Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Fundamentals and Utility of A.A. History

The Fundamentals & Utility of Alcoholics Anonymous History


Origins, Transmission, Successes, Proliferating Parts


By Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved


Today’s Jumble of “Programs”


All A.A.’s Ideas Were Borrowed, said Bill W.


Early in its founding years, A.A.’s co-founder Bill Wilson put the torch to the idea that A.A. sprang from just one source. He said frankly that nobody invented A.A. He said all its ideas were borrowed. And Dr. Bob broadened the source picture by pointing out that all the basic ideas came from the Pioneers’ study of the Bible. See The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks; Dick B. and Ken B. Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous


Unfortunately, neither co-founder put in writing in one place all the well-springs that produced the component historical streams in A.A. Consequently, commentators, both favorable to and critical of A.A., have had a field day with discussions of our roots. Most of them have a number of erroneous concepts so embedded in their historical approaches that they just never tell it like it is or like it was.


Those who don’t like the Bible say that we left it behind in Akron. Those who don’t like the Oxford Group say that it taught us more about what not to do than what to do. And those who don’t like either the Bible or the Oxford Group have tried to quiet the waters by diverting the stream. They say A.A. is “spiritual, but not religious” even though any well-informed historian, scholar, clergyman, and semanticist would probably ask: “And what’s the difference?” Nobody really knows, but the distinction without a difference leaves many in a peaceful atheistic no man’s land.


The real difference in how we characterize A.A. is that, without a knowledge of A.A.’s various sources—mostly religious—people are quickly inclined to make up their own sources. That has been called and is in fact “self-made religion.” And A.A.’s co-founder Rev. Sam Shoemaker pointed out that this self-fabricated stuff leads to all kinds of nonsense—including “absurd names for God” and “half-baked prayers” as Sam described them.


So it is. Those who have woven or fabricated their own sources often say that our Creator can be a tree, that a tree can be God, or that neither the Creator nor the tree is “Conference Approved.” They often go on to say that you really don’t have to believe in anything at all. And most AAs add, “Don’t analyze; utilize,” or “Don’t think and don’t drink,” or “Look for the similarities and discard the differences.” They may add that the Big Book is A.A.’s basic text and let it go at that. Thus, “The Big Book says it, and that settles it” is a common A.A. expression. And that leaves us with what the Big Book says, but with a barrel full of what it doesn’t say.


AAs today have seen all mention of the Bible deleted from their basic text. They’ve seen Jesus Christ mentioned only once, and then as a man whose ideas are seldom followed. They’ve seen the Creator turned into a higher power which has been turned into a radiator. At the same time, they hear about prayer and meditation and haven’t the slightest bit of information as to what those ideas meant either in earliest A.A. or even in the Big Book and Steps.


Consequently, they are left with nonsense. Prayer to a rock? Prayer to a chair or a tree? Meditation as a chant? Meditation as listening? Praying to what! Chanting to what! Listening to what—a light bulb? For assistance, they read in their Big Book that there are “helpful books,” but there is no mention of the Good Book which was the major source for their basic ideas.


The Twelve A.A. Well-Springs Are Not the Basic Ideas—Just Most of the Sources


I have now devoted 27 years looking continuously for A.A.’s basic ideas. I’ve published at least one book and many articles on each of those ideas. And this article will not repeat the materials in those titles.


However, I will point out here though that you can find the well-springs of the basic ideas and the basic ideas themselves. You can see them discussed in detail in the following of my titles: (1) The Bible: The Good Book and The Big Book; Why Early A.A. Succeeded (a Bible Study Primer); The James Club and the Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials; Twelve Steps for You; The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook; (2) The contents of Anne Smiths Journal: Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939; (3) Quiet Time: Good Morning: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A.; (4) The Oxford Group’s Life Changing Twenty-Eight Ideas: The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous; Henrietta Seiberling: Ohio’s Lady with a Cause; (5) The teachings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker: New Light on Alcoholism; By the Power of God; (6) The Christian literature they studied and circulated: Dr. Bob and His Library, 3rd ed.; The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth; The original program founded in Akron in 1935; The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous; That Amazing Grace; Making Known the Biblical History and Roots of Early A.A. (7) The Akron Elements from United Christian Endeavor Society: When Early AAs Were Cured and Why; The James Club; Making Known; God and Alcoholism; Cured! Proven Help for Alcoholics and Addicts.


Other basic ideas came from sources I have researched and which are covered in numerous articles I have published on my websites. They are mentioned below in connection with their sources. And they did have influence on some of the language Bill used in the Big Book and in his other writings.


But that’s not what’s at issue here. Here we’ll take a cursory look at Twelve Well-Springs of A.A. They don’t fit in a nice timeline. They are not particularly consistent, nor are they congruous. None of them can be found ever-present in each one of the various streams of A.A. from Akron, Cleveland, New York, Sister Ignatia, Father Ralph Pfau, Ed Webster, Richmond Walker, Father Ed Dowling, or Rev. Sam Shoemaker. They simply ought to be known as part of our history.


To be brief, our history ought to be known in full and not just through opinions. And this is so that recovering people can make intelligent choices and appropriate decisions. Following, then, are the well-springs—some of great importance, some virtually unknown, and many conflicting in meaning and emphasis.



Twelve Well-Springs as Sources of our Basic Ideas


Number One: The United Christian Endeavor Society.


Organized about the time of Dr. Bob’s birth. The Society focused on the young people in a local Protestant Church in Maine. The first Christian Endeavor Group was formed in that Maine Congregational Church. It developed and used almost all of the major ideas that were carried over into early Akron A.A.’s Christian Fellowship led by Dr. Bob. The ideas? Confession of Christ. Bible study. Prayer meetings. Conversion meetings. Quiet Hour, topical discussions, reading of religious literature, witness, and fellowship—all under the banner of “love and service.” See The James Club and The Early A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials; The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook; Making Known the Biblical History and Roots of Early A.A..


