10 January 2008

Studying the steps as laid out in the Big Book

IMNSHO, there's no way to become familiar with the program of Alcoholics Anonymous like doing a study of the Big Book, paragraph by paragraph, in a group, with plenty of time to comment and discuss with each other.

Tuesday night my sponsor, in his home, started [what I think is] the fourth such annual study group. Most years, including this year, we use what I recently learned is the Hyannis rotation to determine which pages in the Big Book to read for which steps. It comprises "The Doctor's Opinion" and chapters 3 ("More About Alcoholism"), 4 ("We Agnostics"), 5 ("How It Works"), 6 ("Into Action") and 7 ("Working with Others"). While not specified we usually read Appendix II ("Spiritual Experience"), which of course was added after the first printing of the first edition to clarify that not every alcoholic need have a as vivid an experience as Bill W. had in order to recover. Last year we also used Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

It was originally my suggestion that we follow the Hyannis rotation. I knew about it because of a regular Big Book Step Study group that I attend whenever I can. At that group's meeting, we read a page at a time rather than a paragraph at a time, but the discussion generally stays focused on the step being studied and is usually quite excellent. I've learned a tremendous amount there.

That Big Book Step Study group was started about a dozen years ago and originally used the chairperson's guidelines (somewhat loosely I believe—I only started attending later) and the Hyannis Preamble, modified so that only those who had worked all twelve steps could share. Early on, by group conscience, they abandoned that requirement, as well as the one in the Hyannis Preamble that only those who had worked the step being studied could share.

So far as I know this group was never—and is still not—listed in the Hyannis directory of "official" Big Book Step Study meetings. I'm just as glad. The idea of putting an "official" seal of approval on any group disturbs me. I'm not exactly sure why, though the first—and, so far, only—thought that comes to mind is that it may violate the Third Tradition: an A.A. group can have no other affiliation than that with A.A. itself.

P.S. On an entirely unrelated note, the fortune cookie that came with my Thai lunch said, "You are the master of every situation." Ha!


dAAve said...

Sounds like waaaaaay too many rules for me.
I attend Big Book and Step studies. They are much less formal, although one has written work developed in-house.

Kathy Lynne said...

Welcome Back!! I too took a bit of a hiatus. Life just got busy. I love step & big book groups. I do one of each and my sponser is starting another small one in her home. I credit this type of group with my recovery.

indistinct said...

I just finished 18 weeks of step work with a group of men. Lot of discussion and feed back. Well worth the effort and grief it created in my life. Nothing like shining a flashlight into the dark.

sharonsjourney said...

I go to a BB Study meeting, which also does the step & tradition of the month, twice a month. I am going to the first nite of a step study from the 12&12, tonite. Am looking forward to it. I, myself, think we need both the BB, & the 12&12 to study the steps. But that's me. I like learning about the traditions too. They are why AA works, & they hold AA together.

Johnnyboy said...

I like this 'Hyannis' format. I had never heard of it before. Thanks for the info. My BB study is Monday nights in Falls Village, CT. We do a standard 'read a paragraph and then discuss' format that seems to work. It takes weeks to get through a single chapter, months if we are really into it.

Sam said...

Hey there! I'm Sam, one of the many who Micky graced in his list. Please pardon my putting the same comment on your site that I've put on so many others.

I've copied his list (with some omission of content!) and posted in on my site, www.raanch.com. You might want to take a look, for there are 82 blogs listed there. You're bound to find a new friend to follow. Also, I'm offering to everyone the code to put the same list in a post on their site. Lastly, there's a non-link to Micky's site, where folks can post a thank you to him for his service. After all, he really helped us out by compiling this list!

Take good care!

Danny S said...

Just a thought for your group - BBS meetings are not easy to find sometimes. The BBS directory listing is so that people can find one in their area. It isn't a "seal of approval" of any kind.

People use the directory all the time to locate meetings with some POWER in them - or else have to resort to "Open Disgusting" meetings. There could be someone in your area turned on to the Study format and has no idea you are even there! That would be a pity.

Just a thought for ya.
Peace & Love
Danny S (Hyannis, MA)

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