Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Review - Freedom From Addiction

I'm pretty well steeped in addiction recovery methodology. I'm in recovery. I've worked the 12 Steps. I've taught the 12 Steps. I facilitate three 12 Step groups. I picked up Freedom From Addiction by David Simon, MD and Deepak Chopra, MD, to expand my understanding of addictive behavior and disease. Simon and Chopra have some pretty good theraputic methods to consider and certainly some wisdom to impart.

I liked this quote from early in the book: "Addictions serve a purpose. When people seek a shift in their emotional state and do not know how to create the change from within, they reach for something outside." I fully agree with that assessment. I agree with much of what they've concluded. Still, I struggle to recommend the book.

You have to understand how I feel about new wave philosophy, and Deepak Chopra's brand in particular. Who can know what motivates individuals within the movement. It appears, though, that in general the movement has seen holes in the world's religions. While they favor eastern thinking, they have drawn from all religious and scientific thinking. They've stepped up to the philosophical smorgasbord, so to speak, and selected what works for them. In one way this is good. I'll be the first to admit that most religions have clung to tradition and philosophy that glaringly contradict one another and because of rigid loyalty to their history are slow to correct obvious errors. Smorgasbord thinking makes the error correction possible, even attractive. In many ways, because of this, new wave thinking has the potential to step ahead of religions mired in archaic and apostate muck.

I struggle with new wave thinking, mostly because, I'd characterize it as me-theology. They have adopted the Nirvana view of me being god and god being me. I don't buy it. Like all modern day reformers, they, while shopping for truths to glean from the various sources out there, they have clearly neglected to look at LDS teaching and philosophy. They've allowed themselves to lump us in with main stream Christianity and thus overlooked revealed doctrine that has corrected the error so obvious to thinking seekers. Should they honestly investigate what we teach they'd discover they (and we) agree on many truths.

Now, the original 12 Steps as developed by Alcoholic Anonymous, is inspired of God, in my view. It so correctly mirrors LDS Doctrine that the Church has adopted the steps with only one clarification. Where AA refers to God in generic terms palatable to people of all walks of life, the LDS version refers to Jesus Christ. This is in no way a criticism of AA. Their target audience is broad and intended to encompass everyone. It is clear that Heavenly Father is cool with that. Legion are the AA stories of atheists and agnostics who, swallowing the possibility of some vague, inexplicable "higher power" have begun to find recovery and who consequently discover God in more and more detail and clarity. We in the church program are primarily focused on people who already have a pretty clear understanding of God, have been taught about the Atonement and have already clarified details about God that the population at large has not. We try to start from there.

Simon and Chopra have done the same thing; they've adapted the 12 Steps to match their paradigm. They make no mention of having consulted with AA (which the LDS church has done) and I doubt if AA would be pleased with their result. They remodeled the 12 Steps in their book beyond recognition. Now I'll allow them that privilege if they like. But I reject the result.

For me the 12 Steps only work because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. New wave philosophy rejects any need of The Savior's redemptive sacrifice on our behalf. They have some neat, practical and probably even useful psychologial therapy and some useful meditative technique that could be beneficial to folks with addiction problems. But, they have rejected "the power of God unto salvation." They think we can evolve into recovered creatures. I'm convinced that we must learn to repent and to rely upon the merits and mercy of He who is mighty to save. They think the power is in us. I'm convinced the power is in God and can only be in us by His grace.

For me, their approach to addition recovery seems hollow and while it may have resulted in recovery for some, cannot possibly provide the relief and healing the Redeemer has to offer. That said, I know the Master is kind and will grant grace to all who are sincere and there are certain to be Chopra followers who are experiencing a portion of His grace and goodness despite their lack of clarity as to it's source. The fact that any of us is breathing is rudimentary evidence of this. He came to redeem all of us. All of us. And He is about that business, even now, in all of our lives.

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