Sunday, May 11, 2014
A Potential Sustained A.A. Recovery Experience for an Active, Disciplined, 12-Step Alcoholic/Addict Believer Today
© 2014 Anonymous. All rights reserved
The observations here are mine at 89 years of age, and 28 years of active sustained A.A. experience, research, and activity. They represent what I have tried to do and seen others try to do as men and women who have escaped the revolving doors of treatment, relapse, imprisonment, and endless meetings. Who have enhanced trustworthy belief that God can do for them what they could not do for themselves. Who have enjoyed And who do not claim perfection in performance, but do claim progress and a zealous interest in helping still suffering alcoholics and addicts do likewise.
My story is on my main website – in writing and in audio. But this is not about my story of “experience, strength, and hope.” This article is about the things I have researched and, in large part, seen in action, experienced myself, or at least tried to learn, pass on, and do since my A.A. sobriety date on April 21, 1986.
Like some, I entered A.A. a very sick person. I made no judgments about A.A. one way or another. I simply picked up the phone, found a meeting, and hustled over to it. I just dived in and followed the herd – much as I had done in my high school, college, Army, and law school years. Discipline was not a problem for me.
My A.A. activity produced sustained, successful recovery from the first day forward. And my problem was not with my fellow AAs—male or female. My trouble stemmed from my initial lack of knowledge of A.A., detox, treatment, alcoholism, addiction, seizures, relapse, A.A., A.A.’s beginnings, founders, predecessor organizations, Big Book, the Twelve Steps, the Bible God’s primary role in early A.A., the techniques and duties of sponsorship, the appropriate way to “take” the Twelve Steps myself and others as well—having had a sponsor who just plain didn’t know. Plus the problem of some very unusual and unenlightening language that hovered over and around the rooms for all of my 28 years of sobriety
In short, the A.A. I entered provided no instructors and no manuals that gave the newcomer a useful orientation from his beginning moments. And it was years later, at a splendid program in the largest church in San Diego that I saw a model orientation with a newcomer.
Instead, I encountered unusual language which included such undefined terms as “spirituality,” “higher power,” “utilize but don’t analyze,” “take what you like, and leave the rest,” “look for the similarities and discard the differences,” “acceptance is the answer to all your problems,” “look at angry people as sick people and pray for them,” and “A.A. is not religious; it is spiritual.” And there were plenty more.
When sick at the beginning, you are ready to swallow about any language uttered by someone with more sobriety than you and/or with an authoritative and dominating approach and manner.
I am sure my activity in A.A. produced substantial knowledge of the problems and customs of the fellowship, but not much in the way of solutions. At least not for quite some time. Yet I willingly and eagerly served in A.A.—greeter, helper, speaker, secretary, treasurer, General Service Representative, and sponsor.
Though hampered by weak instruction, I made a point of learning the Big Book and then reading all of the significant A.A. Conference-approved literature I could get my hands on. I went to beginners meetings, Big Book study meetings, and Step study meetings. I gave particular attention to the issue of how to “take” a newcomer through the Twelve Steps, and how to separate higher powers from the power and love of God in suggesting to him where to turn.
From the first, I had and still have a strong belief in, study of, and practice of, worshipping God and praying to Him, turning to Him through Jesus Christ, and looking to the Bible for an understanding of what were plainly religious questions. The problem there is that I repeatedly heard anyone who mentioned God, Jesus, the Bible, religion, and other such matters openly condemned when they shared in meetings. And I repeatedly listened to lame, nonsensical language about what was permissible and conventional in A.A. and what was forbidden (as the bleeding deacons often attempted to proclaim.)
The heart of the simple approach for me in seeking, attaining, and sustaining continuous sobriety was much the same as that of the founders and first members of A.A. And that simple approach long preceded A.A., the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions, the Big Book, War Stories, and meetings like those I was attending.
What was the approach? What did one really have to do to get over the seizures, the shakes, the temptations, the fears, the troubles, and the lack of teaching?
Dr. Bob once wrote on his prescription pad in his own writing: “Trust God, Clean House, and Help Others.”
The first three AAs approached their earliest days as Christians, believers in God, determined abstainers, and strong Bible students, as well as church attenders—whatever you may have heard to the contrary. And I had followed that trail, along with the usual common phrases as: “Don’t drink. Go to meetings.”
Trudgers often suggested: (1) Get a Big Book. (2) Get a sponsor. (3) Don’t drink. (4) Go to meetings. (5) Learn the Big Book, (6) Take the 12 Steps. (7) Participate in your own recovery. (8) Bring a newcomer and help one. (9) Heed two strong suggestions: “Love and service” is what the Steps amount to when simmered to their essence. “Love and Tolerance” is the code to be followed.
