|Volume III||Number 3||March, 1996|
|"Shoemaker, stick to thy last!"||"Our common welfare should come first ..."|
Table of Contents for This Issue
OPPF is guided by a Newsletter Committee made up of interested and concerned members of our Fellowship. We meet quarterly in January, April, July and October on the last Friday of the month at 7:00 pm.
Our Next quarterly meeting will be Friday, April 26th, 1996. We will be meeting at the La Mina Mexican Restaurant located at 16060 Saticoy St. (at Woodley) in Van Nuys, CA. The meeting starts at 7:00 pm with an optional pre-meeting dinner at 6:00 pm.
Membership in the Newsletter Committee is open to all active members of the Fellowship who attend. We invite your support and participation!
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Letter to the editor from Jim A., Bellingham WA.
I have just read the first OPPF newsletter (Nov 1995) that I have seen.
I am one of those people you could call a real alcoholic as I have never ingested, snorted, smoked, injected or used in any other manner any of those chemical products or grassy substances. I have only used (been used by) alcohol. My choice was beer, preferably Rainier.
I went to a treatment center and "worked (what a misuse of a word) the first three steps." I had a sponsor before I got out of treatment, and went to AA meetings as soon as I got out. I did not lose anything to get in AA. I was fortunate that I didn't have to go through the hell some people had to get here.
Page 379 "Could I be an alcoholic ..." was my wake up call to show me for sure that I belong.
I also know that THE program of Alcoholics Anonymous is in the first 164 pages and the advanced study section is people's opinion, the same as if they are sitting in a meeting.
I am only mentioning my background to let you know that I have an idea as to what the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is, and that I have a lot of gratitude for the program.
Meetings all over the country seem to be talking about the same problem, but don't offer any solutions. I was told that we need to start living in the solution, rather than the problem.
Dennis M. talks about not attending meetings that let non-alcoholics participate. Instead of running away from those kind of meetings, why not stay around and help bring them back to AA meetings. Instead of telling a newcomer to stay away from meetings, show the newcomer how to change them.
When I am at meetings that people are not sharing about alcoholism I ask them to stop sharing or get back on track. When there are non-alcoholics at closed meetings, we ask them to leave.
These newsletter sharing sessions are really helpful if we can help each other get AA meetings back to what Bill & Dr. Bob started.
If we start showing the newcomer the program as outlined in the first 164 pages, if we start speaking up at AA meetings that are not sticking to the program, if we walk our talk maybe we have a chance to get AA meetings back to helping alcoholics recover from alcoholism.
Now I'll play devil's advocate on a couple of issues:
Censure of the Board -- Since more than 90% of the conference voted not to discuss the censure is it possible that there was no validity to the censure action?
Seccion Mexico Literature -- According to the conference charter, "in countries where General Service Structure exists, the US/Canada conference will delegate sole right to publish our conference-approved literature to the General Service Board of the structure."
The US/Canada conference issued a "license" to the service structure of Mexico. Now along comes Seccion Mexico which starts printing literature "without a license." How is this any different than AAWS printing literature in the United States. If it's wrong for AAWS isn't it wrong for Seccion Mexico? Is $2.00 for a Big Book really overcharging? Is this an outside issue that should be taken care of by Mexico?
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In Volume II, Number 8, August, 1995, we wrote: Because the issues of "Club Sober," the International Convention, IWS, and Seccion Mexico are, at best, tangential to the primary focus of OPPF, let me note some names and addresses for those who would like to seek further information. Our point was that GSO has not been forthcoming with information on their "side" of the issues, so we have had to rely on outside sources. Send a few dollars to cover postage. For information on IWS, their address is:
I.W.S. , P.O.Box 1212, Croton Falls, NY 10519-1212.
About Seccion Mexico or the censure:
Jude H., RFD 1, Box 1400, Winthrop, ME 04364.
Angel S., 437 N. Ogden Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90036.
While we don't want to shirk responsibility, once again, the scope of these matters is only tangentially relevant to our concerns, as illustrative topics that suggest how deviation from our primary purpose can cause problems throughout the Fellowship and within the service structures which are there to serve the Fellowship. Many of us are seeing significantly more of these problems at all levels of service, and their incidence appears to be on the increase.
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Because of the coming Conference and the numerous letters and communications I have received from many A.A. members concerning the 1996 Conference topics, we would like to pass some of it on to our readers.
I have copies of letters to and from G.S.O., the General Service Board, and Conference Committees, that are loaded with information by A.A. members who are informed and knowledgeable on some of the Conference topics, and I will be glad to pass it on to anyone interested. Just call or write the OPPF and leave your name and address and I will send you copies of all the stuff that I have. This information deals with specific Conference issues, most of which will not be available through the normal channels of our General Service Structure, and since I am going to mail them to those who are interested, I won't get into them in this article. I want to address some general views on the Conference and Conference process.
