Thursday, March 31, 2016

Essay on Charlie Polacheck

Copied from the AA Agnostica Blog in case anything should ever happen to it there.

[Return to LA Agnostics Homepage here]

Father of We Agnostics Dies

Charlie P
Charlie P. was the co-founder of the first AA meeting ever to be called “We Agnostics” in Los Angeles, California, in 1980. He achieved another first when, in 2001, he launched another “We Agnostics” meeting, this time in Austin, Texas.
By Shawn M.
I learned tonight that my AA sponsor, Charlie P, passed away in Austin, Texas at the age of 98.
Within recovery communities, one hears much about sponsors. Charlie was both a son of a gun and a saint. Also, the most spiritual man I have ever encountered. That is really saying something about a guy who claimed to be a raging atheist (more on that later).
Many years ago I was “meeting shopping” and in the Los Angeles AA Directory I noticed a meeting called “We Agnostics.” There is a chapter in the AA Big Book titled “We Agnostics.” In essence, the chapter emphasizes that all drunks come into AA as agnostics and godless but, over time, they rid themselves of that ridiculous concept and see the path towards a Higher Power (code speak for the more commonly used word – God). I thought this “We Agnostics” meeting was either one of two things, a Big Book thumpers meeting or – just maybe – something more interesting. It was indeed more interesting and was located on Barrington Avenue in a big old wood home which was part of the Unitarian Fellowship.
My first meeting there truly made me see the unique, complex components that make up the AA fellowship. This was a group of people that did not subscribe to any notion of canned theology or cultish adherence to anything besides this: “no matter what” one does not put alcohol anywhere near the lips or nostrils. Also, if craving or life itself made you feel like jumping out of your skin, you must pick up the phone and talk with another meeting member. We help each other “no matter what.” That was the guiding principle of the LA We Agnostics AA group. Simple concept.
At the end of this meeting an old guy, obviously from NYC, asked me if I was a real alcoholic. I answered in the affirmative. He handed me a piece of paper that looked like one of the slips from a fortune cookie. This guy, Charlie, told me to call him sometime and we’d chat about the Higher Power stuff or anything else about being an alcoholic in the rooms of AA. By the way, the piece of fortune cookie paper he handed me simply said “Charlie” and had a seven digit phone number (he assumed, even then, everyone still lived in the 213 area code). Charlie had brought the AA We Agnostics format to California.
I still have that little slip of paper.
I called Charlie. It was a journey speaking with Charlie. After a month I asked Charlie to sponsor me and he laid out his ground rules. The criteria were, for me, stern and disciplined. This man was not into holding my hand.
He was not an easy sponsor. Doing the Steps with Charlie was hardly a warm, pleasant experience. Brutal in fact. Much better than almost any shrink I had ever encountered and overwhelmingly wise. That was my first Steps go around. Subsequent redoing of the Steps work proved simply enlightening with Charlie. It helped keep me sober then and still does now.
As the years passed, I watched Charlie perform countless acts of real kindness – without an audience. For example: I was at meeting when a deeply disturbed schizophrenic whose personal hygiene was lacking raised his hand and asked for a meal and a ride to a shelter. Charlie quietly took the man and led him out the door – and then into his car. Nobody noticed but me. Not a word was spoken about it. The personal hygiene deficient man kept coming around and the same routine continued for well over a year. Once he (the lacking-hygiene man) showed up clean shaven with clean clothes and looking nourished and healthy. Charlie’s doing. This is but one small example. Charlie gave again and again – without looking for attention. To him, having acts of kindness witnessed or acknowledged somehow cheapened the act.
He was not merely about the 12th Step but adhering to a life of giving of oneself – always with unconditional love.
Charlie Polacheck
A memorial service was held for Charlie in Hollywood, California, on April 22, 2012. Megan D., (co-founder of the “We Agnostics” meeting in 1980 in Los Angeles) spoke at that service. Click on the image to hear a recording of her remarks.
Charlie claimed to be a staunch atheist. His heritage was Jewish but unlike many atheistic Jews, Charlie did not observe the holidays or traditions. That would have been a treasonous act to Charlie. Yet, in later years, after endless hours discussing the definitions of God from the perspective of many belief systems and the nature of the universe from a philosophical stance, Charlie said to me that he had discovered a definition of “God” that he could tolerate. That power greater than himself was the “E” in the equation “E=mc2.”
That worked for Charlie and I can embrace his logic.
Charlie’s higher purpose and power was the act of loving and all the Energy (the “E” in “E=mc2” equation) contained throughout the universe (both known and unknown). Charlie gave unselfishly and saved countless lives. He did not care to keep score. He was a very devoted loving husband, father, grandfather and great-great-grandfather. Charlie was significant contributor. He saved lives and reinstalled the ability to experience joy into many hearts. He was a holy man.
Charlie had a good run. A life worth living and I am forever grateful to have known this man.
In honor of Charlie, let’s never forget the “no matter what” principle of the Los Angeles We Agnostics. My salute and love to Charlie P.
Charlie P, AA founder of “We Agnostics” in Los Angeles, California in 1978 and in Austin, Texas in 2001, passed away on February 27, 2012, after a year of failing health.  He was 98 years old and had 41 years of sobriety in AA.
He had many sponsees and affected the lives of many people in AA. Since and in response to Shawn’s post, others have shared their knowledge of Charlie:
An elder statesman (by Richard N): As an “elder statesman” of the fellowship, he was never demanding, always accepting. He got all teary-eyed when I told him about my estranged daughter’s phone call, after several years of not speaking to me, and then more years of my successful sobriety. She said, “I feel like I’ve got my Daddy back.” As a loving father himself, he really identified with that. Charlie was a Jew and definitely an atheist, so I don’t think the Vatican will canonize him any time soon. But in my loving memory he will always be Saint Charlie.
Candles and Charlie (by Sandra B.): I remember Charlie from my early days in sobriety and I knew he was an atheist. Started We Agnostics group and was one of the best AA members to ever have graced the earth. I call myself a Christian and I can’t hold a candle to Charlie. RIP Charlie P.
He made a difference (by Bruce K.): My life is infinitely richer having known and loved Charlie P. He made a huge difference in my life, and the lives of countless others. He taught us the true meaning of living rigorously honest, consistently responsible, and unconditionally loving lives. And this very public atheist was truly one of the happiest and most spiritual people I’ve ever known. Those of us fortunate enough to have known him will carry little bits of Charlie’s message and love with us, and we’ll pass it on to others so that they also can also benefit from Charlie’s experience, strength and hope. Thank you Charlie P.
He was legit (by kkash): Charlie. My friend. He lived the richest life of anyone I have ever known. He was brilliant, always cheerful, adored by his family, admired by his friends. Charlie shared his secret to living well often and it was this: “To live well, practice these principles – rigorous honesty, unconditional love, and consistent responsibility.” He was legit.
His legacy continues to help (Nick H.): I met Charlie when he moved to Austin in 2000. He also handed me one of his pieces of paper with his name and phone number. During his last 12 years in Austin he became an icon (as it were) of the AA community in Austin and was loved by many all along the belief continuum. Through his influence the number of freethinkers meetings in Austin went from 0 to 6 per week. He has directly and indirectly helped and his legacy continues to help many people who would normally have walked away from a less tolerant AA.
Charlie remained active in the program, holding AA meetings at his bedside and receiving AA visitors up to the last week of his life. Two memorial services were held for him, one at the Northland AA Club in Austin, Texas and a second in Los Angeles, California. You can read more about Charlie in A History of Agnostic Groups in AA.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sunday Night Driving Instructions

