that is making headway informing the public about sugar addiction as a substance abuse disorder. Mike and I talked about the science of sugar addiction, the experience of detoxing from sugar, the necessity of abstinence, and the importance of a...

Episode 114: Who We Really Are – A Determined Atheist’s View

This episode features a conversation with John H. from the We Agnostics Group in Washington, DC. John, who describes himself as a “determined atheist” is of the opinion that the Secular AA organization should sever its ties to traditional AA, and he explains his reasoning in this discussion. John is a talented writer whose work can be found at his personal website john-huey.com, and...

Episode 113: An AA Beyond Belief Update

In this episode, I talk about my experience at AA Beyond Belief, both the podcast and website. I discuss the challenges and rewards that come from doing this work, and what you can do to get involved to help.  Transcript 00:00 JOHN S: Hello and welcome to AA Beyond Belief-the podcast. I’m your host, John S. [music] 00:20 JOHN S: This episode is going to be a little bit different than what...

Episode 112: Staying Sober Without God

Staying Sober Without God: The Practical 12 Steps to Long-Term Recovery from Alcoholism & Addictions, by Jeffrey Munn is a welcomed addition to the growing library of secular recovery literature. Munn’s reasoned and practical approach while targeted for atheists and agnostics, can be used by anyone interested in learning about the Twelve Steps, and regardless of their addiction. In this...

Episode 111: We Agnostics North Bay

This episode features a conversation with Lena R. from the We Agnostics Group in North Bay, Ontario. Lena discusses her experience of working with her District to approve a request to add the “secular” category for her group on the Area meeting directory. After considering Lena’s arguments, the District voted unanimously to approve the group’s request. This is an uplifting...

Episode 110: Safe Injection Comedy Fundraiser Toronto Edition

The opioid epidemic is a crisis, it’s an emergency, and thousands of people are dying. In fact, more people have died from the opioid epidemic than the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. The Toronto Overdose Prevention Society is responding to the crisis in their city by creating and operating pop-up safe injection sites. These sites cost about $150 a day to operate and because they don’t...

Episode 109: Simon P.

For this episode, I spoke with my friend Simon P., who I met a few years ago at the We Agnostics group in Kansas City. Simon has recently started a secular AA speaker meeting which has been doing well. In fact, we have turned the meeting into a podcast, which is fun but also makes the meeting more accessible. It was nice to have Simon over to my house and to get to know him better as he shared...

Episode 108: Angela B. Sharing Her Recovery as an Atheist in AA

Today’s episode features a recording of a talk given by Angela B. from the Atheists, Agnostics, and All Others Group in Boise, Idaho. Speaking at the Saturday Night Live Speaker Meeting in Boise on December 28, 2018, Angela shares her recovery story and how she experiences the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous as an atheist. Transcript 00:00 John S: This is episode 108 of AA Beyond Belief:...

Episode 107: Esprit Ouvert

“Esprit Ouvert” is French for “Open-mindedness”, and it’s the name of a new secular AA group that meets in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec every Friday night at 8:00 pm. In this episode, Ernest B. and William B. talk about what motivated them to start the group, the challenges they faced, and how their group approaches the AA program from a totally secular...

Episode 106: John S. at the Paseo Group’s Alkathon

In this episode, I share my experience, strength, and hope at an Alkathon hosted by the Paseo AA Group in Kansas City, Missouri. I talk  about what got me into AA, how I feel about the first three steps, my experience as an atheist in AA, starting a secular AA meeting, my thoughts on Steps 6 and 7, and the importance of service work. Transcript 00:00 John S: This is Episode 106 of AA Beyond...

Episode 105: An Atheist Makes Sense of the 12 Steps

This episode features a conversation with Steph R., an atheist in recovery who has found a way to make sense of the AA Big Book and to practice the 12 Steps. As Steph shares her experience, an interesting discussion unfolds about the difficulties that atheists and women have with AA’s original literature. Steph explains how she learned to place the Big Book into the context of its time, and...

Episode 104: Sober Speak with John M.