First of all, it would be nice to have the Conference topics a year before the Conference, allowing time to research, discuss, ponder, and allow more members time to communicate with each other. Of course a few emergency items could be added later.
Full information and background on topic items is essential to arrive at an informed group conscience at the Conference, and for the process to work. Whoever is in control of the information is literally in control of the Conference. When information is not given at all or only partially given to the fellowship by our trusted servants, then the Conference becomes a meaningless charade.
If there was an item that is unfavorable to G.S.O., how would our large fellowship hear about it? A member brings it up to his or her D.C.M. who either doesn't want to bring it up because it might be a minority view and jeopardize his running for an Area office or he does bring it up to the Delegate who calls a friend at G.S.O. and gets told that some of the information might not be correct, and the item is snuffed right there. Or the D.C.M. or Delegate might just say, "Aaahhhh, this guy's questioning G.S.O., he's against A.A., Aahhh, bad person!" The original person, who might have some other information, tries to bring it up again and gets called a trouble maker, and the few who realized the importance of his message and sided with him at Area, just gave up any chance of being anything other than a committee chair in the popularity follow-ship of Area elections.
The member who brought up the item has no idea that thousands of other members think the same way about the item as he does. He also doesn't know that G.S.O. has received many letters about this item and all went unanswered.
What happened to Section Mexico is a good example of this. When a few people had discovered 20,000 members of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS had no Big Books because their offices got raided by the Federales and all their literature confiscated, they tried to inform the fellowship. G.S.O. denied any involvement stating it was a local problem. The carriers of the royal message to the fellowship coming from the golden tower in New York supported their higher ups. New York failed to inform the fellowship that Section Mexico had sent them many letters, a long time before they lost their literature, that were unanswered. Since the copyright is up in Mexico when the author dies, and violating copyright laws is criminal and not civil, G.S.O. forgot to tell the fellowship that their General Manager had sent a letter to Central Mexicana without so much as a word to Section Mexico stating he was co-author of the Big Book. They also forgot that a message was sent from a G.S.O. staff member's office giving G.S.O.'s blessing to Central Mexicana to take whatever action necessary to stop these terrible 2,000 groups of ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS from printing the Big Book and selling it for less MONEY.
You would think that in a loving, caring, spiritual fellowship, that many members would contemplate the reasons why 19 Areas, and 2,000 A.A. Groups would pull away from their General Service Structure and form their own. Gee, they may have had a reason. It received about as much attention at the Conference as the good eating places in the neighborhood. Only a handful of members attending the Conference even brought the message of what happened in Mexico home to the groups in their Areas. A few of us in my Area learned about it from someone three thousand miles away. And how many are aware that similar copyright battles are being fought in some other countries as well?
I know we have some good A.A. members at G.S.O., but I don't think every Tom, Dick and Mary staff member should have a seat and a vote at the Conference. I wouldn't mind if we got rid of the inc.'s altogether since the Grapevine won't print anything that disagrees with the status-quo and I.W.S. can print the Books Cheaper and doesn't need money from outside book sales. We can open an office in Canada or somewhere to answer phones, mail literature (most of which we could get rid of), and just distribute nothing more than information about where the A.A. groups meet.
We can also get rid of those committee workbooks that cost a small fortune and take up half of the Conference topics, and let the members learn 12-Step work the old way, from the Big Book and another drunk who has had the experience.
How come we don't have any literature with topics like: "If You Are Homeless," or "If You're Living in a Car," or "So You Don't Have Medical Insurance."
Well that's my minority, minority opinion on the Conference topics. Don't forget to write or call and I will send you some good minority opinions from folks more informed than me, honest.
As my grand sponsor use to say, "don't take this stuff too seriously, it's only a matter of life or death."
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OUR PRIMARY PURPOSE FORUM seems like a great idea. It also seems like a newsletter might be the best way to conduct this "forum."
We all know that Tradition Five is "Our Primary Purpose." One dictionary definition of "forum" is -- "An assembly for discussing questions of public interest."
Now taking some statements from you editorial statement. I am just quoting sentences from paragraphs so I don't have to take up space with words you have a copy of.
"... we are launching O.P.P.F. to encourage discussion ..."
"Any contributions ... would be appreciated ..."
"We also need articles and letters ... "We encourage participation by everyone..."
Somehow it seems that your newsletter title and your editorial statement do not match what you are mailing out.
I personally do not consider two pages of Dennis M.'s opinion, one page of Jim H.'s opinion, and the fourth page asking for money and promoting the OPPF advisory group, and OPPF newsgroup presentation, to be a forum.
I cannot believe that out of the 500 people (your number) you mail the newsletter to, that nobody has sent you letters to print.
There seems to be a lot of talk about GSO, AAWS trustees and delegates working on their own agendas rather than on how to help the still suffering alcoholic.
