Dear Mr. SponsorPants,
"But what about where the book says..."
"You said X, but 'The Doctor's Opinion' says Y but then in Chapter 5 it says Z..."
"I find the following pages to be contradictory in that..."
"The Big Book says 'we know only a little...' how can I trust..."
-- from a half dozen or so emails in the last couple of months.
People! People! I applaud your eagle eyes, your combing the literature for guidance, your... wait, are you combing the literature for guidance? Or are you indulging some contrary impulse to find a way to prove to yourself that this information doesn't work, or doesn't apply to you?
Individually, each point raised has some truth to it, and merits discussion. Absolutely we should look at AA literature with a critical, questioning eye. What better way to fully understand what it suggests we do to get sober, so we can then apply those ideas throughout all the ups and downs of our daily lives?
Balancing that, however, and what has worked best for me over the years, is to make sure I eventually take my eye away from the microscope and view the entire picture. To grasp the spirit of a point, rather than argue one specific element.
The Big Book is a map, or like a cook book, in that it gives clear instructions -- in this case, though, instructions on how to get from your sucky, blackout-ridden (or blackout-impending), downward spiral of an alcoholic life to something much brighter, higher functioning and more fulfilling -- not just released from alcoholism's terrible choke hold on the mind but actually joyous and free (most days).
You wouldn't get very far in a recipe if you set out to make a cake and when you get to the part that says "add two cups of sugar" you stop everything and go, "But what about diabetics? Or what about people on a diet?" and then use that as a jumping off point: "If this recipe includes sugar, yet doesn't address diabetics and dieters... why, it makes me doubt the value of this whole cookbook!"
I mean, come on.
Yes, think critically and ask questions -- but watch out for indulging in hypotheticals which might obfuscate (good word!) the spirit of whatever larger point is being made.
Read with a questioning eye, but don't get too literal.