Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A.A. History Interview of Dick B. by Dr. Anna Spouse

Notes from the Tuesday, October 9, 2012, Interview of Dick B.

by Anna Shouse on the “Spirit of Recovery” Radio Show


By Dick B.

© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved


The sources of Alcoholics Anonymous:


The Bible--as Dr. Bob specifically said, the literature discloses, and the quotes make apparent.


Dr. Bob’s Library and the Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth Dr. Bob, Anne Smith, Henrietta Seiberling, Clarence Snyder, Oxford Group.


Christian people, organizations, and events preceding A.A.:


The “Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury;

Great Evangelists – Moody, Sankey, Meyer, H.M. Moore, Folger;

The Young Men’s Christian Association

Rescue Missions;

The Salvation Army

Christian Endeavor


The Christian upbringing of Dr. Bob, Bill Wilson, Ebby Thacher in Vermont:


Congregational Churches;

Sunday school;

parental influence;

sermons, hymns, and Bible studies;


prayer meetings;

daily chapel;

conversions to God through His Son Jesus Christ;

Academies like St. Johnsbury, Burr and Burton, Norwich University;

Quiet Time;

varied Christian literature;



The early A.A. First Century “Christian fellowship” founded in Akron in 1935:

Daily meetings, Bible study, prayer meetings, Quiet Time,


“Full surrenders” involving accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior;


Spiritual growth through Christian reading, optional Christian

fellowship and religious services weekly


The daily teachings by Dr. Bob’s wife Anne at morning Quiet Time and from her Personal journal

          Regular circulation of Christian books by Bob, Anne, and others.

          Oxford Group ideas at the weekly “regular” meeting at home of T. Henry


Later: What Bill Wilson extrapolated from Dr. Carl Jung, Professor William James, Dr. William D. Silkworth, Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., and Oxford Group life-changing ideas that became embedded in the Twelve Steps and Big Book of 1939.

The writings of New Thought authors like James Allen, Henry Drummond, the Fillmores, Emmet Fox, Ernest Holmes, William James, Norman Vincent Peale, Ralph Waldo Trine; and, more remotely, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mary Baker Eddy, Phineas Quinby, Horatio Dresser, Ellie Cady, Glenn Clark, and F. L. Rawson


The special reading interests of Dr. Bob and his wife: Bible, God, Jesus Christ, love, conversion, healing, prayer, Quiet Time, the mind, Christian literature.


Dick B., Dr. Bob and His Library, 3rd ed.

Dick B., The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, 7th ed.

Dick B., Making Known the Biblical History and Roots of Alcoholics


Dick B., Good Morning! Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early


Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.: More on the Creator’s Role in Early


Dick B. and Ken B., Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent

Training in the Bible as a Youngster in Vermont

Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob, the Green Mountain Boys of



A number of comments are appropriate about the role of New Thought and Unity in A.A.’s Early Days


Dr. Bob’s broad interest in a wide variety of Christian books, certainly

including the Bible, and many on prayer, healing, Jesus Christ, the Bible, Quiet Time, and New Thought.


The interest of all early AAs in the life-changing aspects of the Oxford



          Oxford Group and books by Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.


New Thought Books that were common among the many books Dr. Bob read and recommended:


Those by Charles and Cora Fillmore and Myrtle Fillmore (Teach Us to Pray; Christian Healing);

James Allen (As a Man Thinketh; Heavenly Life);

Henry Drummond (The Greatest Thing in the World);

William James (The Varieties of Religious Experience);

Ralph Waldo Trine (In Tune with the Infinite; Man Who Knew);

Emmet Fox (The Sermon on the Mount, Find and Use Your Inner Power, Power Through Constructive Thinking, Alter Your Life;

Pamphlets: Getting Results by Prayer, You Must Be Born Again, The Great Adventure, Your Heart’s Desire


The original, seven-point, Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” recovery program is spelled out on page 131 of the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. It was very simple. It was not Oxford Group in character. It was not the product of a particular Christian denomination, New Thought, or the Oxford Group. As Dr. Bob put it on pages 13-14 of the A.A. General Service Conference-approved pamphlet The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks, the basic ideas of the 12 Steps came from their study of the Bible--particularly the Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7), and 1 Corinthians 13.


It more closely resembled the Christian Endeavor meetings of Dr. Bob’s childhood. And its seven specifics were:

2.     He must He must surrender himself absolutely to God, realizing that in himself there is no hope.

3.     Not only must he want to stop drinking permanently, he must remove from his life other sins such as hatred, adultery, and others which frequently accompany alcoholism. Unless he will do this absolutely, Smith and his associates refuse to work with him.

4.     He must have devotions every morning—a “quiet time” of prayer and some reading from the Bible and other religious literature. Unless this is faithfully followed, there is grave danger of backsliding

5.     He must be willing to help other alcoholics get straightened out. This throws up a protective barrier and strengthens his own willpower and convictions.

6.     It is important, but not vital, that he meet frequently with other reformed alcoholics and form both a social and a religious comradeship.

7.     Important, but not vital, that he attend some religious service at least once weekly. [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers (New York, N.Y.: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980), 131].


Our 22 years of research has convinced us that there is a “new era” of A.A. history today and that it is accompanied by a growing Christian Recovery Movement. It is grounded on these historical facts:


1.     The Christian sources of A.A. ideas from the 1850’s onward.

2.     The Christian upbringing of the cofounders.

3.     The original Christian program in Akron which stressed abstaining from all liquor, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, endeavoring to live love and eliminate sins, growing in understanding, and helping others to get well.

4.     Seeing how these principles fit well even in present-day Conference-approved literature suggestions.

5.     Applying old school A.A. ideas today to enhance recovery, one’s fellowship with God, and give love and service to God and others.


Gloria Deo

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