Today’s episode features a conversation with John M. from the Sober Speak podcast. John is coming up on 30 years of sobriety this year and has posted 52 episodes of his wonderful recovery podcast. Our conversation shows how two AA’s one a believer and another an atheist can find common ground through shared experience.  Topics covered in this episode include a discussion about...

Episode 103: Voices in Recovery

Voices in Recovery is a new website created by Cindy from the Agnostics and Others group in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Cindy’s idea is to feature recorded talks from people in recovery from any and all addictions. The site’s focus is on under represented groups whose voices are not often heard. In this episode Cindy explains the site and how a situation at her home group motivated...

Episode 102: Freethinkers in AA Denver

00:00 John S: This is Episode 102 of AA Beyond Belief, the podcast. [music] 00:23 John S: Well, I have to tell you it’s good to be back at podcasting again. And I apologize to listeners for leaving and being away for so long without giving you advance notice. The truth of the matter is, I wasn’t expecting to be gone for as long as I was. Something just happened to me. I think I got...

Episode 101: Twelve Secular Steps | An Addiction Recovery Guide

00:00 John S: Hello, this is Episode 101 of AA Beyond Belief, the podcast. [music] 00:21 John S: Today, I’ll be joined by my friend, Wes B, from my home group, We Agnostics Kansas City, and we’ll be speaking with Bill W. No, not that Bill W., another Bill W., about his new book, Twelve Secular Steps: An Addiction Recovery Guide. This is John and I’m here with Bill W., who has...

Episode 100: Max Brockmann

Transcript 00:00 Announcer (Recording): Max Brockmann! [applause] 00:03 Max Brockmann (Recording): Hello, fellow humans. My name is Max, and I like to tell jokes. Let’s do that together right now. Sometimes I can smoke a plant. I won’t say which plant, but I will say this, it starts with Marijua… And it ends with both of my arms stuck in Pringles cans. [laughter] 00:38 Max...

Episode 99: Sugar and Food Addiction with Dr. Vera Tarman

Transcript 00:00 John S.: This is Episode 99 of AA Beyond Belief, the Podcast. [music] 00:25 John S.: Dr. Vera Tarman has been working in the field of addiction medicine since 1994 and has been the Medical Director of Renascent, a treatment center in Toronto since 2006. She is a regular contributor to the call-in TV show, Living Clean, Living Well, and was co-host on Addictions Unplugged, a...

Episode 98: Creativity in Recovery

Transcript 00:00 John S.: This is AA Beyond Belief The Podcast, Episode 98 [music] 00:24 John S.: A few months ago, I read a poem that was posted on our Facebook group written by Robert B. from Madison, Wisconsin. In his post, Robert mentioned that at the encouragement of his sponsor, he began to write poetry, which he’s been doing daily since he’s been sober. Since that time...

Episode 97: Many Paths Secular AA Group In Urbana IL

Can the 12 traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous be enforced? Can AA groups or AA members be punished for not conforming? Can special-purpose groups within Alcoholics Anonymous affiliate with each other and build websites to list their meetings? Join me as I talk with Ben S., the General Service Representative of the Many Paths Group in Urbana, Illinois, and Joe C. from Rebellion Dogs Radio...

Episode 96: Shift Happens

Margot Genger author of Shift Happens: Breakdowns During LIfe’s Long Hauls discusses recovery from alcoholism and mental illness while recounting her adventures as an over-the-road trucker in the early 1980s. Transcript 00:00 John S.: This is AA Beyond Belief the Podcast, episode 96. [music] 00:24 John S.: Today, I’ll be speaking with Margot Genger, author of Shift Happens, A Memoir:...

Episode 95: Bruce H. from Seattle’s Many Paths Group

In today’s episode, I’ll be speaking with Bruce H from the Many Paths group in Seattle, Washington. Bruce has been sober for over 40 years and recently was a keynote speaker at the Widening the Gateway conference in Tacoma. In this episode, we’ll talk about what it was like when he was getting sober in the 1970s, and the changes he’s seen in AA since that time. We’ll...

Episode 94: Tomas L.

