The “higher power” problem in A.A. is an intentional design flaw

One theme that invariably emerges when I regularly attend AA meetings — something that happens only when I get bored or lonely enough, which between mid-December and mid-January tends to be more often —  is people with at least a couple of years of sobriety describing themselves as doing generally well in life, maybe even better than they expected at the start of the boozeless journey, but unable to settle on a higher power and feeling like they’re failing as a result. All signs are there that quitting drinking and being active about sobriety have been a smashing success for them, but the nature of “the program” compels them to fret needlessly about this “missing” element.

Even to those unaware of the history of the Big Book’s authorship, it should be clear that the chapter to the agnostic is a bald-faced bait-and-switch. It doesn’t really offer a path to working the steps for the godless, but rather unpretentiously cajoles the nonbeliever in the direction of faith. This is because the chapter was only included because a prominent businessman who happened to also be a prominent atheist (rare in those days) insisted on it; the Big Book was essentially Bill W’s sole creation.

The A.A. mantra that a higher power can be “anything you want” was clearly not a part of the worldview of Bill W, himself a full-force Born Again Christian. This is even more evident in the steps themselves; the scheme depends not just on any old “HP,” but one that is capable of not only moral judgment but moral enslavement. The “program” through Bill W’s lens is at least as much about atonement to a critical deity and adherence to its unknowable whims as it is about living well. Any higher power that could function within this scheme would have to possess all of the essential characteristics of the Abrahamic rage-god, even if we’re allowed to nominally declare it something else.

Nothing Bill W wrote suggests he believed that anything other than a “burning bush” moment could produce a lasting spiritual transformation, even if he appears to offer latitude in this area. This is cynical in the extreme and sets people up to fail, because some people have “spiritual experiences” they see as tantamount to a cure, and the next thing you know, they’re living in a van down by the river subsisting on government cheese and MD 20/20 in its whole grotesque range of flavors.

Some people simply aren’t constructed to approach sobriety with the metaphysical demands Bill W’s “suggestions” make on would-be step-completers. In my case I simply gave up and realized that I had managed half-consciously to set up my life over a period of years in such a way that I would basically have a hard time sustaining a return to drinking for more than a couple of hours without someone knowing about it. That’s as close as I can get to the level of absolute accountability the steps seem to demand.

If you are among the people who has been actively or passively convinced you’re cheating somehow by not having a reliable concept of a higher power, maybe just giving up on that part and taking recourse in Tradition Three is sufficient. Also, where I attend meetings, most people are receptive to such viewpoints; when I lived in the Bible Belt, not so much, and you may not have ready access to meetings where you won’t be silently or openly accused of excessive freelancing.

An example of what Steve McConkey considers discrimination, bullying, harassment, etc.

My continuing analysis of Madison, Wisconsin Christian bigot* Steve McConkey, an openly wasteful adventure that to him constitutes harassment because he can neither refute nor erase it, led me to another of Steve’s Christian Newswire specials, or as Steve calls them, worldwide news releases out of Washington, D.C. These are the breathless and unintentionally comical productions that Steve and other credulous yokels for Jesus pay $80 or more to have flung at various Internet inboxes and printed in a different font, with all misspellings and other mistakes left helpfully intact. Some of these florid narratives are picked up by loons of a similar orientation; collectively, these fringe entrepreneurs desperate to reap the rewards of nonstop whining and lying are ignored by bigots of consequence,  because most everyday bigots are merely unpleasant and dislike crazies as much as everyone else.

One of these outlets decided to spruce up Steve’s original headline and blast it at readers in all-caps (top part of the image below). You’d swear from this stuff that linebackers and drag queens were lining up together outside conservative churches and smashing in car windshields with bats in the parking lots. Or maybe just pointing at each other’s crotches.

What if everyone who answered a knock at the door to an uninvited envoy for some version of Jesus or another started complaining en masse about being harassed by weirdos? If someone came to your door to ask you to accept that everyone driving a foreign car will be set on fire at some point, you’d have every reason to alert someone with a badge or a net, and that story has no less to back it up than prattle about a dead Jew coming back to life and soaring into the sky like a superhero, but one with with crippling social anxiety based on his track record of not coming back every time someone in the know says he will. He’s 2,000 years late as it is. Continue reading “An example of what Steve McConkey considers discrimination, bullying, harassment, etc.”