AAs were told they were very sick people. They were told they had an illness of the mind, body, and spirit. They were never, ever told that the founding doctor (William D. Silkworth, M.D.) had told Bill Wilson and others that Jesus Christ, the Great Physician could cure them of their alcoholism. They were told they had to begin their recovery by “surrendering” self, selfishness, self-centeredness, liquor, (in the early years) sinful behavior and becoming obedient to the Creator. They were told about a “design for living”—a “practical program of action” embodied in the Steps and whose ingredients were drawn largely from precepts of the Oxford Group and the teachings of Oxford Group leader Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. Even the “solution” that Bill later propounded centered around the Creator’s entering their lives in a way that was truly miraculous.
That’s what they were told. But that was usually not what they learned, believed, or practiced. The end result of the Twelve Steps was a supposed “spiritual awakening.” But that self-made religious term was not the one used when the founders were putting their program together. They had needed far more than an “awakening.” The had needed Divine Aid—which could truly release them from their bondage. The concluding term in the stepts had previously been phrased as “a vital religious experience,” “a conversion experience,” “a spiritual experience, and only then as an undefined “spiritual awakening” which was itself finally categorized as a “personality change sufficient to overcome the disease of alcoholism.”
In this article, we will not say what “works” or “can work” or “should work” in Alcoholics Anonymous. That’s because there is no longer any common agreement found much beyond the pages of the Big Book of 1939 and DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. A.A. soon began talking about “keeping it simple,” “higher powers,” “spirituality,” some strange “god” that could be of one’s own understanding, or of one’s own conception, or of “whatever god you thought there was.” Finally, that “god” could be a higher power such as a door knob, a tree, a chair, Ralph, Gertrude, the Big Dipper, a light bulb, a group of drunks, or nothing at all!
The elements that produced success both before, during, and now in A.A. seem well worth studying and emulating as I have learned and experienced them. Here are the elements:
(1) Decision: I need to make major changes in my whole life. I’m licked. I’m afraid. I’m shaking. I’m bewildered. I’m losing. Or. I have lost my old friends and livelihood. I never ever anticipated all the trouble and need to relate it to the self-destructive behavior that alcoholism and addiction tempt me to do, encourage me to do, and immediately remove from my memory and motivation in favor or a drunk or a drug. I never really tried to associate the troubles with my drinking or addictive behavior. I should heed the early A.A. prayer: “O, God, manage me, because I can’t manage myself.” I will seek medical help, detox, or hospitalization before endeavoring to quit on my own or in some recovery program or home. Then I will never ever touch any liquor of any kind or any sleeping pill of any kind.
(2) Determination: I’m going to do whatever it takes to find a way out. I will not drink, no matter what. I’ll give A.A. a try and see what it’s like. I’ve found the others in it to be helpful, friendly, encouraging, and willing to help me in almost any way possible. I’ll throw in with these folks and try to follow their trail—“Come with us. Do what we do. Go where we go. And you’ll get what we’ve got.” But I will seek experienced suggestions and observations from doctors, psychiatrists, nutritionists, clergyman, the Bible, and those with long-term successful sobriety as to what pieces of advice or opinion are simply the unreliable wisdom of the rooms or those that are the unique prize of affiliation with Alcoholics Anonymous.
(3) Discipline: I’ll take seriously the fact that I have never spent any significant time trying to get in fellowship with God and His son. I have placed the matter of relying on God, thanking God, asking God for help, and obeying God’s commandments on the shelf. On the shelf in favor of pursuing behavior that has inevitably led to trouble. I have never looked at and need to understand the Bible as filled with promises, warnings, guides, healing accounts, and the path to an abundant and everlasting life. I’m going to start getting information on: (a) the Big Book. (b) the Twelve Steps. (c) the Bible.
(4) I’m going to stand on the promises of God. I’m going to obey His commandments, and I’m going to fellowship with those believers in A.A. and elsewhere who do likewise.
(5) I’m going to give large chunks of time each day to prayer, Bible study, and Christian literature that portray God and His Son as what they are to those who become children of God: (a) Heavenly Father. (b) Son of the living God. (c) Reliable sources of love, power, healing, forgiveness, guidance, deliverance, and to the behavior that both told us plainly was what they expected of me and would empower me to do. Especially if I sought these in the name of Jesus Christ. I will recognize that giving in to temptation is a sure way to find the devil’s way and suffer from following that.
(6) I’m going to read, re-read, study, and follow the precepts of Hebrews 11:6—concerning belief that God is and is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him; and the precepts of Romans 10:9—concerning the way to come to the Father through His son by confessing with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in my heart that God raised him from the dead.
(7) I am going to follow the command of Matthew 6:33—Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. The A.A. slogan “First things First” gives me the proper appropriate instruction. Seek God, his righteousness, and his will first and place my trust in these—knowing that God is a provider for those who are his kids.
