A.A. 12-Step Christian Parallels
The Comprehensive Oxford Group-Shoemaker Relationship with A.A.
© 2010 Anonymous. All rights reserved
The Two, Definitive, Relevant A.A. Books by Dick B.
This is the final article on A.A. 12-Step Parallels that came directly from Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., whom Bill Wilson described as a “cofounder” of A.A., whom Bill initially asked to write the 12-Steps, and whose Oxford Group ideas formed the heart of the life-changing program of action that Bill Wilson codified into A.A.’s basic text, Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as the “Big Book”).
The most important research and resource book on A.A. and Shoemaker is Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A., Pittsburgh ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1999). See www.dickb.com/newlight.shtml; ISBN 1885803-27-3. Important Forewords were written by Karen A. Plavan, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Counselor Education-Chemical Dependency, Pennsylvania State University, and Adjunct Professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Also by Nickie Shoemaker Haggart, LCSW, younger daughter of Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, Jr. And also by Mrs. W. Irving Harris, wife of Shoemaker’s Assistant Minister, long-time Oxford Group activist, and resident of Calvary House where Shoemaker lived in New York. There is no work on Shoemaker that comes close to this resource in detail or scope in that it is comprehensive (over 650 pages), is accurate, is filled with bibliographical and footnote documentations, and contains appendices supplementing the research and writing in the text. This is the book you will want to own and study in order to learn the extent to which Shoemaker’s books, articles, sermons, pamphlets, and ministry at Calvary Church in New York directly impacted on the writing and views and approach to recovery incorporated by A.A.’s cofounder Bill W. in the Big Book.
The second most important work is Dick B., The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous: A Design for Living That Works, new rev ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1998). See www.dickb.com/Oxford.shtml; ISBN 1885803-19-2. There is no other accurate, comprehensive work on the relationship between A.A. and the Oxford Group. The author read hundreds of Oxford Group books, pamphlets, and materials. He became a good friend of the leading, surviving Oxford Group leaders and writers in the United States and Great Britain. These included Garth Lean, Frank Buchman’s biographer; James D. and Eleanor Forde Newton, principal American Oxford Group activists of the 1920’s and 1930’s as well as personal friends of both Buchman and Shoemaker; and T. Willard Hunter—longtime Oxford Group employee and friend of A.A.
I undertook a definitive history of the Oxford Group as it related to A.A. and also laid out the 28 Oxford Group principles that impacted directly on A.A. This is a book you will want to own and study in order to learn the over-all influence of the Oxford Group on the life of its founder Dr. Frank Buchman, its principal American leader Dr. Samuel Shoemaker, and its Alcoholics Anonymous adherent William G. Wilson (Bill W.). The book is filled with Oxford Group language, biographies, and citations that show the immense amount of Oxford Group ideas incorporated into—and parallels that exist between the Oxford Group and—A.A.. It is a necessary complement to the New Light book on Shoemaker.
Other Dick B. Works That Fill in the Oxford Group-Shoemaker Picture
In 2006, Dick B. published the third edition of his voluminous bibliographical work on the spiritual roots of A.A. It is Dick B., Making Known the Biblical History and Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous: A 16-Year Research, Writing, Publishing, and Fact Dissemination Project, 3rd ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2006). See www.dickb.com/makingknown.shtml; ISBN 1-885803-97-4. In this work, I laid out all of the Oxford Group, Shoemaker, biblical, and other books, materials, articles, and writings I had incorporated in my historical works. I indicated where they can be found today at such A.A. historical repositories as the Wilson House, Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Akron. I specified the distinguished sources from which these materials had been acquired and/or purchased. And I assembled the largest-known, annotated bibliography of directly-relevant A.A. historical roots materials. The book is a must for those wanting the complete written sources of A.A. history.
In 2000, I also published a practical guide for the study and use of Oxford Group and Shoemaker books and materials in relation to the Twelve Steps, the Big Book, and A.A. history. The book garnered a Foreword by Ozzie Lepper, President/Managing Director of The Wilson House in East Dorset, Vermont. It is Dick B., By the Power of God: A Guide to Early A.A. Groups & Forming Similar Groups Today (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2000). See www.dickb.com//powerofgod.shtml. ISBN 1-885803-30-3. This book is in wide use by groups in the United States, Canada, and Great Britain who use it to study each of the Twelve Steps in company with the material from the Oxford Group, Shoemaker, biblical, and Anne Smith sources which gave rise to them.
One additional recent book I wrote provides a suitable, utilitarian view of each of the Twelve Steps, their particular root sources, and how to study them in that perspective and really gain an understanding of the Steps as they were intended to be understood. This book is Dick B., Twelve Steps for You: Take the Twelve Steps with the Big Book, A.A. History, and the Good Book at Your Side, 4th ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2005). See www.dickb.com/12StepsforYou.shtml; ISBN 1-885803-98-2.
There You Have Them—A Compact Series on A.A.-12 Step Roots
Too often, writers have missed A.A.’s real Oxford Group connection. They erroneously think A.A.’s “program” came from the Oxford Group. They ignore the gross differences between the Akron A.A. Bible-based, “Christian fellowship” program founded in June 1935, and the New York A.A. Oxford Group text—i.e., the Big Book—published four years later in April 1939. They are often highly critical of the Oxford Group while ignoring the fact that its ideas were never discarded by Bill Wilson when he penned the Big Book. In fact, he incorporated them. And he laid the source at the feet of Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, a principal American leader of the Oxford Group. See The Language of the Heart: Bill W.’s Grapevine Writings (NY: The AA Grapevine, Inc., 1988), 298. Students of the A.A. Big Book and Twelve Steps now have the luxury of actually learning what Bill acknowledged about A.A.’s Shoemaker source. Far more important, this package of 5 books will enable them to research for themselves, study for themselves, and learn the real sources of the Twelve Step recovery ideas.