Saturday, June 29, 2013

Welcoming Cleveland McSwain of Montana as latest participant in International Christian Recovery Coalition

Welcome to Cleveland McSwain, our latest participant in International Christian Recovery Coalition.

His listing is:



Cleveland McSwain, Elder in Full Connection with the Yellowstone Annual Conference
of the United Methodist Church.

Presently serving two churches in Montana,

P.O.Box 463, 112 Main ST, Belt, MT  59412

Cleveland McSwain

God Bless, Dick B., Executive Director, International Christian Recovery Coalition,

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bill Wilson of A.A. Took a Four-Year Bible Study Course While Attending Burr and Burton Seminary

Frederica Templeton, archivist of Burr and Burton Academy (known as "Burr and Burton Seminary" when Bill W. attended from 1909 to 1913) and author of the official history of Burr and Burton Academy ["The Castle in the Pasture: Portrait of Burr and Burton Academy (Manchester, Vermont: Burr and Burton Academy, 2005)], told Dick B. and me during our research trip to Vermont in June 2008 that Bill Wilson had taken a required, four-year Bible study course at Burr and Burton Seminary.


Ken B.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Shall you in A.A. choose your own conception of God? Get the facts first

Aloha to you, Rick, from Maui, Hawaii!

Thank you for writing to my dad (Dick B.-- about the origin of "God as we understood Him" and about the question "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?" attributed to Bill W.'s "spiritual sponsor," Ebby T. on page 12 of chapter one, "Bill's Story," in the fourth edition (2001) of Alcoholics Anonymous ("the Big Book)."

1. My dad and I thoroughly discussed how the question "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?" found its way into the first edition (April 1939) of the Big Book in a 20+-page appendix ("Appendix One"--pages 43-64) in one of our most recent books titled Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous: God's Role in Recovery Confirmed!--available from and other outlets in 6" x 9" and Kindle (and other eBook formats):

That appendix is, to our knowledge, the most extensive discussion of the question available in print, on the Internet, or otherwise.

2. Briefly:

  • The question attributed to Ebby on page 12 of the fourth edition of the Big Book is foreign to the language of both Bill W. and Ebby T. as found in the earliest draft manuscripts of the Big Book Dick B. inspected and copied (with permission) at Stepping Stones (Bill W. and Lois W.'s home in New York);
  • As you may know, the chapters of the Big Book were thoroughly reviewed by the first A.A. group (Akron) and by the second A.A.. group (New York) before they were included in the first edition (April 1939) of the Big Book.
  • After "the story section of the book" and "the text of the book" were "complete in the latter part of January, 1939" [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 164], "[f]our hundred mimeograph copies of the book were made and sent to everyone we could think of who might be concerned with the problem of alcoholism." [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 165].  Bill W. explained that this "book" was actually "a prepublication copy of the text and some of the stories" [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 165]. This document--better known today as "the Multilith Edition" or "the Original Manuscript"--was completely-typewritten. You may see a retyped version of the so-called "Original Manuscript" here: The four paragraphs found on page 12 of the fourth edition which begin with the words "Despite the living example of my friend . . . and end with the words "Would I have it? Of course I would!" were not in the so-called "Original Manuscript." The question "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?" is found in those four paragraphs which were not present in the so-called "Original Manuscript."
  • Next, although Bill W. "had consistently used the word 'God'" in "the original draft" of the Twelve Steps (Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 166), a group of four people--Fitz, Henry P., A.A.'s first secretary Ruth Hock, and Bill W.--decided on "compromise words" for several of the Twelve Steps: "In Step Two we decided to describe God as a 'Power greater than ourselves.' In Steps Three and Eleven we inserted the words 'God as we understood Him.' . . . Such were the final concessions to those of little or no faith; this was the great contribution of our atheists and agnostics. . . . God was certainly there in our Steps, but He was now expressed in terms that anybody . . .  could accept and try." (Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 167).
  • After "great numbers of the 400 mimeographs which had been sent out had been returned" and "many helpful suggestions had been made [by the reviewers who had returned their mimeograph copies]" (Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 167), "the printer's copy of the book" was prepared. "We selected one of the mimeographs, and in Henry's clear handwriting all the corrections were transferred to it. There were few large changes . . ." [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 169]. In what seemed to be, by far, the largest "correction" transferred, four handwritten paragraphs were added beginning on the reverse side of the typed title page and continuing onto a page inserted between the title page and the typed Foreword. And a handwritten "Inst>#1" was added in the margin of the otherwise typewritten document just slightly below the sentence now found on page 12 of the fourth edition: "His roots grasped a new soil." [See: The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2010):]
  • Consider these two points: (a) It was only after the "committee of four"--Fitz, Henry P., Ruth Hock, and Bill W.--had made "the final concessions to those of little or no faith" (i.e., the "atheists and agnostics"), and had changed Bill W.'s original use of the unmodified word "God" in Steps Two, Three, and Eleven, that the four handwritten paragraphs were added at the very last minute to "the printer's copy of the book." And it was those four paragraphs that contained, not only the question "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?", but also the four non-biblical descriptions of God also found on page 12 in the fourth edition of the Big Book; i.e.: "Creative Intelligence," "Universal Mind," "Spirit of Nature," and "a Czar of the Heavens." And (b) there is no indication in Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age--or in any other A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature of which I am aware--that anyone other than the "committee of four, take two"--i.e., Henry, Ruth, Dorothy S. of Cleveland, and Bill W. (Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 170)--got to review the last-minute insertion of those handwritten paragraphs. Not the Akron group, not the New York group, and not the 400 recipients of "the prepublication copy of the book" (i.e., the "Multilith Edition"; also known as the "Original Manuscript.") But those four paragraphs ended up in the Big Book in April 1939, nonetheless.