(8) I will pursue growth rather than static accomplishment—growth in understanding my Creator, growth in understanding what Jesus accomplished for me, growth in studying the Bible daily, growth in asking God daily in accordance with His will for the things He wants me to do, the places He wants me to go, the people He want me to help, and the salvation He wants me to have and to explain to others.
(9) I will read and learn the personal stories of the original A.A. pioneers which tell how each, in his own language and from his own point of view, not only established his relationship with God, but applied the principles of A.A.’s very first program—taking them from the Bible itself.
(10) I will look at the Big Book and the Twelve Steps as a new version of the A.A. program as of 1939; learn that these materials were modified before printing to suggest that any god or no god would do. And, I will ignore the license that such compromises give to others in the fellowship these days. I will confirm to myself and to others what God, the Bible, history, recovery, the Christian upbringing of our founders, the successes of the first three AAs, and the simple Akron Christian Fellowship program showed us could work if we thoroughly followed the path and continued to serve God and those about us to the maximum extent possible.
(11) I will get along with those in or out of the fellowship who lovingly and kindly embrace different views, different religious ideas, or even engage in outright opposition to those who believe as I do. And I will counter their attitudes first by asking God how to deal with them, learning what A.A. was founded to do, and confirming what it steadfastly declares that I can do without being governed or fettered.
(12) I will recognize that the message conveyed to the world by God, His Son, and the Bible was that man has been given an option—to believe or not to believe, to serve or not to serve, to follow the guidelines in 1 Corinthians 13 or not, and to follow thoroughly the path laid out by the founders of A.A. or to fashion some belief, or prayer, or religion, or creed of their own so long as they do not interfere with my conviction that God’s way is the way the founders chose and the way that assures receipt of the promises God made to those who loved Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength
In his last major talk to AAs, Dr. Bob said:
But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book . . . . We already had the basic ideas [that influenced the writing of the Twelve Steps] though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book, The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks, pp. 13-14
And here were some of the important basic ideas in the Good Book on which the early AAs could plant their feet and rely:
Luke 1:37: “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4: “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved; and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” James 4:10: “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” 1 John 5:3: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments and His commandments are not grievous. 1 John 5:14-15: “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”
I believe that the personal stories of the first three AAs, and the personal stories of the A.A. pioneers—mostly Christians from the Akron area—as set forth in the First Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous depict the faith in God’s Word that enabled them to trust Him and that Word.
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Letter to an AA Who Asks if the New First Edition Contains Scripture
© 2014. Anonymous. All rights reserved
[name removed to protect anonymity]
Wayne: Thank you very much for the letter and for your interest in the First Edition and Scripture. I think you should realize that the First Edition contains two unrelated parts. First, the personal stories are primarily the stories of the Akron AA Christian Fellowship pioneers and how they established their relationship with God. These stories were written and mostly completed before Wilson completed the chapters. The Wilson chapters imply that the pioneers “read the book,” “took the book down from the shelf” etc. But there was no book. The pioneers were not talking about the Twelve Steps or Wilson’s chapters. They were telling primarily how they found God, studied the Bible, prayed together, had quiet times, had very few “stories” or “meetings.” Were there references to Scripture and quotes. Answer: Yes. However, I would urge you to consider the following resources instead:
1. The Dover Edition of the First Edition with the 27 page introduction by me. It is an exact replica, it is inexpensive, and the publisher wanted an explanation of the book. You can buy it on Amazon.com.
2. Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous by Dick B. and Ken B. http://mcaf.ee/gj7iw. I’m sure its explanations and quotes will bless you; and it is brief. You can buy in on Amazon.
3. Stick with the Winners! by Dick B. and Ken B. http://mcaf.ee/s50mq. This is the companion book, and it shows how old school A.A. can be grounded on today’s Conference-approved literature if given the proper guides and quotes.
If you buy the Anniversary Edition as thousands may probably do, you won’t see the differences mentioned above. You won’t realize that the personal stories in the First Edition were almost totally removed from A.A. literature for many years, You may wind up erroneously thinking that the pioneer stories are testimonies as to how Bill’s new version of the program—the Twelve Steps—correlates with the stories. And it doesn’t!
Please feel free to phone me. And thanks again for writing.
Dick B. 808 874 4876 – Maui, Hawaii
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
AA History - the New Era of AA History is about to come alive again - incorporating old school A.A. into recovery
Wow. The immediate response to our forthcoming release of the "rest of the story" so long overdue in the recovery arena is heart-warming. We are cranking up our social media contacts. A generous addiction medicine physician has become a contributor along with six or seven others. And as soon as the photo inserts and editing are complete, we are good to go. And it's a thrill as we have watched the parade of incomplete movies, films, interviews, march onward and further cloud the simple recovery origins: They are the Bible, the Christian predecessors of A.A., the Christian upbringing of our cofounders in Vermont, how the first three got sober, and the simple Akron Christian Fellowship program summarized by Frank Amos. It boils down to renouncing substance abuse for good, turning to God for help, fellowshipping with like-minded believers, and helping others. It does not mean turning our backs on anyone or any other persuasion. We still believe that "keep it simple" is not "keep it simple, stupid." It is about simply acting with all dispatch to quit for good, trusting God all the way, tolerating the diverse views of unbelievers while helping those who may want God's help and a cure. Onward and upward. Keep those cards and letters coming. God Bless you all! Dick B. May 5
Monday, May 5, 2014
Alcoholics Anonymous History – The Rest of the Story. Or Just Photos!
