Delight Springs

Saturday, October 12, 2013

AA, SOS, TPA, Beat LA!

StL 3, LA 2 in 13, after midnight. Thrilling!

And of course the star of the game credited God with granting him the ability and the calm to prevail in Game #1 of the NLCS. Why He would favor the team in red is a divine mystery. Baseballers are superstitious, and their fans are natural pragmatists. Whatever works.

And that's what I'm going to spend a portion of our Fall Break pondering, when not directly involved with telecasts of the national pastime (Game #2's in just a few short hours): the "pragmatic defense of faith."

The Tennessee Philosophical Association's annual meeting is coming up in two weeks. I've agreed to comment on a paper called "Alcoholics Anonymous & God: The Sobering Affect of the Pragmatic Method." AA is effective,  says its author, because William James's pragmatic method enables the "profound psychic change or spiritual awakening" that can lead alcoholics to recovery.

AA and its ubiquitous Twelve Step Program has been transformative and life-saving for many, since Bill Wilson created it in the '30s. At its core is affirmation of a vaguely defined "God or a Higher Power" to which the supplicant is supposed to relinquish her life and will.

Just about everyone probably knows someone who has benefited from AA or one of its imitators or alternatives, or who might.

Among the questions I'll raise at TPA: Does AA really work any better than any of its secular alternatives, those recovery programs (like SOS, "Save Our Selves") that do not invoke Gods or non-human powers? Does it work at all for those not predisposed to entertain religious beliefs?

Another: Does the pragmatic method per se account for an addict's recovery? Or is that due more to his or her own assertive will in harness with the support of a caring human community of friends?

Not sure yet whether it'll also be relevant to ask about the troubling subculture of abuse within AA that's lately been documented.

It would be nice to conclude that we can heal ourselves, without invoking mysterious unseen supernatural entities and powers.

And wouldn't it also be nice to hear a ballplayer thank nature and good coaching for endowing and instilling him with the calm, confidence, strength, and perseverance of will to succeed?

Close your own game. Step to the plate and swing your own bat. That's a winner.

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of an early episode of Penn & Teller's "Bullshit" on this very topic. It's well worth the watch.