Thursday, March 27, 2014
~addresses all aspects of the highly successful spiritual roots of early Alcoholics Anonymous — roots which came from the Bible, Christianity, and Christian literature
Monday, March 24, 2014
It's all new. It will help you evaluate the outpouring of plays, movies, videos, books, and articles that just plain omit the "rest of the story"--the parts of A.A. history we have been researching and reporting for the last 25 years. Go to "Alcoholics Anonymous History: Dick B.'s Website"
Sunday, March 23, 2014
After years of researching, publishing, speaking on, and disseminating facts about the history of Alcoholics Anonymous, it was time to summarize and capsulize the landmark epochs on our main, popular website that has served almost five million viewers.
That time is here. The main website www.dickb.com is completely changed in presentation and initial content. You can still see all the historical resources, book references, articles, blogs, profiles, social media references etc. on the left navigation bar. But the real change is in the complete presentation of A.A.'s historical landmarks and the derivation of most from Christian beginnings.
Take a look. You will see a dramatic, accurate, and truthful presentation of the "old school" A.A. and present-day A.A. landmarks that we have been discussing for many years. On the very first page, you will see what awaits those who still believe that the "power" in A.A. is the power of God for those who choose to rely on that option.
Your comments will be welcome.
God Bless, Dick B. , email@example.com
Friday, March 21, 2014
The Story of Dick B.’s Travels and Writings About A.A. to Help the A.A. Newcomer, and Alcoholics Anonymous Itself
Dick B.’s “personal story” (his drunkalog) has been delivered in hundreds of 12-Step and recovery meetings and reported in thousands of published books and articles. Also, at some length on his own Alcoholics Anonymous History website—www.dickb.com.
But this is a different story.
It is about Dick B., the real alcoholic and prescription pill addict who entered the rooms of A.A. twenty-eight years ago a very very sick person. A sixty-year old newcomer who knew little of addiction, little about alcoholism, little of Alcoholics Anonymous itself, and very little about the link between his malady and his seemingly mountainous pile of self-created troubles. Disasters that almost inevitably plague the wet drunk or drug addict. He found he had entered a strange and unfamiliar fellowship with no real leaders, no common approach among its old-timers, and virtually no guidance in selecting a mysterious “sponsor” whose qualifications are neither fixed nor evaluated.
This is z brief story of how Dick traveled all over the United States, interviewed hundreds of those with an explicit knowledge of various aspects of A.A. and its roots and beginnings, gathered books and manuscripts that filled in blanks, and realized there was an A.A. that many know little about: An early fellowship in which many determined drunks had recovered in A.A.’s pioneer days. And a program that has enabled many Christians—including the many newcomers Dick sponsored—pursue progress in recovery within the rooms of A.A. itself.
The details Dick unearthed over many years in A.A. were not easily found. Yet the elements were such that suffering affected and afflicted entrants can utilize today without wandering in the muddle of treatment options and criticisms abounding about A.A.
Blessed with God’s help, Dick was delivered from the power of darkness while he was an A.A. newcomer It happened when Dick was soon hospitalized in the Veterans Administration psych ward at Fort Miley in San Francisco. And what a nightmare of physical and mental stress and ill-health, confusion, fear, anxiety, terror, and genuine life-sized financial, legal, criminal, domestic, and other problems common among battered newcomers today! Searchers for a way out that does not have a well-lighted path.
But at six months of sobriety, Dick was—while an expectant member of the A.A. fellowship--able to turn wholly to God for help, return from two-months of hospitalization to Alcoholics Anonymous for fellowship, and embark on the greatest pleasure of his life—giving the great majority of his time to finding, helping, guiding, and leading newcomers to God through Christ. Aiding new found lives among a virtual army of newcomers. Lives where newcomers could be and were released through the process of faith in God, through changed life-patterns mapped out in the Twelve Steps, through study of both the Bible and A.A. literature in the rooms, and through concurrent liberation as Christians from guilt, shame, loneliness, isolation, fear, and a sense of friendlessness.
Here’s how the story began.
Maybe it’s best to show you the “path” and then to go briefly into what Dick found along the way.
After about three years in A.A. since gaining and maintaining continuous sobriety and enjoying the fellowship and the A.A. program, Dick heard about an A.A. he had never seen, never experienced, and never been able to pass along to others. What he had heard had to do with the early A.A. successes and godly features.
And this brings us to the story of John. John was an alcoholic.
It also brings us to the surprising statement John made to me at a Twelve Step study meeting in San Rafael, California. Interestingly, the meeting itself had the name “Steps to Freedom.”
John knew I had been attending a Bible fellowship, had been helped to grow in understanding and knowledge of God’s revelation, promises, healings, and commandments. He also knew I had been puzzled by the absence in A.A. of this deliverance and growth factor which had been tested and utilized by thousands of former alcoholics and addicts in the Bible fellowship itself. Christians who had been healed and had continuously been clean and sober without A.A. Yet whose members had little knowledge of A.A., the Twelve Steps, or the background of A.A. itself.
The incongruity did not drive me away from A.A. It had simply left me unable easily to link what were commonplace practices among the early Christians in the Book of Acts and the activities of those in his Bible fellowship to many of the seemingly Bible-related words and ideas that existed in A.A.’s basic text.
John’s conversation with me at the Step meeting went like this: “Dick, did you know that A.A. came from the Bible?” “John, I have been much involved in A.A. for three years, have probably attended over one thousand meetings, but I have never, ever heard of any connection of A.A. with the Bible.”
“Dick, you need to read A.A.’s DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. It is filled with information about how the Bible was the center-piece of early A.A., how the Bible was studied, and how the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 were absolutely essential to the early AA successes and program. In fact, the Book of James was so popular that early AAs wanted to call A.A. “The James Club.””
With a mind much clearer after three years of sobriety and having dipped into A.A. literature, I had seen a number of Bible verses like “Faith without works is dead,” “Thy will be done,” and “Love thy neighbor as thyself” quoted in the Big Book. I had seen there biblical descriptions of God such as Creator, Maker, Father, Heavenly Father, and Father of Lights. But within A.A., I had never heard members link these Bible roots in A.A. literature to the Bible and A.A. itself.
