Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Further Burial of Akron Program Ideas in the Words of Bill’s New Twelve Steps


The Further Burial of Akron Program Ideas

in the Words of Bill’s New Twelve Steps

 

By Dick B.

© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved

 

This is not a Twelve Step or a Big Book study. My title Twelve Steps for You covers the diverse origins of each of the Twelve Steps, examining each, step by step. The Big Book has been extensively studied and well-reviewed by such venerable AAs as Joe McQ. and Charlie P. in their Seminars, tapes, and books. What’s been missing is an understanding of the fact that Bill Wilson was commissioned to write a basic text conveying the program details that were so successful in Akron by 1938. Instead, Wilson and his partner Hank Parkhurst, formed a corporation, drew up a stock prospectus, outlined a completely new and different recovery procedure, and sold the ultimate product as “the steps we took.” This despite the fact that there were no steps, that the predecessor Oxford Group had no steps, and that no steps were ever taken by anyone in early 1939—the date the Big Book was published.

 

As a starting point, we can look at Bill’s six word-of-mouth steps and the variant presentations of them. But it is important to highlight the things in the ultimate draft of Twelve Steps that completely changed A.A.’s ideas on what it took to recover. The draft threw Dr. Jung’s “conversion” into a barrel and reworded it a “spiritual experience.” Here are the highlights (See ‘Pass It On, 198-99):

 

·         The idea that AAs were somehow “powerless” replaced the original concept that they were simply “licked.” Powerless led more neatly to Bill’s “Power.” Being licked had been a prelude to a cry to God for help out of the mire.

·         The idea that AAs “came to believe” replaced the original concept that they either believed or they didn’t. And “Power greater than themselves” replaced the word “God” to appease two or three atheists and fit the step into Bill’s “Power” progression.

·         The Third Step redefined “sin,” characterized it as “self-centeredness,” and put a spin on the surrender as being a surrender of self instead of a surrender to God—the kind of surrender involved in a real conversion.

·         The Fourth through Seventh Steps involved action to eliminate offensive manifestations of self, rather than adopting the Biblical solution of receiving the spirit of God, walking by the Spirit, and disdaining walk by the flesh. Note the significance of this change in terms of the “cure” concept. “Self” can’t be eliminated; hence never “cured.” Walking in obedience to God’s will is always possible and an attainable condition to cure.

·         The restitution aspects of the Eighth and Ninth steps retained the Biblical ideas of agreeing with our adversary quickly, righting wrongs through restoration or reconciliation, and cleansing hands as suggested in James 4:7-10.

·         The Tenth and Eleventh Steps shifted attention from a daily walk with the Creator to a daily effort to eliminate self-centeredness plus newly minted defects of character—resentment, self-seeking, dishonesty, and fear. They ignored the Four Absolute standards of Jesus that were so important to AAs and used in Akron—unselfishness, purity, honesty, love.

·         The Twelfth Step twisted “conversion” to “spiritual experience” which later add-on provided no way to a new man, a new power of the Holy Spirit, and a new relationship with God. Quite frankly, no more dramatic shift in emphasis from God to self can be found elsewhere in the action steps. The Twelfth Step emphasized an experience allegedly produced by action instead of a new creature, in Christ, produced by the Creator in the miracle a new birth. Its message therefore shifted to some undefined experience resulting from the steps taken, rather than a demonstration of what God does for man that man cannot do for himself. It spoke of principles but simply left them unspecified even though, in early A.A., the principles were taken from the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, the Book of James, and 1 Corinthians 13, and other parts of the Bible.

 

As Bill’s Depressions Progressed, Diversionary Programs Multiplied

 

Clarence Snyder and Cleveland A.A. Perhaps it all started constructively in May, 1939 when Clarence Snyder took the Bible, the Oxford Group Four Absolutes, the Big Book, and the Twelve Steps to Cleveland and made hay with the old and the new, retaining strong ties to both. Cleveland’s groups grew from one to thirty in a year. The success rate soared to 93%. And Clarence developed guides to taking the steps and sponsorship. [See Three Clarence Snyder Sponsee Old-timers and Their Wives: Our A.A. Legacy to the Faith Community: A Twelve-Step Guide for Those Who Want to Believe, comp. & ed. by Dick B. (Winter Park, FL: Came to Believe Publications, 2005).]