© 2014 Anonymous. All rights reserved
The Rest of the Alcoholics Anonymous History Story was Launched in Maine in 2013
For almost a year since the First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference last year in Portland, Maine, we have been putting together “the rest of the story”—(1) the details of Alcoholics Anonymous History, (2) the origins of A.A. ideas, (3) the many Christian organizations and individuals who successfully helped alcoholics and addicts through salvation and the Bible, (4) the Christian upbringing of A.A. cofounders Dr. Bob and Bill W. in Vermont; and (5) the storehouse of biblical truth that saturated them as youngsters with information about God, His Son Jesus Christ, the Bible, the new birth, the mind renewed to God’s Word, the promises of God, the healings available through God’s power, and the everlasting life awaiting those who chose to believe that God is and come to Him through accepting His Son Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
The need for these details was and is great.
Higher powers, peudo spirituality, idolatry, self-made religion, and even not-god-ness and total unbelief have crept into recovery for some sixty years with an ever expanding and fast moving pace.
The Real Recovery Story Begins with the Creator
Early AAs relied on God for help.
Early Akron AAs established their relationship with God by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Early Akron AAs studied the Bible daily, prayed together daily, observed Quiet Time together daily, broke bread together daily, kept in daily contact with one another, converted others, and were taught about the Creator and Jesus Christ from the Bible.
Early AAs who thoroughly dived into this program and carried its message put together a miraculous recovery technique that was attested to by the personal stories of the pioneers in the First Edition of their book, Alcoholics Anonymous. It is described in admirable detail in A.A.’s Conference-approved DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers.
Even Bill W.’s “new version of the program the Twelve Steps” mentioned God and reliance on Him countless time. It does so even today despite the compromise with atheists and agnostics that took place on the eve of the new version—the chapters written by Bill Wilson in particular—went to press in 1939.
Photos, Videos, Films, and Plays Haven’t Enlightened You About the Divine Aid
From “Lost Weekend” to “Days of Wine and Roses;” from “chalk talk” to various plays about Bob and Bill; from a few movies; from some of the ever-increasing body of photos of the principal characters and places to pamphlets and pamphlets and pamphlets, the real story of A.A.’s history has yet to be told. But it’s on its way to you right now!
Many of us have seen countless photos of Bill, Bob, Anne, Lois, Henrietta Seiberling, T. Henry Williams, Ebby Thacher, Dr. Silkworth, Dr. Carl Jung, Professor William James, Frank Buchman, and Sam Shoemaker. But it’s just produced a nodding acquaintance. The details have been as scarce as the Wizard of Oz.
The real roots of A.A. are in: (1) the Bible; (2) A.A.’s predecessor organizations like the Salvation Army, Rescue missions, Christian Endeavor, the YMCA, the great evangelists, and Congregationalism--which are plainly unknown to those who believe A.A.’s concerns for telling still suffering newcomers what the Lord could do for them are vital to Christian recovery; (3) the Christian upbringing of Bill W. and Dr. Bob in Vermont; (4) the astonishing story of how the first three got sober, were cured, said so, and openly attributed their success to their Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ; (5) the original Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship program which is no way resembles Bill’s “new version;” of the Twelve Steps; and (6) the extent to which A.A.’s own conference-approved literature today can be used as a foundation for carrying the details just mentioned and making the biblical roots of the Twelve Steps better known and an integral part of A.A. history.
Our Forthcoming Video Series Will Provide Facts and Photos; Details and Not Just Photos
Stay tuned because the “rest of the story” will change your perception of what A.A. did, can do, and needs to learn and remember today.
The filming of our videos is complete. The pictures of the resources are being taken right now. The editor is ready to put the picture together. And we will shortly make it available to you!
Sunday, May 4, 2014
What Useful Approach Can You Take to Help a Child Avoid Drug and Alcohol Disasters?
A Letter from, and my response to a concerned parent who wrote me
© 2014 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Dear S: Please pardon my delayed response, but my son and I have been deep into filming of our video series on Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism: The Rest of the Story.
