By Dan M.
“Sobriety is only the first gift of the first awakening. If more gifts are to be received, our awakening has to go on.” This is how Bill W. described the spiritual journey of a sober life. In the late 60s members of A.A. felt that a book on “the spiritual adventure” was needed because so many members confused spirituality with religion. People were confused about what their spiritual experience should feel like and wondered if they had had one yet. General Service put out an appeal for stories of spiritual experience, and it took five years to compile and edit all of the responses. The result is Came to Believe, “an outlet for the rich diversity of convictions implied in ’God as we understand Him.’”
Some of the stories are truly of a “white light” revelation. In one of these the writer says he heard the voice of God tell him to put down the gun and call AA. Others describe impossible coincidences such as the man who decided to get drunk and is recognized by the bartender who saw him speak at a meeting in another city.
Many of the stories turn on prayer, relating the experience of giving up and getting on one’s knees, and that is when a higher power began to work in the alcoholic’s life. Some are concerned with the search for a higher power itself, often beginning with a reliance on the group or the whole of A.A. as a higher power. And there are those who came to realize that they could have a higher power not of their understanding.
One might think that Came to Believe and One Big Tent (on the experience of atheists and agnostics in A.A.) would be contrasting books, but they complement one another well. Overall, the reader sees the enormous variety of experiences and the great breadth of spirituality in A.A. The alcoholics in these stories come to feel that they are no longer alone. We A.A. members walk together even when we are on different spiritual paths.