 

Dr, Bob, Sister Ignatia, and St. Thomas Hospital: In 1940, Akron began to be focused on hospitalization and Twelfth-stepping as part of the work by Dr. Bob and Sister Ignatia at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron. This work retained the important hospitalization of old. But Sister Ignatia added some new approaches, and both Dr. Bob and Anne Smith were moving toward their declining years in energy and effort. The Ignatia story is well covered in Mary C. Darrah. Sister Ignatia: Angel of Alcoholics Anonymous. Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1992; and, while it cannot be said that the A.A. program thereby changed, it does seem that a stint with Bob, Ignatia, and St. Thomas might have inclined St. Thomas patients to believe they had completed their rehabilitation even though Akron Group Number One was still meeting, and Dr. Bob was still active.

 

Enter four new influences. Their respective works are covered elsewhere, but each brought substantial changes to A.A. itself:
 
(1) Father Ed Dowling, S.J., entered the scene in late 1940; he communicated with Bill for the next twenty years. Their subject matter: Bill’s “second conversion” when he did a “fifth step” with Dowling, Dowling’s view of the significance of the Exercises of St. Ignatius, and a steady flow of letters. [See Robert Fitzgerald. The Soul of Sponsorship: The Friendship of Fr. Ed Dowling, S.J., and Bill Wilson in Letters (Center City, Minn.: Hazelden, 1995).] But, by 1942, Bill had gone into a deep, severe, almost immobilizing thirteen year depression. And still other leaders and programs were, for whatever reason, attempting to fill the gap.
 
(2) Richmond Walker had a spotty past as a recycled drunk. He gained an interest in the Oxford Group and its literature as early as 1934. He joined the Oxford Group in 1939 to get sober, but didn’t succeed for much over two years. But he gained extensive knowledge of Oxford Group ideas In May of 1942, he entered A.A. and was involved in three very influential literary works. He worked with a devotional titled God Calling, which had been edited by Oxford Group writer A.A. Russell. In 1945, a Massachusetts A.A group published Walker’s For Drunks Only which was filled with Oxford Group ideas, A.A. principles, and sobriety suggestions. He offered it to A.A. for publication and was declined. In 1948, Walker worked with God Calling and converted it to a recovery devotional that has sold in the millions, though also declined by A.A. itself. That devotional is titled Twenty-Four Hours Book.
 
(3) Father Ralph Pfau: Ralph was the first Roman Catholic priest to get sober in Alcoholics Anonymous (he came in on November 10, 1943), and under the pen name which he chose to use, Father John Doe, he wrote his 14 Golden Books back in the 1940’s and 50’s and early 60’s. They are still being read and used by A.A.’s today: Spiritual Side (1947), Tolerance (1948), Attitudes (1949), and others. They were coming out once a year at the beginning. Then Pfau changed his writing and published three much longer books, including Sobriety and Beyond (1955).
 
(4) Ed Webster: In 1946, in Minneapolis, Ed Webster published The Little Red Book under the sponsorship of the A.A. Nicollet Group. Its title was "An Interpretation of the Twelve Steps."   Ed had the help and support of Dr. Bob, who gave numerous suggestions for wording various passages. Ed also wrote Stools and Bottles (1955), Barroom Reveries (1958) and Our Devilish Alcoholic Personalities (in 1970, just a year before his death).
 
 
 
 

Bill’s Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions: When Bill finally pulled out of his depression, Anne Smith was dead, Dr. Bob was dead, the reigns of A.A. were becoming the property of New York, and Bill had set about writing a whole new program in his book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. It was heavily edited by two Roman Catholic Jesuit priests who purportedly sought to eliminate Oxford Group thoughts from its content. Bill also introduced a second edition of the basic text and adopted “spiritual awakening” as the target of the steps—leaving conversion, religious experience, and spiritual experience in the dust bin. He completely replaced “conversion” with a psychological conclusion that, for most AAs, a mere personality change sufficient to overcome the “disease” of alcoholism was all that was required for recovery.

 

Finally, recovery centers and literature substantially pre-empted doctrinal literature publication and distribution. But, as all the foregoing developments occurred, the A.A. success rates became observably more and more dismal—dropping from its original rate of at least 75% to about 5%. And these changes—one and all—provide solid reasons for returning to, re-examining, and learning early ideas and history.


