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Big Book Thumpers

old timer

Recovery from alcoholism comes from working the 12 suggested steps as they are described in the Big Book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’.  The book was first issued in 1939 and has largely remained unchanged through the following seven and a half decades.  It was first written by average Americans representing all sections of their country but, with the foresight of their founders, has developed and has become literature now applied by average human beings representing all countries of this world.

Those who have used the book have not only found within it’s covers information which has helped them recover from their illness but have also learned the book is the very core of fulfilling the primary purpose, to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.

Big Book Thumpers are those of us who understand this and are very careful to look for their own guidance in this book as well as guide other alcoholics to gain recovery through the book and to center their new lives around the suggestions contained therein.  Big Book Thumpers also understand better than anyone else the value of all principles of A.A. and are able to serve the fellowship in true spirit and  unity better.  Big Book Thumpers lovingly thump the Big Book whenever approached by others for guidance and teach us to look for the answers in ‘Alcoholics Anonymous.’

Why is it then that Big Book Thumpers are rarely understood and many times the expression is used in a derogatory fashion and not in showing appreciation for the vast knowledge of these fine members?  These members have lived such principle-based lives that the line between principle and personality has disappeared and they are unable to see that the principle has become their personality.  A new personality, yes, but a personality just the same.

It is quite easy to identify these, less than ideal, Thumpers.  They seem to have missed certain portions of the Big Book…  At times they would want to impose their own recovery or their own concept of a Higher Power on others and seem to forget that AA is to always be inclusive and never exclusive.  That the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

Put two or three of these thumpers in a room on their own and soon they will start to “one-up” each other with stories of other “mis-guided alcoholics”, making distinctions between what they believe are “real” alcoholics while chuckling with true enjoyment at those who are struggling with the illness.  They seem to have missed the concept of Love and Tolerance being the code and have resumed fighting anyone and anything that does not comply to their new-found principles.  Some, sadly, even to the point of resuming a fight against alcohol itself.

Newcomers who stumble upon passages in the Big Book that are not easily digested turn to the elders looking for their experience, strength and hope to bring some answers are often disappointed because rather than giving them new insight or a fresh look of the topic they are directed back to the Big Book for answers.  Sadly, it does happen, that the newcomers ultimately get frustrated and are unable to gain the knowledge and understanding as well as their teachers and look for other venues and programs.  Ironic as it may sound these Big Book Thumpers wanting so much to lead by good example and giving all of themselves unknowingly and not wanting to become repulsive forces through no fault of their own.

This phenomenon is not new to the fellowship.  The ‘Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions’ eloquently describes the difference between “elder statesmen” and “bleeding deacons” and goes on to tell us that “Happily, most of them survive and live to become elder statesmen.  They become the real and permanent leadership of A.A.  Theirs is the quiet opinion, the sure knowledge and humble example that resolve a crisis.”

How do we deal with these Big Book Thumpers you ask?  The answer is not complicated and we have just identified it in the previous paragraph.  We can achieve this through quiet opinion, humility and real leadership through example.  Believe it or not, most Big Book Thumpers gone bad are aware of their own behaviour and do know about that the temptation to cloak their ego with self-righteous indignation.  We ought to nudged them back in the right track ever so gently.  Sometimes it is as simple as asking them to give of their own experience about a topic after they have quoted certain passages, page and paragraph from the book.  Through a subtle, meek behaviour and by display of (true) humility we can achieve major shifts in our fellow man and restore the service and unity of AA.  It doesn’t require much for us to realize that “the good can sometimes be the enemy of the best.”

“Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”  ~Proverbs 27:6


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