Skip to main content
An Atheist Reads the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

An Atheist Reads the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

By Josh
My name is Josh C and I am an alcoholic in a 12 step program of recovery. I am also an atheist and have found some recovery programs challenging. In this podcast I read the original text of the AA big book and try to understand the god stuff from an atheist perspective. I also explore other forms of recovery as I load my toolbox with everything I can to keep sober one more day. I hope this podcast helps you do the same. Connect with me on FB at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA or via email at oneatheistinaa@gmail.com
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Castbox Logo

Castbox

Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo

RadioPublic

Spotify Logo

Spotify

Episode 31: Step Twelve and Tradition Twelve From the 12 X 12 - Stoic Reading February 15th
**Fixed an issue where previous episode was playing by mistake** Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 31! In this episode I cover step twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs AND tradition twelve: Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.  I also talk about the future of the podcast. Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:20:08
February 15, 2022
Episode 30: Step Eleven and Tradition Eleven From the 12 X 12 - Stoic Reading February 8th
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 30! In this episode I cover step eleven: Sought through prayer and medication to improve our conscious contact with god as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out AND tradition eleven: Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio. and films.  I also talk about dealing with feelings of violence in the face of a troll. Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:01:42
February 08, 2022
Episode 29: Step Ten and Tradition Ten From the 12 X 12 - Stoic Reading February 1st
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 29! In this episode I cover step ten: Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong promptly admitted it AND tradition ten: Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.  The stoic ready does a great job leading into these two by bringing up the concept of living outside of the feelings of anger and hate.  This is further explored by looking at emotions as the chemicals they are and how important regulation is over supression. Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:05:53
February 01, 2022
Episode 28: Step Nine and Tradition Nine From the 12 X 12 - Stoic Reading January 25
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 28! In this episode I cover step nine: made direct amends to such people wherever possible, expect when to do so would injure them or others AND tradition nine: AA, as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.  This rounds out the last of the action steps before getting into the maintenance portion of the program of AA.  For me this was the most difficult to digest but over time I have learned that this step can be taken in smaller chunks and with the right guidance has done more to help me in the long run than many of the ones before it. Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
53:02
January 25, 2022
Episode 27: Step Eight and Tradition Eight From the 12 X 12 - Stoic Reading January 18
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 27! In this episode I cover step eight: made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.  And tradition eight: Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers. The stoic reading reminds us to try and find beauty in the smallest and simplest of places. Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
54:39
January 18, 2022
Episode 26: Step Seven and Tradition Seven From the 12 X 12 - Stoic Reading January 12th
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 26! In this episode I cover step seven: Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings and tradition seven: Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining outside contributions. Both steps come from a place of humility but step seven takes a little digging to get to the meat of it. Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:11:58
January 11, 2022
Episode 25: Step Six and Tradition Six From the 12 X 12 - Stoic Reading Jan 1st
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 25! In this episode I cover the 6th Step: Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.  While god isn't necessary, coming to terms with the need to remove attachments to personal traits that are causing harm is.  The 6th tradition keeps AA from becoming a sellable brand that, at one point, was almost slapped on educational pamphlets put out by big alcohol.  Despite the episode coming out on the 4th I choose to read January 1st from the Daily Stoic to commemorate the start of a new year. Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:06:33
January 04, 2022
Episode 24: Step Five and Tradition Five From the 12 X 12 - Stoic Reading December 28th
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 24! In this episode I cover the 5th Step of the traditional steps: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.  While myself, and may like me, may choose to omit the notion of god from this step, I feel it is a powerful process to share what came from the 4th step with another human.  More importantly is the process of being honest with ourselves as objectively as possible. Tradition 5: Each group has but one primary purpose - to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers. Many have used this step as a reason to bar people from sharing about drugs in meetings and I think it's missing the point to do so.  This tradition has kept money seeking and other forms of corruptible behavior out of the groups.   Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:03:01