I had, however, incessantly in A.A. heard of a “higher power,” that A.A. was “spiritual but not religious,” and that AAs should read nothing but the Big Book the first year of their recovery. Consequently, I was amazed at John’s statement.
But I did read DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers—a precise account of how early A.A. was founded in 1935. Details about how early Akron members called themselves a “Christian Fellowship,” And about requirements for A.A. newcomers just never heard in Marin County, California meetings.
I read that: (1) Hospitalization was a must in early A.A.—something never even mentioned to me as a newcomer though I was detoxing heavily and soon had three gran mal seizures in A.A. (2) Pioneers were required to “surrender” their lives to a God of their understanding—a practice only vaguely outlined in A.A.’s Step Number Three. (3) Elimination of sinful conduct such as adultery was a must—conduct that was boldly and frequently mentioned in meetings. (4) Each day, early AAs held Quiet Times, prayed together, studied the Bible together, read Christian literature Dr. Bob circulated among them—just never mentioned in A.A. meetings in Marin County. (5) Helping others get straightened out the same way was something every A.A. considered a duty—a concept that was stressed as we moved forward in A.A. (6) Newcomer fellowship with like-minded believers was encouraged—whereas it was never a part of the A.A. I had “joined.” (7) Attendance at a religious service once a week was recommended—though it was common in meetings these days to hear someone say: “My sobriety comes first. Church and family follow.”—hardly an affirmation of “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” One Irishman used to come to a beginners meeting on Maui and say: “I go to church for my religion. I go to A.A. for my alcoholism.”
Frankly, I wouldn’t go anywhere for my alcoholism—only to a place like A.A. which pointed the way out of this destructive illness.
Even today, 28 years later, an AA is often likely to doubt, reject , or ignore these facts that are plainly stated in some of their “Conference-approved” literature.
But I did not doubt either the facts or the history. I was tired of hearing about a “higher power” that could be a rock, a light bulb, the Big Dipper, or “Ralph.” I was tired of hearing folks in meetings talking about “spirituality,” and ignoring published truth about Bible, prayer, Quiet Time, and Christian books. Yet I was not condemning A.A. And I don’t. But rather the comments of friends who had probably never heard in A.A. about anything but a “higher power” named Ralph, an A.A. which was not “religious,” or even prayer to a God “of their understanding” for healing and cure.
Yet I had also, begun to study A.A.’s Big Book assiduously and spent hours trying to learn about the Twelve Steps. But, after my talk with John, I was challenged to begin a search. And here is what I did.
The Path to the Rest of the A.A. Story
It was to my delight that I picked up a copy of Bill Pittman’s book, AA the Way It Began, at an A.A. Conference in Sacramento, California. At the same Conference, I again met a lady from Manteca who had looked after me when I was at an early meeting in Stockton. I said to her that I would like to go to the International Convention in Seattle; and she advised that I’d better go “now” considering my age.
And so I did. I went with an agenda in mind—finding out what the leaders at the International gathering knew about A.A. and the Bible. Meanwhile, I saw in AA The Way It Began the first glimmerings of some of the major sources of A.A. ideas—the Bible, the Oxford Group, and Reverend Sam Shoemaker.
In Seattle, I went right to the archives meeting at the International Convention with the specific purpose of learning about the Bible roots of A.A.
But seated on the stage were some A.A. old-timers who never mentioned the Bible. One, however, had a stack of Oxford Group books in front of him and said he’d send them to me after the convention. Then I had heard panelists frequently mention “Frank.” And I asked one who this “Frank” was that all the panelists referred to. He replied, “Frank Mauser, the A.A. General Services Archivist from New York.” I introduced myself to Frank and asked if he had material on Sam Shoemaker, and A.A. Frank replied, “No.” But he promised to and did in fact send me what little he had.
The upshot of this first research adventure was this: The Oxford Group books arrived at my home. Frank merely sent a Xerox copy of a page from Bill Pittman’s book that listed some Shoemaker books. And I had learned nothing about A.A. and the Bible. However, as I began to read the Oxford Group books, I could see the remarkable similarity between words and phrases in the Big Book and those in the Oxford Group. I could also see that most of the Oxford Group writers talked about their “principles” almost always citing the Bible as authority for the ideas.
I felt I was on the Bible trail at last. I went to the small A.A. group that my sponsees and I had formed. I proposed that the group hold a meeting in the large parish hall in Mill Valley, California where Frank Mauser could speak, where films and recordings of Bill and Bob could be presented, and where I could introduce the audience to the Oxford Group roots.
The meeting was a smash. Frank came from New York. He brought a Bill Wilson film with him, and spoke at some length on A.A. and on its history as he knew it. 400 members from A.A. were in attendance. Women brought in lunch materials. The audience partook, and not a one left the conference. We called it “A Day in Marin.” And Frank’s talk was so inspiring that I asked if they would like to hear him tell more in the afternoon. The answer was, “yes.” He did. And then I presented what I had learned about the Oxford Group and A.A. thus far. Frank turned to me and said, “Dick, it looks like you’ve got a book in you.” And I sure did.
I boned up on as many A.A., Oxford Group, and Shoemaker books as I could find. I wrote some lengthy material on the Oxford Group. I went to nearby seminary libraries to find more. And then I proposed once again to our little A.A. group (“Steps to the Solution”) that we hold a second “A Day in Marin” Program, invite some knowledgeable speakers on the history, and broaden the subject to fit the speakers’ areas of expertise. Frank Mauser was invited to return, but could not come. But he did label it the “Son of Day in Marin” program.
So we invited as speakers: (1) Mel B., who was a substantial contributor to “PASS IT ON” and who had just published his book New Wine: The Spiritual Roots of the Twelve Step Miracle. (2) T. Willard Hunter, who had been employed by the Oxford Group for many years, who knew Frank Buchman and Sam Shoemaker personally, as well as many of its surviving members, and who had written extensively for the Oxford Group. (3) Robert R. Smith (Dr. Bob’s son and his wife Betty) who came all the way from Nocona, Texas.