Today, I’ll be speaking with Tomas L., from Gothenburg, Sweden. I met Tomas in the secret Facebook group for AA Beyond Belief. One day, we were all posting comments about the use of the Lord’s Prayer in AA meetings and Tomas posted something that I found really funny and clever, so I thought that I would have him on a podcast. That interaction from several months ago resulted in this...

Episode 93: Dr. Ray Baker-The Science of Addiction and Recovery

In today’s episode, I’ll be speaking with Dr. Ray Baker, an expert in the field of Addiction Medicine. Recently, Dr. Baker served on a national expert committee for the Canadian Centre of Substance Abuse, where he helped design and analyze Canada’s National Life in Recovery Survey. Dr. Baker was the opening speaker at the “Widening The Gateway” conference in Tacoma...

International Conference of Secular AA: An Update from Carol M.

In today’s episode, I’ll be speaking with Carol M., the Host City Chair for the International Conference of Secular AA. Carol will update us about the conference to take place in Toronto, Ontario from August 24th through August 26th at the Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel. Podcast Transcript 00:26 John S: In today’s episode, I’ll be speaking with Carol M., the...

Episode 92: The God Word

Today’s episode features a conversation with our friend, Joe C. from Rebellion Dogs Radio, and author of Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life. We’ll be airing a conversation that Joe had with his area delegate, Kim S. From area 83. Joe and Kim talk about the recent general service conference about alcoholic anonymous. Kim has a fascinating account of what occurred when the...

Episode 91: Recovery 2.0

Tommy Rosen is the author of Recovery 2.0: Move Beyond Addiction and Upgrade Your Life. He is a yoga teacher with over two decades of experience with yoga, recovery and wellness. He is the founder and host of the Recovery 2.0: Beyond Addiction online conference series and the hashtag Move Beyond Group Coaching Program. Tommy is a pioneer in the field of yoga and recovery who has helped thousands...

Episode 90: Core of Recovery

Today’s podcast features a recording of a panel discussion at the Widening the Gateway Secular AA Conference held at Tacoma, Washington on March 31, 2018. The moderator of the panel was John H. from the We Agnostics Group in Washington DC. John was kind enough to allow us to share this recording with you. John was joined by Mary G. who attends a secular AA women’s meeting in Tucson...

Episode 89: The Sinclair Method

In today’s episode, I will be speaking with Gary Bell from Hartlepool, England. Gary and I will be discussing a promising treatment for alcohol use disorder, known as The Sinclair Method. The Sinclair Method utilizes the prescription naltrexone to eliminate addiction to alcohol, through the process of pharmacological extinction. Gary, who participated in the documentary film One Little...

Episode 88: Life-J

life-j is a friend of both AA Beyond Belief and AA Agnostica. He has written several articles for both sites and was also published in the AA Grapevine. In this podcast, life-j shares his story, and we’ll talk about his article on the Sinclair Method, his thoughts on recovery, his thoughts about AA, present and future, what he thinks about secular AA, the use and limitation of technology...

Episode 87: Is God A Requirement For AA Membership

This podcast features a conversation with Ernie P, who spoke at the 2018 Northeast Regional AA Service Assembly on the topic “Is God a Requirement for AA Membership?” Ernie will talk about his experience preparing for and delivering the talk, as well as the reaction he received from the audience. Transcript John S: This is episode 87 of AA Beyond Belief, the Podcast and I’m your...

Episode 86: Godless Recovery in Overeaters Anonymous

In this episode, I'll be speaking with Lee from London, England, a member of Overeaters Anonymous. We'll talk about her experience with binge eating and drinking, as well as her perspective on recovery. Welcome, Lee. It's nice to have you here. Transcript 00:00 John: This is episode 87 of AA Beyond Belief the Podcast, and I’m your host, John S. [music] 00:26 John: In this...

We Agnostics KC Sobriety Anniversary: Marty K. and Julie K.

This podcast is a recording of the monthly anniversary meeting at We Agnostics Kansas City. Marty K. celebrated three years of sobriety and Julie K. celebrated thirty years. The group's sense of humor is quite evident in the recording as is the seriousness with which we approach recovery and the care and concern we have for one another.
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Episode 85: An Atheist AA in London

In today’s episode, we’ll meet Dan from London, England. Dan helped found the first agnostic AA meeting in London. He’ll share his story and give us his thoughts on AA, secular, and otherwise. Transcript 00:00 John S: This is Episode 85 of AA Beyond Belief the podcast, and I’m your host, John S. [music] 00:27 John: In today’s episode, we’ll meet Dan from...

