Dick B. talks about preparations for "The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference" on the June 11, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show
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A.A. History and Application in Depth
Preparing for Our September International A.A. History Conference in Maine
© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Scads and scads of communications have given us some strong new ideas about what can be accomplished at the forthcoming First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference in Portland Maine, September 6-7, 2013. When we go on these trips, we learn far more than we impart. And the major piece learned even before this conference is that many participants are going to be experienced, talented, well-informed communicators about their particular areas of recovery work. The outcome could well be the centering at the conference and in our future work with others on some major areas of recovery need and exposition, which are: (1) Bold statements about how the Big Book and Twelve Steps open the door to utilizing A.A. pioneer techniques today. (2) An appealing focus on the Eleventh Step can be a simple, effective, way to point recovery back to its rich beginnings, consistent with the “continuing” phase of growth embodied in that 11th Step. (3) A study of what sponsorship means and what sponsors can do with this approach is vital. (4) A presentation of what the newcomer really needs today in light of the development of recovery work and A.A. itself and how structured beginners meetings can meet the need. (5) Constructively applying both our original 1935 Akron A.A. program for those in A.A. today and the “new version” of the program embodied in the Big Book and Steps by Bill Wilson in 1939.
Why We Need Piece by Piece Study and Preparation to Begin Recovery
If entertainment were the objective of drunkalogs and war stories, or if dating or finding friends, or if passing on the “wisdom of the rooms” in study groups and conferences were the real mission for those of us who serve as speakers, sponsors, secretaries, leaders, counselors, and facilitators, we could continue to “serve” A.A.’s diverse crowd of newcomers by just talking—talking and talking and talking about anything we’ve heard or anything that sounds “sincere” and “usable.”.
But neither the Big Book, the Twelve Steps, the heart of successful A.A. achievements, nor the aim of helping the newcomer who still suffers suggests that we be measured by what we say. Rather, by the documented facts, tools, and teaching that we study, and learn, and pass along to the end of recovery and healing and bettering the lives of those in the fellowship who still struggle. If we are not working with others as we were helped, we are really not in the game.
We suggest that as many in recovery as possible obtain, at its present very low price, the Dick B. 29 Volume A.A. History Reference Set—using it for a lifetime, as needed, and for accurate talk and writing. Also to bone up on each of the topics embodied in this huge information repository. See the right navigation bar of our main website www.dickb.com to order. We also suggest all consider participating in International Christian Recovery Coalition by going to its website www.ChristianRecoveryCoalition.com. We suggest they listen to our frequent radio interviews and presentations on www.ChristianRecoveryRadio.com. And we certainly suggest that you join us in Maine for the exhilarating educational and sharing interchange of this international event.
Why the Pieces Need Beefing Up
Today’s recovery world is awash in historical conjecture, scientific analyses, grants, subsidies, statistics, remote control reform ideas, and anti-this and anti-that. But, on its founding, A.A. was not burdened with such unhelpful, remunerated, research, and biased opinion.
At first, the original A.A. program of recovery was unbelievably simple and bereft of uninformed well-doers.
A.A. Cofounder Dr. Bob pointed out that, in the early days, there were no Steps, no Traditions, no Big Books, no drunkalogs, and no meetings like those mass congregations we see today. The first three AAs had all studied the Bible. All believed in God. All had accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. All had reached the devastating bottom of the slime pit. All finally realized they were licked. All renounced liquor. All reached out to God for help. And all immediately focused on helping others get well by the same means.
Then, as Dr. Bob explained in his last major address (and as Bill joined him in writing about the Bible and Akron A.A., the Bible took center stage in A.A. recovery. It did so in company with prayer, Quiet Time, devotionals, Christian literature, and work with newcomers. As Dr. Bob said, the pioneers believed the answer to their problems was in the Bible. They said that the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 were absolutely essential. They met daily. And, from 1935 to 1938, the pioneers rolled up their sleeves. They participated in studies, teachings, and efforts. They took their basic ideas for the Christian Fellowship program from the Bible. They leaned heavily on the principles and practices of the First Century Christians as related in the Book of Acts.