AA OF AKRON rides again

through its four later pamphlets commissioned by Dr. Bob

 

I don’t think anything surprised me more as an AA from the West Coast than finding the four AA OF AKRON pamphlets on sale at the Akron A.A. Intergroup Office--pamphlets originally commissioned by Dr. Bob. They had apparently been around for years. They were filled with the kind of Akron A.A. I’ve described above. They quoted the Bible, recommended prayer, discussed the importance of God, and did so in the context of the Twelve Steps. Yet how in the world did these gems come into being when their contents were virtually unknown where I came from? They seemed at first to be the product or property of some “clandestine A.A.” until I learned what I know today—that they closely resembled the Frank Amos summary of early A.A.

 

I can’t say and do not know how much research has been done on their origins. But this much has been suggested. Dr. Bob felt that the program in the Big Book was not easy for “blue collar” AAs to deal with. He asked Evan W. to prepare some practical guides. And four emerged. For those who have become acquainted with early A.A. in Akron, there’s not a surprise in them even though two of the four I own were republished, respectively in 1989 and 1993, while the other two bear were republished in October, 1997.

 

Treat yourself to this A.A. program material. Program principles and practices that were not written by Bill W.,  that square with the A.A. that Frank Amos summarized, that frequently quote the Bible—just as Dr. Bob did, and that I described in detail above. And let’s look at the general ideas in each of the pamphlets, one by one:

 

Spiritual Milestones in Alcoholics Anonymous

 

At the outset, this pamphlet asks and answers the following:

 

            But, asks the alcoholic, where can I find a simple, step-by-step religious guide? The Ten    Commandments give us a set of Thou Shalts and Thou Shalt Nots; the Twelve Steps of        AA give us a program of dynamic action; but what about a spiritual guide? Of course the         answer is that by following the Ten Commandments and Twelve Steps to the letter we             automatically lead a spiritual life, whether or not we recognize it.

 

Then the pamphlet says: “Here, however, is a set of suggestions, couched in the simplest of language:

 

            1 – Eliminate sin from our lives.

            2 – Develop humility

            3 – Constantly pray to God for guidance.

            4 – Practice charity.

            5 – Meditate frequently on our newly found blessings, giving honest thanks for them.

            6 – Take God into our confidence in all our acts.

            7 – Seek the companionship of others who are seeking a spiritual

                  life.

 

And the explanatory discussions of these seven points frequently mention God, Christianity, the Bible, and prayer. The pamphlet gives several illustrations of how men have found God. It concludes with the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. 

 

A Manual for Alcoholics Anonymous.

 

This guide picks up the trail where Spiritual Milestones left off. It addresses the newcomer, hospitalization, sponsors, visiting the hospital, and what the newcomer must do on his discharge. He is told to read the Bible and give particular attention to the Sermon on the Mount, Book of James, 1 Corinthians 13, and the Twenty-third and Ninety-first Psalms. The guide suggests a prayer life for each and every day. Then it describes the thrill of helping someone else. Citing Matthew 6:34 of the Sermon on the Mount, it suggests day by day time progress and acquiring health “one day at a time.” It quotes Step Twelve as a “Spiritual Experience,” not the “Awakening” Bill was soon to substitute as the result of taking the steps.

 

Second Reader for Alcoholics Anonymous

 

Its primary topic is, WHAT IS THERE IN AA FOR ME BESIDES SOBRIETY. And the article discusses four items: “Work, Play, Love, and Religion”—substituting A.A. for the latter. It contends that the good active AA is practicing Christianity whether he knows it or not. It devotes a paragraph to the Bible accounts that children loved for years: The Lord’s Prayer, David and Goliath and Samson, Adam and Eve in the Garden, the Prodigal Son, and the Good Samaritan. And it lays out some very practical and purposeful ways of sharing a story in A.A. meetings.

 

A Guide to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

 

With this fourth pamphlet, Akron AA completes the circuit of A.A. activity. It offers the following as a simplified, condensed form of the complete program:

 

·         We honestly admitted we were powerless over alcohol and sincerely wanted to do something about it. In other words, we admitted we were whipped and had a genuine desire to QUIT FOR GOOD.

·         We asked and received help from a power greater than ourselves and another human. (NOTE: In almost all cases that power is called God. It is, however, God as WE UNDERSTAND HIM. . . .)

·         We cleaned up our lives, paid our debts, righted wrongs.

·         We carried our new way of life to others desperately in need of it.