Episode 84: Safety in AA

Three women share their stories on the topic of safety in AA. Sarah J. from Johannesburg, South Africa talks about her experience with emotional exploitation. Lisa X. from Rochester, New York recalls a relationship that could have driven her from AA altogether, and Jennifer W. from Toronto, Ontario shares a story about how the men in her AA group helped to make the meeting a safe space...

Episode 83: Sexual Harassment and Predation in AA

Today’s episode is the first of two episodes addressing the topic of sexual predation and harassment in Alcoholics Anonymous and features a conversation with Heather B. from Indianapolis, Indiana, and Bethany B. From Jacksonville, Florida. We’ll talk about the problem from their perspective and possible solutions. Podcast Transcript 00:00 John: This is Episode 83 of AA Beyond Belief...

Episode 82: Parallel Universes

Parallel Universes: The Story of Rebirth is a new book, a recovery memoir written by David B. Bohl. Today, AA Agnostica published a review of the book written by Thomas B. while here at AA Beyond Belief, we are posting a podcast featuring a conversation with David. I won’t go into a lot of detail here about the book, you can read about that at AA Agnostica. Instead, I will introduce the...

Episode 81: Secular AA in the Buckle of the Bible Belt

In today’s podcast, we meet Andrew A. from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma who discusses his experience with starting a secular AA meeting in the very buckle of America’s Bible Belt. What follows is an essay that Andrew was kind enough to write and submit for inclusion with this podcast.  Secular AA In the Buckle of the Bible Belt By Andrew A. I had over 3 years of sobriety in 2010 when I...

Widening The Gateway Secular AA Conference

This is a special edition podcast about the Widening the Gateway Conference. A conference of secular AA members from the Pacific Northwest and Beyond. This is a special edition podcast about the Widening the Gateway Conference that will take place on March 31, 2018, in Tacoma, Washington. Widening the Gateway is a conference of secular AA members from the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Willow F...

Episode 80: That’s What Friends Are For

That’s What Friends Are For, by Kenneth Sean Campbell is a novel set in San Francisco during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. It’s a book that will inspire you, and cause you to think and it will also make you cry. Kenneth based the book on actual events from his life as a recovering alcoholic and a gay man during this painful time in our history.  Alcoholics Anonymous plays a central...

Episode 79: Daily Reprieve AA for Atheists & Agnostics, by Alex M.

In this podcast, Alex M. discusses his new book, Daily Reprieve: AA for Atheists & Agnostics, a secular daily meditations book based on quotes taken from the first 164 pages of the Big Book. Each quote is followed by Alex’s thoughts on the topic and a question for the reader to contemplate. A life-long atheist who found sobriety in AA, Alex values the Big Book as a guide to the...

Episode 78: We Agnostics Kansas City at the Paseo Group’s Alcathon

For the past 37 years, Kansas City’s Paseo group hosts an alcathon during the Christmas Holiday. Groups from around the city fill one-hour slots for ’round the clock AA meetings. I always look forward to participating, and this year it was especially nice to be joined by Gregg O. and Julie K. from my home group, We Agnostics. The Paseo group has a rich history dating back to 1947 when...

Episode 77: International Conference of Secular AA

Carol M., the Host City Chair for the International Conference of Secular AA was my guest for this week’s podcast. Our conversation included such topics as the history of the conference, how the planning is coming along, what to expect, information about the cost, and when and how to register. All of these details can also be found on the conference website, secularaa.com.  A little history...

Episode 76: AA Ends Lawsuit Over Big Book Manuscript

This podcast was recorded before AA World Services dropped its lawsuit to gain possession of the original 1939 working draft manuscript” of the Big Book.  On November 27, 2017, Gregory Tobin, the General Manager of the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous filed an affidavit with the Supreme Court of the State of New York that officially ended the lawsuit that was first filed on...

