Dick B.’s Recovery Journey in A.A. as It Moves Forward Today
© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Described in This Letter to a Physician Colleague
I address this to someone who is a physician. To a man who has undertaken to help impaired physicians. To one who recognizes that many suffer from what was once called a medically incurable seemingly hopeless condition of mind and body (called alcoholism). And to one who believes that techniques of compassion, understanding, spiritual healing, and learned information can prevent them from returning to the all but too common relapses that accompany the problem.
I also address it to someone who has newly become a participant in the International Christian Recovery Coalition whose aim it is to disseminate facts about the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played, and can play in the recovery arena. You have blessed me by telling me your plans, by planning to come to Maui for a working session, and to our large Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference in Portland, Maine, in September.
And I do not find it surprising that you have several times asked me what my vision is in connection with the 27 years I have devoted to researching, investigating, analyzing, publishing, and training others in what is virtually a lost history of astonishing success by the Christian early Akron AAs. The men who founded the Akron A.A. Group Number One in July of 1935 and ultimately put in motion a God-centered recovery movement that impacted the world.
In one sense, I have no vision. Perhaps my efforts resembled those I undertook when I entered Stanford Law School in 1949. I scarcely knew what a lawyer was. I had never and -- for 3 intense years of scholarship – ever visited a law office, a court room, a trial, an appellate court; nor had I ever seen a will, a formal contract, any of the laws of evidence, or the rudiments of constitutional law and taxation. In other words, I had no vision other than to complete law school, do as good a job as a student as I possibly could, and then perhaps even become—God forbid—a politician. But I plunged ahead and wound up spending 36 years as an attorney who accomplished a great deal for hundreds and hundreds of clients whose care demanded knowledge of the things I had never seen in Law School.
Then, after subsequent years and years of sleeping pill addiction, and a much shorter period of excessive drinking, I wound up in Alcoholics Anonymous a very sick cookie. I was shaking, frightened, burdened with troubles, overcoming seizures, and hanging on to recovery for dear life. At that point, I assure you I had no vision but one of somehow extricating myself from the mess I had made of my life.
So I started another journey with no experience and no vision. That journey was, for me, the essence of the Alcoholics Anonymous program. It meant ending all liquor and prescription pills. It meant participating in a fellowship of other suffering souls. It meant going to and increasing my knowledge of God as a last resort—something that was to reap for me the love, power, forgiveness, guidance, healing, and deliverance of my Heavenly Father. And the remaining ingredient was “working with others.” And work with them I have and did for almost every one of the 27 continuous years of my sobriety.
Now how did all the interviews; the visits to libraries, bookstores, and archives; the study of historical books and papers, the ultimate publishing of 46 titles and over 1500 articles come about without a vision? No answer as to the vision. But here I believe I can tell you the rewarding route I took.
A young man told me in my third year of sobriety that A.A. had come from the Bible. I had never heard such news despite deep involvement in thousands of A.A. meetings. He recommended I read A.A.’s DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. When I did, I saw it was surfeited with facts about how the early Akron AAs believed in God, came to Him through surrender to Jesus Christ, studied the Bible, prayed together, observed Quiet Time together, utilized daily devotionals, read Christian literature, visited newcomers in the hospital, got them to acknowledge their belief in God and establish their relationship with Him by accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
I never heard any of this in an A.A. meeting. But I realized that I had been in an organization for three years, refrained from drinking or using, enjoyed the many activities of the fellowship, and caught what I call “the newcomer obsession.” For it was spotting, engaging, helping, and teaching the newcomer that became my passion. But what of the fact that neither they, nor the AAs they met, nor their sponsors or speakers made any mention of the Bible, God, Jesus Christ, or even much about a church.
As I did in preparing a law case for trial, I launched an investigation to find what the facts were about the A.A. program (the “old school” one in Akron) I had neither seen nor heard of. And just as the evidence piles up in the hands of a diligent attorney before a trial, the evidence piled up and began to show that there was an A.A. which might take years to find. And it has. But still no vision. Just a search for facts. And the excitement that comes when you find them and find that they hang together as solid proof of some element of the real truth.
At that point, I began writing and communicating with others who were on a search for A.A. history. I met some of the founders. I met a few of the old-timers. I met many who were involved in the biblical elements that contributed to A.A.’s ideas. I began to receive phone calls, emails, regular letters, and requests for information from many parts of the United States, as well as other countries—even including Russia.
My son Ken (who is a skilled Bible scholar and ordained minister) left his business and joined me as editor, publisher, investigator, writer, speaker, and side kick. This enhanced the information gained, and also its quality. Still no vision. But, in the course of all this, we had to learn and did learn how to publish, distribute, market, and describe our findings—in talks, conferences, seminars, articles, blogs, websites, radio shows, video and audio presentations, and in mundane daily meetings with young AAs. Men who were eager to get well, to learn about God and the Bible, to be correctly instructed as to A.A. literature, and to work with others as I had worked with them. And we all loved it. We almost became an example (like that of the early Akron AAs) of First Century Christianity in action plus Alcoholics Anonymous in application. Still no vision.
This letter does end. And it ends just about here because there is still no vision. But there is a deep desire to do the following wherever we go, whatever we write, whomever we address, and whenever we can, to train trainers. In other words, if most in recovery don’t know the facts and don’t seem to be able to get satisfactory results, then it is exciting and challenging to meet them, inform them, befriend them, and help them get to work along the same lines. That means purveying to them the truth about what God can do for a willing alcoholic or addict in a fellowship today if only the suffering can be persuaded by results and comradeship to participate with us in whatever realm of interest and program and expertise they have developed—A.A., counseling, church, Christian fellowship, treatment, sober living, and leadership. And they are hungry. They are experienced. They want facts.
That’s a summary of where I believe we have gone and are going at this point past my 88 years mark.
In His Service,