Mel B. was the first speaker. And his opening remark was “A.A. came from the Bible.”
And this second conference was also a smash. 800 AAs attended. They were provided with lunch. And not a one left the scene until the conference was over. Mel told about early A.A. Willard told about the Oxford Group. Smitty told about his father Dr. Bob and the founding of A.A. And I read from the Book of James to let the audience hear what the early AAs had regularly studied.
In the interval between the first and second Marin County events, I had continued my search for A.A. historical roots—a search broadened with much additional information about early A.A., the Oxford Group, Dr. Bob and Akron A.A., and the Bible segments early AAs read—the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13. And I went to my first Founders Day Conference in Akron—loaded to the gunnels with questions to be asked and people to be interviewed. And a whole new arena of facts began to open.
My first Akron visit was with Dr. Bob’s daughter Sue Smith Windows. She answered many questions and she wrote and signed several statements about Akron. Then I asked her if she had ever heard her father use the phrase “born again.” Immediately she trudged up the stairs to her attic, using an inhaler to breathe properly. She returned with a book called “Born Again.” It was by Emmet Fox. Her father had dated it, written “Please return,” and signed it also adding his address 855 Ardmore, Akron. I asked her if her father was “born again.” She replied, “yes.”
Then I asked Sue if she had other books her father owned and read. She went to the attic and brought several more downstairs. She said the attic was full of her dad’s books. I asked if I could go up and look at them. She replied that it was too messy, but she would clean it up and let me look at the collection if I returned to Founders Day the next year. I asked her if she would make a list of the books and send it to me. And she did. She also commented that her brother “Smitty” had an equal number of Dr. Bob’s books in his home in Nocona, Texas.
I phoned Smitty. He and his wife Betty both got on the phone and told me they had a large number of books, would make a list, and send it to me. And after collecting some books from seminaries and bookstores as well as individuals who had them for sale, I was ready to and did write and publish my first book, Dr. Bob’s Library.
The next year I returned to Akron and Founders Day for more visits. Sue invited me to attend a meeting of the Board at Dr. Bob’s Home. I went to her attic, examined the books carefully, compared them to the list she had sent, and verified that many were signed, dated, in Dr. Bob’s own handwriting, and had the “Please return” with 855 Ardmore written in them. At the Akron University Library, and at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, I poured over the newspaper articles and pictures of the town-wide Oxford Group events of 1933.
Sue had another surprise for me. On the plane to Akron, I had read in a footnote in a Hazelden book that its author had visited GSO archives in New York and seen some scribbled notes said to have been written by Anne Smith. I asked Sue what these were. She told me that her mother had kept a journal from 1933 to 1939 and shared it with AAs and their families in morning quiet times at the Smith home. She also said she had typed some of the material for her mother while she was at business school. Lois and Bill Wilson had taken the journal at the time of her father’s death.
She agreed to write requesting her mother’s journal and sign a letter to the A.A. Trustees requesting that they make that journal available to me and to her. Frank Mauser expedited it at GSO; and I soon had almost all the pages—some with handwritten annotations, and some simply typewritten. I could see quite plainly that over the period from 1933 to 1939, Anne had written down most of the materials shared with early AAs and their families—biblical, Oxford Group, and life-changing subjects. The material contained much discussion of the Bible, prayer, Quiet Time, recommended books, Oxford Group ideas, and practical suggestions for AAs and their families. And Anne had written: “Of course, the Bible ought to be the main Source. Not a day should pass without reading it.” And I wrote and published my second book, Anne Smith’s Workbook, It contained the contents of Anne’s journal as well as footnotes and my annotations sourcing many of the materials Anne had covered.
On the same visit, I made a date to see Congressman John Seiberling at the University of Akron where he was teaching. His mother Henrietta Seiberling had introduced Bill W. to Dr. Bob and had led many of the early meetings. She and her children attended them.
I read Congressman John about 12 of the 28 Oxford Group, A.A. related ideas I had found in their books. I asked him if he had ever heard any of the material in the early meetings he, his mother, and his sisters attended. He said: “I never heard anything else. My mother talked about all of these ideas repeatedly; and my mother, I am sure, read all of the Oxford Group literature of the 1930’s.”
I asked John for the names of his two sisters. I arranged a visit with Dorothy at her huge condo in New York, reviewed her mother’s Bible and its notes with her, and corresponded with her about her mother’s views. I could not arrange to see her sister Mary Seiberling Huhn in Pennsylvania. But, when I wrote Mary, I received quite a bundle of information about her mother, the meetings, and the Seiberlings.
By this time, I had begun to map out 10 books I wanted to write about A.A. One had been Dr. Bob’s Library. One had been the Anne Smith book. One was “The Books That Early AAs Read.” One was “The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous.” And one was “The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous.” I also had in mind writing about Rev. Samuel Shoemaker’s role and also a book on the often mentioned “Quiet Time.” For sure, I knew I would soon be writing one or more books about the Big Book and what Dr. Bob called “The Good Book.” And that book was to dig deeply into A.A.’s roots in the Bible. I also planned write a book about the Women Pioneers of A.A.—Anne Smith, Henrietta Seiberling, Clarace Williams, Lois Wilson, Geraldine O. Delaney, and Mrs. Shoemaker (It never got written because Bill Pittman had joined Hazelden, arranged for such a book, and paid me “for hire” to write the Seiberling portion.) I supplied the material on Mrs. Geraldine O. Delaney, founder and president of Alina Lodge.
By this time, thanks to Willard Hunter, I had met and interviewed at length, Willard himself, James D. Newton, Eleanor Forde Newton, Garth Lean, Charles Haines, Harry Almond, Parks Shipley, Mrs. W. Irving Harris, Kenneth Belden, Michael Hutchinson, Jim Houck, George Vondermuhll, Jr., Richard Ruffin, and Dr. Morris Martin. All of these were Oxford Group activists and leaders for years. When the breakup with Rev. Sam Shoemaker occurred, almost all remained attached to Oxford Group ideas and objectives. And we could see we had by then very much mastered the Oxford Group ideas that filtered into Bill Wilson.
