Sunday, October 17, 2010

AA--Attempting to Eliminate God from the Big Book Manuscript

First, this is about a new book published this month (October) by Hazelden which contains the "printer's manuscript" of the First Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous acquired by Ken and Krista R. at a Sotheby's auction in 2007 for almost $1 million.

Second, the title is "The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of 'Alcoholics Anonymous'."

Third, we will have many comments about this new book as the months go by, but here is one that all viewers should consider important.

The "printer's manuscript" repeatedly mentions a "Dr. Howard." Whoever this dude was, he certainly bent every effort to substitute "faith" for "God" in the manuscript before it went to press. Fortunately, he failed. But his persistent, failed efforts prove just how devotedly both Bill W. and Dr. Bob wanted to keep Almighty God in the fore of the solution--despite Bill's famous compromise and substitutions in the language of Steps Two, Three, and Eleven. As Bill himself later claimed, "God was still there." And God certainly was--in one way or another, explicitly described in biblical terms and plain English over 400 times even in the Third edition of the Big Book.

For the readers, we suggest you note the following endeavors that are obvious in the manuscript. Time and time again, the word "God" is circled--clearly as a word to be eliminated. Time and time again, the word "faith" appeared as the proposed substitute. Time and time again, the deletion effort failed. Just look at the manuscript! In fact, in his last ditch effort to remove God, "Howard" tried to delete the words "Heavenly Father" from the last line of Dr. Bob's personal story (now appearing on page 181 of the 4th edition of the Big Book. "Howard" wanted to replace "Heavenly Father" with "faith." And Dr. Bob would have none of it. As a result, today our Big Book still says on page 181: "Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!" On page 191, Bill Wilson is quoted as saying the "Lord has been so wonderful to me curing me of this terrible disease." On page 59, the Big Book says: "There is One who has all Power. That One is God." On page 60, it says: "God could and would if He were sought."

The survival of these key phrases describing Almighty God, and the refusal of Bill Wilson to shove "God" out of his manuscript and compromise the Creator by calling Him "faith" is proof that those who today want to invite atheists and agnostics into the A.A. literature by resolving that anyone--whether he or she believes or not, whether he or she is an atheist or a Hindu, whether he or she rejects God--can still "take" and "work" the Twelve Steps and somehow conclude, as does the Big Book, that God has done for him what he could not do for himself. Anyone can join A.A. today. Anyone can fool around with the Twelve Steps and substitute all kinds of words. But nobody, just nobody, can align himself with "establishing a relationship with God" (see Big Book page 29) and reject God for a light bulb, a door knob, or "faith."

In the forthcoming months, there may well be all kinds of articles and comments talking about Ken Roberts' "Holy Grail." Many will echo Hazelden's own triumphant opinion that this document makes A.A. "spiritual, but not religious." Still others may point to a sentence or two which epitomize Bill's great compromise that appeased the atheists and agnostics, but nonetheless retained Almighty God as the paramount source of power--the Creator, Maker, Heavenly Father, Father of lights, God of our fathers, and Almighty God.

Let's examine this important and valuable document to see what it contains, and not try to use it to show and prove a "faith" that never made the cut--not when it came to trumping God.

God Bless, Dick B.

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