Episode 75: Addictus: A Nonbeliever’s Path to Recovery

This podcast features an interview with Derreck Bennett, author of Addictus: A Nonbeliever’s Path to Recovery. In this newly published book, Derreck provides an honest account of his transformation from theistic belief to atheism, and from chronic alcoholism to sobriety. It’s an inspiring story that shows recovery is available to everyone and possible to anyone. Derreck grew up in a...

Episode 74: Justin M. from Quad-A Canberra

In this episode, we meet Justin M. from Canberra, Australia. Justin started drinking late in life as a way to cope with an unhappy marriage, and over a nine-year period, alcohol began to completely take over. Eventually, he was in such bad shape that he had to be medically detoxed. After detoxing and on his third day out of the hospital, he was taken to an AA meeting that suddenly changed the...

Episode 73: The Proactive Twelve Steps for Mindful Recovery

In this episode of AA Beyond Belief the Podcast, we meet Serge Prengel, author of The Proactive Twelve Steps for Mindful Recovery. Serge is a therapist and life coach with a practice in New York City who became interested in the 12 Steps as a process for change and personal growth. His website proactive12steps.com features a new beta version of the 4th edition of the Proactive 12 Steps, a free...

Episode 72: Dr. Nicole Labor and the Science of Addiction

Dr. Nicole Labor practices addiction medicine at Summa Healthcare in Akron, Ohio. This is the old St. Thomas Hospital where Sister Ignatia opened the first alcoholic ward in the United States, and who with Dr. Bob Smith treated and cared for hundreds of suffering alcoholics.  I first learned about Dr. Labor several months ago when a visitor to AA Beyond Belief recommended that we link to a video...

Episode 71: Drunks: An American History

This week’s podcast features an interview with Christopher M. Finan, author of Drunks: An American History. The book provides a fascinating history of alcoholism and its treatment from the beginning of American History to the present day. I enjoyed the experience of learning about my fellow drunks, what they endured and how they learned to help each other and in so doing, change the way...

Episode 70: Refuge Recovery

In this week’s episode, I speak with Dave Owens from Refuge Recovery in Kansas City, Missouri. Dave is an atheist who wasn’t comfortable with most of the AA meetings around here, and he was never able to put a lot of sober time together until he learned about the We Agnostics Group in Kansas City and our sister group Freethinkers in AA Kansas City.  Earlier this year, Dave discovered...

Episode 69: Petrina S.

In today’s episode, we meet Petrina S., who helped found the Curl Curl Secular ID meeting located about 18 kilometers from the central business district in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, and about 10 kilometers from the other secular AA meeting in metropolitan Sydney—the Brookvale Secular ID meeting. Petrina is focused on her sobriety and committed to her group. She wants to do her...

Episode 68: Jennifer C.

Jennifer grew up in an alcoholic home and had all the characteristics of an alcoholic before she even had her first drink. An Alateen at 13 and a member of Alcoholics Anonymous at 15, it was the 1980’s when she first got sober. This was a time when young people’s groups were flourishing and she felt right at home in AA. During the next 16 years, she went to meetings and was active in...

Episode 67: Smashed

In this episode, Benn and I discuss the 2012 film Smashed, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Kate, a young woman coming to terms with her addiction to alcohol. Kate recognizes that “sober Kate” is a much different woman than “drunk Kate.” The movie centers on Kate’s relationship with her husband and her fear that she can’t stay married to him and stay sober...

Episode 66: Paul A.

Paul started drinking excessively while in his teens and lost control early on. He tried various ways to get his life and drinking under control, but nothing worked. He was feeling hopeless and had no self-esteem. After getting arrested for driving under the influence and violating probation, he finally had enough. He decided that he would go to the railroad tracks and wait for the train to come...

Episode 65: Garth R. and the We Agnostics Group in South Africa

In today’s episode of AA Beyond Belief the Podcast, we meet Garth R., a co-founder of the We Agnostics Group in Johannesburg, South Africa. The group started up in March of this year and meets every Wednesday night at 7:30. Our conversation for this podcast centers on what led Garth to help start a new secular AA meeting, and how things are progressing. Garth says his story isn’t...

