Episode 204: A Message for a New Year

Happy New Year, friends. I want to begin the year by writing to you about AA Beyond Belief. These last five years have gone by so fast. It’s been like a dream. I never imagined that I would ever have such an experience, but it’s been an incredible ride, and I am honored to have this opportunity to be of service. Thank you, Roger C., for making this possible in the first place.

Of course, I don’t do any of the work here alone, nor could I. There are a lot of people who make AA Beyond Belief happen. PJ, Galen, and Robert B. have written volumes and also edit the work of others. Working alongside them was Doris A., who for the first few years served as Chief Editor and worked tirelessly in finding people to write for the site, and then to coordinate with Galen and PJ to prepare the stories for publication

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special thanks to Bob K., who has been a steady contributor to AABB since the beginning. I don’t think we would have ever got our feet on the ground in the first place if not for him. As you know, he is an incredibly talented writer, and it amazes me how he can hammer out one story after another. In addition to Bob, others have written for AA Beyond Belief over the last five years. I won’t try to name them because the list would be too long, and I would hate to leave anyone out, but please know that I genuinely appreciate the work that all of you put into making AA Beyond Belief possible. Thank you.

I also would like to thank everyone who reads the stories, visits the site, and comments on the articles. You make this website into a warm and welcoming community. Finally, I would like to thank all of you who finance this project through your generous contributions. Those are appreciated and needed. I don’t say thank you near enough, but I am grateful to you for your generosity. Thank you.

Okay, now for what is new for 2021 and some speculation about the future. On the ‘what’s new’ front, I would like to announce a new and improved website for the AA Beyond Belief podcast at podcast.aabeyondbelief.org. It’s easier to find podcast episodes by topic on the new site, and it reduces the number of pages you need to click through to play an episode. There is also a page for booking appearances, so if you would like to be a guest on the podcast, please check out the scheduling page. The new site is still in development, and I will be making more improvements in the days to come. Separating the podcast from the rest of the site made sense because how people access the podcast is very different from how they access the written content. Now, we can better organize both the podcast and written material.

Over the coming weeks, the primary site aabeyondbelief.org will receive an update. We haven’t updated the site since we created it in 2015, and it is time for a new look. The WordPress theme that we use is no longer supported, which causes some problems. I think upgrading to a new theme and cleaning out the old plugins will improve load times. I know the site has often been slow, and I’ve been working to improve that with some limited success.

You may have noticed that the audio recordings from the conferences are no longer on the website. As it turns out, the recordings from Santa Monica and Austin are under the company’s copyright that created the recordings, so I had to remove those from AABB. All of the Toronto recordings belong to ICSAA, and I will move those to the ICSAA YouTube Channel and get those posted on their website in the coming weeks.

Another change for this year is we most likely won’t be publishing an article every Sunday. We will still post articles, but only as someone contributes something. I will continue doing the podcast weekly, and Angela and I will keep doing the weekly live stream and monthly Euro Stream. We might even add an Asia Pacific Stream. That’s more than enough to keep me busy, and honestly, there isn’t a need for another website to post written material. AA Agnostica is quite capable of doing that, and other individuals like Steve K. have excellent blogs.

Now for the speculation. What does the future hold for AA Beyond Belief? I don’t know. When we started this thing, I wanted AA Beyond Belief to be an organization that wasn’t identified or dependent on a single person. However, I found that running an organization, even a small one like this, is a lot of work, and I’m not good at it. That being the case, I do feel a responsibility to act as a custodian of what is yours, and I think AA Beyond Belief should one day belong to the Secular AA | ICSAA organization. I know I shouldn’t say that without talking to them first, but the material on this site is an archive of sorts. An archive of the experience of secular people in AA over the last five years anyway. I think Secular AA | ICSAA would be the best organization to care for this material. They may not want the responsibility, but I think that is AABB’s destiny, or at least I’m hopeful that could one day come to pass.

I don’t’ see myself tiring of the podcast anytime soon. The podcast has been my great love since we started AABB. I’m not skilled at nor do I like editing other people’s work, and I can’t do what Doris did all that time and seek out writers and organize an editing process. I used to think that was a failure on my part, but over the last year, I decided I only have so much time, and I would rather spend it on what I enjoy and where I have enough talent that maybe someday I might even get to be good at it.

I guess that’s about all I have to say in what is hopefully a coherent message. No, there is something else I want to say, and that is, I hope 2021 will be a better year for you and the entire world. There has been too much suffering in 2020, too much death, and sickness, and loss. It’s incomprehensible. Yet, at the same time, those of us in the recovery community have found new ways of connecting and helping those who reach out for help. The number of secular AA meetings on  Zoom is phenomenal. I don’t attend many of them, but I have enjoyed the special Zoom events that have taken place this last year, and I’m looking forward to the monthly Secular AA speaker meeting that will be starting today.

Happy New Year to you! May 2021 bring you and those you love peace, health, and happiness.

Yours in service,

John S.