Number Two: The Salvation Army.


Organized under General William Booth in England not long after Christian Endeavor and introducing ideas about working with drunks, derelicts, and street criminals. Its techniques were used in rescue missions, observed by Ebby Thacher and Bill Wilson, and exemplified by the practical program of early Akron A.A. The ideas?  (1) Abstinence. (2) Resisting Temptation. (3) Confessing Jesus Christ. (4) Carrying the message of the importance of Salvation and the truth in the Word of God. (5) Relying on the Creator. (6) Eliminating sinful conduct. (7) Utilizing the appeal of one saved and recovered drunk in order to witness to another still-suffering drunk the messages of salvation, love, and service. (8) Perpetuating the Army’s purpose, fellowship, and witnessing among the ranks of those recovered “soldiers” already saved. See When Early AAs Were Cured and Why; The First Nationwide A.A. History Conference. Dick B. and Ken B., Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Good Book as a Youngster in Vermont; Bill W. and Dr. Bob: The Green Mountain Men of Vermont.


Number Three: New Thought Ideas That Arrested Bill W.’s Attention.


Also beginning to take wing through the impetus of Christian Science and similar movements that began to flower at almost the same period as the first two sources. But New Thought focused on a new kind of god—a higher power—that used words from the Bible. But one of its later proponents, Emmet Fox, flatly rejected salvation and claimed it didn’t exist in the Bible. Fox and his colleagues saw God, good, and evil in non-salvation terms. The terms pop up in the A.A. Big Book and Bill’s writings. But they are accompanied by New Thought words and phrases like higher power, cosmic consciousness, fourth dimension, and Universal Mind—words that filtered in to the A.A. stream. But they could not be reconciled with the Big Book’s repeated explicit and frequent mention of God, the Creator, the Maker, our Heavenly Father, and Father of light. The moving New Thought expositors included Mary Baker Eddy, Waldo Trine, William James, Emmanuel Movement writers, and Emmet Fox. See The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, 7th ed; When Early AAs Were Cured and Why; Dr. Bob and His Library; Good Morning: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A.; God and Alcoholism.


Number Four: Professor William James and the “vital religious experience.”


It is unclear just who might be the author of Bill’s “spiritual experience” language. The idea of a “vital religious experience” was used by one of several men named A.A. founders by Bill W., The first was Professor William James and his book The Varieties of Religious Experience, The same solution was used Bill Wilson’s mentor Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., who wrote in Realizing Religion that the solution to man’s spiritual misery (separation from God) was three-fold—finding God, having a “vital religious experience,” and accepting Jesus Christ .Dr. Carl Jung spoke in terms of the need for a “vital religious experience” when Jung told Rowland Hazard that Rowland needed a “conversion” experience. William James wrote Varieties of Religious Experience, which Wilson believed validated his blazing extraordinary white light experience at Towns Hospital. But Oxford Group writings are surfeited with references to “spiritual experience” and “spiritual awakening.” Bill first used the term “religious experience” in referring to the A.A. solution, Bill also claimed that William James authored the “deflation-at-depth” idea--thought by a few as underlying A.A.’s First Step. Historian Kurtz says he can’t find the “deflation” idea in the William James’s book. However, I certainly can and did and underlined it in my title Turning Point: A History of Early A.A.’s Spiritual Roots and Successes.


Number Five: The Oxford Group—A First Century Christian Fellowship.


Not really “organized” until about 1919 when the book Soul Surgery was first published. Primarily, it was a movement which drew its ideas from the life-changing Biblical concepts of Lutheran Minister Frank N. D. Buchman. Each one of the aforementioned well-springs influenced the ideas that were borrowed and adapted by the Akron program. And to these were added catch-words and ideas that Buchman picked up along the way toward the group’s actual existence. There were twenty-eight ideas in all that impacted upon A.A.’s Big Book and Twelve Steps and existed in greater or lesser degree in some of the practices in the earlier Akron Fellowship. The 28 ideas can be summarized in eight groupings of the ideas Buchman adopted: (1) God—descriptions, His plan, man’s duty, believing. (2) Sin—the blocks to God and others. (3) Surrenders—the decision to surrender self and self-will to God’s will. (4) Life-changing art—the Five C’s of the process moving from Confidence to Confession to Conviction to Conversion to Continuance. (5) Jesus Christ—His power and the Four Absolute Standards. Sin was the problem. Jesus Christ was the cure. And the result was a miracle, they said. (6) Growth in fellowship through Quiet Time, Bible study, prayer, and seeking Guidance. (7) Restitution—for the harms caused by sin. (8) Fellowship and witness—working in teams loyal to Jesus Christ to change the lives of others. See The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living That Works; The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous; Turning Point: A History of the Spiritual Roots and Successes of Alcoholics Anonymous.


Number Six: The teachings of Episcopalian priest Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.


Sam teamed up with Frank Buchman about 1919. Shoemaker then began writing a series of many books on the OG ideas and Sam’s own Bible concepts. And Shoemaker headquartered his efforts at Calvary Church in New York, of which he became Rector in 1925. It is fair to say that the most quoted, the most copied, and the most persuasive influence on Bill Wilson and his Big Book approach came directly from Shoemaker. To the point where Wilson actually asked Sam to write the Twelve Steps, as to which Sam declined in favor of their being written by an alcoholic, namely, Bill. See New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A.; The First Nationwide History Conference; When Early AAs Were Cured and Why; By the Power of God


Number Seven: The conversion ideas of Dr. Carl Gustav Jung.