Steve McConkey admits to lying (and libel)

Last year, extreme Christian hatemonger Steve McConkey claimed in a public Facebook post that I was “on mental disability.” For those outside the U.S. or unfamiliar with the vernacular, Steve was referring to individuals who receive SSDI benefits for a disabling mental-health condition. As you can see, he was doing this in an attempt to discredit (accurate) statements I had made about him.

This is false and defamatory. If your audience believes that your critic cannot distinguish reality from fiction even if he wants to, you are attempting to substitute a false portrayal of your critic’s mental state for a meaningful rebuttal. That alone is merely slimy, like everything this addled mushmouth does. But it’s more than slimy to knowingly say things like this publicly – it’s against the law.

Did Steve McConkey believe at the time he made the claim that he was operating on credible information? No, he didn’t – and he admitted as much on multiple recent occasions.

Even this from lust the other day is full of inaccuracies so basic that they completely obliterate any credibility Steve would have even if he weren’t a proud liar. For example, look at the cover of Run Strong. What does it say? Also, where is there mention of me ever being a senior writer for Runner’s World? Mind you, these are just the most benign errors/lies.

Steve, as you’ve seen, isn’t just a liar. Sadly, he is also just a garden-variety dimwit, like most Evangelicals. He’s an imbecile. I try not to hate people who exhibit this flaw, but when their character flaws are too flagrant, my sympathy vanishes. Continue reading “Steve McConkey admits to lying (and libel)”

4 Winds “sports ministry” president Steve McConkey attempts blackmail, warned off by police

From the discarded files of GQ MagazineExecutive summary: In 2018, I wrote about one Steve McConkey, an unusually crazy and unlovable bigot. Last Friday, he demanded that I remove those posts or else he’d ruin my life by exposing evidence of my sordid legal past, just like he ruined my life last year when he revealed to the world the previously unknown fact that I was once a drunk and even went to jail a few times as a result. I confess that I am deeply afraid of admitting these things as I begin my fourth straight alcohol-free year in a row.

I refused to comply, not kindly, and informed Steve numerous times I’d be publicly posting our exchange unless he immediately directed his energies elsewhere. He didn’t, so here it is. That’s the raw file, available for anyone who might doubt the veracity of the heavily annotated version below. (Obviously I have the real original as well.)

Steve’s mood and level of coherence varied considerably over the weekend, as is characteristic of people who look like the person in the photo above does. On Monday I told Steve I’d be reporting further contact as harassment. Despite not knowing many words or how to use them properly, he craves having the last one, so kept messaging me, even after I forwarded him the e-mail I’d received from the Madison police confirming my report to them. Ultimately, the Boulder Police Department also had to get involved, and warned off this cheerful slice of humanity, much to its immediate anger and throaty dismay. He wrote at least seven different online postings in the next two-plus days about me stalking him, every one of which attempts to portray me as an aggressor. By this morning, he had started deleting these and replacing them with new ones, as is typical for both him and crackpot Internet users in general, and my pointless exercise in discretion concerning whether I would post this ended.

Remember: I have written nothing about Steve McConkey since July 2018, and until last Friday had had no contact with him at all.

This image from last July made it into the e-mail exchange as well, but it’s important to fix it in your mind because it represents an actionable claim — provably false and with the intent to defame. And even though no one of consequence pays attention to what Steve says — including, it seems, his own adult children, bless their hearts — he does have close to 5,000 Facebook friends. (Never mind the substance of the post, which as usual bears little resemblance to the reality experienced by virtually all others.)

I’ve already been told by various lawyers that this would be a slam-dunk lawsuit, and Steve has his dear friend Kim Duclos to thank for that one. But even if I felt like going after him, he doesn’t have any money, and even if he did have worth and I could sue him for free, it’s just a lot less work to periodically knock him into a state of agitation so gripping and extreme that he’s unable to harass anyone else for a spell. I’m announcing this, and he won’t be able to change his behavior anyway. I can already tell you what his next eight steps will be after he reads this.

That’s all you really need to know and represents the most merciful accounting of the events I can command after a number of halfhearted tries at rhetorical restraint. So, if you don’t want to be triggered by unkind descriptions of some of our close primate cousins in the world of Evangelical Christianity, and my various plans to disrupt some of their miserable and pointless lives, don’t read further. You may start bawling hysterically like Steve himself does when people accurately describe the indefatigably misguided maniac he sees leering at him from the mirror. Continue reading “4 Winds “sports ministry” president Steve McConkey attempts blackmail, warned off by police”

1,000 days and a million heartfelt “recovery” banalities

Certain people (me, for example) believe that they are basically fuckups at least as often as not when it comes to anything that matters. Whether this is true only or mostly in the hapless, entropy-soaked silt comprising our own thinking apparatus is irrelevant so long as the belief is persistent and powerful. So at the moment, quite apart from those who are currently using substances to escape reality in a manner that could be termed pathological,” it’s not hard to find people who have already tried that route and are instead struggling mightily against the pain of not hurting themselves on purpose, because the means of warding off the significant discomfort that can accompany merely existing in modern society almost always incur a cost.