Let me give you some general points, not all of which I agree with: (1) Today's A.A. literature and many a "professional" conclude "once an alcoholic always an alcoholic" and that alcoholism cannot be cured. But It can! www.dickb.com/cured.shtml. (2) A.A. does not oppose liquor, nor does it advocate such things as Prohibition. (3) A.A.'s Big Book lays claim to the idea that neither will-power, nor self-knowledge, nor fear, nor any human effort can cure the alcoholic. The thesis at times has been that the only defense against the first drink is that of an "higher power." I do not subscribe to nonsense gods; but I do fervently believe and have proven to myself after 28 continuous years of sobriety that God can help the alcoholic stop for good; that God can help anyone avoid temptation; that God can help the alcoholic out of the self-destructive messes he creates; and that God can guide believers into a way of life which makes it unnecessary to drink and joyous to be sober. However, all this depends on the alcoholic. He will drink if he wants to; he will not quit until he wants to; and he will not be able to stop or control the amount he drinks once he starts. And the woods are full of those who cried out to God for help out of the hole. And received it!
My own experience is this: (1) There was no alcoholism in my family. (2) My father quit smoking before I was born; and that--plus some of the offensive nature of smoking--was enough to keep me from ever smoking or wanting to smoke. (3) Yet many an alcoholic will tell you his father, grandfather, aunts, uncles, and brothers were alcoholics or died of alcoholism and that such evidence did not keep the potential drunk away from the bottle. (4) Neither my two sons nor their wives are alcoholics. (5) My older son has been knee deep with me in helping alcoholics get well; and he wouldn't drink if someone tried to pour the booze down his throat.
Some conclusions: (1) There is an adversary in the world who wants to use temptation, deception, false ideas, and self-destructive living as tools for killing God's kids. (2) Early AAs favored the Book of James in the Bible; and James 4:7 states the defense in God's terms--submit yourselves therefore to God; resist the devil; and he will flee from you. James 4:10 states = Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord and he will lift you up. (3) For someone who doesn't drink or doesn’t want to drink or doesn't want to get in trouble drinking, that person can apply three D's - decision, determine, and discipline. And this is what I did until I returned from the Army. Then--without knowing about alcoholism, without knowing about A.A., and without knowing the trouble the insanity of alcoholism could get the inebriete involved in, I drank, drank too much, and suffered many a disaster. (4) I have no objection to DUI classes or education of the young in the nature of alcoholism. It would appear that the millions which have been spent on stopping smoking have actually paid off; and the efforts to inform kids about alcoholism and drunks has not been emphasized enough. (5) A parent who brings a child up believing in God and urging the child to live a life obedient to God's precepts is using the best weapon. Cautioning against or informing about excessive drinking seems unlikely to deter the risk taking that goes part and parcel with growing up--warning signs ignored, cessation put on the shelf, temptation, and the pleasure that drinking brings for a time, the strange insanity that sets in once a person is hooked, slippery people and slippery places, and some anatomical and psychological education ought to be helpful. There are many religious people who regard alcoholism as a sin. And excessive drinking is surely proscribed by the Bible. Originally, AAs held the same view. But the idolatry and shunning of the Bible in recovery today has put "sin" on the shelf among most recovery leaders.
In closing: I don't pose as an expert. I do pose as an ex-drunk who has been cured. I did renounce liquor on April 21, 1986 after I suffered endless misery. I did and do rely on God for help. I did learn to tell the devil and his mignons to take a hike when a threat appeared. I do spend an immense amount of time uncovering for an increasingly secularized A.A. and 12-Step movement the great successes that A.A. originally achieved when it espoused the simple program of abstinence, giving one's life to God, eliminating sinful conduct, growing in understanding of God through prayer and Bible and Christian literature, and giving a bundle of time to helping others. To the extent that people do not do these things today and yield to temptation, they can easily slip into the euphoria of drugs and booze and cast caution to one side.
Keep working with your daughter; and if my views have appeal, I have published 46 books and over 1700 articles on the history of A.A. and the Christian Recovery Movement; and I hope you spend some time seeing the value of that information. Meanwhile, thanks again for writing. Call me any time.
Richard G. Burns, J.D., CDAAC
Author and A.A. historian, retired attorney, Bible student (pen name “Dick B.”)
46 published titles & over 1,450 articles on A.A. history and the Christian Recovery Movement
Exec. Dir., International Christian Recovery Coalition
Christian Recovery Resource Centers - Worldwide
Christian Recovery Radio
PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837
Ps 118:17 (NJB):
I shall not die, I shall live to recount the great deeds of Yahweh.
From: Susan. . .
Sent: Wednesday, April 30, 2014 10:27 AM
Subject: A great alcohol abuse resource
My daughter, Mary, is at the age where she's getting invited to parties and I know she'll be surrounded by teen drinking at some point. I've started talking to her about alcohol abuse, drunk driving, peer pressure, etc. and have been using the resources on your page (http://www.dickb.com/links.shtml) quite a bit. You have some really good information - thanks!