Two or three historians who have not really done their homework now claim that Jung had no connection with A.A.’s beginnings. They assert that Jung never saw Rowland Hazard as a patient and therefore the “conversion” solution so dominant in Bill Wilson’s Big Book program did not come from Jung. But the skimpy research done will not support some speculative charge or conclusion that Jung, Rowland Hazard, Ebby Thacher, Bill Wilson, and Sam Shoemaker all lied in order to conjure up a solution. The real point is how badly Wilson missed the point of Jung’s idea of conversion. Conversion, Jung said, was the solution for Rowland’s chronic alcoholism. But conversion, to Jung, did not mean what the Bible describes as a new birth and which Shoemaker and the Akronites were later espousing. The altar call at Shoemaker’s Calvary Mission was not the conversion idea Jung had in mind. See New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A.; Twelve Steps for You; The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook.


Number Eight: The medical ideas of Dr. William D. Silkworth.


Once again, historians who have not really done their homework now sometimes claim that Dr. Silkworth did not originate the ideas about alcoholism as a disease. But that has not been my area of interest or research. And there is evidence that the disease concept may well not have originated with Silkworth. There is equally strong evidence that it was Silkworth who spelled out for Bill Wilson the idea that Wilson was suffering from a mental obsession and a physical allergy—however the details were or would be characterized in the disease arena. Virtually unmentioned is Silkworth’s belief—explained to Bill Wilson and other patients—that Jesus Christ, the “Great Physician,” could cure them of alcoholism. See The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook; The Positive Power of Jesus Christ; The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks: William D. Silkworth.


Number Nine: The lay therapy ideas of Richard Peabody.


Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson both owned and studied The Common Sense of Drinking—a book by lay therapist Richard Peabody. And though Peabody died drunk, Wilson somehow saw fit to adopt almost verbatim certain words and phrases from the Peabody book. Among the two most unfortunate derivatives were: (1) There is no cure for alcoholism. (2) Once an alcoholic always an alcoholic. Both concepts flew in the face of a decade of declarations by the early AAs and their observers that they had found a cure for alcoholism that rested on the power of Jesus Christ. This was not something Peabody embraced. And how Wilson got switched from God and cure to incurable illness on the basis of the writings of a lay therapist who died drunk is currently a mystery to me. See Richard Peabody. The Common Sense of Drinking; Cured: Proven Help for Alcoholics and Addicts; When Early AAs Were Cured and Why.


Number Ten: The Biblical Emphasis from Dr. Bob’s youth and Christian Endeavor.


A.A. detractors and doctrinaire Christians who dislike the Oxford Group seem impelled to claim that A.A. came from the Oxford Group, that the Oxford Group was an heretical cult, and that its very existence was an example of what A.A. wasn’t, rather than what it was. And these canards are so heavily entrenched in religious and recovery thinking and writing they may never be dispelled. But they are fallacious and utterly misleading. It is quite true that Bill Wilson’s Big Book and Twelve Step program embraced almost every Oxford Group idea, while Bill Wilson was busy denying the fact. But the early Akron program, which produced the 75 to 93% success rates, really had very little to do with Oxford Group teams, travels, writing, principles, and practices. The Akron focus was on abstinence—not an Oxford Group idea; hospitalization—not an Oxford Group idea; resisting temptation—not an Oxford Group idea; accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour—not an Oxford Group idea; relying on the Creator for strength and guidance—a universal idea undoubtedly embraced by the Oxford Group; Bible study meetings—not an Oxford Group emphasis; old-fashioned prayer meetings—not an Oxford Group idea; Quiet Time—a universal idea which pre-dated the Oxford Group and was a big item in Christian Endeavor; religious comradeship—not an Oxford Group idea; favored church attendance—not an Oxford Group idea; love and service as a banner—not an Oxford Group expression, but a Christian Endeavor word of art; working with others—not an Oxford Group emphasis when it came to alcoholism, nor was it particularly a Christian Endeavor idea except as to witnessing and conversion. By contrast, the simple Christian Endeavor program appears to represent the heart of what Akron did and what it was reported in official A.A. literature to have done. That program was not incorporated in the Big Book, but it is reported fully by Frank Amos reports to John D. Rockefeller, Jr. that are part of A.A.’s conference approved literature. See my titles The First Nationwide A.A. History Conference; The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible; Why Early A.A. Succeeded (A Bible study primer); The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook; and The James Club and The Early A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials.


Number Eleven: The practical records and teachings of Dr. Bob’s Wife.


How A.A. could have buried Anne Smith’s role, her importance, and her spiritual journal is a complete mystery. The facts about Anne’s importance would stand by themselves if she had never even written her 9 year journal. Bill Wilson and many pioneers called Anne the “Mother of A.A.” AAs were housed in her home from the beginning, and those AAs got well. AAs were fed in her home, and it became the first real “half-way” house after hospitalization. Anne read the Bible to A.A.’s founders and to the many who followed them. Anne conducted a morning quiet time each morning at the Dr. Bob’s Home where she led a group of AAs and their families in Bible study, prayer, listening, and topical discussions. Anne counseled and nursed and taught alcoholics; and her work with newcomers in meetings was legendary. They were her special focus. Her journal records every principle and concept that is part of the A.A. picture—God, Jesus Christ, a Biblical emphasis, prayer, Quiet Time, Guidance, Literature recommended, Oxford Group principles and practices, and practical guides to working with alcoholics. It seems likely that she not only shared the contents of this journal—written between 1933 and 1939—with Bill Wilson, but also that Bill took many of his Oxford Group and other expressions directly from Anne’s Journal. If so, the fact has never been mentioned. See Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939; The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous.


Number Twelve: The Devotionals and Christian Literature Read and Circulated.


