Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pagans and Sobriety

A couple of days ago I went to a 12-step meeting for pagans. There were 10 of us, none outwardly pagan-looking, more like a cross-section of suburban shoppers at the strip mall. There were no spells, incantations or secret rites. We were there because for one reason or another, each of us had found reason to have difficulties with the Judeo-Christian aspect of 12-step programs in America. To wit, we do not want to say the Our Father prayer which more and more often is recited at the end of meetings. We do not like the concept of an anthropomorphic Higher Power. We do not want a Christian agenda attached to our recovery.

The meetings I normally attend have changed over the years. Many people no longer share, they testify. They thank Jesus for their sobriety as if He himself had driven a limo to their home and taken them to their first meeting.  My HP did not. I am not sure whether He/She/It is even aware of my existence and if so, whether the vagaries of my life are important enough to warrant divine involvement. I don’t think so.

I am also bothered by the fact that being so outwardly and aggressively Christian, the healing programs are alienating other cultures and faiths. I know Hindus, Buddhists, and Jews, Muslims and a Zoroastrianist or two, Wiccans, agnostics and atheists who value their sobriety as much as anyone. Their faiths are essentially denigrated by the notion that the Christian god is The God and must be invoked if soberness is to follow.

I don’t expect things to change. Years ago I protested about the prayers and suggested a group rethink its recitations, and I was pulled aside after the meeting by an elderly lady who waved her cane aggressively in my face and snarled at me “Don’t even think about it!”

Ah, Christianity!  God bless her…

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