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From Leo’s Desk: Is Anybody There?

From Leo’s Desk: Is Anybody There?

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When you write articles, as I have been doing for many years for Counselor magazine, the thought occasionally enters my mind: Is anyone reading this column? Now I do realize that there are many articles in each magazine and the reader is hardly expected to be glued to “From Leo’s Desk,” but it is rare that I ever get a response from anyone.

The thought occurred to me that my articles are so clear and logical that readers agree with my sentiments, indeed think the same way as I do, and therefore no response is necessary.

Really? I do not think so. Also, my articles are really controversial, both religiously and from a recovery perspective, so why the silence? Then I realized that the information concerning how to contact me is incorrect! My fault. My email is [email protected] and I can be found on Facebook by searching for “Leo Booth.” That explains everything! You will note in my biography that the changes have been made.

Partnership

I believe that God is not controlling what happens in this world, through the direct action of God’s grace. On the contrary, my belief today is that we have free will and that means that the actions we take create the outcome, for good or bad. This is a markedly different position from Bill Wilson, and others, who believe that “God is doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.” Such a belief is consoling, but (I believe) wrong. God does not get people sober from alcoholism and His job is not to keep people sober; that responsibility is ours.

 

The emphasis I place, concerning our relationship with God, is on partnership or cooperation. God undeniably wants us sober, but we must also want it. The Big Book, the fellowship, a sponsor . . . all can play a supportive role, but we need to make the decision and stay, one day at a time, with that decision.

In an issue of Counselor last year, I wrote the following:

This is not how I was raised. I was raised to believe that God is separate. That I had to go to Him, seek Him, and find Him. I do not believe this anymore. I am more inclined to the affirmation “Whatever I am, God is, and all is well.” I do not ever want to miss me in the miracle of life. I am not a puppet, but a creative human being (Booth, 2016).

Understanding God’s Grace

Talking about God’s grace is a particular Christian insight that suggests that a spiritual power is emanating from God that changes or encourages human actions or behavior. So, we hear frequently in recovery rooms:

  • “I am able to remain sober through the grace of God.”
  • “My life has been changed through the grace of God.”
  • “I could not stop drinking. But only because of the grace of God (or Jesus) I am now sober ten years.”
This I do not believe. Many people who utter these words often drink again. People who belong to a non-Christian religion and have never heard about God’s grace manage to stay sober for years. Atheists, that I know, can also get and stay sober.

This is what I believe today: 

What if grace is not something that descends upon us, but has been given to us at birth? God’s grace becomes akin to our reasoning powers, our ability to think and make choices, our ability to take responsibility for our lives and what is happening in our world.
 
We utilize God’s grace when we see clearly the many disabilities that affect mankind and we use our brains to figure out ways to prevent sickness. God’s grace is working through doctors and scientists.
 
We see God’s grace in the work of recovering alcoholics throughout the world who make the choice to stop drinking and then stay stopped. They begin to clear the wreckage of their past and embrace a spirituality that is both positive and creative.
 
We see God’s grace at work in countries that are slowly working their way out of poverty and developing economic employment for their citizens. God’s grace is never favoritism, rather is it knowing and massaging a gift that has been given to every human being (Booth, 2017).

Change

We can only grow because we change; we never grow if we remain the same. My understanding of God has changed over the years. I did not realize it when I was a young man growing up in England, but the God of my youth brought along baggage: Hell, Heaven, sin, right, wrong, devils, angels, heretics, saints, and fear—a fear of God. It took me a long time to realize that “God” is not a name like Leo or Ann, rather it is a term and a description that seeks to explain the unexplainable. Religious dogma and rules messed me up and although love was mentioned it was never the center of my belief system; today it is. And this must include a love for Leo. Oh yes, the fear has gone.

Today I am able to live with a spiritual agnosticism that refuses to place me in a box, and I am able to appreciate other religions and spiritual viewpoints. It is the journey that fascinates me today, not the destination. 

I am not wanting to be argumentative or controversial, rather I wish to be honest with readers. And when I sit with other recovering people, I am amazed to hear that they feel similar, they think the same, but are afraid to voice such ideas within the recovery community. Now that is scary. We become fake when we fear being honest. Cults maintain their power when individuals give up their freedom to think. 

Is anybody there?

References
Booth, L. (2016). A spiritual revolution. Counselor, 17(3), 20–1. 
Booth, L. (2017). God’s grace: What is it? Counselor, 18(1), 18–9.
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