Since we have some alcoholism in our family history, I really wanted her to be educated on the topic. I had her do some research of her own and she ended up coming across this article (http://www.sandiegoduiattorneynow.com/understanding-alcohol-abuse/). When she showed it to me I found it to be very useful and convenient...there's a bunch of resources for teens and it discusses what alcohol abuse is, signs, effects, getting help and how to help a loved one. She learned a lot!
We wanted to share it with you as a thank you and thought it would make a great addition to your page. I think others will find the information useful and spreading awareness like this could even end up saving a life. It's really given me some peace of mind that I've started the conversation with my daughter and I hope it continues :) Let me know if you get a chance to add it - we'd be thrilled!
Susan (and Mary)
Saturday, May 3, 2014
It's all about the "rest of the story." All the important beginnings, precursors, Christian upbringing, successes of the first three AAs, the original old school A.A. program, Bill's meandering six ideas, the new version of the program the Twelve Steps, and the last minute compromise with atheists and agnostics.
Four stages of preparation: (1) Research, writing, and filming - Done! (2) Photos of the exhibits prepared - next to do. (3) Editing and formatting - coming soon. (4) Release of series with guidebook.
Yesterday marked completion of the filming our long-in-preparation video series - Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism: The Rest of the Story. Now for the insertion of informative photos. Then the editing. And then the release! Soon!
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Christian Alcoholics and Addicts-- Seeking Care for and Cure of Them
“The Rest of the Story”
© 2014 Anonymous. All rights reserved
In many ways today, seeking care for and cure of alcoholism and drug addiction for Christians can easily find itself facing the same end of the road as, in 1935, did afflicted Christians who wanted God’s care and healing.
The Backdrop for the Mutual Aid by Those Still Suffering
In those early, sorry days, alcoholics and addicts were often pronounced “medically incurable.” Doctors and psychiatrists supported a fellowship that would look after the “seemingly hopeless” relapsed, recidivist alcoholics (and often addicts) for which they had found no cure. Churches and clergy had lost much of the zeal their predecessor organizations and leaders of the later 1800’s had for revivals, healing meetings, and conversions.
Yet the ogre of addiction problems was present. It was growing. And it seemed likely to lead to death, insanity, or incarceration for the frequent repeaters. These recidivists were the folks who weren’t necessarily groveling in the gutters and flea bag hotels. They were the folks who perhaps welcomed “soup and soap” but not the more compassionate and understanding “soup, soap, and salvation” offered by missions, the Salvation Army, Young Men’s Christian Association, and the evangelists like Moody, Meyer, Folger, and Sunday who were still dishing out healings to thousands—not necessarily just to alcoholics, but to the lost, the derelicts, and the “bums.”
Prohibition had been tried as a remedy, but it didn’t stop the obsession, craving, and repeated disastrous behavior.
The Turning Point in 1935 to Reliance on God by Unskilled Desperate Comrades
But, in 1934 to 1935, by a series of miraculous healings, a tiny group of alcoholics had taken into their own hands as fellow drunks and addicts the best of the best that had gone before them. The Creator was ever-present. That was the best. His son Jesus Christ was still the towering necessity for a relationship with God as seen by most Americans. That too was the best. And abstinence, obedience to God’s will, and charitable help for others were a good fit.
But the very ingredients that had been tendered to the suffering in the previous century had fallen out of common purpose and concern. Wars, the temptations of liquor, poverty, financial disaster, unemployment, a mere nodding belief, and the lack of medical know-how had left the truly Great Physician behind. And the suffering deplored their own seeming powerlessness, helplessness, hopelessness. Yawning open skyscraper windows, the option of homelessness, and the seemingly easier, softer way trumped routes that led to God’s love, healing, and power.
Barriers of Doubt, Temptation, Inaction, Fear, Weakened Will, and Seemingly Insane Thinking Stood in the Way
The purpose here is not to breathe life into the sources, origins, biblically developed, individual victories of the earliest days of such societies as Alcoholics Anonymous. The need for “Divine Aid” was there in 1935. But the trust and believing—such as existed--were largely dormant or unused.
Could God cure alcoholism?
The first answer in Alcoholics Anonymous was, “Yes.” And that view was voiced by almost every early AA who dug into their program, placed his life and efforts in God’s hands, found release, and then insisted on helping others achieve the same cure.
What were the ingredients that fostered the results?
Sticking With the Winners – the First Century Christians
Neither God, nor His son Jesus Christ, nor the Bible were new to society. But out of their own sheer repeated failures, the first three AAs decided they themselves must quit and quit for good. They decided to pray that God would care for, guide, and heal them; and they did so. And when, in short order, each was cured and said so, all three set out to help others do likewise.