This meant turning my attention to Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker and his little spoken of influence on Bill Wilson and the new version of the program the Twelve Steps. To me this meant the acquisition and careful review of all Sam’s books. It meant visiting his Calvary Churches in New York and Pittsburgh. It meant meeting with his two daughters, reviewing Sam’s personal journals, and talking to the many in Pittsburgh who were familiar with Sam’s vibrant witnessing, sermons and speeches, and Sam’s growing belief in small groups.
Finally, with a letter of introduction from Sam’s younger daughter enabling us to have complete access to all Shoemaker papers (58 boxes of them), we spent a week going through them with the help of the archivist at the Episcopal Church Archives in Austin, Texas. Through this all, we could see that Bill Wilson, like the Oxford Group people he had left, had fully credited Shoemaker with almost all the Step ideas. And we wrote New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., 2d edition.
After which, Bill Pittman apprised me of the fact that Fleming Revell (publisher of many of the earlier Christian, Oxford Group, and Shoemaker books) wanted a book about Shoemaker’s writings and their relation to the Twelve Steps. The publisher wanted a foundational book that would buttress their planned reprint of many of Shoemaker’s books (all of which I had read) Pittman said he didn’t feel qualified to write the book; and we partnered in writing the book for Baker Books. It is titled Courage to Change: The Christian Roots of the Twelve Step Miracle. Hazelden bought the rights from Baker and still publishes this Pittman-Dick B. book.
We reached a turning point. And I keep mentioning “we.” The fact is that over most of my sobriety and in practically all of my research and publishing years, my son Ken—a talented graduate of University of California in Rhetoric and graduate of San Francisco State in Fundamentals of Oral Communication—assisted me, edited my work, and made endless research contacts. Ken was also a businessman and later an ordained Christian minister and Bible scholar. And we felt it was appropriate to write a magnum opus work on the spiritual history of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was to incorporate the various elements that we had discovered and published. And it was filled with as much as we had then learned—all 771 pages of it. The title is Turning Point: A History of Early A.A.’s Spiritual Roots and Successes. Paul Wood, Ph.D., President of the National Council on Alcoholism, wrote the Foreword. Those who endorsed the book were Bob and Betty Smith, Ozzie and Bonnie Lepper of the Wilson House, John Seiberling, and Karen A. Plavan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Counseling, Education, and Chemical Dependency at The Pennsylvania State University.
However, the recovery world was changing rapidly. A.A. had stopped growing. Religious publishers like Zondervan, Abingdon, Thomas Nelson, and Harper Collins were pumping out “recovery Bibles” and Christian-related recovery materials that incorporated the Steps. Treatment programs were closing by the dozens. A.A.’s history writers had reached a dividing point where some were emphasizing A.A. as open to all, “spiritual” in nature, based on a “higher power” and “not-god-ness” and therefore much distanced from religion, Christianity, and the Big Book-Bible study guides. Also from the formation of study groups that would incorporate old school A.A., the merits of the earlier program and practices, and the Conference-approved literature of A.A. today.
Meanwhile, we were receiving voluminous numbers of phone calls, emails, letters, and visits from at least two groups of people: (1) Christians who were being rebuffed within the walls of A.A. if they mentioned God, the Bible, Jesus Christ, or religion; and being intimidated and stricken from “official” meeting lists if their group did. (2) Christian relatives of prisoners and addicted people in trouble who recognized their family members wouldn’t quit using their drug of choice, were recidivists in the extreme, and needed Christian help—trying to find an effective Christian recovery program.
I had worked with dozens and dozens of newcomers and had taught them the Big Book and taken them through the Steps. I had introduced them to the biblical approaches that were used and applied both before and at the time of early A.A. And it was apparent to me that young men and women (as well as one 90 year old sponsee, one 65 year old sponsee, one 50 year old sponsee) were willing to emulate the actions of the early AAs.
These wanted to quit drinking and using. They recognized their seeming helplessness and hopelessness. And they were very very receptive to learning about God, His Son, the Bible, prayer, healing, salvation, and other subjects that could able them to become more than just “in recovery” or “recovered” or even “cured.”
At the same time they were lacking the tools, principles and practices that had dominated early A.A.—the fruits and techniques of the pre-AA organizations like the YMCA, rescue missions, Salvation Army, and Christian Endeavor. They had rejected many recovery-related biblical ideas primarily because of lack of knowledge of the Christian upbringing and Bible studies of A.A.’s founders and their earliest successes in growing in understanding God, Christ, and the Bible. They were enjoined to apply their own principle that “God could and would if He were sought.” Without the background, they were ill-equipped to establish a relationship with God, come to Him through Jesus Christ, understand the elements of prayer, define the sinful conduct that had been blocking them from God, and then turn to God for help in their own case and in the lives of those they wanted to help.
But there was also a flight factor that had intervened in A.A.’s simple early program. Objections fostered by atheists, agnostics, humanists, and unbelievers; and the utter lack of information about the biblical roots of A.A. were driving Christians out of A.A. and into the arms of diverse religious programs like Alcoholics Victorious, Teen Challenge, Overcomers Outreach, Inc., Celebrate Recovery, Alcoholics for Christ and others. Many of these new resources just couldn’t or didn’t invest in the 24/7 love and service that had made A.A. so much needed, popular, and welcome to those in deep trouble and propelled toward recognizing alcohol and drugs as the enemy to be licked.
This further caused us to dig deep into the real history of the highly successful Christian organizations and leaders who helped alcoholics long before A.A. was even thought of. That meant investigating the virtually unreported Vermont Christian upbringing and Bible training of the two cofounders and the third AA who got sober before the A.A. and before it had a recovery program other than that obtainable from the Bible. Their strong faith without a structured program nonetheless produced reliance on God, help for others, and continuous sobriety for the rest of their lives. This meant for us instructive writing, teaching, and speaking on these topics.
Furthermore, a new and strong Christian Recovery Movement was springing up to deal with the factors mentioned here. A host of Christians in A.A. and Christian leaders in treatment programs, sober-living homes, counseling, fellowships, and churches began to unite in their desire to support the A.A. which had enabled them to get sober and to learn and apply the old school A.A. which firmly planted the pioneers in the God-centered recovery fellowship and groups.