We know that A.A.’s basic ideas came from the Bible. The Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 were frequently read aloud and studied and were considered absolutely essential. AAs studied literature that underlined these roots—(1) books on the Sermon by Oswald Chambers, Glenn Clark, Harry Emerson Fosdick, Emmet Fox, and E. Stanley Jones. (2) Devotionals discussing concepts from the Book of James—The Runner’s Bible, The Upper Room, My Utmost for His Highest, Daily Strength for Daily Needs. (3) Commentaries on 1 Corinthians 13 by Henry Drummond and Toyohiko Kagawa. And various other concepts were fleshed out through the literature of Shoemaker on all aspects of the Bible, prayer, guidance, Quiet Time, and so on. So also in the many Oxford Group books on these subjects—Soul Surgery (and the Five C’s), Quiet Time, The Guidance of God, Realizing Religion, For Sinners Only, When Man Listens, and so on. In addition, there were prayer guides, Bible study guides, and healing guides galore—in Dr. Bob’s Library and circulated by him to others. The whole picture can be found in my titles: The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, 7th edition; Making Known the Biblical History and Roots of A.A.; Anne Smith’s Journal; The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous; Dr. Bob and His Library.


 Strange it is that currently, three or four writers have compiled lists of “50” books, or some other number of books that have nothing to do with the roots of A.A., that may well have been read by this or that AA and some time, but are not part of the extensive library owned and circulated by Dr. Bob—books I personally reviewed with the people who owned them—Sue Smith Windows (Bob’s daughter) and Robert R. Smith (Bob’s son). You can find the books, which I firmly believe I was the first person allowed to inspect—and inspect at length. They are listed in three of my titles: Dr. Bob and His Library, 3rd ed., Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939, 3rd ed., The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, 7th ed.; Good Morning!: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A.



The Whole Picture


As Father Paul Blaes, Ph.D., the Roman Catholic theologian who endorsed my Turning Point book wrote so well: there was a “lacuna” in A.A. history when researching and writing about it from 1990 forward. A lacuna is a gap, a hole. And Father Blaes had observed for himself the gaping vacuum in accounts of our history. He therefore welcomed and endorsed my comprehensive history.


When I began, I thought the only missing elements were descriptions of how the Bible was used and what the Oxford Group program really was. And there were plenty of gaps even there. But this was just the tip of the iceberg. A.A. literature said Dr. Bob’s library had been given away. Yet I discovered about half of it in his daughter’s attic and tracked down the other half to his son’s home in Nocona, Texas. And without these books, you just couldn’t know what early AAs were reading and concluding. Next, I discovered that Anne Smith’s Journal had simply never been mentioned in A.A. history accounts; yet you could find the whole program there. And, thanks to Dr. Bob’s daughter and A.A.’s GSO archivist Frank Mauser, I was permitted to get a complete copy and publish my book. Then, when I began with the Oxford Group, it was at the suggestion of Frank Mauser, that I wrote my Oxford Group book; and over the years, I found hundreds of their books, encountered an intense interest in those books, my research, and the relevance to A.A. among its leaders. I then realized the whole Big Book program was essentially Oxford Group—something broadly suggested in Joe and Charlie Big Book Seminars. (But I had yet to learn that the Big Book itself was divided into two separate parts—distinct from each other in regard to the time written and to the subjects covered. See Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous


From there I went to the Akron story and realized the importance and differences from the present-day A.A. “new version” in the Steps and the early Christian Akron A.A. Fellowship there. I tracked down the history and wrote the Akron story. Learning there the importance of the Bible, I tackled the Biblical roots and am only now getting the entire picture together—the words in A.A. from the Bible, the prayers in A.A. from the Bible, the slogans in A.A. from the Bible, and then the immense study of the Bible that AAs did in the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13.


Even that, however, was not the end. I stumbled upon Christian Endeavor and began to realize that the whole Akron program was far more founded on Christian Endeavor principles and practices than on those of the Oxford Group. Piece by piece, other details emerged. There was the whole Shoemaker story and my discovery that the words in the Big Book and even the Steps were largely Shoemaker words. See;  and that Sam had been asked to write the Twelve Steps, but declined.


More? Yes. More on Carl Jung. More on William James. More on Richard Peabody. More on William D. Silkworth. More on Henrietta Seiberling. More on T. Henry Williams. More on Rev. Samuel Shoemaker. More on Dr. Frank Buchman. More on Clarence Snyder. More on the Wilson manuscripts. More on the deleted materials. More. More. More.


These parts of the lacuna could not, of themselves, fill in the holes. They didn’t add up to the whole picture, or even part of the picture. And the gap had left alkies to their own devices in fashioning substitutes. When Bill dumped the Oxford Group in the East, the Oxford Group details were omitted from his Big Book. When Bob and Anne died, the Bible in A.A. died with them. When Clarence Snyder got on the wrong side of Bill Wilson, the Snyder legacy disappeared until recently. When Henrietta Seiberling was put on the shelf, her reprimands about phony spirituality, séances, substitute psychology, and sick thinking were shelved along with her futile protests.


People began denying the date of Dr. Bob’s sobriety; and they’re doing it even more. People began denying that Jung saw Rowland Hazard; and they’re doing it even more. People just never even seemed to want to know about Anne Smith nor the early books nor the Bible verses nor the Sam Shoemaker story nor the devotionals.


Too much religion seemed to be the cry. That from those studying a program so obviously religious at its beginnings and so obviously religious today that one court after another has ruled that way and rejected the “spirituality” ruse.


There’s a lot more. But cheer up. I’ve been able to field 46 published titles, 1550 articles, 70 audio talks, seminars at the Wilson House, a talk “near” the Minneapolis convention, several large history conferences and cruises, and five websites where freedom of speech abounds and frequent visits have added up to over four million these days. Others interested in history are beginning to let the cats out of the bags.


Plural. Plural cats. Plural bags. Good stuff has just begun to come out of Silkworth. Good stuff has already come out about Clarence Snyder. Interesting facts are emerging from the Lois Wilson stories. Some have dared to mention Bill Wilson’s LSD experiments with his wife, Nell Wing, Father Dowling, and others. Also his spiritualism sessions at Stepping Stones. Also his womanizing and squabbles over his estate. Also his obsession with psychic phenomena, Niacin, and book sales. Also the deadening effect his years of severe depressions had on A.A. ideas and historical accuracy. And more.