 

The pamphlet discusses each of the Twelve Steps individually. It concludes with these rules for living.

 

·         Remember that you an alcoholic, and but one drink away from drunkenness again.

·         Remember that you are completely dependent on God as you understand Him.

·         Remember to keep your thinking straight.

·         Remember that a wrong act will play on your mind until you either do something to rectify it or get drunk.

·         Remember that defects will creep into your life if given half a chance.

·         Remember that if only through gratitude, we must help others in order to help ourselves.

 

Is It Any Wonder!

 

Just look at the road traveled in A.A. between 1935 and 1955. Just look at how the early Akron A.A. precepts perished a little more along each step of the road. And then ask if it’s any wonder that today’s people don’t even know their history, and perhaps don’t even want to know it.

 

But our educational target is the child of God in A.A.—the Christian, the believer, if you wish—who is awash in authoritative talk about spirituality, higher powers, powerlessness, personality changes, and experiences. It is he who needs to be reached with the simplicity of the early Christian Fellowship program. He has as much at stake in that program as any other person in A.A. It concerns his life, his freedom, and his happiness which were spiraling down the tube in his drinking years. And he has as much need and right as any person in A.A. to know that his own beliefs—when used to deliver him from the power of darkness—were the very beliefs that delivered early AAs from the curse of alcoholism. It was alcohol that was the enemy and the key. And the early pioneers found out how to defeat that enemy and turn the lock with the help of Almighty God.

Applying “Old School” A.A. in Today’s 12-Step Fellowships


Applying “Old School” A.A. in Today’s 12-Step Fellowships

By Dick B.

© 2011-2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved

 

What the First, Original, Akron A.A. Program Was and Did

 

The Way the First 3 AAs – Bill W., Dr. Bob, Bill D. – Got Sober Before the Program. See The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., 2010, pp. 57-59

 

            No Steps. No Traditions. No Big Book. No drunkalogs. No meetings as we know them.

            Each believed in God, was a Christian, asked God for deliverance, and received it.

 

The Summary by Frank Amos, Published in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, page 131

 

Five required points: (1) Permanent abstinence. (2) Surrender of one’s life to God. (3) Obedience to God’s will—eliminating sinful conduct, living love. (4) Growing in understanding through Bible study, prayer, seeking guidance, reading religious literature. (5) Helping others get well the same way. Two recommended points: (6) Social and

religious comradeship. (7) Attending a religious service once a week.

 

The Fourteen Practices of the Akron Pioneers, discussed in The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., 2010, pp. 54-57

 

(1)   Qualifying the newcomer. (2) Hospitalization. (3) Belief in God, accepting Jesus

Christ as Lord and Savior. (4) Left hospital with Bible and instructions to “go out and fix drunks as an avocation.” (5) Most lived in residences of recovered Akron pioneers.. (6) Christian fellowship meetings every day. (7) Morning Quiet Time at Smith Home led by Dr. Bob’s wife. (8) “Regular” Oxford Group meeting each Wednesday with “real surrender.” (9) Extensive reading of Christian devotionals and literature. (10) Studying Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 stressed.  (11) Instructions to reach out to newcomers. (12) Frequent socializing in the homes. (13) Members knew each other well, visited, phoned, kept address books. (14) Rosters kept of names, addresses, sobriety dates, relapses (if any), and successful pioneers.

 

The spiritual resources used in that first, original Akron A.A. Program – See Dick B., Real Twelve Step Fellowship History: The Old School A.A. You May Not Know, pp. 27-30, 85-92

 

(1)   The Bible; (2) Conversion to God through Jesus Christ; (3) Anne Smith’s Journal; (4)

Background ideas from (a) Professor William James, (b) Dr. Carl Gustav Jung, (c) Dr. William D. Silkworth, (d) lay therapist Richard Peabody, (e) New Thought writings of Emmet Fox, (f) Writings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker; (5) Christian literature Dr. Bob circulated, (6) Quiet Time, (7) Daily Devotionals, (8) Oxford Group 4 Absolutes and restitution practices, (9) Biblical training and Christian upbringing of Dr. Bob as a youngster in Vermont.

 

 

The major Christian influences that impacted on the work and plans of the cofounders. See The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., pp. 8–26.