Was this biblical? Of course it was. From the Bible and its Acts of the Apostles in First Century Christianity, the practices were easy to find. The practices included repenting, being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, listening to Apostles’ eye-witness-derived doctrine since most written New Testament elements had not yet been promulgated. The brethren prayed together, broke bread together, met in the homes or temple together, kept almost continuous fellowship together, healed others, and went about witnessing and converting others to God through Christ.
The Book of James served almost as a road map with instructions: Patience, Asking God for wisdom and doing so without doubt, Avoiding temptation, Doing God’s Word and not just hearing it, Refusing to be a respecter of persons, Loving others, Accompanying their faith with works, Avoiding devilish conduct, Guarding their tongues, Submitting themselves to God and resisting the devil, Humbling themselves before God in order to be lifted up, Seeking healing, Confessing their faults one to another, Praying for one another, and Believing that the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man would avail much. Adding to these, the guides to God’s will in Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and the guides to God’s love in 1 Corinthians 13.
And the church grew by leaps and bounds. Sometimes thousands in a day.
They healed by calling on the name of Jesus Christ, just as Jesus had promised they could. They were guided. They were empowered. And they had received the gift of the Holy Spirit that provided guidance and the power of God. And they believed.
Religion’s Concern for the “Unworthy,” and the Vermont Christian Catalysts for Bill and Bob
In the 1850’s religious leaders began turning to the down-trodden in America. They did it with the message of “soup, soap, and salvation.” They provided shelter. They provided food. They held services where the Bible was read, salvation through Jesus was preached, and acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior was regularly invited and sought. Moreover, this produced healing of alcoholism for many a drunk of those earlier days.
Bill W. and Dr. Bob were born and raised Christians in Vermont. They attended Congregational church and Sunday school. They heard Scripture read at home and in church. They heard salvation preached, and they became aligned with Congregationalists through baptism and profession of faith. Both men attended Congregational academies which required daily chapel; and the daily chapel proffered sermons, reading of Scripture, hymns, and prayers. Attendance at Congregational Church services once a week was required by the Academies. The Young Men’s Christian Association was active in both of their lives and villages.
Amidst all of this, they had excellent training in the Bible as youngsters.
Bill took a required four year Bible study course at Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester. And Bob was not at all hesitant to say and repeat that he had had excellent training in the Bible as a youngster. We now know, from church records themselves, that this took place in their family, in their church and Sunday school, (and in Bob’s case) in the regimen of the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor where he was active, in St. Johnsbury Academy, and through the YMCA principles and practices to which both were exposed.
Had they learned that there could be healing by the power of God and, as God was with them, as Christians in the name of Jesus Christ?
Biblical Lessons about Cures Obtained by Christians
The answers abounded in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Jesus healed the blind, deaf, dumb, crippled; and he even raised from the dead. He told the Apostles they would do likewise after he had prayed his Father to send them the gift of the Holy Spirit. And the Apostles produced the same kinds of healings and raising from the dead and often gave testimony of what they had received through accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Could alcoholics and addicts be healed by Christians who utilized the power of God, prayed, and believed?
Again, the remarkable healings by evangelists in revivals, the cures at missions like Water Street Mission in New York, and the successes of the Salvation Army and of the Congregationalists all established that the drunk, the derelict, and the down-and-out people could be delivered “wholesale” (as Bill expressed years later to Dr. Carl Jung).
The Development in A.A. of “Christian Techniques” and a “Christian Fellowship”
And what of the program developed by the Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship—having in your mind that, at the outset, the miraculous healings of the first three (Bill W., Dr. Bob, and Bill D.) took place before there was a group or a program.
Later, in greater and greater numbers, there were hundreds who participated in the early A.A. of Akron seven-point program summarized in A.A.’s DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, page 131.
Then came Bill W.’s “new version of the program the Twelve Steps” published in 1939--four years after the founding. It repeatedly referred to God. It spoke of prayer. It spoke of church. It spoke of religious literature obtainable from or recommended by rabbi, minister, or priest. And it spoke of daily devotions often called “Quiet Time.”
The Change in A.A. Approaches that Scuttled Homogeneity
After twenty-seven years of continuous sobriety as an active AA and twenty-five years of researching its reported roots--as well as "the rest of the story," I would call attention to the great change in recovery fellowships today.
Neither the fellowships nor their members are all of one uniform kind with respect to religion or lack of it, belief in God or lack of it, or whether they can be cured or not.
Their societies are not monolithic today. It is fair to say that A.A. itself has had four "programs," and that its membership has expanded from three drunkards in 1934-35 to two million in the meantime.
The Unvarying Belief Among Thousands and Thousands of AAs Is No More
If you don't start with this history, you just start with conjecture and the subjective viewpoints of one or more of the "four" who completely compromised the A.A. principles and practices just before their first Big Book manuscript went to press.
And, before speculating on what A.A. is or isn't, a reader needs to learn and evaluate the historical research and discoveries of the last thirty years plus years, beginning about 1990.