December 28, 2021
Episode 23: Step Four and Tradition Four From the 12 X 12 - Stoic Reading December 21
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 23! In this episode I cover the 4th Step of the traditional steps.  Of all the steps in AA program this step remains, to many, the most difficult and the most important.  While the steps have been translated and transposed to fit all sorts of different programs and beliefs Step 4 remains largely unchanged.  Tradition 4 encourages meetings to be their own thing - within reason and while supporting AA as a whole.  This has helped keep AA versatile and adaptable over time. Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:23:16
December 21, 2021
Episode 22: Step Three & Tradition Three from the 12 X 12 - Stoic Reading December 14th
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 22! In this episode I cover the 3rd step: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.  This step can be a sticking point for a lot of folks, believer or non, and I hope I'm able to unpack it in a way that people can approach this a little differently.  Tradition 3, however, is one of the most important tradition to maintain the integrity of the AA program and its meeting spaces.  It also has a lot to do with the inclusive nature that AA is supposed to uphold.  While true, this chapter has some rough spots that I take issue with. Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:12:31
December 14, 2021
Episode 21: Step Two & Tradition Two from the 12 X 12 - Stoic Reading December 7th
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 21! In this episode I cover the 2nd step from the 12 X 12: Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.  To many (myself included) this can be a loaded step but I offer a different approach.  I also cover the 2nd tradition: For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.  Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.  This step seems to leave little room for the atheist or non-believer but the work seems to be in the last sentence.  It also seems to be the start of the glue that helps hold the fellowship together. Do you find these to be difficult to accept?   Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:22:54
December 07, 2021
Episode 20: Step One & Tradition One from the 12 X 12 - Stoic Reading November 30th
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 20! In this episode I begin the journey of going through the 12 X 12.  I will be covering each step and each corresponding tradition to further explore the meat of the AA program: the 12 steps and 12 traditions. It has been a long time since I've read this book and I'm exciting to cover what is inside. In this day's stoic reading I talk about what it means to live inside reason and the flow of reason. Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:04:46
November 30, 2021
Episode 19: Emotional Sobriety - Stoic Reading November 23rd
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 19! Before transitioning into reading from the 12 X 12 and onto the next phase of what this podcast has become I have decided to take a small intermission and read a letter that Bill Wilson wrote to a friend who was suffering from depression.  Bill himself had quite the battle with depression and his way of managing that was to work with others.  The letter reveals more about Bill's personal struggles with not only depression but with his place in AA and recovery in general.  It is a fantastic way to move towards the 12 X 12 (another piece of work that was the result of Bill working through one of his depression bouts).   The stoic reading mirrors some of the message in this letter by asking that we don't harbor attachments as this removes our reasoned choice.   Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:18:24
November 23, 2021
Episode 18: A Vision For You (final) - Stoic Reading November 16th
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 18! We did it!  We finished the damn thing!  The first 164 pages are in the can and it's time to consider the next phase.  For some folks this may mean the end of the road and I'm grateful you have made it this far in the journey. For others it means coming along on wherever this path is going to take us.  For now, we wrap things up and put a fork in the Big Books of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Thank you for all the support! Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
54:15
November 16, 2021
Episode 17: A Vision For You (part 1) - Stoic Reading November 9th
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode 17! In this episode I begin the last chapter of the first 164 pages of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous: A Vision For You.  I fell like over all they wrap this text up pretty well. In The Daily Stoic we have an interesting reading I did my best to interpret.  I came away with this question: if we rebuild ourselves only to rebuild it the way were before, did we rebuild at all?  Are we still the same person? Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
51:30
November 09, 2021
Episode 16: To Employers Final - Stoic Reading November 2nd
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Sixteen! In this episode I finish the chapter To Employers.  This is easily one of the weirdest chapters in the book but also has some interesting history.  While much of the book is attributed to Bill Wilson this chapter was for sure written by Hank Parkhurst and is seen by some as a true indicator that much of the first 164 pages are now outdated.  I'm inclined to agree.   What does it mean to you to be prepared but to be ready to accept any outcome, even it isn't the one planned for? Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