For a long time, I felt the foregoing didn’t belong in the picture. They had to do with Bill and what may appropriately and biblically termed his “carnal Christian” walk after the flesh, rather than with A.A. I thought. In fact, at Stepping Stones, I was asked to bypass the files on drugs and spooks; and I did. Yet I found that others had trod that route and even published on it in A.A.’s “Pass It On.” Then I discovered the missing records on Shoemaker at the Episcopal Archives in Texas. And that was a real loss because at least two scholars had tried to research them, couldn’t find them, and were astonished at the gap. Some assumed the missing papers didn’t exist. But they did and do, I believe. In fact, I’m almost certain they were shown to me in an apartment in New York City. And are these things part of the whole picture?


I certainly think so, but not the picture I’m interested in. I was and am focused on helping the newcomer through our great A.A. Fellowship. I was and am focused on discovering every aspect of the recovery program that was used in Akron, and then in Cleveland, and then in the Big Book, and then by the host of writers who emerged during Bill’s 1943-1955 depression period.


It’s what worked that counts. Not the bickering over writers, over dates, over opinions. It’s accuracy that counts. It’s the complete picture that counts. And it’s the relevance to our getting sober, getting well, getting delivered from the power of darkness, and loving and serving our Heavenly Father that count.


I think the last 27 years of my sobriety have not only unplugged twelve well-springs; they’ve started the streams running. And I don’t think the flood will stop.


Dick’s titles and the foregoing bibliography items can all be found in the title pages of his website: His titles can all be purchased through that page. They can also be purchased on, Barnes & Noble, and other outlets.

Call; 808 874 4876

Gloria Deo


Friday, April 26, 2013

My Response and Thanks for the Many Fine Posts and Comments on AA on the WilliamBagley28 Website

To William and Mary: The healthy responses you are getting to your posts is heart warming. Those who get the point might be reminded of one of Clancy's quips in his talks. He mentions a phiilosopher and a sign that quotes him. It says "God is dead." Underneath, a wise soul has writen "N. . . . is dead! As Bill wrote in the Big Boo, God either is, or He isn't. And I'll go with "God is!" And it sure squares with the language of Hebrews 11:6. Today, AAs can believe in God or in nothing at all. And many just notice the "nothing at all" part and forget that we sure have a choice! Page 25 of the Big Book tells the "Solution" in explicit terms. See Dick B., A New Way In and Why Early A.A. Succeeded Keep those canons of truth blasting away at those who would restrict what we do or don't believe and experience as individuals in A.A. We do have the Bible and the Big Book which tell us what the pioneers believed and did as they made t heir surrenders to God. These current tools portray a picture that needs to be known: 1) The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks. (2) Stick with the Winners! (3) Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous
God Bless, Dick B. 808 874 4876

AA: Burying Bill W.'s Born Again Statement

How One Writer Tried to Bury Bill Wilson’s New Birth at Calvary Mission


Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved


For years, a few well-known unofficial “histories” of early A.A. ignored the following thoroughly documented facts summarized by the biographer of Bill’s psychiatrist William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. They also ignored the documented statements that Dr. Silkworth suggested to Bill that the “Great Physician” (Jesus Christ) could cure Bill’s alcoholism They ignored the account in Dr. Norman Vincent Peale’s The Positive Power of Jesus Christ that Silkworth had suggested to other “cured” patients that Jesus Christ could be the answer to alcoholism for those willing to come to God through His son Jesus Christ. And they ignored the fact that Bill Wilson went to the altar at Calvary Rescue Mission (before Bill had his “blazing indescribably white light” experience at Towns Hospital) and declared that Jesus Christ was his Lord and Savior.


Now a new writer on the scene—who identifies himself with the “Dublin Group”--has invented a unique wimpy terminology for being born again of the spirit of God. He ignores the advice that Silkworth gave Bill and Silkworth’s other patients. He ignores the fact that Bill’s friend Ebby Thacher had accepted Christ at Calvary Mission, reported that event to Bill, and brought about Bill’s trip to Calvary Mission where Bill accepted Christ and wrote that he had been born again there. Thus Bill said in his own autobiography: “For sure I’d been born again.” See article, And, in the following early years of A.A., all the early AAs in Akron were required to profess their belief in God and to come to Him through confessing Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Dick B., Real Twelve Step Fellowship History: The Old School A.A. You May Not Know 9, A New Way In: Reaching the Heart of a Child of God in Recovery with His Own Powerful Historical Roots, The Golden Text of A.A.: God, the  Pioneers, and Real Spirituality, 10-32.


The clearly substantiated  element of A.A. history—accepting Jesus Christ—has recently been reduced to absurdity by one writer who calls it a mere “small” event. And here’s the quote:


Bill was temporarily frightened into sobriety and he did stay sober for several months.  During this period he reunited with Ebby Thacher and met other Oxford Group members and had his first spiritual experience at the Bowery mission of Sam Shoemakers Calvary Church. At least Bill felt that “something had happened” when he “testified” at the mission (p. 119). (This “small” spiritual experience is often overlooked in discussions of Bill’s spiritual development but is worth noting.)  He went back to Towns for the last time and experienced perhaps his deepest depression,


This warping of the importance of new birth may surprise Christians who have hung their hat on John 3:16 for centuries.


But the writer quoted above ignores John 3:16, ignores Silkworth’s own words about the new birth as a cure for alcoholism, ignores that account of a similar event involving Silkworth and an alcoholic who was cured through a new birth, and ignores those who described the acceptance of Christ at the Calvary Rescue Mission altar. They include the biography of Dr. Silkworth by Dale Mitchel, Silkworth: The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks, pages 44, 47, 49, 50, 51. They ignore Bill’s own autobiography, Bill W.: My First 40 Years, pages 133-35, 137, 139, 145, 147, 152. They ignore the specific account of such born again cures of alcoholism in Norman Vincent Peale, The Positive Power of Jesus Christ: Life-changing Adventures in Faith, pages 59-63, 88-90, 250-54. They ignore the eye witness statements of Mrs. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.; Rev. W. Irving Harris (Shoemaker’s assistant minister), Billy Duvall-an attendant at the Mission, and the statement of Bill Wilson’s wife Lois Wilson Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W., pages 59-63, 88-115, 61, 62, 91-92, 94,  ;New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., Pittsburgh ed., 533-35.