 

(1) Evangelists and revivalists like Dwight Moody and Billy Sunday, (2) The Gospel Rescue Missions, (3) YMCA lay workers, (4) The Salvation Army, (5) Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor, (6) Oxford Group books, (7) Writings of Rev., Sam Shoemaker, Jr.

 

Documented 75% success rate of the original, serious, real alcoholics who really tried. See The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., pp. 77-85

 

            Dr. Bob’s own hand-written list of 1939, now in Rockefeller Archives, New York.

 

Where and What to Study and Learn

 

Bible – King James Version

 

            The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches, Their Last

                        Major Talks

            The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible

            The James Club and the Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials

            Why Early A.A. Succeeded (a Bible Study Primer)

 

Belief in God and the decision to come to Him through Jesus Christ

 

            Hebrews 11:6, John 3:16, 14:6, Romans 10:9

The Conversion of Bill W.: More on the Creator’s Role in Early A.A.

Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Good Book as a

Youngster in Vermont

            The Golden Text of A.A.: God, the Pioneers, and Real Spirituality

            A New Way In: Reaching the Heart of a Child of God in Recovery with His Own,

                        Powerful, Historical Roots

 

The Teachings of Dr. Bob’s Wife, Anne Ripley Smith – “Mother of A.A.”

 

            Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939: A.A.’s Principles of Success, 3rd ed.

            Children of the Healer: The Story of Dr. Bob’s Kids

 

The Influence of Professor William James and Dr. Carl Gustav Jung – Spiritual experience and necessity for conversion

           

            Real Twelve Step Fellowship History: The Old School A.A. You May Not Know

            The Conversion of Bill W.: More on the Creator’s Role in Early A.A.

            “Pass It On”: The Story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. Message Reached the World,       

                        pp. 381-286

 

Influence of William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. – Seemingly hopeless, “medically incurable”

 

            Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., pp. xxv-xxxii

            The Conversion of Bill W. More on the Creator’s Role in Early A.A.

            The Liitle Doctor Who Loved Drunks: A Biography of William Duncan Silkworth, M.D

 

Christian Literature Circulated by Dr. Bob and at Meetings

 

            Dr. Bob and His Library, 3rd ed,

            The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, 7th ed.

 

Quiet Time – Bible reading, Prayer, Seeking Guidance, Anne’s Journal

 

            Good Morning: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation and Early A.A., 2d ed.

            The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living That Works, 2d ed.

            Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Bible as a Youngster

                        In Vermont

 

Daily Devotionals

 

            The Runner’s Bible by Nora Smith Holm

            The Greatest Thing in the World by Henry Drummond

            The Upper Room (quarterly of the Methodist Church)

            My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers

 

The Four Absolutes – Honesty, Purity, Unselfishness and Love

 

            The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous

            Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939,

 

The History of the Early Program

           

The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous

Real Twelve Step Fellowship History

            Turning Point: A History of Early A.A.’s  Spiritual Roots and Successes

 

Basic Ideas of Early A.A. Fully Available and Applicable Today as a Choice

 

Complete Abstinence from Drinking Alcohol of Any Kind

 

Qualifying the Newcomer

 

Hospitalization and possible detoxification

 

Surrender of one’s life to God, and becoming one of his children through Jesus Christ

 

Obedience to God’s Will – Eliminating Sin and Living Love

 

Growth in understanding: God, His Son, the Holy Spirit, Bible, commandments, salvation, healing, guidance, forgiveness, love, the renewed mind, dealing with the Adversary, prayer, thankfulness, fellowship, witness; and the return of Jesus Christ

 

            Study of the Bible – particularly Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, James, 1 Corinthians 13

            Individual and group prayer

            Seeking God’s guidance from the Bible and from His revelation

            Studying Christian literature on the Bible, prayer, thankfulness, love, forgiveness, healing

 

Intensive personal work helping others to get straightened out by the same path

 

Recommended social and religious fellowship and attending a religious service weekly

 

Making & Using Links Between the Founders & Present-Day A.A.’s Basic Text

 

Bible Basics: Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13, Book of Acts

 

Overview: Shoemaker’s definition of spiritual awakening: prayer, conversion, fellowship, witness

 

The Solution: Establishing a relationship with, or finding or rediscovering God now!

