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Spiritual Principles, Part II

Spiritual Principles, Part II

In my last column I introduced Pelagius and described his relationship to Augustine of Hippo in relation to their spiritual principles. Let’s continue this discussion. 


Here is an excerpt from a powerful letter that Pelagius wrote in Defense of Freedom of Will:


That we are able to do good is of God, but that we actually do it is of ourselves. That we are able to make a good use of speech comes from God; but that we do actually make this good use of speech proceeds from ourselves. That we are able to think a good thought comes from God, but that we actually think a good thought proceeds from ourselves (Booth, 2012, p. 51).


I love the AA fellowship. This group of men and women invites me to share my ideas and opinions concerning God, recovery, and spirituality. It is not a cult that restricts thinking or the sharing of ideas. Having said this, there are undoubtedly some who think in order to defend the “purity” of AA—and I’m always suspicious of people who want to defend the “purity” of a cause—we need to resist all change. Such people are the real obstacles of spirituality and recovery.


Bill W., the architect of the AA fellowship, realized the need to change in order to grow. He did not want the fellowship to become rigid. He also came to understand his personal shortcomings and his need to grow up. 


In an article in AA Grapevine he wrote:


I think that many oldsters who have put our AA “booze cure” to severe but successful tests still find they often lack emotional sobriety. Perhaps they will be the spearhead for the next major development in AA—the development of much more real maturity and balance (which is to say, humility) in our relations with ourselves, with our fellows, and with God.


Those adolescent urges that so many of us have for top approval, perfect security, and perfect romance—urges quite appropriate to age seventeen—prove to be an impossible way of life when we are at age forty-seven or fifty-seven.
Since AA began, I’ve taken immense wallops in all these areas because of my failure to grow up, emotionally and spiritually. My God, how painful it is to keep demanding the impossible, and how very painful to discover finally, that all along we have had the cart before the horse! Then comes the final agony of seeing how awfully wrong we have been, but still finding ourselves unable to get off the emotional merry-go-round (1958). 


What are the spiritual principles? Well, for me, they must involve a willingness to change. Not change for the sake of change, but change when I was clearly wrong or had misspoke.


Possibly prior to this willingness to change comes courage—to have the basic self-confidence to confront myself and others if I feel we are going in the wrong direction or missing a vital ingredient of recovery.


Today I have the awareness of moving beyond being a “mere” human being to being a vital and creative one infused with the spirit of God, with a spark of the divine. 


Lastly, I celebrate the principle of imagination that enables me, in sobriety, to see beyond the words into the essence of spirituality. This important principle that enables the personality to become a point of attraction, enabling the newcomer to say, “I want what you have.”





Booth, L. (2012). The happy heretic: Seven spiritual insights for healing religious codependency. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc.
Wilson, B. (1958). The next frontier: Emotional sobriety. Retrieved from http://silkworth.net/aahistory/emotionalsobriety.html