AA slogans tell members that “Anger is but one letter away from danger” and “Fear is the darkroom where negatives are developed.” Instead of listening to the potential helpful messages fear and anger can tell us, AA advises a pasted on smile. “Replace guilt with gratitude”, and “Have an attitude of gratitude.” “First you fake it, then you make it” and “Act as if” encourage newcomers to go through the motions until the alarms in their body and brain stop going off.
But don’t worry, slogans tell you that you can trust them. “Slogans are wisdom in shorthand.” In the vein of obedience to group doctrine, slogans advise “When all else fails, follow directions” and “The directions are in the Big Book.” Don’t think about voicing objections in a meeting unless you want to hear an oldtimer tell you to “Take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth.” Just who do you think you are anyway?
AA members are just “a band of stupid drunks” who are now “sober ‘n’ crazy” and “AA has a wrench to fit every nut that walks through a meeting room door.” Every AA member is told that as alcoholics they are exactly as abusive, unreasonable, and selfish in their drinking as founder Bill, with slogans like “Active alcoholics don’t have relationships, they take hostages.” These “friends of Bill” tell each other to “let go of old ideas”. They say “I can’t do God’s will my way” and “The mind is a great servant, but a lousy master.” Don’t trust your senses or your intellect, just “let go and let God.”
God gets His share of slogans. “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity” is an odd sort of humblebrag; as if God needed Bill Wilson to drink too much in order to display His glory. The slogans promise miracles in exchange for obedience. “When man listens, God speaks; when man obeys, God works.” Praying in supplication is encouraged with the slogans “Bend your knees before you bend your elbow” and “Backsliding begins when knee bending stops.”
But of course Alcoholics Anonymous maintains it’s not a religion. “Religion is for those who fear hell; spirituality is for those who’ve been there and back.” Rejecting conventional religion is coupled with rejecting medical treatment. “There’s no chemical solution to a spiritual problem.” Instead there’s AA which “isn’t something you join, it’s a way of life.” Even more slogans in the next post.