How is this newsletter any different? Isn't this newsletter working on two people's agenda?
Is this newsletter about money, property and prestige with the editorial statement being just a bunch of words put together to form sentences?
As always, the same as when I am speaking in a meeting, speaking to a group or writing to you, this is my opinion. These things I have mentioned are what I see by reading the newsletter.
I also need to say that what Jim and Dennis write are for the most part right on, but if it's going to be a forum, make it a forum. Yours in Fellowship,
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Members of the OPPF advisory group are available to put on Singleness of Purpose Workshops (by this or any other name) for individual groups, districts, intergroups, conventions, round-ups, or whatever other AA gatherings. We also have a format that will fit into a one-hour time slot available within a regular AA meeting.
For further information, please contact Doug B. at Side Strider, 818-780-5542.
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What a blessing your "Primary Purpose Forum" is -- to me, and others I have shared it with. Also, Angel's "Kitchen Table AA." I have been sober continuously for 22 years. Got sober with "Real Alcoholics" & was teethed, so to speak, on AA Traditions.
I am at a loss sometimes, trying to understand what is happening in AA re: drug addiction, watered down messages of what it takes to recover from alcoholism. The mere word "alcohol" or "alcoholism", "Compulsion of the body, coupled with the obsession of the mind." "Allergy of the body to alcohol" is hardly ever heard in meetings, at least the ones I happen to attend. Most of the meetings seem to be "Emotions Anonymous!"
I'll never forget a meeting I was in -- first 2 months or so in the program. I kept crying and hammering on, "Yeah but" you don't understand. My mother smothered me, I was poor white trash in East Texas as a child; I had phobias, didn't drive a car till I was 28 years old -- my husband was alcoholic -- he cheated on me -- blah, blah, blah -- maybe that's why I became an alcoholic?? The group let me ramble for awhile, then an old timer stopped me point blank and said, "Did you drink alcohol?" I said, "Well, yes!" He replied, "Maybe that's why you became alcoholic -- because you drank alcohol!"
Oh, the real simplicity of AA. I almost missed it.
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I want to thank all of you who have so generously contributed to the support of Our Primary Purpose Forum. Contributions in February were down, and March's newsletter is the first to run in the red since we began publishing. If contributions don't increase for March, we will be forced to prune our mailing list for April.
At present our cost is about seventy-five cents per copy, based on a distribution of 500 copies. That means a donation of $9.00 now will meet costs for one person per year. As our readership list expands, the cost per mailed copy will continue to drop.
Emailing the newsletter could bring down costs even further. If you are interested in receiving the email version, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nevertheless, it is still true that only about 20 percent of those receiving the newsletter are supporting it financially. Twelve and a half percent contributed $25.00 or less, 5% contributed $26-99, and 1.5% contributed $100 or more.
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My name is also Jim H., and I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous. (I knew I wasn't unique!) But, since we've never met, please allow me to disclose to you some information about myself.
I took my last alcoholic drink October 12, 1982 and attended my first A.A. meeting about a month later when someone--my soon to be sponsor--invited me to one. The indescribable feeling of hope I received from that initial meeting was so profound, I've been coming back ever since! I've been active in some facet of A.A. service from the beginning and am becoming increasingly disheartened by what I hear at the meetings I attend here, in the Northwest. The Twelve Traditions and the concept of singleness of purpose are gigantic factors in my life today and I find it more and more difficult for me to find local members who understand the importance of those principles. To most people--and in some cases, that includes the so-called "old- timers" around here--it seems that it's OK to go to A.A. meetings and talk about virtually anything! (Did you know the men suffer from PMS, too? Pissin',Moanin', and Snivilin'!) An extension of formal group therapy is what I see going on in the meetings I attend! There also seems to exist a general lack of understanding between a closed and an open meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous.
A few of us have managed to stick together, however, and started a genuine "Big Book" study group last month. It's a closed A.A. meeting where we try to extract all the available information from each of the first 164 pages using a study guide published by the Kelly Foundation; located in Arkansas. By employing our group conscience, we finally named our small group, As Bill Wrote It.
Thus far, we are having a lot of fun--including an occasional burst of real laughter; an element that is usually missing from the typical meeting in "this neck of the woods." I have recently been in communication with a person in Ohio who told me about your newsletter, Our Primary Purpose Forum. He thought I might be interested in subscribing to it, given the nature of the conversation we had. It is in that spirit I have written you and would be very appreciative of any information you could provide me about the newsletter. I would also like to share it with other members of A.A. who may have a similar interest to keep A.A. as I understand it, alive ... according to the "Big Book," that is.
To the extent you think a benefit might be derived by others reading this letter, or any part thereof, please feel free to reprint that portion necessary, respecting my personal anonymity at the public level. ...but a trusted servant,
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