Thank you so much for writing to Dick B.

Dick B.'s son, Ken


Sunday, June 23, 2013

On Christian Recovery Radio, Dick B.: "The First Step in Recovery Revival Is to the Bible"

Dick B. discusses his forthcoming title, "Recovery Revival: Early A.A.'s 'First Century Christianity' in Recovery Today" (Part 2), on the June 23, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show


Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved


You may hear this program now on




You may hear Dick B.'s second presentation on his forthcoming title, Recovery Revival, on the June 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:






This is the second in a series of brief presentations in separate chunks of the material on the origins of A.A. in the Bible, the various elements of "old-school A.A.," and how the principles and practices of the Akron Group Number One "Christian fellowship" can be applied in today's recovery programs and in A.A. itself to enhance and make more useful the historical tools that were used when A.A. was put on the map with its astonishing successes. 


Last evening, the first in the series was launched. The series itself will be presented in three ways: (1) By this series of radio interviews covering one old-school A.A. development at a time. (2) In a book by Dick B. and Ken B. titled Recovery Revival: Early A.A.'s First Century Christianity in Recovery Today. and (3) For the benefit of sponsors, trainers, leaders, and speakers--many of whom will be attending "The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference" in Portland, Maine, on September 6-7, 2013.


Our first and previous program introduced the facts about "old-school A.A.," its names, its nature, accounts of its techniques, and how it is supported by Conference-approved literature today .

This program will deal with the explicit roots and remarks of the early AAs as to how they were using the Bible for their recoveries and what portions of the Bible were emphasized. In our new book, each paragraph is accompanied by a footnote. Each footnote will enable the reader and trainer to quote from the source; to authenticate the quote; and to research the subject of the paragraph, as well as identify it for trainees, classes, sponsors, and newcomers.




The First Step in Recovery Revival Is to the Bible


Dr. Bob said: “I had refreshed my memory of the Good Book, and I had had excellent training in that as a youngster.”[1]


Dr. Bob read the Bible from cover to cover three times and could quote from its passages verbatim.[2]


“Dr. Bob was always positive about his faith. Clarence [his sponsee Clarence H. S.] said, If someone asked him a question about the program, his usual response was: ‘What does it say in the Good Book.’”[3]


Bill W. had read the Bible with his grandfather Griffith and attended church and Sunday school at East Dorset Congregational Church, East Dorset, Vermont.[4]


Bill W. had taken a required four-year Bible study course at Burr and Burton Seminary where he attended high school. He also there attended daily chapel where Scriptures were read, sermons were delivered, prayers were given, and hymns were sung.[5]


