John P. from Tuscaloosa, AL on 10/18/1964

John P. from Tuscaloosa, AL on 10/18/1964

The Professor and the Paradox

A paradox is an apparently contradictory statement that may nevertheless be true. AA is full of paradoxes (there are six direct references to them in the BB and the 12&12). John P. picks up on four of these. First, that we surrender to win: we admit our powerlessness over alcohol and this frees us from its power over us. Second, that we give away to keep: we give our sobriety away through service and this helps to keep us sober. Third, that we suffer to get well: suffering brings us to our bottom, and our common suffering brings us together in recovery. Fourth, that we die to live: through a spiritual awakening the old self gradually dies out and is reborn to a life that is happy, joyous, and free.

John got sober in February 1949. His story, “The Professor and the Paradox,” first appeared in the 2nd edition of the Big Book in 1955. He published an update in the A.A. Grapevine of July, 1967 whose title, “Miraculous Is the Word,” suggests why the apparently contradictory can nevertheless be true.


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