Sunday Night Culver City We Agnostics
6666 Green Valley Circle
8 pm
"SHARE" building

[Return to LA Agnostics Homepage here]

From Sepulveda Southbound:
   Go past Jefferson
   Continue past Westfield Mall (on your left), but continue straight
   Under the 405
   Light at Centinela, Turn Left
   At Chevron Light, take Left.
   SHARE 6666 Building, on your Right.

From Sepulveda Southbound (Method 2)
Past Westfield Mall, then immediate left on Green Valley Circle
   However, you will take this in a large, eventually right-turning loop until
   you reach SHARE building at left, just before Chevron on right.

From Sepulveda Northbound
   Right on Centinela [just before you would go under the 405]
     Left at Chevron, SHARE on your right.

From La Cienega/La Tijera/Centinela Area Northbound
   From the three-way intersection area of these roads where there is a big mall,
   Take Centinela west about 3/4 mile to the Chevron Station,
   turn right, SHARE quickly on your right.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sunday Night Culver City AA Meeting Protocol

We Agnostics Meeting Format
(Sunday Night Culver City)

[Return to LA Agnostics Homepage, here.]

Good evening everyone.  Welcome to the 
[Sunday Night We Agnostics] group of 
Alcoholics Anonymous.

My name is ___________ and I am 
(an alcoholic.)  Are there any other
 alcoholics here tonight?