A New Line of Communications Coming from Christian professionals Concerned with Recovery

Since our research and publishing began in 1990, we have watched a growing number of alcoholics, addicts, and those with life controlling problems phone (to 808 874 4876) and/or send emails ( expressing a deep interest in the highly successful Christian roots, history, upbringing of cofounders, founding, and early Christian Fellowship of the first A.A. group in Akron, Ohio. Their calls were welcome. They ranged from “I never knew our roots” to “what was the early program” to “where can we learn more” to “how do I start an old school group” to “what about the criticism I get if I mention my own belief in God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible.”

And out of all these sprang the many books that have answered the questions in terms of what the early AAs did and the way the succeeded with reliance on God. The calls were about learning, studying, acquiring resources, getting study group guidance, and holding meetings and conferences. And those communications still come all the time.

But there’s been a welcome change–perhaps because of social media, facebook, twitter, linked-in, Tumbler, blogs, WordPress, cyber recovery social, and other burgeoning sources. Whatever the change, it is most welcome. And we invite much more of it–from the afflicted, the affected, and those whose careers are devoted to helping them.

We sure appreciate this new influx of communications from professionals in the Christian recovery field. We are receiving numerous contacts from many new callers in our arena. They are pastors, Christian recovery leaders, physicians, therapists, counselors, treatment facilitators, psychologists, professors, and sober living-homeless workers. Their interest in old school A.A.’s Christian Fellowship, technique, and successes is heartwarming.

Thank you. Dick B. 808 874 4876;;

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dick B. Christian Recovery Radio Interview of Recovered Christian Navy Seal

Dick B. interviews Steve, a recovered Christian in the military, on the April 23, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show




Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved


You may hear this show right now!




You may listen to Dick B. interview Steve, a recovered Christian in the military, on the April 23, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show here:


or here:


Episodes of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show are archived at:




The Pursuit of Excellence


[I have been a visitor to Maui, as well as other Islands, with family and friends since 1967. And I have been a resident of Maui since 1990. And now is the time to make and important point. I am about to write up today’s unusual radio interview of a young, bursting with zest, recovered Christian alcoholic who has had a miraculous cure of his alcoholism and addiction while in the arena of  the Navy Seals with whom he is serving and is about to deploy. When my son Ken and I began working with alcoholics and addicts here in Maui, the entire Island chain was rife with “ice” and the consequences of drug and alcohol excesses. We had approached several in the Salvation Army (where we met with much cooperation and favor.) But we also met several church leaders who—until an unusual event this very day—showed little initiative or enthusiasm for melding the work of God and His Son Jesus Christ with the present-day needs and plight of those in Alcoholics Anonymous, and other 12-Step programs. We persistently prayed for God’s guidance and help. And underlying our senses knowledge perception, we kept thinking in terms of the pursuit of excellence by the young (and any) alcoholics and addicts who just seem to get swept into revolving door jails, treatments, arrests, accidents, courts, and “meetings.” These suffering souls make no evident progress in permanently overcoming their maladies and establishing new lives that serve and glorify God and His Son and point them toward useful, purposeful, happy, and productive relationships with God, their families, their jobs, their education and training, their charitable endeavors, their service to other, and their own growth in self-esteem and community life. In so doing, my son Ken was—among other subjects--gorging himself on autobiographies of U.S. Navy Seals and other members of special operations forces around the world. I had a correlative mission in mind. Among the many newcomers with whom I have worked in the last 27 years, I noticed the devotion they had to sports, to physical fitness, and to the state of their mind and body. In short, there appeared forward marching recovery among those who not only “did not drink and went to meetings” as well as “worked the program,” but who had grasped what they could do with their lives by turning to God, focusing on what they could do for others, educating and training themselves, and adopting the disciplines so evident among those who are constructively competitive, determined, and thankful for what they can do with their minds and bodies to the end of excellence. And today, we interviewed Steve. We also today received a call from the pastor of an up-country church who seems a prospect really ready for such an approach. And now back to the very relative and illustrative interview.]


Introduction to Steve’s Talk


My son Ken and I just received a wonderful surprise. Steve, a thoroughly-trained, physically fit, very intelligent, eager young Christian sailor, let us know the other day he was vacationing here in Maui with his wife prior to a deployment. Several years ago, we met him at a Bible study class for Christians in recovery held by the dynamic Rock Church in San Diego. Having seen his willingness to serve, we invited him to Maui to be part of our Christian work with suffering alcoholics and drug addicts. But we learned he was headed out for military service. He later got married. And yesterday he called us to say he and his wife were on Maui. At lunch, we were struck with his fitness, motivation, discipline, and devotion to God. We hope he'll share today his: (1) discipline; (2) patent intelligence; (3) commendable four years of sobriety; (4) teaming up with a Christian Navy man; (5) work with addicted newcomers; (6) Bible study classes among service people; (7) highly demanding training over the past two years; and (8) fidelity to sobriety in A.A. His determination was similar to Dr. Bob's in that he attained some remarkable education while doing "graduate work" in alcoholism and addiction. Thus, despite progressing drinking and drugging, he graduated from college and received his degree in a demanding field. Recently, he received a master's degree in a technical field that will serve him well during and after his military service. He and his wife of two years are happily married. And he has a serviceman's patriotic fervor for serving and defending his country. He, also appears to have placed his life under the care and direction of our Creator and His Son Jesus Christ, and respects the Bible's major role in that endeavor. He's an inspiration. Here's his story. And take it away, Steve.


