Monday, December 17, 2012

Father Bill W.'s Article on Fourth Step Inventory Roots and Lists

Kudos to Father Bill W. for diving into the ingredients of the Steps. I've never seen any justification in history for the "asset and liability" idea of a 4th Step list. As Sam Shoemaker described his meeting with Buchman, Sam said he felt something was wrong in his life. Buchman said: "Must be sin." Sam then used the Four Absolutes as an inventory and made the comment "My sins rose before me like tombstones." No assets involved. And Shoemaker's personal journals make that clear. When Wilson tackled the Four Absolutes, the first thing he did was abolish them. He was evidently petrified over the "purity" examination. But Wilson adopted the test that Frank Buchman specifically laid out for "resentment, self seeking, dishonesty, and fear." Wilson left out the dishonesty part. And, if you read the Big Book carefully, you will see that the list on Step Four does not square with the four items in Step Ten--the daily inventory (Buchman's resentments, self seeking, dishonesty, and fear) Moreover, my reading of the Fourth Step inventory indicates four lists--not three: (1) Resentments. (2) Fear. (3) Selfish sex. (4) The people we have harmed. And the last item pops up as the guide to Step Eight.
Anyhoo, this will give your readers something to chew on as they contemplate the "sin" origins of  the inventories and what Buchman and Shoemaker (and even Bill W.) clearly regarded as the "sins" to be examined.
Later, the priests who edited Bill's 12 x 12 persuaded him to put in the "seven deadly sins." But there is no historical A.A. root for that  approach.
God Bless, Dick B.

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