That is where we are today. That is how my son Ken and I view our task as servants of our Heavenly Father, heralds of the Word of God, and practical utilizers and appliers of the biblical A.A. of yesteryear.
But this cannot be accomplished without the uniquely lonely solid information we have unearthed and published and without a persistent eye on the need to “seek first the Kingdom of God” and then reap the harvest that awaits those who decide to abandon deadly alcoholism and drug abuse, and become the individuals described in 2 Corinthians 5:17—a favorite in early A.A.
If the sharing of experience, strength, and hope is truly to inform people of the readiness of God to help, of the fruits of a God-centered life, and of the merits of combining A.A.’s motto of love and service as a guide to helping others is imparted to trainers, then this effort can prosper. It can certainly be far more powerful today than the efforts of the alcoholic himself, the senses-knowledge fashioned, self-made religion, and self-made human efforts of others. The solution is responding with God’s love and power to the calls of those who are still seemingly hopeless, medically incurable, last gasp sufferers who can and do get healed and restored by renouncing their poison, establishing a solid relationship with God, and helping others get well.
The A.A. story as presently told and limited in presentation today leaves out these factors. It is therefore the “rest of the story” that needs to be discovered, reported, documented, and disseminated as an option to all who seek something more than their own strength, the weaknesses in man’s efforts, and the manufacture in the rooms and by theorists of false gods, unbelief, and “evidence based” failures when help from God was the very thing early AAs needed and present-day AAs need the option of seeking and receiving by whatever truthful means have been discovered and revealed as to A.A.’s origins, roots, success factors, and programs.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
Dick B. discusses the purpose of the redesign of DickB.com on the March 16, 2014, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show
You may hear Dick B. discuss the purpose of the redesign of www.DickB.com web site on the March 16, 2014, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show here:
Episodes of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show are archived at:
By Dick B.
© 2014 Anonymous. All rights reserved
The Dick B.'s main website URL is www.dickb.com. The site was established November 18, 1995. The basic design has been the same for many years. But the information investigated, published, and disseminated has grown into huge volumes of valuable historical points. Much has been learned along the way, and much more has been discovered. The key today is to present this material in an organized, categorized fashion that not only reflects our research and results, but also moves the A.A. picture from its earliest beginnings to the present day. And that enables the suffering afflicted and affected to utilize all of the valuable factual insights, and not just a cherry-picked basket of speculative ideas.
This recovery program of A.A. is not about a group of drunks sitting in meetings exchanging old wives tales and war stories of yesteryear. It is about progress. Spiritual progress. And two short excepts from A.A. basic text will illustrate the point.
Page 60: “Do not be discouraged. No one among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.”
Page 87: “There are many helpful books also. Suggestions about these may be obtained from one’s priest, minister, or rabbi. Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they have to offer.”
The Purpose of Dick B.’s Alcoholics Anonymous and A.A. History Website
Why this site by Dick B. on the history of A.A., and the people and organizations involved with successful Christian Recovery efforts which preceded and influenced Alcoholics Anonymous? We believe you should hear the whole A.A. history story if you are to receive and pass on the spiritual tools that A.A. offers to those who still suffer. But our primary focus is on “the rest of the story.” The fact is that that there are countless untold, ignored, discarded, distorted, or omitted pieces of A.A. history that offer opportunities to still-suffering alcoholics and addicts to be lifted out of the mire, to seek the same cure that early AAs received, and to pursue a transformed life anew. The many resources here will supply what has been missing. They will highlight what AAs in misery, in confusion, and in repeated relapses can do if they learn and know what the original A.A. pioneers did in depending and relying upon the power and love of God. And in finding or rediscovering God through His Son Jesus Christ on the path found in the Bible.
Major Historical Landmarks along the Alcoholics Anonymous Path to Recovery
In Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”), the “basic text” of A.A. (the first edition of which was published in April 1939), A.A. cofounder Bill W. wrote: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” [Big Book, 4th ed., 58]. What is usually unfamiliar to the A.A. Fellowship is Bill W.’s inspiring declaration in the personal story of AA Number Three (Bill D.) found in the second edition (published in 1955), the third edition (published in 1976), and the fourth edition (published in 2001) of the “basic text”:
“. . . [T]he 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.” [Big Book, 4th ed., 191]
A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob said in his last major talk to AAs:
It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and stories 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 [i.e., the Bible]. [The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks (Item # P-53), 14]
An effort that began with the founding of A.A. in June 1935 in Akron, Ohio. And Dr. Bob concluded his own personal story in the Big Book by voicing the same emphasis that Bill W. gave when he spoke of his having been cured of alcoholism by the Lord. Dr. Bob stated:
Your Heavenly Father will never let you down! [Big Book, 4th ed., 181]
The problem is that neither I nor most AAs nor most other people in the recovery arena know or even seem to want to know exactly what occurred that put A.A. on the map. Or that generated sales of over 40 million Big Books. Or that brought the worldwide Society of Alcoholics Anonymous to a membership level of about 2 million people. Yet A.A. had produced a wide variety of solid, reliable, spiritual tools between its founding in June 1935 and the publication of the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”) in April 1939. And we want to be sure that desperate, “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable” alcoholics hear the whole story. Better stated, that they know “the rest of the story” about their cherished Fellowship. And the option of placing their recovery in God’s hands today.
The following is a brief outline of key points about A.A.’s earliest years:
First Century Christianity. Many early observers of Alcoholics Anonymous likened early Akron A.A. to First Century Christianity. As Mr. Albert Scott, chairman of the trustees of Riverside Church, put it at a meeting with a number of early AAs and some supporters in New York:
“Why, this is first-century Christianity!” Then he asked, “What can we do to help?” [‘PASS IT ON,’ 184]
And a careful study of what the Apostles did in the First Century, as reported in the Book of Acts in the Bible and as mirrored in early A.A. (particularly in Akron), is very rewarding.