What Winners Do
Athletes go to spring training, hear coaches teach them, and absorb chalk talk. Pianists practice, practice, and practice their pianos hours on end and work with a teacher.as well. Some businessmen don’t get hired until they have an MBA degree. Doctors and dentists and nurses get schooling and on-the-site teaching before they get their licenses. Laborers go through apprentice stages. And professors have to work their way up from lecturer, to assistant professor, associate professor, professor, and advanced degrees.
For the most part, in the present recovery scene, AAs just walk into the rooms from court, or prison, or hospitals, a treatment center bus, or rehabs, and listen to opinion after opinion, story after story, void of any substantive orientation, basic training, manuals, and qualified instruction. These new 12-Steppers hear little ordered teaching from the Big Book. They hear little skilled talk about how to take the Twelve Steps. They hear virtually no teaching that untangles the messed up “spirituality” myths, “higher powers,” “awakenings,” history and roots, and blather by sponsors, speakers, guides, articles, pastors, therapists, and treatment people.
If a fledgling professional athlete, military person, teacher, physician, clergyman, journeyman, mechanic, computer whiz, or musician were to stake his effectiveness on such unorganized beginnings, God save that new person. Moreover, in A.A., we are in an age of secularism and idolatry and compulsory attendance which quashes almost any chance to get the story straight. “Scholars” are inclined to ridicule anyone in A.A. who talks about God, Jesus, and the Bible as an “amateur,” a “hobbyist,” a person lacking a degree or Ph.D., or as relying on a “faith based” or “faith centered” or “God centered” program that is not “evidence based.” Bleeding deacons holler at someone and call him in a meeting a “Jesus freak” if he mentions his Savior. Yet we have centuries of records and writings and events that would pass the test of “evidence based” in any court or tribunal or board. This because that historical evidence has been studied, seen in life, and fostered healings, miracles, deliverances from disasters, and so on. You can find those results in that document known as the Bible—the resource upon which A.A. planted its beginnings.
Becoming a Winner and Teaching the Solution
If a person were to walk into a lions’ den and expect to find rabbits and deer running around freely, he might conclude that the lions had lost all of their teeth and vocal chords. And the alcoholic or drug addict who walks into a 12-Step meeting and hears talk of “relationships,” vulgarity, “spirituality,” “light bulbs,” and “higher powers” and learns how many there have had relapse after relapse or have never been oriented, instructed, or seasoned with truth, might wonder whether he was listening to a gang of uneducated losers or mental cases or rabble rousers. In fact, he is probably listening to some very very sick people crying out for stature or for help.
But there is a solution. And it involves the answer to a simple question” ”How can you eat an elephant?” The solution? “One bite at a time.”
Today there are lots of eloquent speakers, successful thinkers, prolific writers, and people eagerly questing for answers and cure. What those folks can do is shed the idea that they are there by compulsion, to find sexual satisfaction, to obey a probation officer, because they were bussed there, because directed to go there by an interventionist or counselor, or simply because they are sick, hopeless, without help, medically incurable, afraid, anxious, lacking in resources, isolated, and lonely.
Take the same people—if they are willing—and urge them to start devouring the elephant one bite at a time. That means telling them what the winning resources may be—(1) “Conference-approved” literature, (2) the Bible, historical chunks, and (3) details as to how the early AAs succeeded with the simple seven point program summarized on page 131 of DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. And how to apply it all today.
We are convinced that recovery winners go to God for guidance, direction, healing, forgiveness, deliverance, love, and an everlasting life. I did. So an aspiring speaker and trainer can start there. See Dick B. and Ken B., Stick with the Winners! http://mcaf.ee/s50mq; Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous http://mcaf.ee/gj7iw; The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks; and the important original Big Book newly published by Dover Publications, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition With a 23-Page Introduction by Dick B. http://mcaf.ee/j4hq5.
What You Can Do
· Put a Bible in front of the newcomer, tell him what the original AAs read, and read it with him, little by little—just as Dr. Bob did with the newcomer in the hospital. Show him the records of how the Bible was used by others.
· Treat the newcomer as someone who needs training and is in training—from the beginning. Urge old-timers to qualify the newcomer as to his understanding of his drinking or using problem, his willingness to quit forever, and his acknowledgement that he passes the tests on pages 30 and 44 of the Big Book and perhaps the 20 Questions as well.