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women
 who share their experience, strength and hope with
 each other that they may solve their common problem
 and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only
 requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. 

There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are 
self-supporting through our own contributions.
 AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics,
 organization or institution; does not wish to engage
 in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes 
any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober
 and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

If you are new to this meeting 
we would like to get to know you. 
Is there:
- Anyone in their first 30 days of sobriety?
- Anyone from outside the area or 
at this meeting for the first time?

We will now go around the room and introduce ourselves
starting at my right.

The We Agnostics Group maintains a tradition of free expression.
 We neither oppose any religion nor endorse it. 
  We neither endorse atheism nor oppose it. 
 Our only wish is to assure you that anyone may achieve recovery
 in AA without having to accept anyone else's beliefs 
or deny their own.

At the end of the meeting we will have a 
moment of silence, 
and on the count of three, repeat the AA responsibility pledge.

It is a custom in this meeting to read Appendix Two of the Big Book
 of Alcoholics Anonymous.  This week, I have asked 
   ___(NAME)__   to read it. 

[Appendix II is clipped at bottom]


Are there any AA birthdays this week?

Leader shares for ten minutes.

I May call on those who raise
 their hands or those who don't. 

 No cross talk, and please limit 
your share to 5 minutes.

Our time has run out.
We will now observe our 7 th  tradition.
 There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership.
 Please remain seated while we pass the basket.

Are there any A.A. related announcements?

 When Anyone, Anywhere Reaches Out For Help, 
I Want The Hand Of A.A.. Always To Be There.
 And For That, I am responsible.



The terms “spiritual experience” 
and “spiritual awakening” 
are used many times in this book which, 
upon careful reading, shows that the personality
 change sufficient to bring about recovery
 from alcoholism has manifested itself among 
us in many different forms.

Yet it is true that our first printing gave
 many readers the impression that these 
personality changes, or religious experiences,
 must be in the nature of sudden and
spectacular upheavals. 
Happily for everyone, this conclusion is erroneous.

In the first few chapters a number of 
sudden revolutionary changes are described. 
Though it was not our intention to create such 
an impression, many alcoholics have nevertheless 
concluded that in order to recover they must
 acquire an immediate and overwhelming
 “God-consciousness” followed at once
 by a vast change in feeling and outlook.

Among our rapidly growing membership of thousands 
of alcoholics such transformations, though frequent,
 are by no means the rule. 
Most of our experiences are what the psychologist
 William James calls the “educational variety” 
because they develop slowly over a period of time.
 Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware 
of the difference long before he is himself. 
He finally realizes that he has undergone a 
profound alteration in his reaction to life;
 that such a change could hardly have been brought 
about by himself alone. What often takes place 
in a few months could seldom have been accomplished
 by years of self-discipline. With few exceptions
 our members find that they have tapped
 an unsuspected inner resource which they 
presently identify with their own conception 
of a Power greater than themselves.

Most of us think this awareness of a Power
 greater than ourselves is the essence of 
spiritual experience. Our more religious
 members call it “God-consciousness.”

Most emphatically we wish to say that
 any alcoholic capable of honestly facing
 his problems in the light of our 
experience can recover, provided he
 does not close his mind to all 
spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated
 by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial.

We find that no one need have difficulty
 with the spirituality of the program. 
Willingness, honesty and open mindedness
 are the essentials of recovery.
 But these are indispensable.

“There is a principle which is a bar
 against all information, which is proof against
 all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man
 in everlasting ignorance—
that principle is contempt prior to investigation.”

—Herbert Spencer

Tuesday Night Los Feliz Parking Ideas

Parking Ideas for Tuesday Night Los Feliz AA Meeting
(730 pm)

[Return to LA Agnostics Homepage here]

Street Parking - Maybe! Have an adventure!

Possible Free Lot:
  Barnsdall Park, W. on Hollywood Blvd,
  Said to be open & free til 10 pm

Pay Lots:
Bank of America Lot, Evening Parking $5
Vermont @ Prospect (Vermont just N of Hollywood Blvd)
Parking lot is west across street, from Starbucks

Melbourne Lots
Two blocks north on Vermont then 1/2 block East on Melbourne
A couple of $4-$5 lots

Note: North Vermont is an active restaurant district
(Over a dozen; Thai, Sushi, Greek, Italian, Steak, French, Diner, Indian, Etc.)
Also a Movie Theater & the Skylight Bookstore

Click on the Map to Enlarge:

Enjoy restaurants and night life on North Vermont Avenue: