Addicts At The Cross Big Book: A Christian 9 Step Program, by Larry Skrant
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Aneko Press. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]
Early in his political career in Illinois, Abraham Lincoln was invited to give a speech in support of a Temperance Society named after George Washington made up of ex-alcoholics. In his speech, he praised the society for not being made up of people with ulterior motives and hidden agendas and for conducting their affairs without the self-righteous denunciations of those who do not know what it is like to be caught in the grips of addictions. Coming from a family like I do where alcoholism is a pretty rampant curse, despite the fact that I have little personal inclination to drink even in moderation, much less to excess , this book comes as an interesting example of an openly avowed Christian program to help people deal with the spiritual and moral root causes of addiction in our own sinful human inclinations. The author’s status as a three-time felon in the Ohio state penitentiary system gives this book a strong sense of authenticity that combines the intense passion of personal experience, a fervent belief the author has in his being freed from his sins and desiring to free others, and a straightforward manner of expression that makes this book an exploration of theology and also intensely practical.
This book may be best understood as a workbook with 130 pages or so of somewhat large sheets of paper for books (namely 8 1/2 x 11 paper) that contain a lot of margin space for the reader to add notes to reflect upon what is being read. Aside from this generous allotment for notes, the contents of the book are direct and orderly, as one would hope from a step-by-step program like this one. The addict using this book as a part of his or her recovery should have no problems working out these steps in terms of understanding what is meant. In a book like this, to know is easy, but to do is hard. The book begins with an autobiographical sketch of the author and discussion about the program and a preface to the book, and the author introduces his nine steps and then spends the next 9 chapters giving them in detail: admit, believe, decide, search, acknowledge, change, ask, restore, and pursue. These steps are directly related to various aspects of recovery–seeking repentance and reconciliation and restoration, setting the will away from that which is self-destructive and towards the kingdom of heaven, and engaging in self-examination and empathetic understanding of others. The program as a whole aims at the full restoration of someone to their position as a child of God and uses a great deal of thoughtful biblical commentary to encourage the reader, engaging often in a sort of catechism where basic and fundamental questions are asked and answered in the workbook while others are left open-ended for reflection.
It is easy to see how this particular sort of workbook would be of great assistance to a Christian recovery group that wishes to encourage those wishing to overcome addictions, especially among ex-cons seeking sobriety and mastery over their demons. To such an audience this book provides another option and another resource in addition to more familiar ones like AA and Alcoholics For Christ. Yet at the same time this book is of relevance to more than its direct target audience, because the book’s discussion of our bent natures and our natural state of estrangement from God is something that is true for all people, even if the addiction to sin is somewhat more obvious among those whose addictions have elements of shame and illegality added to their compulsive nature. Despite the fact that there are aspects of this book I do not personally agree with, overall this book is something to be appreciated for the way it confronts with readers with our shared addiction to sin and our own solemn responsibility to overcome it to seek reconciliation and restoration with God and other people.
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