 

More about Alcoholism: Conceding the one’s innermost self that he cannot drink at all

 

How It Works: [the abc’s, ending] God could and would if He were sought

 

Chapter Five – Surrender, Inventory, Confession, Conviction, Conversion, Amends,

Continuance in Step 10, Prayer and Meditation in Step 11, Witnessing and Practicing the principles from the Bible through Step 12.

 

“Taking” the 12 Steps as Clarence Snyder Taught Them

 

Reading the First Edition Personal Stories – almost all of which are now deleted

 

Understanding the importance of fellowship with like-minded believers, worship

 

Spiritual Tools Bill W. Had Before Him When He and Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker Expanded Bill’s 6 Word-of-Mouth Ideas to 12 Steps

 

 

The Bible references and the references to sources are based on the verses and the writings the early AAs actually used – not some fabricated thoughts about relevant verses or ideas

 

Step One: Dr. Silkworth’s view of problem of Alcoholism; and Psalms 23, 91; “O God Manage Me because I can’t manage myself” prayer used by the Oxford Group, Shoemaker, and Anne Smith

 

Step Two: Hebrews 11:6; God either is, or He isn’t; and Power greater than ourselves from Anne Smith and Shoemaker; and Bill’s statements that only God could restore us to sanity.

 

Step Three: “Thy will be done” – Matthew 6:10; James 4:7 Shoemaker

 

Step Four: Inventory of faults using the Four Absolutes – Matthew 7:1-5; Anne Smith, Oxford Group, Shoemaker

 

Step Five: Confession of Faults – James 5:16, Anne Smith: to God, ourselves, another

 

Step Six: Conviction of Faults – Oxford Group

 

Step Seven: Conversion – John 3:16, Romans 10:9, James 4:10 - Shoemaker

 

Steps Eight and Nine:  Willingness and Restitution – John 7:17, Matthew 5:23-26; Shoemaker, Anne Smith

 

Step Ten: Continuance: Shoemaker, Oxford Group, Anne Smith

 

Step Eleven: Quiet Time – Psalm 5:1-3; Shoemaker, Oxford Group, Anne Smith

 

Step Twelve – Awakening (Matthew 7:20-29), Pass It On (Mark 16:15-20), Practice the Principles (Matthew 5:1-16, 38-48; Matthew 6:9-13, 33; 7:9-12, 16-20) – Shoemaker, Oxford Group. In summary: Ten Commandments, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Book of James, 1 Corinthians 13, Four Absolutes taken from Speer’s The Principles of Jesus.

 

Further Specific Suggestions for Christians and Those Who Want to Become Children of God in Today’s Fellowships

 

[The following are books by Dick B.; published by Paradise Research Publications, Inc.; described in www.dickb.com/titles.shtml; available through Amazon.com or Dick B.’s website www.dickb.com]

 

The Good Book and the Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible

 

The Good Book-Big Book Guide Book

 

Twelve Steps for You: Take the Twelve Steps with the Big Book, A.A. History, and the Good Book at Your Side, 4th ed.

 

By the Power of God: A Guide to Early A.A. Groups & Forming Similar Groups Today

 

(Big Book, Twelve Step, and Bible Study Groups; James Clubs; Bible fellowships, Christian Recovery Fellowships, Prayer Groups, Retreats, and Churches)

 

Dick B. and Ken B., The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed. www.dickb.com/Christian-Recov-Guide.shtml

 

Dick B. and Ken B. “Introductory Foundations for Christian Recovery 4 DVD’s and Guides


 

Dick B. with Ken B., The Dick B. Handbook for Christian Recovery Resource Centers (available to those participants in International Christian Recovery Coalition who establish Christian Recovery Resource Centers http://bit.ly/erD3tW

 

The comprehensive, 31-volume "Dick B. A.A. History and Christian Recovery Reference Set": http://www.dickb.com/DickB-Reference-Set.shtml.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Standing on the Promises of God

Standing on the Promises of God 

By Dick B.
© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved
 

When I first entered the rooms of A.A. in April 1986, I frequently heard a disabled Army colonel who had lost his hearing, gone through several divorces, encountered seemingly-endless troubles. The colonel often said, “It’s not a bed of roses out there.” But I took his statement to mean that though the going might be rough, we all could make it if we tried. Here are the Bible verses which I frequently reviewed and which enabled me to be victorious. One such verse is found in the book of Exodus: 

And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. [Exod 15:26 KJV] 

Another verse I often recited to my self is found in the book of Psalms: 

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. [Psa 103:1-5, 8 KJV] 

Another is found in Mark chapter 16:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. [Mark 16:15, 17-20 KJV] 

Both A.A. cofounders, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, placed great emphasis on the importance of the book of James, 1 Corinthians 13, and “the Sermon on the Mount.” And we stress that standing on the promises of God should be grounded on the following verses from the book of James: 

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. [Jam 4:7, 10 KJV] 

Standing on the promises of God is what early AAs did. 