And that’s really what not submitting to an unwanted craving of any sort is all about: I will refuse to treat this awful rage and irrational madness I have this second by dumping alcohol into my head, because the long-term benefits of resisting outweigh the ultra-short-term “benefits,” and the longer-term costs of ephemeral reassurance from a toxic chemical clearly outweigh the benefits. Or more succinctly, “this too shall pass,” though I avoid invoking even the more innocuous of the Christianity-based slogans that basically define the colossal shityard of terrible ideas Bill Wilson and Bob Smith introduced in the late 1930s known as Alcoholics Anonymous.

There are surely at least 50 million American adults who at this moment are in the grip of a compulsive behavior that will eventually land them in jail, a medical institution, in rehab or something much like it, or on a slab, probably before the age of 50, if it hasn’t already. (One of the joys of blogging for a small audience is that I can make up numbers as long as I admit it, or blow up backing up things I happen to know are true. I spend a great deal of my day harvesting hyperlinks and putting them in Web documents, and this is obviously my time to kick back and discuss how much I enjoy life.) Continue reading “1,000 days and a million heartfelt “recovery” banalities”

Christians: Why should anyone believe ideas you plainly reject yourself?

There are many compelling reasons to reject the idea that the Christian god is real. Most of these center, properly, on the lack of evidence for God and the undeniable and ever-growing body of evidence against innumerable biblical claims, while others encompass the inconsistencies and myriad logical contradictions within the Bible itself. More circumstantially, it’s impossible to not notice that some of the most ardent believers in the God of the Bible are either under the lash of mental illness, not very intelligent or both; the correlation between slack-jawed inbred yokelism and religiosity in the United States is practically unity. (This makes a certain sense, since the God of the Bible is a psychotically childish dipshit.) And it is undeniably true that no Christian who really believes that Christianity is about moral goodness could possibly support Donald Trump, and in fact should be calling for his death by stoning or whatever means is most convenient. Yet Christians are Trump’s most energetic supporters. They are a shitstain on American society and the world in general, and if all of them were swept up in a tsunami and dashed to pieces screaming against a rocky cliff, the rest of us would be vastly better off.

Often ignored in everyday evaluations of Christian nonsense, however, is the fact that the most ardent supporters of God, Evangelicals, clearly don’t believe in the God of the Bible themselves. Even if they did, it would be incumbent upon reasonable people to either ignore, deride or actively fight their incessant lunacy, depending on the circumstances. I won’t go so far as to say the world would be better off without belief in things that are demonstrably untrue, because, standing alone, fictional narratives (e.g., literature, films) can offer people a great deal of comfort in an uncaring universe. But the would be far better off without religion, and aggressive religious leaders of any faith should be met with proportional derision and their efforts opposed absolutely.

Continue reading “Christians: Why should anyone believe ideas you plainly reject yourself?”

Who’ll fund my hospital stay after I suffer a hernia from laughing?

(Edit, 12:42 a.m., Dec. 21: In a development that can only be seen as startling in the eyes of people dumb enough to fork over money to Brian Kolfage, he is evidently a lying sack of shit. I still think all of this is funny because I have no idea if those who donated to the cause will get a refund if the whole enterprise topples. I rather hope they don’t.)

I joked the other day about someone starting a GoFundMe campaign to empower private citizens, specifically fuckups, to fund the border wall. For a host of obvious logistical and political reasons, such a thing would be bursting with the potential for disaster and, thus, schadenfreude.

Therefore, shame on me for not immediately realizing that someone from Florida was already on it.

I went to high school with a guy who is also a triple amputee: His frontal lobe and both temporal lobes disappeared sometime between 1988 and 2016. He was making noises about doing this shortly after Trump took office it and slowly started to dawn on him, like a dog that has been basking in the smell of its own farts for years before the day it finally starts looking suspiciously at its own asshole, that maybe Mexico wasn’t as eager to pay for a border wall as Trump had promised.

The reasoning of the many, many fartbaskers just like this fellow now seems to be:

Continue reading “Who’ll fund my hospital stay after I suffer a hernia from laughing?”