A.A.’s Christian Predecessors. Centuries later, beginning around the mid-1800s, Christian individuals, churches, and movements began looking at alcoholics, addicts, homeless people, and derelicts in a new light. Instead of condemning them as downtrodden wretches, many Christian people and entities set about bringing to them the Bible, salvation, and some very real help. One such Christian organization was the Salvation Army. The distinguished scholar and theology professor Howard J. Clinebell wrote, for example:
The long history of the Salvation Army . . . has demonstrated persistent concern with the practical application of religious resources to help victims of social chaos, oppression, and addictions. From the beginning, there has been an ongoing commitment to help “the least, the last, and the lost” with “soup, soap, and salvation.” This down-to-earth orientation led the Army from its inception into the field of alcoholism. Firsthand experiences in the squalor of London slums made the founders, William and Evangeline Booth, and their fellow Salvationists keenly sensitive to the problem. Booth agonized over the tragic plight of England’s half million alcoholics. [Howard Clinebell, Understanding and Counseling Persons with Alcohol, Drug, and Behavioral Addictions, rev. and enl. ed. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1998), 184].
And the Salvation Army efforts coincided with those of:
- Gospel Rescue Missions;
- the Young Men’s Christian Association;
- Christian evangelists such as Moody, Sankey, Moorhouse, Meyer, Drummond, Moore, and Folger—who accomplished many a healing as they carried the need for salvation and the Word of God to the derelicts;
- Congregationalists in Vermont; and
- the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor (in which Dr. Bob and his parents were active in Bob’s youth), which developed a program for young Christians that much resembled that of the subsequently-developed Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program. (E.g., both programs included conversion, Bible study, prayer, Quiet Hour, and outreach to newcomers.)
The group founded in the autumn of 1922 by Lutheran minister Dr. Frank N. D. Buchman and a couple of his associates called “A First Century Christian Fellowship”—better known after 1928 as “the Oxford Group”—also contributed its share of life-changing ideas to early Alcoholics Anonymous, though Buchman’s group focused primarily on saving “drunken nations” rather than on saving drunks. But its emphasis of God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible, brought rescue to a number of alcoholics in its ranks.
The Christian Upbringings of A.A. Cofounders in Vermont. As A.A.’s cofounders-to-be were receiving their Christian upbringing in Vermont, they absorbed the news about the organizations and people just mentioned. But they also attended Congregational Sunday schools, churches, and Congregationalist-dominated academies. There they studied the Bible and attended daily chapel (with its sermons, reading of Scripture, hymns, and prayers). And they were necessarily put in touch with a substantial amount of the Young Men’s Christian Association’s salvation and Bible emphasis.
How the First Three AAs Got Sober. The story of how the first three AAs got sober is not a story about an A.A. program. It is an account of how three down-and-out Christian alcoholics—who believed in God, had been Bible students, and had been active in churches at a one or more points in their lives—admitted their alcoholism, determined to quit for good, turned to God for help, were cured, and actively helped others for the rest of their days.
The Original Akron A.A. “Christian Fellowship” Program. This first actual A.A. program founded in Akron in June 1935 was Bible-based. It had no Twelve Steps or Twelve Traditions. It had no Big Book. And it had no “war stories” or meetings like those seen today. The pioneers believed the answers to their problems were in the Bible. The AAs in Akron called themselves a “Christian fellowship.” And their seven-point program as it looked in February 1938 is summarized on page 131 of DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. Its principles and practices incorporated ideas both Bill W. and Dr. Bob had learned growing up in Vermont. And do you know what that program really was?
Bill W.’s “New Version of the Program, . . . the ‘Twelve Steps.’” Then came Bill Wilson’s “new version of the program, . . . the ‘Twelve Steps.’” [See Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 162]. Bill prepared his Big Book and the content of his “Steps” from the things he borrowed from Dr. William D. Silkworth, Professor William James, and Reverend Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.—a chief lieutenant of the Oxford Group in America and rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York. [See The Language of the Heart , 195-98, 297-98].
A Major Compromise by a “Committee of Four.” Shortly before Bill W.’s Big Book was published in April 1939, a dramatic change in A.A. occurred. Bill described in considerable detail how the Big Book was written on pages 153-73 of Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. On page 166, Bill described what he said “[a]t the time . . . looked like just another battle over the book.” On pages 17 and 162-64, he had given the background of an ongoing “debate” among the “conservative, liberal, and radical viewpoints,” out of which “came the spiritual form and substance of the document.” And on page 166, Bill stated:
We [i.e., a “committee of four” comprised of Fitz, Henry, Henry’s secretary Ruth, and Bill W.] were still arguing about the Twelve Steps. All this time I had refused to budge on these steps. I would not change a word of the original draft, in which, you will remember, I had consistently used the word “God,” . . .
From the quote immediately above, together with other language in the same paragraph, we learn from the Big Book’s (primary) author, Bill W., that he had written the (unmodified) word “God” in his “original draft” of the Twelve Steps and had firmly stuck with that language up to the point of this “battle over the book.” But then the “contentions” of the “radical” viewpoint—represented by Bill’s partner Henry (“Hank P.”) and Jimmy B.—won out. Bill spoke of “compromise” and “compromise words,” stating:
. . . 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 . . . [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 167; italics in original]
When 400 copies of the typed “prepublication copy of the text and some of the stories,” which Bill said he had labeled “the mimeograph issue ‘Alcoholics Anonymous,’ were circulated to “everyone we could think of who might be concerned with the problem of alcoholism,” the wording of Steps Two and Three had already been changed to reflect the “compromise.” But Step Eleven still contained the unmodified word “God”:
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. [“Chapter Five: How It Works” in The Original Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous available on Silkworth.net: http://mcaf.ee/siokx]
It was not until Hazelden published high-resolution scans of the printer’s manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous in 2010 under the title, The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous, that it became possible for the first time for the public to see both the unmodified word “God” in Step Eleven and the handwritten circle added around the word “God,” accompanied by the handwritten words “as we understood” stretching into the right-hand margin. The scanned copy of the printer’s manuscript, reprinted on pages 21-190 in The Book That Started It All, is filled with scribbled notes, changes, deletions, and initials of those who fiddled with it. And a considerable number of the markings reflect an effort to remove Christian and Bible traces, as well as references to God. And they surely altered the whole tenor of Bill’s codified Oxford Group “new version of the program.”
