Implicit Religion, Vol 22, No 2 (2019)

Does Alcoholics Anonymous Help Grow the Spiritual but not Religious Movement?

Linda Mercadante
Issued Date: 24 Apr 2020

Abstract


Both the 12 Step movement of Alcoholics Anonymous and the spiritual-but-not-religious (SBNR) movement insist there is an important difference between spirituality and religion. Briefly, it is claimed that spirituality is personal and heart-felt, while religion consists of human-created doctrines, institutions, and outward rituals. However, the two routes to that definition differ in significant ways. For AA the dichotomy has been functional to allow a diverse membership and reduce an undercurrent of societal judgmentalism. For SBNRs, the claim has been boundary-marking, facilitating the movement away from organized religion. Nevertheless, as AA has progressed, it has become more of a portal away from religion and toward the SBNR ethos. This essay shows some of the more significant theological themes that have facilitated this movement.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £18.00 )

DOI: 10.1558/imre.40699

References


Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. 2001 [1939]. Alcoholics Anonymous. The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women have Recovered from Alcoholism. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services.

AAWS Alcoholics Anonymous World Services. 2014. Many Paths to Spirituality. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services.

Albanese, Catherine L. 2007. A Republic of Mind & Spirit: A Cultural History of American Metaphysical Religion. New Haven, NJ: Yale University Press.

Bender, Courtney. 2010. The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226043173.001.0001

Chalfant, H. Paul. 1992. Stepping to Redemption: Twelve Step Groups as Implicit Religion. Inquiry in Creative Sociology, 20(2): 115–120.

Chaves, Mark. 2017. American Religion: Contemporary Trends. Second edition. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Dunnington, Kent. 2011. Addiction and Virtue: Beyond the Models of Disease and Choice. Downers Grove, IL: IVP.

Fuller, Robert. 2001. Spiritual But Not Religious: Understanding Unchurched America. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kurtz, Ernest. 1979. Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous. Center City, MN: Hazelden.

Mercadante, Linda. 1996. Victims & Sinners: Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox.

———. 2014. Belief Without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual But Not Religious. Oxford. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199931002.001.0001

Nelson, James. 2004. Thirst: God and the Alcoholic Experience. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox.

Parsons, William B., ed. 2018. Being Spiritual but not Religious: Past, Present, Future(s). Abingdon: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315107431

Rubin, Edward L. 2015. Soul, Self, & Society: The New Morality & the Modern State. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rudy, David R. and Greil, Arthur L. 1988. Is Alcoholics Anonymous a Religious Organization: Meditations on Marginality. Sociological Analysis 50(1): 41–51. https://doi.org/10.2307/3710917

Schmidt, Leigh Eric. 2012. Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality, second edition. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Taylor, Charles. 2007. A Secular Age. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University.

Tonigan, J. Scott. 2007. Spirituality and Alcoholics Anonymous. Southern Medical Journal 100(4): 437–440. https://doi.org/10.1097/SMJ.0b013e31803171ef

Watts, Galen, 2018. “Is Alcoholics Anonymous a Religion?” Religion Dispatches. 18 May. http://religiondispatches.org/is-alcoholics-a-religion/


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.





Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: info@equinoxpub.com

Privacy Policy