· Send the newcomer to a qualified physician who can help prevent seizures and major health breakdowns or else place the newcomer in a hospital or detox.
· Set up a beginner class that is organized, informative, and effective. This may mean including in the newcomer’s meeting schedule several structured “beginners” meetings that tell him:
(1) How A.A. began—the real story of the first three AAs and how they got sober, the biblical basics, and the seven point Akron program.
(2) The role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in recovery and can play today for those wanting and seeking God’s help.
(3) The need today for love and tolerance of the diverse beliefs and un-beliefs of a new generation of beginners.
(4) The principles concerning autonomous groups, informed group consciences, literature that enables the newcomer and his sponsor to get the facts about godly recovery, his freedom to believe, and his right to unhindered efforts to express himself.
(5) His need for a regimen of decisions to—(a) go to God first, (b) go to a qualification session, (c) go to a physician, (d) listen to some Bible basics and some Big Book and 12 Step basics, (e) hear the role of the sponsor, and (f) learn the primary purpose of A.A. groups, meetings, and fellowship activities.
(6) need for a regimen of determination to—(a) go to any lengths to get well, (b) ignore sausage making, (c) in company with his sponsor and by himself sift meeting remarks for correlation with recovery ideas he has learned; and (d) begin as quickly as possible to work with others, serve at meetings, master conference-approved writings, refrain from intimidating or condemning others for their remarks and actions, and renounce drinking and using every single day.
(7) His need for a regimen of discipline to become a winner.
Avoiding the Loser Label
The drop-out new person might as well go back to his misery and learn more about the devastation of alcoholism, addiction, and disaster.
We believe from our own experience--with my sponsoring over 100 men and women, teaching them the Big Book and the Steps, and offering them a Bible fellowship of drunks who engage in practices very similar to those in the Book of Acts and early Akron A.A.--that the person who dives into A.A.’s literature, the Bible, prayer, religious instruction of his choosing, fellowship with like-minded believers, and obeying God’s commandments directing us to eschew temptation, trust God, love God and others, forgive renew one’s mind with what God has said, and become born again of the spirit of God--as every early pioneer did. See Dick B., The Golden Text of A.A.
The Victory Path
Many diligent alcoholics and addicts wind up being excellent speakers in their fellowship.
Let them learn to talk about something other than their “experience, strength, and hope” and substitute or enhance their story with talk about the A.A. victory path and how they learned it.
Others wind up being capable writers. Let them, as well, take the same path.
As stated, in little more than eighty years, A.A. and many of its “historians” and academic spectators have boldly walked away from the Akron program They often ignore it, and seldom publish or write about it. For years, they had removed from A.A.’s basic conference-approved text the personal stories of the pioneers that told the victory facts. And, for the sick newcomer, this left a virtually complete vacuum devoid of astonishingly simple and effective “spiritual” recovery by reliance on God. Yet all newcomers need the tools that do inform them, not censorship of the tools that might have informed them.
It seems quite clear, from my observation of the New York world offices and workers, that what I will now propose could not possibly emanate from A.A. World Services, Inc. in the form of books or pamphlets—although there allegedly is in preparation a pamphlet or writing telling how atheists or agnostics can use the Twelve Steps, something not remotely connected with early A.A. Therefore, we conclude that valuable time can be spent at our conferences, talks, and communications in fashioning and offering to present useful one-bite-at-a-time guides that constitute the essence of the victory path.
It is appropriate to call your attention to the abc’s of A.A.—which open the door today to looking at all the A.A. development, including that involving what the Big Book described as God, Creator, Maker, Father, Heavenly Father, and Father of Lights.
Page 60 of the latest (the 4th) edition of Alcoholics Anonymous. It claims to “make clear three pertinent ideas” which point up the entire basic text—the fore matter, all of Bill Wilson’s chapters, and at last, all of the personal stories which were removed from A.A. view for so long. See Experience, Strength and Hope: Stories from the First Three Editions of Alcoholics Anonymous (NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2003).
The page 60 abc’s (the three pertinent ideas) are:
(a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our own lives.
(b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism.
(c) That God could and would if He were sought.
Those three ideas are absolutes. They are unqualified and unrestricted. And they certainly proved to be the truth during my 27 years of continuous sobriety. For God can, and did when I sought Him!
For more information, contact email@example.com!