(1) Before A.A. was founded in June of 1935, and before their first group was founded in Akron on July 4, 1935, the AAs had no program, no Big Book, no Steps, no Traditions, no war stories, and no meetings like those today. In turn, the healing process of the new society emerged from the successes stemming from how the first three got sober: All three (Bill W., Dr. Bob, and Bill D.) believed in God, were Christians, and had lots of Bible in their backgrounds. Each renounced liquor as a way of life. Each turned to God for help. Each was cured permanently (two of them after a brief binge). And each devoted his life thereafter to helping other drunks by the same means. See The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks.
(2) For the next two and a half years, the Akron AAs--under the leadership of Dr. Robert H. Smith--took their basic ideas from the Bible and felt that it contained the answer to their problems. They developed a program involving five required points, and two that were simply "recommended." That founding program is described in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, page 131.
(3) Then Bill Wilson asked permission in Akron to write a book that allegedly would tell others how the first few drunkards had been cured. Bill, got that permission from Akron. And work on the book began in 1938. Wilson wrote the chapters for his "new version" of the program. And the pioneers wrote their personal stories telling how they had worked the Akron program--called a "Christian Fellowship."
Bill's new version itself, he said, was drawn from three sources:
(a) Dr. Silkworth's suggestions to Bill on the alcohol illness problem--including Silkworth's statement that the Great Physician Jesus Christ could cure Bill--this last point just left out of the story for years.
(b) Professor William James who had explored "vital religious experiences" primarily in the rescue missions and the cures that had resulted therefrom.
(c) Reverend Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. who taught Bill the basics included in the remaining 10 Steps which came exclusively from the "practical program of action" or "life-changing" art of A First Century Christian Fellowship, later called the Oxford Group.
(4) Just before Bill's book was sent to press, it consisted of what Bill called his program’s "new version" the Twelve Steps in Bill’s chapters and the "old school" stories of Christian Fellowship drunks. But four people—a secretary, a Christian, Bill’s partner Hank P., and Bill himself re-wrote the manuscript and changed the program dramatically. In addition, they inserted a hand-written piece at the beginning of the typewritten draft.
And that hand-written insert was-neither typed like the rest of the manuscript, nor was it at all accurate as to what Ebby Thacher had actually said to Bill and allegedly assuring Bill that he could "choose your own conception of God." And that's not what Bill's typewritten text had originally said.
Then the same four people altered the Twelve Steps--taking God out of the Second step, and inserting "God as we understood Him" in Steps 3 and 11.
So now there were four programs. And there still are. Unfortunately for the newcomer, the New Thought expression "higher power" and some other language from New Thought writers then crept into the talk and writing of AAs, writers, professionals, academics, clergy, history “buffs,” and many lay people.
Worse, AAs were assured at a later point that they really didn't need to believe in anything at all. In the fourth altered and compromised program, that is.
And this totality of program ideas in the four “programs” is not monolithic, homogeneous, nor uniform. It describes the doings of three drunkards before there was any problem consisting of Steps, Traditions, Big Books, and drunkalogs. Then it describes in detail and summary form what those in the Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship did. Then Bill began writing about six alleged “word-of-mouth” ideas on which there was no common agreement and no common language in the varied versions. Then Bill wrote the new version consisting of his Twelve Steps. And finally, he and three others compromised and turned over the theme of the book to atheists and agnostics and left readers with a self-made “power” and a “god” that could be whatever members understood it to be.
And all this baffles Christians today. It confuses newcomers. And it fashions for some fellowship participants a quasi-religious program that classes itself as "spiritual, but not religious." But not for me! Nor for the many I have sponsored. Nor for most in the International Christian Recovery Coalition.
And now for a personal word.
I am a Christian. This a fact challenged by a tiny group which depicts itself as Christian but then says, neither I, nor the founders, nor the early AAs, nor anyone else who subscribes to the A.A. program are, were, or could possibly be Christians. No facts. Just out-of-context biblical and other gibberish.
I am a Bible student. I believe in God. I was very sick when I came into A.A. I was given immense comfort and friendship by the members of A.A. who greeted and helped me. I immediately dove into the fellowship and stayed committed. I loved helping others the way I was helped. Though a Christian and Bible student, I didn't discover A.A.'s biblical roots until I had been sober three years and started my research. See www.dickb.com/goodbook.shtml.
I can't speak for AAs who are atheists, agnostics, Christians, Jews, humanists, people of various non-Christian religions, non-believers, and "not-god" believers. But I can tell those who follow secular, unbelieving, or other self-made religions that I never relied upon, or urged others to believe in, a door knob, a light bulb, a chair, a table, the Big Dipper, or some strange “higher power” to get well.
I relied on God.
So can you. And you can do so as a full-fledged “member” of Alcoholics Anonymous.