Dr. Bob said of AA Number 3, Bill D.: “Now I knew that this Bill was a Sunday-school superintendent, and I thought that he probably forgot more about the Good Book every night than I ever knew.”[6]


Earl T. said: “I remember most distinctly the first meeting that I attended—Bill D. sat with the Holy Bible in his lap. . . . Bill read excerpts from the Bible.”[7]


To T. Henry Williams (in whose Akron home Wednesday meetings were held) Bill said: “I learned a great deal from you people. I hadn’t looked in the Bible up to this time, at all. You see, I had the experience [the blazing extraordinary white light experience in his hospital room at Towns Hospital] first and then this rushing around to help drunks and nothing happened.”[8]


Henrietta Seiberling often taught AAs at their early meetings; and her daughter Dorothy Seiberling wrote Dick B: “Mother did read Corinthians a great deal, but she read a lot, just picking up the Bible wherever it opened & going on from there. . . Of course, she believed in God & Christ, & and looked to the Bible for her guidance.”[9]


Bill W.’s wife, Lois, wrote in a small notebook at Stepping Stones: “Sat. A.M. Chas Haines—Bible. . . Home Quiet Time,” p. 7.


Dr. Bob’s wife, Anne, taught from her journal, stating: “Of course the Bible ought to be the main Source Book of all. No day ought to pass without reading it.”[10]


The Rockefeller people dispatched Frank Amos to Akron to investigate the Christian Fellowship there. Amos summarized the program and in Item 4, he  wrote: “He must have devotions every morning—a quiet time’ of prayer and some reading from the Bible and other religious literature.[11]


Rev. Samuel Shoemaker was credited by Bill W. as the major source of A.A.’s 12 Steps. And Shoemaker’s assistant minister W. Irving Harris wrote: “The Scriptures formed the basis of Sam Shoemaker’s preaching. He was a “Bible Christian.”[12]


Dr. Frank Buchman was the founder and leader of “A First Century Christian Fellowship”—the Oxford Group--with which both Bill W. and Dr. Bob had been associated. Buchman’s biographer wrote: “Buchman was. . . “soaked in the Bible” and made certain it formed the basis of the training given in Oxford.”[13]


Dr. Bob pointed out in his last major speech: “In early A.A. days. . . when we started in on Bill D., our stories didn’t amount to anything to speak of. When we started in on Bill D., we had no Twelve Steps, either; we had no Traditions.

But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book. To some of us older ones, the parts that we found absolutely essential were the Sermon on the Mount, the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and the Book of James. We used to have daily meetings at a friend’s house.[14]


Dr. Bob also wrote: “It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and studies that had been going on were crystallized in the form of the Twelve Steps. I didn’t write the Twelve Steps. I had nothing to do with the writing of them. . . .  We already had the basic ideas, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book.[15]


‘Ere long, Bill W. secured a vote of approval for his new idea of publishing the “Big Book.”  Bill wrote the basic manuscript; and, when two visitors came to see him, Bill said: “I was greatly pleased with what I had written, and I read them the new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps.” But a great deal of debate arose over their contention that “You’ve got too much God in these steps.” On the other side, Fitz M., the Episcopal minister’s son, pushed the position that “the book ought to be Christian in the doctrinal sense of the word and that it should say so. He was in favor of using Biblical terms and expressions to make that clear.” But Bill W.’s partner, Henry P.

had “come to believe in some sort of ‘universal power.’” Henry P. wanted “a psychological book which would lure the alcoholic in. Once in, the prospect could take God or leave Him alone as he wished.[16]


In the original draft, however, Bill “had refused to budge on these steps.” As Bill put it, “I would not change a word of the original draft, in which, you will remember, I had consistently used the word “God,” and in one place the expression “on our knees” was used.” Henry P. was affronted; and he argued Bill into changing the “God” language entirely in the Steps. This, said Bill, final concession to those of little or no faith . . . had widened our gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.[17]