What This Website Offers Alcoholics and Addicts Still Suffering Today
The history, origins, and development of A.A. are certainly covered by the many dissemination categories covered by the many sources referred to in this website. But “the rest of the story” is what we emphasize. “The rest of the story” documents the early successes based on, and the later shift away from, the Bible roots, Christian fellowship, and original and concise Akron A.A. program
The major and previously-obscured points are found in the books, articles, blogs, audios, videos, radio shows, YouTube presentations, and other materials you will find through this website. You will note how A.A. moved from its original quest for a Bible-based cure of alcoholism by the power of God to self-made Twelve Steps drawn from a philosopher, a psychiatrist, and an Episcopalian Rector. You will see that there has been a decided drift in recovery tools from reliance on God to literature that describes “gods” with weird names like “light bulb, Big Dipper, tree, and door knob.” It shifted descriptions of God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible to “higher powers,” “spirituality,” and the newly-proclaimed dictum that you may now, if you wish, believe in nothing at all as you enter the rooms of A.A.
And it is the result of 25 years of research, and 28 years of continuous sobriety, as well as the hands-on work “in the trenches” by Dick B. and his son Ken B., that almost demand of the newcomer admission of some kind of total defeat, a determination not to drink, reliance on God, reference to the Bible, and the helping of and service to others. These are the simple ingredients of “old-school” A.A.—particularly as it was seen in A.A.’s early days in Akron and to some extent in Cleveland as well. We believe that Christians will—when fully informed—consider their options in recovery today. The “old-school” ideas can and should be applied in the 12-Step Fellowships as an option that placed A.A. on the map and fostered the sale of millions of A.A. books in the ensuing decades.
The All-But-Ignored-or-Forgotten Precepts of “Old School” A.A.
As a taste of “the rest of the story” that you will find here, the following pieces of evidence speak more loudly than any research, lectures, history books, opinions, and statistical surveys.
Around the beginning of December 1934, Bill Wilson went to Calvary Mission in New York City where his friend Ebby was living and made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. On December 11, 1934, he checked into Towns Hospital as a patient needing care for alcoholism for the fourth and final time. About three days into that stay, Bill cried out to God for help. He had his famous vital religious experience in which he said his hospital room “blazed with an indescribably white light.” And Bill wrote that he believed “the God of the Scriptures” was present in his room and that this was the source of Bill’s being cured of alcoholism. [See, for example, The Language of the Heart, 284]. Bill W.’s story still rests on his statement quoted by AA Number Three, Bill D., in Bill D.’s personal story in the Big Book: “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.” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191]
Dr. Bob was persuaded by a tiny group of friends meeting at T. Henry and Clarace Williams’ home in Akron, Ohio, to confess publically to them that he was a “secret drinker.” He dropped to the floor on his knees with them and prayed for his deliverance. The miracle of the appearance of Bill Wilson, a total stranger, in Akron in May 1935, followed and constituted what the group and Dr. Bob believed was the answer to the prayer. Soon, after one last binge in early June, Dr. Bob said in Bill W.’s presence that he was leaving the surgery he was about to perform and his determination to quit drinking in God’s hands. And June 1935 marked A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob’s last drink and the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous.
There is much much more to give present-day alcoholics and addicts a reliable picture of how they can, even today, learn and apply the history, the belief, and the actions that buttressed the successful efforts of 40 “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable,” “last-gasp-case,” “real” alcoholics who were staying sober as of November 1937 to get well and stay well. And we suggest that the principles and practices required in the highly-successful, early Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program are still an option today, based on current A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Which “Big Book” (the Alcoholics Anonymous Basic Text) Should We Use?
By Dick B.
© 2014 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Until just recently, if an A.A. group chose to use the first (1939) edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”), it might encounter several objections: (1) The 1939 edition is not copyrighted and is thus in the public domain; i.e., it is not/no longer “owned” by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. (2) The 1939 edition was not “A.A. General Service Conference-approved” (as there was no “Conference” in existence in 1939 to approve it!); and therefore, some asserted, neither individuals nor groups should (be allowed to) use it. (3) Use of the 1939 edition, some asserted, was (somehow) a violation of the Twelve Traditions because that edition was not A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature. (4) Occasionally, groups have been stricken, or barred, from A.A. office group listings if someone decided that a particular piece of literature was not A.A. General Service Conference-approved, was considered religious, or had not been approved by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., in New York.
Next, though few seemed to realize it, the personal testimonies in the “Personal Stories” section of the A.A. Big Book--the largest portion of the basic text book in all four of its editions—were intentionally and systematically removed from editions of the Big Book.
Specifically, 22 of the original 29 personal testimonies in the first edition’s “Personal Stories” section were not included in the second (1955), third (1976), and fourth (2001) editions. And another four of the first edition’s personal testimonies in that section were not included in the fourth edition. Thus, all but three of the personal testimonies in the “Personal Stories” section of the first edition of the Big Book were removed; and they have seldom been seen or studied by any group or individual. A few years back, the 26 first edition personal testimonies not in the fourth edition were reprinted by A.A. itself—but with apologies and criticisms. In 2003, A.A. published Experience, Strength and Hope: Stories from the First Three Editions of Alcoholics Anonymous (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2003). This book contains the statement: “This is A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature.” This volume also states:
The importance of these personal stories cannot be overstated. [p. ix]
Experience, Strength and Hope then quotes A.A. cofounder Bill W. as follows from a 1954 letter he wrote “when he was immersed in collecting new stories for the second edition . . .”:
“The story section of the Big Book is far more important than most of us think. . . . [I]t is the written equivalent of hearing speakers at an A.A. meeting; it is our show window of results.” [p. ix]
After quoting Bill W. himself as to the importance of the personal testimonies of early AAs, the book begins to bring into question both those A.A. pioneers and their personal testimonies—particularly those stories found in the first edition:
Most of the A.A. writers got sober before the Twelve Traditions had been adopted, many of them in that chaotic period when A.A. was “flying blind” and learning from its many mistakes.” [p. xi]
A little further on, Experience, Strength and Hope goes on to say:
The stories that follow, reprinted from the first edition, take us back to the “trial and error” days, . . . The A.A.s we meet here . . . were still a little unsure and afraid of the “thing” they had found, still groping for clear guidelines, still largely uneducated about their alcoholism. [p. 2]
The book continues:
Some of the rough edges found in the first edition stories (the use of profanity, for example, references to specific religious beliefs, and several rather disorganized stories) would be smoothed out in those chosen for later editions. [pp. 2-3]
We encourage readers carefully to note the following characterizations found spread over the three statements quoted immediately above:
“before the Twelve Traditions had been adopted”;
“that chaotic period”;
“its many mistakes”;
“a little unsure and afraid”;
“largely uneducated about their alcoholism”; and
“rough edges . . . references to specific religious beliefs”
Such characterizations do little but diminish the stature, reliability, and quality of the personal testimonies of those A.A. pioneers for a sick, confused, bewildered newcomer. They tend to discourage the newcomer from reading anything but what today’s authorities deem to be above question. And these editorial characterizations come only many years after Dr. Bob, Bill W., A.A. Number Three Bill D., and the many other successful pioneers were no longer around to respond.
