Monday, October 1, 2012

"Listening to God" - Step 11 - The Oxford Group in AA History

A.A., "Listening to God," Quiet Time, Meditation RootsDick B.
� 2012 Dick B. All rights reserved Recently I received several emails from a web manager who does a bang-up job of posting all sorts of A.A.-related historical books, articles, and exhibits. He was asking what I knew about John Batterson, his pamphlet, and status, if any, in the Oxford Group. While I had never seen anything significant about Batterson in all my Oxford Group-Shoemaker-A.A. history research, I did know that MRA old-timer Jim Houck had passed around an unpublished, undated pamphlet by Batterson on the subject of "lisrtening to God." I leave the merits of the presentation to others, but I did point the web manager to a host of writings through the years on the subject of "The Morning Watch," "Quiet Time," "Quiet Hour," "Meditation," "Guidance," "Listening to God," and so-called two-way prayer. As did Oxford Group leaders and Rev. Sam Shoemaker, Jr., I look first to the Bible to see the origins of these ideas-whether they are completely presented or not. And I have covered these items in detail in my title Dick B., Good Morning! Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A. ( There are many ways in which God and His Son communicate with man, and any portrayal that sways one away from all of the possibilities simply shortcuts what God Himself had to say in the Scriptures. Thus He spoke to Adam and Abraham. He spoke out loud to the children of Israel. He wrote the Ten Commandments. He spoke through angels, prophets, visions. And, of course, He revealed His Word to holy men who "spake as they were moved" by the Holy Ghost. He spoke through Jesus. And He made communication possible for believers through the gift of the Holy Spirit and the manifestations of word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, tongues, tonques with interpretation, prophecy, and so on. Later writers began to put in a formula the way one could "listen" to God. And those who were familiar with the origins of "Morning Watch" and "Quiet Hour" usually pointed out the this quiet period began with prayer, study of Scripture, seeking God's guidance, and often using devotionals in the process. Some were to add "journaling" and "checking." Hence I have never valued simplistic statements of how to get in touch with my Heavenly Father, how to pray to Him, how to "hear" from Him, how to "speak" with Him, and how to discern what is or is not a message from Him as being of much value unless the writer is able to tie the simplistic approach to what the history of God's communications and the illustrations in the Bible actually tell us. Nonetheless, the Eleventh Step of Alcoholics Anonymous, and much of the other prayer portions of the Big Book do bring these ideas into play. Therefore, I thought it best to answer my friend by pointing to the wealth of A.A.-history-related material that preceded A.A.'s Big Book and Twelve Steps. And here is what I said about these things and about Batterson: The little bit that I saw in Batterson's pamphlet and considered relevant is quoted in my Good Morning! book. You can search its contents on Google Books,, or on my web site (using the search box on the "navigation bar" on the left-hand side of the front page). I repeat the following:
1. F. B. Meyer's The Secret of Guidance was a lead book long before the Oxford Group, A.A., or Batterson came onto any scene.
2. My research of Christian Endeavor (in which Dr. Bob was active) produced a large number of Quiet Time books and guides, including one by Dwight L. Moody.
3. Buchman's biographer, Garth Lean, made no mention of Batterson. Nor did Willard Hunter ever mention him to me that I can recall.
4. Sam Shoemaker's books and my books about Sam have a great deal to say about Quiet Time, and Shoemaker's first radio talk was called, "Good Morning." See Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism, 2d ed,
5. The many Oxford Group writers whose books were frequently quoted in connection with guidance, Quiet Time, and "two-way prayer" were:
a. B. H. Streeter; The God Who Speaks
b. Eleanor Forde; Guidance: What It Is and How to Get It
c. Donald Carruthers;
d. Howard J. Rose; The Quiet Time
e. Cecil Rose; When Man Listens
f. W. E, Sangster, God Does Guide Us
g. Jack Winslow, Vital Touch with God
h. Jack Winslow, When I Awake
i. Hallen Viney; How Do I Begin?
j. Frank D. Raynor and Leslie D. Weatherhead, The Finger of /God
k. Miles Phillimore, Just for Today
l. Philip Leon, A Philosopher's Quiet Time
m. Bremer Hofmyr, How to Listen
n. Philip Marshall /Bown, The Venture of Belief
o. Kennerth D. Belden, The Satellites: Is God Speaking-Are We Listening?
p. Mrs. George W. Becker, Quiet Time in the Home
q. Harry J. Almond, Foundations for Faith
r. The Upper Room;
s. Mary W. Tileston; Daily Strength for Daily Needs
t. Oswald Chambers; My Utmost for His Highest
u. Harry Emerson Fosdick; The Meaning of Prayer
v. S. D. Gordon; The Quiet Time
w. Glenn Clark; I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes
x. E. Stanley Jones; Victorious Living
y. Brother Lawrence; Practicing the Presence of /God
z. The Layman with a Notebook; What is the Oxford Group?
aa. Theophil Spoerri; Dynamic Out of Silence
bb. Clarence I. Benson,The Eight Points of the Oxford Group
I think you should realize that quite some time before Jim Houck dug up and touted the Batterson pamphlet, Jim personally sent me a copy of what he said was the most popular Oxford Group Quiet Time book of the later years. The title of the book is: D. M. Prescott, A New Day: Daily Readings for Our Time, new ed. (London: Grosvenor Books, 1979). As you probably know by now, the Batterson pamphlet that I saw has neither date nor publisher. See Dick B., The Books Early AA's Read for Spiritual Growth, 7th ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1998).;
Gloria Deo

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