Synopsis of Interview


Near and dear to the hearts of many alcoholics is Akron, Ohio—the home of A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob, and the birthplace of Alcoholics Anonymous. And Steve was born and raised there. His mother was a nurse. His father was a teacher and an alcoholic. He said he was dragged by one parent to Roman Catholic Mass and by the other to a Methodist Church. He has little interest in either. But, at age nine, Steven became an adept swimmer and good at sports. At the 8th or 9th year, he found two bottles and three beers, guzzled them, and then blacked out. And he fell in love with that alcoholic experience. At the same time, he suffered from lack of self-confidence; he believed he didn’t fit; and he had a hole in his heart and simply ducked his feelings.


Drinking or not, swimming became his achievement of excellence. His high school swim team became national champions. He was the captain. His record item was the butterfly. He could and did push himself there and developed a remarkable discipline.. In his senior year, the y had a weekend dance. He drank heavily, threw up, couldn’t walk, and wound up in the principal’s office. Though captain of the swim team, he was suspended for three days. However, he entertained that his progressive alcoholism really had no effect on his personal life. He graduated and did a geographic from Ohio to Arizona State. There he received a scholarship.


He had trouble with alcohol. He was doing well with his grades. But he fell in with drinking pals. He was soon captain of the swim team. But there were three days of the week when there was no practice. And he utilized them well for heavy drinking. Drink took over. He was cast as a “bad role model” though he had broken no rules; and he blamed the status on his friends. He had a desire to be in the military and chose to be one of the “best of the best”—the Navy Seals. But cocaine, pot, and mushrooms entered the competition also. He graduated from Arizona State.


He went through boot training in the seals. And the Seals are hard warriors. He went through the arduous BUDS. He couldn’t drink for three weeks. He went through Hell Week and concluded it with 15 shots. On a motorcycle, he crashed into a wall and received a DUI. He was placed in a treatment program. And there he was asked to tell his story as a speaker. And he alternated between sweat and relief. He heard God tell him: “You never have to drink again.” He knew he had a choice—Jesus Christ or A.A. And a miracle of recovery occurred. His saw his obsession miraculously removed. It was November 16th, and he has attained more than four years of continuous sobriety. He graduated. Became an Honor seal. He was voted the best in the Bud crowed. He married his wife Christina, whom he had known since high school.


Steve really saw the “Promises” of A.A. come through – fear, fear, and fear were gone. He had to deal with his legal problems, the DUI, the lost friends, the sense of isolation. But he was firm that the change in his life was real. Said he: “I know Jesus Christ.” In A.A. he learned that the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous consisted of all of the book’s pages. He acquainted  himself with the personal stories. And there he saw that the first three AAs were all Christians, had all given up liquor permanently, had all turned to God for help, and had all openly explained the source of their deliverance.


On page 191 of the Big Book, Bill Wilson wrote: “Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me curing me of this terrible disease that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.”


On page 181 of the Big Book, Dr. Bob Smith wrote: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”


And then again on page 191, Bill D. (A.A. Number Three) said that Wilson’s statement that the Lord had been so wonderful to him, curing him of his terrible disease became  for him and for others in the fellowship “the golden text of A.A.”


Steve closed the interview with this succinct observations: “Christians who went to God received complete relief.” And they did. They do!


For further information, contact; or 808 874 4876

Monday, April 22, 2013

Christians in Recovery

Thanks to in San Diego


For Listing International Christian Recovery Coalition



Dick B.





 The Bible in early A.A.




The International Christian Recovery Coalition is launching a new worldwide movement to establish Christian Recovery Resource Centers beginning January 1, 2011. These centers will provide access for Christians in recovery and those who want God’s help in overcoming alcoholism, drug addiction, at-risk behavior, and life-controlling problems. Full details on how to join and participate can be found on


We are especially hoping to see one or more centers established in the San Diego area.





For more information:; 808 874 4876

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Christian Recovery Radio Today w/ A.A. History Author Dick B.'s Suggestions for Study of His 29 Voll. A.A History Set

Dick B. Discusses the 29-Volume "Dick B. A.A. History and Christian Recovery Reference Set" on the April 21, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show



Dick B.

Copyright 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved


You May Listen to This Radio Show Right Now!


You may hear Dick B. discuss the 29-volume "Dick B. A.A. History and Christian Recovery Reference Set" on the April 21, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show here:

or here:

Episodes of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show are archived at:





We have a special program today. Grounded on the 29-volume "Dick B. A.A. History and Christian Recovery Reference Set." And we are currently making the entire set of 29 A.A. History volumes available for only $249.00--with FREE(!) Shipping within the United States. (If you live in another country, please contact us at for Shipping charges to countries outside the U.S.) That comes to an average of less than $8.60 per book! (Please see the upper right-hand corner of the front page for details of the special.)


One of the questions we recently received from someone who had just ordered the Reference Set was: "In what order would you suggest I read these 29 volumes?"


"The Dick B. A.A. History and Christian Recovery Reference Set" is not meant to be read all at once. It's for a lifetime. It's for study groups. It's for special categories as to which there are questions. But most of our friends have been voracious in their appetite to read all the books when they arrive in the mail. And they ask how to start.


Time is short today. But we have grouped the books into six categories listed for your reading guidance.


These are: (1) Approaches to the Newcomer. (2) Basic A.A. Fellowship Ideas. (3) The Cofounders' Contributions. (4) People and Programs That Fleshed out Early A.A.'s Successes. (5) Twelve Steps and "the New Version of the Program" published in 1939. (6) A.A.'s Successes and Cures.


If time permits, I will go through all 29 books briefly, tell you what they contribute, and suggest the order in which you can read them for best digestion and usage.


