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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Book Review

A New Pair of Glasses  
by Chuck C.

as Reviewed by Kyle Rhodes

A New Pair of Glasses is widely regarded as one of the most influential books about alcoholism and recovery since Alcoholics Anonymous was first published in the 1930’s. The author is a recovered alcoholic, who was by his own account a "tongue chewing babbling idiot" when he was approached by Alcoholics Anonymous. He recovered and went on to design and build shopping centers in California. He also helped countless people to recovery along the way.

A New Pair of Glasses is a written transcript of Chuck C. leading a spiritual workshop at Pala Mesa Resort in California, 1975. A highly spiritual and transformative experience are obvious aspects that Chuck C. speaks of simply and honestly as it pertained to himself and his recovery. His personal philosophy and actualized beliefs led to his becoming an iconic figure in Californian AA and eventually nationwide. With his talks, this book and his personal living example he has affected, for the better nearly all AA members nationwide to this day. The book is separated into six chapters, coinciding with his six sessions during the workshop.

Chapter one is appropriately titled The Problem. "Surrender is the thing that opens the door that us to get help, because God, Himself, cannot help us until we allow it," page 33. Chuck spends most of the opening chapter talking about the problem, which is, for him, more than just alcohol. He talks about his spiritual malady and the state of desperation which he was in when he was a “tongue chewing, babbling idiot” teetering on the edge of insanity and death. He relates his home life and domestic troubles with his audience in a way that almost all of us in the program can appreciate, if not entirely relate to.

The second session, called The Golden Key, focuses on what Chuck believes is the key to a successful recovery. "I could not accept a God of that kind and I don't know. My insides wouldn't hack it and they still don't. But a God of love and a great law of justice without judgement, I can go with. It's a fantastic thing," page 66. Chuck tells us that we have a “living problem” that needs a “living solution” and that there is most likely no solution that doesn’t include a conscious relationship with God, or whatever we perceive as our higher power. Spirituality is the center of the AA solution and Chuck shares with us just how he managed to discover his divine connection and how it may help us create our own.

Section three is The Power of Truth. “I came to the program, and I learned by doing the things that the program told me to do, that the truth was the most powerful thing on earth,” page 75. Chuck shares with us his belief in the importance of Step 10 and, of course, the power of truth. He tells us that the AA way of life is centered on “Uncovering, Discovering, and Discarding.” By which he means, if we are going to fully center our lives around the spiritual, and therefore the solution, we must be entirely willing to be honest. And then we take painstaking action. “It’s a fascinating way of life and it gets better for twenty-nine years to my certain knowledge, and I suspect it’s going to get better forever,” page 110.

Chuck gets to the meat and potatoes of what AA can bring us in the fourth chapter, Sobriety – A Spiritual Rest. "And so, it depends on where we are as to what we can do, and what we have to get rid of," page 127. “And we find that the formula for sobriety and the formula for the good life and the formula of God is all the same,” page 142. These quotes sum up the section quite well, in my opinion. Chuck C. shares about the importance of knowing where we are in recovery so that we can be aware of what we need to work on more diligently and what has helped us up to this point, which is God of our own understanding.

The fifth section, The Prodigal Son, is filled with stories and parables that Chuck found entertaining, interesting or otherwise, but always he felt they were helpful. He reiterates the importance of carrying the AA message to the next suffering alcoholic and he expresses his own personal gratitude and thanks to the AA’s that helped save his own life and allowed him to be born again as a child of God.
The final chapter is entitled Questions and Answers, in which Chuck shares about his experience helping others. This includes specific situations in which he tried, best he could, to answer questions directly posed to him about AA and everyday life. His wisdom is profound and his advice is simple and I would suggest this book to anyone. Give it a read and let it change your life.

A New Pair of Glasses is available at Gifts Anon., Inc, located at 10427 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite A, Scottsdale, AZ 85253 or 5817 N. 7th Street in Phoenix.