But that was far from the end of the Bible in Alcoholics Anonymous. In the very first edition published in 1939, the Big Book used a seemingly endless number of biblical descriptions of God (Creator, God, Maker, Father, Heavenly Father).  It actually quoted the Bible using such phrases as “Thy will be done,” “Faith without works is dead,” and “love thy neighbor as thyself.”[18] Moreover, the personal stories of the pioneers

talked a great deal about God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible.[19] And subsequent “Conference-approved” A.A. literature contained extensive information about how the Bible was stressed, how it  was read at meetings, and how it was “required” to be read by the newcomer. The official biography of Bill W. contained material on Bill’s studying the Bible with Bob and Anne in their home in Akron.[20] The two men favored “Quiet Time” and Christian literature containing biblical ideas and verses.[21]


For the reader of this chapter, we recommend that pursuing the biblical roots of A.A. should begin with the book, Dick B., The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible.


[1] The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, 11-12
[2] DR, BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 310
[3] DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 144
[4] Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob: the Green Mountain Men of Vermont: The Roots of Early A.A.’s Original Program, Chapter 2
[5] Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob: the Green Mountain Men of Vermont:, Chapters 2 and 3
[6] The Co-Founders, 12
[7] The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, 190
[8] The Akron Genesis, 64
[9] The Akron Genesis, 95
[10] The Akron Genesis, 111
[11] DR. BOB and The Good Oldtimers, 220,  131, 227-28
[12] The Akron Genesis, 211
[13] The Akron Genesis, 211
[14] The Co-Founders, 13
[15] The Co-Founders, 14
[16] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 161-64
[17] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 166-67
[18] Alcoholics Anonymous “THE BIG BOOK”: The Original 1939 Edition, Bill W. With a New Introduction by Dick B. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2011.
[19] Dick B. and Ken B., Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous: God’s Role in Recovery Confirmed
[20] “PASS IT ON,” 147.
[21] DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 130-31, 178, 227-28.

Christian Recovery Radio Tonight: Introduction of "Recovery Revival" Book by Dick B. interview

Dick B. discusses his forthcoming title, Recovery Revival: Early A.A.’s “First Century Christianity” in Recovery Today on the June 22, 2013, episode of the “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show.

Dick B.

© 2013. Anonymous. All rights reserved

You Can Hear This Show Right Now on


You may hear Dick B. discuss his forthcoming title, Recovery Revival: Early A.A.'s "First Century Christianity" in Recovery Today, on the June 22, 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:





Dick B. discusses his forthcoming book, Recovery Revival, June 22, 2013

Tonight's program comes to you from Maui, Hawaii, on June 22, 2013. It marks the beginning of a series of programs, the writing of a book, and some major materials to be presented at "The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference," September 6-7, 2013, in Portland, Maine.

The working title of the new book by Ken B. and me is "Recovery Revival: Early A.A.'s 'First Century Christianity' in Recovery Today."

Tonight I will provide you with the introductory chapter material. And I'll illustrate to you the brief and simple workbook--outline form and guide--that is much in demand by those who want to start groups, wish guidance as to the content to be covered by the groups, and wish to have a book serving several purposes:

First, a book that covers in short sentences the several topics that constitute the elements of the needed recovery revival. Second, the nature of First Century Christianity in recovery today. Third, the biblical source for these principles and practices. Fourth, how A.A.'s founders learned the principles. Fifth, how A.A. began with the simple application of the principles. Sixth, what the original A.A. principles and practices were. Seventh, how the A.A. literature still amply supports those practices. And eighth, how one can form or conduct a group or fellowship within A.A. or other 12-Step programs that learns, hears experiences with, and has meeting  topics that constitute the revival and the resources to bring recovery back to the true role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in early A.A.'s astonishing successes, and can play today for those who want God's help and are willing to go to any length to get it. 



Synopsis of Dick B.’s Radio Presentation

Recovery Revival

Early A.A.’s “First Century Christianity”

in Recovery Today


Dick B. and Ken B.


© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved


About Applying “Old School A.A.” in Recovery from Alcoholism and Addiction Today


Let’s get clear on the various names for “Old School A.A.,” on how it can be applied and be used today in company with Bill W.’s “new version of the program,” the Twelve Steps. How it can revive and enhance programs and fellowships in overcoming alcoholism and addiction, And how valuable and important the learning and application of early A.A. principles and practices can be when put into play in all types of recovery approaches today. These approaches include A.A. and Twelve Step Fellowships, Christian recovery fellowships and treatment programs, intervention, counseling, hospitalization, rehabs, sponsorship and handling newcomers, residential and sober living facilities, after-care and alumni events, and programs to avoid and eliminate relapses and revolving door recidivism.