Synopsis of Content of Radio Show


A Suggested Order and Approach for Reading

Dick B.’s 29-Volume A.A. History Reference Set


(Now at a Bargain Price! $249.00 with FREE Shipping with the United States)


Approaches to the Newcomer


Introduction to Sources

A New Way In

A New Way Out

Real 12 Step Fellowship History

Making Known the Biblical History


Basic A.A. Fellowship Ideas


The Good Book and the Big Book

The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous

New Light on Alcoholism

Anne Smith’s Journal

Dr. Bob and His Library


The Cofounders’ Contributions


Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous

The Conversion of Bill W.

The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook

The James Club


People and Programs That Fleshed Out Early A.A.’s Successes


Henrietta B. Seiberling

The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous

The Books Early AAs Read

That Amazing Grace

Turning Point


12 Steps—“The New Version of the Program”


By the Power of God

The First Nationwide A.A. History Conference

12 Steps for You

Good Morning! Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A.

Utilizing Early A.A.’s Spiritual Roots Today


A.A.’s Successes and Cures



God and Alcoholism

The Golden Text of A.A.

When Early AAs Were Cured and Why

Why Early A.A. Succeeded


For more information, phone Dick B. at 808 874 4876 or email him at


Gloria Deo

Friday, April 19, 2013

Alcoholics Anonymous Nationwide History Conference in Portland Maine September 7 - 8

Details on the Portland, Maine Nationwide A.A. History Conference Firming Up for Early September Right Now


Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved


·         We will soon announce and tell you the precise hours, dates, locations, and programs for the forthcoming Nationwide Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference in Portland, Maine this September.


·         There will be Conferences on Friday evening September 6, and all day Saturday, September 7. My son Ken and I will be in the area for several days and look forward to meeting also with individuals and groups who recognize the importance to recovery from alcoholism and addict ion of: learning about, and passing on, the origins, history, and bliblical roots of the early A.A. fellowship founded in Akron in 1935. And to fill in the numerous A.A. history potholes existing in all these realms of Alcoholics Anonymous.


·         Our additional separate Portland meetings, whether in a restaurant, a lobby, an office, or a board room, are very productive in learning others’ questions; hearing their suggestions, needs, recommendations, and plans; and restoring to full view the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in the origins, history, immense correlation among Christian leaders, organizations and workers that were healing alcoholics and addicts long before A.A. was founded in June, 1935.Also, to spread the message about the Cofounders’ Christian upbringing in Vermont. And how the first three AAs got sober before there were any Steps, Traditions, Big Books, drunkalogs and meetings like those we see today. The simply renounced liquor, sought God’s help, and helped others.


·         Contents of our meetings and conferences in Portland will be broad, informative, and accurate. They have as their primary purpose helping the still suffering alcoholics and addicts. Necessarily, they inform the suffering affected and afflicted about what our Creator has done, can do, and will do according to His will


·         Probable subjects and events, whether in talks, or roundtable, or by speeches will include:


(1) Our speaking at an A.A. meeting.

(2) Addressing a large Christian recovery conference to teach, discuss, and demonstrate what God and His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible have done, can do, and will do for those who want that kind of help.

(3) A round-table sharing meeting among leaders and working attending.

(4) Hospitality, music, food.

(5) Ample literature accurately describing and demonstrating how Christian recovery developed from the 1850’s by

 (a) Young Men’s Christian Association,

 (b) Gospel Rescue Missions,

 (c) Congregationalism,

 (d) Evangelists like Dwight Moody, Ira Sankey, Allen Folger, Francis Clark, and

 F.B. Meyer who offered salvation, the Word of God, and healings.

(e) Salvation Army,

(f) United Society of Christian Endeavor,

(g) Early writings and talks by activists in A First  Century Christian Fellowship, (h) Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, 

(i) Revival, conversion, and temperance meetings,

(j) the survey of vital religious experiences by Professor William James,

(k) the Christian healing of alcoholism and addiction that Dr. William D. Silkworth suggested to Bill W. and other patients.

(l) the view of Dr. Carl Jung that the seeming hopelessness generated in the mind of a chronic alcoholic can be countered by a vital religious experience

(m) Bill W.’s insistence on cure by the power of God through a vital religious experience.

(n) The disconcerting difference between Bill’s “new version” of  recovery published and changed in various manuscripts and editions of the Big Book, and the precise Christian techniques used with a claimed 75% success rate for Akron A.A. and a 93% documented success rate of early Cleveland A.A.


            (6) The published summary, principles, practices, and successes of pioneer AAs.

(7)  Firming up convictions that the early A.A. Akron Christian Fellowship adapted and applied daily as did Jesus and the fellowships of the Apostles and Disciples described in the Book of Acts.

(8) Preparing yourself for a fruitful conference by purchasing (a) a copy of the Dover Publications, Inc. First Edition, with a twenty-seven page introduction by Dick B.;; (b) Stick with the Winners!; (c) Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous; and A.A. Conference-approved Pamphlet P-53 The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks.



·         The Portland, Maine meetings and conferences in September are being planned right now. The dates (and soon the times, locations, meetings, and programs for Portland, Maine-will be Friday evening September 6th and Saturday September 7th. We are expecting to see a number of long-term recovered Christian alcoholics and addicts who are leaders and workers in their fellowships and participants in International Christian Recovery Coalition We hope they come as our treasured recovered participants from many provinces in Canada; and locations in Maine; New Hampshire; Vermont; Connecticut; Massachusetts; New York; Delaware; New Jersey; Washington DC, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.


·          We look forward to their sharing their expertise in recovery, history, Christian roots, Steps, networking, getting acquainted, helping each other, and learning facets of recovery that have been buried and/or unspoken correctly far too long.


·         We are doing the planning, fixing the dates and locations, and contacting likely participants at this early point. Because experience has shown that the earlier the  planning, the better the conference.


·         We welcome suggestions, questions, and comments right now. I’ll be celebrating 27 years of continuous sobriety in a day or so. And I’ll be celebrating 88 years of age in May. And it’s never too soon to alert your participation and give you information that can persuade others to join you and/or attend on their own.


Contact Dick B., PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837;; 808 874 4876


Gloria Deo