For all these reasons, we recommend the following publication:
Alcoholics Anonymous: “The Big Book”: The Original 1939 Edition, with a New Introduction by Dick B. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2011)
The A.A. General Service Conference-approved book Experience, Strength and Hope has now essentially given “Conference-approved literature” status “retroactively” to the personal testimonies in the “Personal Stories” section of the first edition basic text. And the 23-page Introduction in the Dover Publications reprint of the first edition provides the best historical backdrop for those who want to know what early AAs did before there was a Big Book, before there were any “Steps” or “Traditions,” and before there were any “drunkalogs” or meetings of the kinds we know today. More and more AAs, members of other 12 Step Fellowships and groups, and other students of A.A. history are using this Dover Publications reprint of the first edition for their study sessions. The book is available on Amazon.com for under $15.00:
“The Big Book Has Never Been Changed!”--???
By the way, have you ever heard the following claim?
“The Big Book has never changed!”
The assertion above is another one of the major, destructive “myths” that have circulated within the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous because so few have done the “careful reading” spoken of on page 567 of “Appendix II: Spiritual Experience” in the fourth edition. Please note the following phrases used in the Preface of the fourth edition:
“strong sentiment against any radical changes” [p. xi];
“the first portion of this volume, . . . has been left largely untouched” [p. xi];
“revisions made for the second, third, and fourth editions” [p. xi]’
“The second edition added . . .” [p. xi];
“Upon careful reading”—to use again the language of the Big Book—wouldn’t you agree that most reasonable people would already conclude that the Big Book had been “changed?”
And there is much more.
“But the chief change [in the second edition] was in the section of personal stories, which was expanded to reflect the Fellowship’s growth. “Bill’s Story,” “Doctor Bob’s Nightmare,” and one other personal history from the first edition were retained intact; three were edited and one of these was retitled; new versions of two stories were written, with new titles; thirty completely new stories were added; and the story section was divided into three parts, under the same headings that are used now. [pp. xi-xii; bolding added]
There is a significant inaccuracy in the section of basic text quoted immediately above: “Bill’s Story” was not included in “the section of personal stories” in any of the four editions of Alcoholics Anonymous. “Bill’s Story” is found on pages 10-26 of the first edition; and is found on pages 1-16 of the second, third, and fourth editions. The “Personal Stories” section begins on unnumbered page 181 of the first edition; and it begins on unnumbered page 165 of the second, third, and fourth editions.
In addition--and very significant to our discussion of “changes” in the Big Book—there is what might be generously described as a “misimpression” left by the section of text quoted above from pages xi-xii of the fourth edition. What is not stated clearly in the section of the basic text just quoted is that 22 of the original 29 personal testimonies found in the “Personal Stories” section of the first edition basic text were not included in the second edition. (See page ix of Experience, Strength and Hope; and note that Experience, Strength and Hope states on page 221 that the story titled “The Car Smasher” in the first edition was retitled as “He Had to Be Shown” and was completely rewritten for the second edition.) Those 22 personal stories were also not included in the basic text of the third and fourth editions.
At least the discussion in the fourth edition’s Preface of changes made in the fourth edition —including the exclusion of personal testimonies found in the “Personal Stories” section of earlier editions--is clearer:
This fourth edition . . . revises the three sections of personal stories as follows. . . .
Part I . . . six stories have been deleted. . . .
Part II . . . eleven [stories have been] . . . taken out. . .
Part III . . . eight [stories] . . . were removed . . .
Among those 25 personal stories from earlier editions that were “deleted”/”taken out”/”removed” from the fourth edition, four were from the first edition:
1. “He Had to Be Shown” (which was titled “The Car Smasher” in the first edition, and was retitled and completely rewritten for the second edition—see Experience, Strength and Hope, 221 note);
2. “The European Drinker”;
3. “The News Hawk” (which was titled “Traveler, Editor, Scholar” in the first edition, and was retitled and edited for the second edition—see Experience, Strength and Hope, 268 note); and
4. “Home Brewmeister.”
In other words, A.A.’s today who read the current (2001) edition of Alcoholics Anonymous basic text are only seeing three of the original 29 personal testimonies found in the “Personal Stories” section of the first (1939) edition of the Big Book. That is, in part, why the fourth edition’s Preface speaks of:
All changes made over the years in the Big Book . . .
Hopefully, from now on, you will reject the “myth” that “the Big Book has never changed.”
And that is why we recommend, for your study and recovery, that you select Alcoholics Anonymous: “The Big Book”: The Original 1939 Edition, Dover Publications’ reprint of the first edition, the Big Book whose contents were printed before the many changes that were made in “the Basic Text”—i.e., the whole book Alcoholics Anonymous (see page ix of the fourth edition’s Preface: “. . . this book has become the basic text for our Society.”)--and before so many of the first edition’s personal testimonies were removed from sight for dozens of years.