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ACA Literature And Spiritual Language

by | Feb 1, 2023 | ComLine, Fellowship News

We know from ballot proposals submitted to our Annual Business Conference that our fellowship wants our literature to become more loving, gentle, and inclusive. In 2021, a ballot proposal was passed to update shares to include the lived experience of our worldwide fellowship, including gender identity, racial identity, and different paths to a spiritual connection. Many of you have asked ACA to adopt the version of the Twelve Steps written Tony A, which we are unfortunately unable to do because the copyright owner refuses to give us permission.

We want our fellowship to know that ballot proposals are not the only way to express the desire for changes in our literature. In fact, due to limited time for debate, ballot proposals may be the least effective way to be heard.  

The two best ways to express your views on our evolving standards are to 
1. fill out our feedback form. For feedback on existing literature, please use this link:
https://acawso.org/feedback-on-existing-literature/
2. join one of our working groups. 
3. participate in the discussion at the quarterly delegate meeting on February 18 and at the Literature Quarterly meeting on Saturday April 1 at 11:30pm. 

The Literature Committee is actively involved in bringing our literature more in line with a loving, gentle, and inclusive direction. Here are some of those efforts.

1. We have set up a Language Subcommittee. Its role is to look carefully at the words we use and make recommendations for new literature.

2. We have working groups under our Literature in Development subcommittee actively discussing language issues, including revising the Big Red Book, creating new ACA steps, creating a list of affirmations and others. All are welcome. Information on the meeting times and contact people is at https://acawso.org/literature/

3. Three new pieces of literature, which have been recently published or are in the review stage, have already become more spiritually inclusive.  

The Loving Parent Guidebook uses “higher power” exclusively, without capital letters. The introduction says: 

We do not capitalize “higher power” in order to support the spiritual, not religious, nature of the ACA program. ACA supports each of us to find a higher power of our understanding. Some of us choose to call a higher power by traditional religious names or by terms such as Universe, Spirit etc. Others may use no name at all or choose a secular force, such as love and wisdom of their recovery community. By sticking with a neutral term, we aim to support your unique spiritual journey,”

The Connections book, [currently in Literature Evaluation] which addresses sponsorship, fellow travelers, and support generally, chose to alternate different words for a higher power and to convert some prayers into meditations. It includes the same statement about higher power as in the Loving Parent Guidebook and adds:

We have used a number of different words to introduce a prayer or meditation throughout this guide. For example, sometimes we say, “higher power grant that I may.” Sometimes we say “higher power may I.” Sometimes we do not begin the prayer/meditation with the words higher power at all. We encourage you to find the method that works best for you and to use that in your reading of this guide.

Example Meditation: Spirit of recovery, may I find a spiritual connection with you with the help of my supporters and the tools of ACA.

The Getting Started book, [currently in Literature Evaluation] designed for the first 18 months in recovery, has incorporated loving and gentle language. The beginning of Chapter 15 of Getting Started says:

"If Steps 2 and 3 do not require belief in a god, what actually is being asked? The essence of these critical early steps is trust, and release of control. After many lonely years relying on our own limited resources, we realize that in ACA, we are surrounded by many powers greater than ourselves. These powers are compatible with spiritual and religious beliefs, but also with a secular world view.

“Steps 2 and 3 help us access support from sources that we did not experience as children. The program itself may be the "power greater than ourselves” referred to in Step 2. In ACA, we see recovery in others and know it can be ours, as well."

4. The Spiritual Inclusion working group has submitted its report to Literature Evaluation and will be the foundation of our presentation on spirituality to the delegates and larger fellowship. We are looking at the possibility of adding shares to it and turning it into a booklet on this topic.

5. The Representation, Equity, and Accessibility working group also wrote a report with recommendations for language, which has been referred to our Language Subcommittee. Even a phrase as seemingly neutral as “mission statement” carries an association with colonialization, which can be a trigger. “Purpose statement” is a better choice. You can find it at: https://acawso.org/category/representation-equity-accessibility/

6. We are working with the Publishing Committee to create a list of words that are complicated to understand and/or hard to translate in an effort to make our literature more accessible. One example is “reparenting.” Some languages do not contain a word “to parent,” so the concept of reparenting is confusing. 

7. We are looking at changes to our reader team survey of documents submitted to Literature Evaluation to incorporate sensitivity to inclusion.

Join us! Give us your views. You can email me at [email protected].

Christine B
Literature Chair

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