52:14
November 02, 2021
Episode 15: To Employers (part one) - Stoic Reading October 26th
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Fifteen! In this episode I go over the chapter To Employers.  This is easily one of the weirdest chapters in the book but also has some interesting history.  While much of the book is attributed to Bill Wilson this chapter was for sure written by Hank Parkhurst and is seen by some as a true indicator that much of the first 164 pages are now outdated.  I'm inclined to agree.  What are your thoughts on the controversial chapter? Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:14:18
October 26, 2021
Episode 14: The Family Afterward - Stoic Reading October 19th
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Fourteen! In this episode I go over the chapter The Family Afterwards.  This is a very odd chapter and but is a great showcase on where alcoholism was when the book was written versus where it is now.  The stoic reading is all about habits.  It's important to consider our habits and to consider how our bad habits are formed.  While it seems they are easier to come to reality and even can 'just appear' the same methods that create a bad habit can create a good one.  And learning how we reinforce bad habits can go a long way to changing the course of them or removing them altogether.  What habits are you struggling with?  What is a habit you would like to make stick but haven't yet? Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:12:27
October 19, 2021
Episode 13: To Wives - Daily Stoic October 12
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Thirteen! In this episode I go over the chapter To Wives.  I also talk about a recent break up and how that is affecting my sobriety.  This fits well with the Stoic reading which makes the claim that if you want to be loved then you should love.  Have you been through a break up in sobriety?  How did that go? Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:18:04
October 12, 2021
Episode 12: Working With Others (FINAL) - Daily Stoic October 5th
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Twelve! In this episode I finish off Working With Others in the Big Book of AA. Words have a lot of power.  They can do a lot of harm and they can do a lot of good.  They can inspire and they can bring someone down.  Some things just simply can't be unsaid.  And somethings that are said can leave an imprint in others that lasts decades.  How are you using your words?    Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:05:43
October 05, 2021
Episode 11: Working With Others (Part 1 pgs 89 - 96) - Sept 28 Daily Stoic Reading
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Eleven! This episode kicks off Working With Others.  There's a reason that the 12th step gets its own chapter and for me it is because this step is really the back bone of what makes AA work.  Giving away this recovery thing - not just to other alcoholics that may need to find their way to recovery (even if that isn't AA) but to those around me in every day life.  I carry this new, better me in all my affairs.  In this episode I also talk about control and what it means to refocus what that really means in my life.  Being in control of what I put out in the world is the only real control I should be putting energy into.   Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
55:57
September 28, 2021
Episode 10: Into Action Final (pgs 79 - 88) - Daily Stoic September 21st
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Ten! This episode finishes off the chapter Into Action of the big book of AA.  Before getting to that I discuss gatekeeping in AA online communities and ways to combat that.  Have you felt like you weren't able to share your truth in certain AA communities?  What communities have worked for you? Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:03:28
September 21, 2021
Episode 9: Into Action (Part 1 pgs 72 - 79) - Daily Stoic September 14
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Nine!  In this episode I will be reading the first part of Into Action from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  This chapter is pretty heavy and required me to break it up into 2 episodes.  I talk a little more about my experience with my new sponsor and how building that trust and being willing to rely on someone else (somewhat) is an important aspect of my recovery. The Big Book (and more) also talks about prayer but where does that word land amongst atheists and even agnostics?  Prayer for some is mediation for others is simply putting out into the world things you want to improve.  Much like the kinetic act of writing can produce a different response than, say, typing so to can speaking your inner thoughts have a certain power (even if this power isn't metaphysical). Into Action covers a lot of ground but is where the work really begins! Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:06:46
September 14, 2021
Episode 8: How it Works - Stoic Reading September 7th
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Eight!  In this episode I will be reading How It Works from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  In traditional and non-traditional meetings alike there are typically readings and rituals that start the meetings off.  In most traditional meetings they read from this chapter and cover the 12 steps all in one shot.  Is there value in these rituals or should AA move past them?  What are the 12 steps and what value do they have in modern recovery? I talk a bit about sponsorship and it's importance in my recovery.  After 2.5 years with my sponsor I found myself in a position to need to ask someone new to take on the role.  How do you view sponsorship?   Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:20:15
