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Posts tagged "John Z"

AA’s Fourth Step: Unpacking the Boxes of Resentment and Love

The following is taken from Chapter Four of what is probably Mockingbird’s most practical publication to date, Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody. See pages 83-92. “Forgive everyone your sins.” – Jack Kerouac “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the […]

“My Fall My Stay”: Addiction and Low Anthropology

Some more highlights from John Z.’s remarkable Grace in Addiction:

“The only person lacking desperation is the one who does not know herself very well. Usually a few examples of typical, universal human difficulty are enough to ‘raise the bottom’ to the point where the idea of powerlessness will connect with any layperson. Let’s explore some of these…

Like Swiss cheese, people are full of holes. The Twelve Step approach is quick to draw attention to those holes, rather than try to dodge, cover, or counterbalance them. So which weaknesses tend to be present universally? The Big Book provides its own list:

“We had to ask ourselves why we shouldn’t apply to our human problems this same readiness to change our point of view. We were having trouble with personal relationships, we couldn’t control our emotional natures, we were prey to misery and depression, we couldn’t make a living, we had a feeling of uselessness, we were full of fear, we were unhappy, we couldn’t seem to be of real help to other people…” (52)


I have yet to meet the person who cannot identify with a least one of the items on that list. Who, for example, is a stranger to fear? Jesus offered a similar list in his famous Sermon on the Mount, but his list also included anger, lust, and anxiety. These are the “classics”, and they account for much of the content of the day-to-day experience of being human.

Using similar logic, AA would liken sin to sickness. R. C. Sproul voiced this sentiment when he wrote, “We are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners.” We would happily extrapolate along those same lines: “we are not alcoholics because we drink uncontrollably; we drink uncontrollably because we are alcoholics.” Have you ever thought of misdoing as a kind of illness? Like an allergy or a virus, self-centeredness cannot easily be mastered or controlled. The good news is that our negative attributes can become a bedrock upon which effective spirituality can be built. Without them, there is no hope for spiritual rejuvenation; in the place of health, there is apparently no need for recovery.


The realization of our own weakness is so counterintuitive to human nature that the revelation can be rightly ascribed to the divine. A Christian would ascribe this work to the Holy Spirit. The old-fashioned word for it is repentance.

And so it is with the entire progression of AA’s Twelve Steps. As the ego is deflated and self-confidence is discouraged at every turn, something called “faith”, or “God-confidence” miraculously begins to take its place – although it doesn’t appear that way to the subject at first. In Step 12, AA refers to the fruit of this faith as “a spiritual awakening.”

We close this section on Step 1 with an incisive quote from the sixteenth-century English theologian Richard Hooker:

My eager protestations, made in the glory of my ghostly strength, I am ashamed of; but those crystal tears, wherewith my sin and weakness was bewailed, have procured my endless joy; my strength hath been my ruin, and my fall my stay.

Now Available! Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody

We are beyond excited to announce the release of our new publication, Grace in Addiction: The Good News of Alcoholics Anonymous for Everybody by John Z! Years in the making, this book is the most substantial–and dare I say practical–project that Mockingbird has ever done. The official blurb goes like this:

Church basements are curious places. Playing host to the vibrant world of Twelve Step Recovery, they witness the sort of healing and redemption that would make those on the ground floor proud, and maybe even envious. Yet despite the Church and Alcoholics Anonymous both being in the business of bringing “hope to the hopeless”, the two worlds seldom seem to interact. Packed with vivid illustrations, good humor, and practical wisdom, Grace in Addiction attempts to bridge this divide and carry the unexpected good news of AA out of the basement and into the pews–and beyond! Highly recommended for anyone who has struggled with addiction, knows someone who has struggled with addiction, or spent any time living and/or breathing.

*Not to be confused with the Grace in Addiction pamphlet that Mockingbird published in 2010. That one provided some of the basis and inspiration for this one, but it was 30 pages, as opposed to 285!

To read an excerpt of the introduction, go here. There are also some preview pages available on Amazon–where the book is available for purchase–though please note: Mbird receives quite a bit more revenue if you order directly from CreateSpace.