Gloria Deo

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Some Facts about the 12 Steps of A.A., the Supposed Six Steps, and “A First Century Christian Fellowship” (Later Also Known As “The Oxford Group”)



Some Facts about the 12 Steps of A.A., the Supposed Six Steps, and “A First Century Christian Fellowship” (Later Also Known As “The Oxford Group”) 

By Ken B. (based, in part, on research by Dick B.)
© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved
 

A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob met each other for the first time at the Seiberling Gate Lodge in Akron on Mother's Day, May 12, 1935. Dr. Bob stated in his last major talk given in Detroit in December 1948: 

When we [A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob] started in on Bill D. [“Alcoholic Anonymous Number Three,” Akron attorney Bill D.], we had no Twelve Steps . . . we had no Traditions. But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book.[1] 

And about those early days of A.A. and the origins of the Twelve Steps, Dr. Bob also stated in his last major talk: 

We [A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob] already had the basic ideas [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.”[2] 

In contrast to Dr. Bob’s statements about the Twelve Steps quoted above, Bill W. made a number of statements through the years claiming that he had derived the Twelve Steps from an earlier set of “six steps” which made up what he called “the word-of-mouth program.”[3] In fact: (1) some statements mention only five items, not six; (2) the wording of the items varied from one statement to the next—particularly when it came to God’s role in the “program;” (3) the source(s) of the five or six items varied from one statement to the next; and (4) the five or six items were not consistently called “steps.” They were also called “principles,” “practices,” and “elements.”[4] 

As Bill W.’s wife Lois—who kept a diary—wrote on page 111 of her memoir, Lois Remembers, Bill did not begin writing the first two chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”) until around May 1938. The March 1, 2014, version of “A Narrative Timeline of AA History” indicates that Bill didn't write the Twelve Steps found in chapter five of the Big Book (“How It Works”) until early December 1938. [http://mcaf.ee/mibwp; accessed 5/31/2015]. 

There has also been a myth floating around the rooms of A.A. that the (supposed) “six steps” of early A.A. came from “six steps” in “A First Century Christian Fellowship” (which was later also known as “the Oxford Group”).[5] In fact, there were no “six Steps” in the Oxford Group. As the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book ‘PASS IT ON’ states: “There is no evidence that the Oxford Group had such a specific program.”[6] As to the connection between “A First Century Christian Fellowship” (also known as “the Oxford Group”) and Alcoholics Anonymous (and its Twelve Steps), The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living That Works! by Dick B. remains the definitive work on that topic.[7] 

One confirmation of Dr. Bob’s emphasis on the Bible—which he often referred to as “the Good Book”—both as the source for the answers to the problems of the early A.A. pioneers (such as alcoholism!), and for the basic ideas of the Twelve Steps, may be seen in Frank Amos’s seven-point summary of the original Akron A.A. program as of February 1938—about 14 months prior to the publication of Alcoholics Anonymous in April 1939. The Amos summary, included in a report that was sent to John D. Rockefeller, Jr., is quoted in the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers: 

1.      An alcoholic must realize that he is an alcoholic, incurable from a medical viewpoint, and that he must never drink anything with alcohol in it.  

2.      He must surrender himself absolutely to God, realizing that in himself there is no hope.  

3.      Not only must he want to stop drinking permanently, he must remove from his life other sins such as hatred, adultery, and others which frequently accompany alcoholism. Unless he will do this absolutely, Smith and his associates refuse to work with him. 

4.      He must have devotions every morning–a “quiet time” of prayer and some reading from the Bible and other religious literature. Unless this is faithfully followed, there is grave danger of backsliding.  

5.      He must be willing to help other alcoholics get straightened out. This throws up a protective barrier and strengthens his own willpower and convictions.  

6.      It is important, but not vital, that he meet frequently with other reformed alcoholics and form both a social and a religious comradeship.  