September 07, 2021
Episode 7: We Agnostics - Stoic Reading August 21st
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Seven!  In this episode I will be reading We Agnostics.  This chapter is considered by many atheists and agnostics to be kind of an insult at worst and a complete misunderstanding of atheism and agnosticism at best.  The chapter tells us that we don't have to name the higher power but we have to have one - but is this true?  If all gods can fit into this program then can't no god?  I explore this very heavy topic and more! Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:21:18
August 31, 2021
Episode 6: More About Alcoholism End of Chapter - July 23rd of The Daily Stoic
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Six!  In this episode I will be reading More About Alcoholism from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as well as the July 17th excerpt from The Daily Stoic. How do we socialize with our old friends?  Are they our old friends or just 'our friends' if they continue to drink?  How do we know when our paths aren't aligned with those that are from our old life? A Brief History of Secular AA Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
49:41
August 24, 2021
Episode 5: More About Alcoholism (pgs. 30 -37) - July 17th of The Daily Stoic
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Five!  In this episode I will be reading More About Alcoholism from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as well as the July 17th excerpt from The Daily Stoic. How do we socialize with our old friends?  Are they our old friends or just 'our friends' if they continue to drink?  How do we know when our paths aren't aligned with those that are from our old life? Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:05:22
August 17, 2021
Episode 4: There is a Solution - July 10th of The Daily Stoic
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Four!  In this episode I will be reading There is a Solution from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous as well as the July 10th excerpt from The Daily Stoic.  Are you putting the work in to perfect your craft?  How are you making progress? (Apologies for the audio artifacts! It has come to my attention have a habit of running my hands over my mouse/keyboard pad when I speak - this will not persist!) Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:15:32
August 10, 2021
Episode 3: Bill's Story - July 5th of The Daily Stoic
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Three!  In this episode I will be reading Bill's Story and what a wild ride it is!  I will also be reading an excerpt from The Daily Stoic for July 5th.  How are you improving on a daily basis?  What are you doing that will lead to you being a better person? (Apologies for the audio artifacts! It has come to my attention have a habit of running my hands over my mouse/keyboard pad when I speak - this will not persist!)  Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:16:52
August 03, 2021
Episode 2: The Doctor's Opinion -July 4th of The Daily Stoic
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode Two!  In this episode I will be reading The Doctor's Opinion as well as giving my feedback and commentary.  As with every episode, we begin with reading from The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman to get us started!  Today's reading asks: how are you protecting your own good?  How are you allowing others to interact with that good? (Apologies for the audio artifacts! It has come to my attention have a habit of running my hands over my mouse/keyboard pad when I speak - this will not persist!) Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
47:56
July 27, 2021
Episode 1: Why choose AA as an Atheist? Why Make a Podcast? Reading Pages xiii - xxiii
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Episode One!  In this episode, as part of the launch of this series, I talk more on why I would choose Alcoholics Anonymous as an Atheist.  I also expand on why I chose to make not only a podcast but one that revolved around a text that is decidedly heavy on the god stuff.  I then move into reading pages xiii-xxiii while giving commentary on different sections that speak out to me (or that I contend with).  There's a lot to unpack in this episode, so enjoy! Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:05:26
July 21, 2021
Episode 0: Who am I? What brings me to recovery? What is my story?
Welcome to An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA!  I am so excited to be launching this podcast finally, after what seems like years of just talking about it.  In this episode I give a deep dive into my story and how I found myself in recovery.  I also cover the format of this podcast going forward and touch on the reasons I chose to start it in the first place.  It's a pretty heavy way to start things out with but I'm up for the task.  Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
01:52:36
July 20, 2021
An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA Trailer
This is a quick run down of what I will be talking about in this podcast - An Atheist Reads the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous.  If you are an atheist, agnostic, or not quite sure where you stand on the religious aspects of some 12 step recovery programs this may be for you.  While I attempt to make sense of the god stuff ingrained in many 12 step recovery programs I will also be exploring other methods of sobriety as well as why AA and the like work for so many folks. Thank you for listening. Join the conversation on Facebook at An Atheist Reads the Big Book of AA and on Twitter at @anatheistin.
00:45
July 20, 2021