Episode 64: We Agnostics and Freethinkers at the 2017 Florida State AA Convention

Glenn G. a co-founder of the Beaches Agnostics AA group in Jacksonville, Florida hosted a workshop at the Florida State AA convention held in Jacksonville from July 27-30, 2017. The speakers included Ashley, who attends meetings at Beaches Agnostics and myself. Ashley and I shared a little of our stories and then spoke of experiences as an agnostic and atheist in Alcoholics Anonymous. : Play in...

Episode 63: Don M. Seeking (the definition of) Spirituality

Just before leaving for our two-week summer break, I recorded this podcast with Don M. from The Broader Path Group in Odessa, Ontario. Don and I talked a little about his journey in AA, and his experience with helping to start a secular AA group. We also had an interesting conversation about the concept of spirituality, and as an added bonus Don provided this marvelous essay that goes further...

Episode 62: Carmen X.

I met Carmen at my home group, and have always enjoyed her thoughtful comments, intelligence, and her honest, open, and warm personality. This podcast features a portion of her story followed by an interesting conversation based on her experience as a transgender woman and a freethinker in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Carmen has the utmost respect for AA and credits it for her sobriety, but she says...

Episode 61: PJ and Sydney’s Brookvale Quad A Group

In this episode of AA Beyond Belief-The Podcast, we meet PJ, a co-founder of the Brookvale Quad-A Meeting in Sydney, Australia. PJ started drinking as a teenager in his native Ireland, and to this day, he can remember the effect of that first drink. He was 19 years old, at a pub in Dublin and nervous about approaching a young woman. After drinking a beer, it seemed everything that was once...

Episode 60: Secular Ontario AA Roundup

This week’s podcast features a conversation with Jack V., one of the organizers of the Secular Ontario AA Roundup or SOAAR. The event will take place on September 16, 2017 at the United Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto, Ontario M5T1N1.   Previous to this podcast, Steven V. wrote an article that was posted at AA Agnostica on May 8, 2017, which we are posting here with permission. ...

Episode 59: Thanks for Sharing

In this week’s podcast, Benn and I have a conversation inspired by the movie, Thanks for Sharing, a film that describes 12 Step culture through the experiences and relationships of recovering sex addicts. The film was directed by Stuart Bloomberg who also co-wrote the screenplay with Matt Winston and features performances by Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Gweneth Paltrow, Josh Gad, Joely...

Episode 58: The 12 Step Philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous: An Interpretation by Steve K.

This week’s podcast features an interview with Steve K. who discusses his book The 12 Step Philosophy of Alcoholics Anonymous: An Interpretation by Steve K. Inspired by Aristotle’s “Virtue Ethics,” Stoic philosophy and the liberal principles embedded in AA history; Steve interprets the Steps from a humanistic perspective. It is an approach that will be welcomed by many of...

Episode 57: Alcohol Explained

This episode of AA Beyond Belief the Podcast features an interview with William Porter, author of Alcohol Explained. William lives in London, England with his wife and two young children. He is currently a lawyer and previously served with the 4th (Volunteer) Battalion of the Parachute Regiment. Alcohol Explained is a compelling examination of alcohol addiction, helpful to anyone who is coming to...

Episode 54: The Five Keys: 12 Step Recovery Without A God, by Archer Voxx

Our podcast this week is an interesting interview I conducted with Archer Voxx, author of the book The Five Keys – Twelve Step Recovery Without A God. This short book is getting attention in the agnostic, atheist, and freethinker communities because of its fresh approach to introducing the newcomer to AA. The content of the book would also be eye-opening to many veterans of the fellowship. As the...

Episode 53: Secular AA

In this week’s episode of AA Beyond Belief the Podcast, I speak with Courtney S., the webmaster for Secular AA, a new service organization created by the Board of Directors of ICSAA that consolidates the functions previously performed by WAAFT Central, Agnostic AA NYC, and WAAFT IAAC.  Secular AA now maintains the worldwide agnostic AA meeting directory that was previously managed for the...