7.      Important, but not vital, that he attend some religious service at least once weekly.[8] 

Note the reference to “God” in item number two—not to a “higher power”; not to “a power greater than ourselves;” and not to “God as we understood Him.” And note the reference to the reading of the Bible in item number four. 

As DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers points out about A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob’s emphasis on the Bible in the original Akron A.A. program:  

“([A.A. cofounder] Dr. Bob was always positive about his faith, Clarence [S., founder of A.A.'s third group in the world in Cleveland] said. If someone asked him a question about the program, his usual response was: ‘What does it say in the Good Book?'”[9] 

A.A. claimed for its early years a 75% success rate: 

Of alcoholics who came to A.A. and really tried, 50% got sober at once and remained that way; 25% sobered up after some relapses, and among the remainder, those who stayed on with A.A. showed improvement.[10] 

If you would like to see that success rate, and even the documented 93% success rate among people in early Cleveland A.A. who never took a drink again(!), my dad (Dick B.) and I suggest you “stick with the winners!” Stick with people such as A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob, whom Bill W. called “the prince of all twelfth-steppers” because of the 5,000 alcoholics he helped recover between 1940 and 1950 (in the company of Sister Ignatia);[11] and with Clarence S., who founded A.A.’s third group in the world in Cleveland on May 11, 1939. 

Gloria Deo


[1] “The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks” (Item # P-53), 13: http://mcaf.ee/62m4a.
[2] “The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous,” 14.
[3] See, for example: Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 160-61.
[4] For the most thorough review of the various discussions by Bill W., by Lois W., and in a personal story in the Big Book, see: Dick B. and Ken B., “‘The Word-of-Mouth Program’/‘Six Steps’ of Bill W.”: http://mcaf.ee/bhxzq; accessed 5/31/2015.
[5] According to Garth Lean, author of the definitive biography of Lutheran minister Dr. Frank N. D. Buchman: “In the autumn of 1922, . . . Buchman and a few friends formed what they called ‘A First Century Christian Fellowship.’ ‘It is,’ declared Buchman in a note to a supporter, ‘a voice of protest against the organized committeeised and lifeless Christian work’ and ‘an attempt to get back to the beliefs and methods of the Apostles.’” [Source: Garth Lean, Frank Buchman: a Life (London: Constable, 1985), 97. This book was released in the U.S. with the title: On the Tail of a Comet]. It wasn't until September of 1928 that the press in South Africa—not the group's founder Dr. Buchman or anyone else in the group itself—applied the label “the Oxford Group” to anyone in the group. Lean writes: “The visit [to South Africa in the summer of 1928 of the group of students from Oxford University] had one unexpected side-effect. Almost from the outset, the newspapers - seeking for a simple catch-phrase to describe them - labelled them 'the Oxford Group'.* The story is told that a sleeping-car attendant, seeking for a name to put on their compartment, used the phrase for the group of young men who only had Oxford in common - and that the press meeting them picked it up. The name stuck because it so exactly described the party. Francis Goulding - a St John's graduate, by then working full-time with Buchman - remembers him receiving the news that this name was being generally used: 'He wasn't enthusiastic, but he said, ‘If it's got to be called something, that's as good as anything.’” [Source: Lean, Frank Buchman: A Life, 138].
‘PASS IT ON’ states: “In the late 1930’s, Dr. Bob, co-founder of A.A., and the other Akron, Ohio, AAs continued to refer to it [the group] in that way [i.e., as “A First Century Christian Fellowship”]. See 'PASS IT ON,' 130.
When Harvey Firestone, Sr., invited Dr. Buchman—out of appreciation for the help Rev. Sam Shoemaker (a ‘chief lieutenant’ of the Oxford Group in America) had provided to Firestone's son Russell in helping Russell overcome alcoholism in 1931—to do a series of meetings in Akron, Ohio, in January 1933, the name “A First Century Christian Fellowship” was on the invitations that were circulated (which my dad, Dick B., personally saw during his research in Akron in the 1990s). See, for example: Dick B., The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, 17-18: http://www.dickb.com/Akron.shtml.
[6] PASS IT ON,’ 197. See also the footnote on page 206 of ‘PASS IT ON.’
[7] Dick B., The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living That Works: http://mcaf.ee/q41d3.
[8] DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 131.
[9] DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 144.
[10] From “Foreword to Second Edition” in Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., xx.
[11] The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, 34.