First, there are many names for what we propose as to applying the early A.A. program today.. Early A.A.’s “Christian Fellowship” is one. “Old School A.A.” is another, “First Century Christianity” is another. Still another is. “Pioneer Old-timer Akron AA.” There’s also the associated Oxford Group original name—“A First Century Christian Fellowship;” and there is the name for the first A.A. group, located in Akron, Ohio, and founded on July 4, 1935—“Akron Number One”


Second, the “old school A.A.” program is summarized on page 131 of A.A.’s General Service Conference-approved book DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. It was developed from the permanent recovery techniques of the first three AAs—Bill W., Dr. Bob, and attorney Bill D. It was grounded in the Bible. It was evaluated by Bill and Bob in November, 1937. And found by the co-founders (who personally knew the group of men quite well) to be successful for the original 40 men who had been “seemingly hopeless,” “medically incurable,” “last gasp,” “real” alcoholics who had gone to any lengths to recover—with 20 having been continuously sober during the 1935-37 period, another 10 having recovered, relapsed, and returned to permanent sobriety, thus producing a 75% success rate.


The original astonishingly successful program that put the pioneer A.A. program and success rate on the map, was later embodied in the testimonials known as the “personal stories” in the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous, published in April, 1939, and was accompanied by Bill Wilson’s “new version” 12-Step program which he attributed to Professor William James, William D. Silkworth, M.D., and Reverend Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York.


The ability to apply the old school A.A. Christian Fellowship program exists today when one examines the real origins of the early A.A. program--of renouncing liquor for good, seeking the “Divine Help” of God, and then working with others to help them get well in the same way. The “authority” for concluding that old school compatible with the essence (the “Solution”) embodied in today’s “Big Book” program, plus the “Big Book’s” repeated statements that parallel the important ones in the original Christian Fellowship program.


Today, the frequently vociferous opposition in several quarters rests on several different arguments.


The first is that the Christian approaches of early A.A. cannot be taken or be acceptable in today’s secular and “non” religious picture.


The second is that Christians may not become involved in today’s idolatrous and secular program without violating the commandments in the Bible.


The third is that the illusion of A.A.’s “good old days” is neither documented nor followed any longer in today’s “spiritual, but not religious” format.


Perhaps the final argument is that early A.A.’s Christian recovery techniques and successes count “evidence-based” recovery ideas, are offensive to those who (1) choose to believe in nothing at all, (2) to rely on some illusory “higher power,” or (3) allegedly have a “Christian God” that is different from the Creator, the Maker, the “Heavenly Father” and the “God of our fathers” Almighty God of the Bible. The very “God of the Scriptures” that Bill described in his account of his blazing extraordinary white light experience in Towns Hospital when he felt the presence of God in his hospital room.


The opposition today to both A.A. and to the old school A.A. Christian Fellowship program is formidable. It has seemingly caused thousands and thousands to flee A.A., to form “bridge groups,” to fashion strange, man-made groups like Celebrate Recovery, or to simply relapse and thereby, in one way or another, reduce the early growth of A.A. to about two million members world-wide, reduce A.A.’s profitable literature sales of millions and millions of dollars of A.A. published literature, and cause highly popular Christian and other splinter-groups to proliferate and receive more accolades and support than A.A. itself garnered in the days of old.


This book will serve as a guide to Christian leaders, trainers, and workers, as well as the afflicted and affected people who still suffer. It will trace the steps that can be taken, are being taken, and that were long proved to be effective at the time A.A. was founded in 1935


These are the “steps”—the ingredients of the revival—that can and will produce a recovery revival. They will do so if simply presented, accurately assembled, and applied with determination based on knowledge that these are the things early AAs did  when they achieved great success rates, relied on God, uniformly stated that they had been cured, and widely devoted themselves to  help others get straightened out by the same means.

For further information, contact  Dick B.,, 808 874 4876.

Gloria Deo