Episode 52: Dale K. Studying the Big Book from a Secular Perspective

In this episode of AA Beyond Belief the Podcast, I speak with a new friend Dale K. Dale recently wrote a book that will help people understand the AA program of recovery as outlined in the Big Book, but from a secular perspective. I’m looking forward to this being published, which will hopefully be sometime next month. Presently, the manuscript is with Dale’s editor. What follows is...

Episode 51: Kayleigh P. and Freethinkers of Alcoholics Anonymous Ireland

This week’s podcast features a conversation with Kayleigh P., founder of Freethinkers of Alcoholics Anonymous Ireland. I think you will enjoy this conversation and be inspired by Kayleigh’s enthusiasm and love for AA. After speaking with her, I became interested in learning more about AA in Ireland, which led me to the story of Conor Flynn, the man who first brought AA to the country...

Episode 50: Benn B.

By Benn B. Telling one’s story can be daunting. While sharing at meetings, I have felt pressure to make my life sound completely awful so there could be a wonderful chance to praise AA and the steps at the end. Others times I found myself denying certain facts about my drinking out of embarrassment. Telling one’s story can be daunting. While sharing at meetings, I have felt pressure to make my...

Episode 49: John S. from We Agnostics Kansas City

For this episode of AA Beyond Belief the Podcast, I was interviewed by my co-host, Benn B., and thanks to his excellent interviewing skills; I shared my story in perhaps more detail than ever before. This was a valuable exercise that left me with a renewed sense of gratitude for Alcoholics Anonymous and particularly thankful for my involvement with the agnostic, atheist, and freethinking...

Episode 48: Larry K. and the Settlement with Toronto Intergroup

When I first heard the news of the Toronto Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous removing the agnostic groups from the Greater Toronto Area meeting directory and preventing them from having a voice at intergroup meetings, I couldn’t help but ask myself how I would feel if I were faced with these circumstances. I would feel, in a word “rejected,” and it would be one of the more...

Episode 47: Step 12 with Benn and John

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” It’s been a while since I’ve recorded a podcast and it’s been way too long since I’ve had a chat with Benn. Life got in the way, and I had to spend a little more time at work, getting things squared...

Episode 46: Len’s Story

In this episode, I speak with Len R., from Jasper, Georgia. I first became acquainted with Len shortly before the International Secular AA Convention that was held in Austin last November. Len wrote to ask if he could help out at AA Beyond Belief by recording audio versions of the stories that have been published on the site. He told me that he has a good radio voice and the skills needed to do...

Episode 45: Step 11 with Benn and John

By John S. Alcoholics Anonymous isn’t a program, it’s a fellowship. This is made quite clear in the AA preamble, which states that “Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.” It’s the Fellowship that does it...

Episode 44: Love and Service

For the second year in a row, I had the opportunity to speak at the Paseo Group’s annual holiday Alkathon, which is a time during the Holiday’s when the group hosts AA meetings around the clock. They invite people from groups all over the city to participate, and this week’s podcast is a recording of the talk I gave on Christmas morning. The Paseo Group has played a significant...

Episode 43: Joe C. Talks AA Service

This week, we speak with Joe C., author of Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life, a co-founder of Canada’s first agnostic AA group, Beyond Belief, and host of the podcast Rebellion Dogs Radio. Joe writes articles for various publications, presents a seminar on AA history at the Sedona Mago Retreat, and much, much more. I have to say, I was a bit nervous about this podcast, only...

Episode 42: Willow

Willow F. got sober just before her 16th birthday and on December 26, 2016, she will celebrate 28 years of sobriety. Her story confirms what AA experience over the past 80 years has shown— one does not necessarily need to drink for very many years to become an alcoholic. Thousands of us started young and fell fast and hard, and thousands like Willow have found lasting sobriety in AA. Drugs and...

Episode 41: Bob K. on AA’s Past, Present and Future

When they suggested he pray, Bob K. responded, “what else you got?” He wasn’t buying the God business and he wasn’t shy about letting anyone know; and though he sat through plenty of meetings with readings from the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, he says in those early days, he wasn’t much interested in any of that “program stuff.” About a month into...