Saturday, September 28, 2013

A Delightful Note of Appreciation from a Recovered Woman Believer - Thank you!

Good Morning,


Just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate all the work you have done and continue to do on behalf of AA members.  I am a newcomer (less than 2 years) from a strong Christian background.  It is so disheartening to see how AA has tried to hide the truth about the role of Jesus Christ in its history.  I read your site for confirmation, encouragement and strength to deal with AAs who cannot or will not believe.  Dr. Bob talked about the truth being that the Great Fact had become the Great Compromise for those who cannot or will not believe - God can and will if He is sought.  I said it often in meetings because I believe it it so true.  Once again, thank you for all you do to bring the truth about AA's history to light.



Rock Recovery in San Diego - a Top Example of Applying Old School A.A. in Present-Day 12-Step Fellowships

HomeFavorite AA PassagesFavorite Bible PassagesRock Recovery LinksRock Recovery TestimonialsContact Rock Recovery

Favorite AA Passages
All passages below are from the book Alcoholics Anonymous unless otherwise stated.

God could and would if He were sought. Page 60

You were 100% hopeless apart from divine help. Page 43

There is One who has all power-that One is God. May you find Him now! Page 59

If there was a Devil, he seemed the Boss Universal, and he certainly had me.
Page 11

All went well for a time, but he failed to enlarge his spiritual life. Page 35

The Lord has been so wonderful to me curing me of this terrible disease that I just want to keep telling people about it, has been a sort of golden text for the A.A. program and for me. Page 191

For if an alcoholic failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through
work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive the certain trials
and low spots ahead. Page 14

The point is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. Page 60

The Bible was stressed as reading material, of course. Page 151 Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers

You may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will
conquer. Page 44

After a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of
life - or else. Page 44

We have been spiritually sick. Page 64

What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our
spiritual condition. Page 85

Stress the spiritual feature freely. Page 93

Your husband will see at once that he must redouble his spiritual activities
if he expects to survive. Page 120

Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program of action. Page 42

Many of us have been so touchy that even casual reference to spiritual
things made us bristle with antagonism. This sort of thinking had to be
abandoned. Page 48

But life was not easy for the two friends. Plenty of difficulties presented
themselves. Both saw that they must keep spiritually active. Page 156

The way you fellows put this spiritual stuff makes sense. I'm ready to do
business. Page 159

material well-being always followed spiritual progress; it never preceded. Page 127

Assuming we are spiritually fit, we can do all sorts of things alcoholics
are not supposed to do. People have said we must not go where liquor is
served; we must not have it in our homes; we must shun friends who drink; we
must avoid moving pictures which show drinking scenes; we must not go into
bars; our friends must hide their bottles if we go to their houses; we
mustn't think or be reminded about alcohol at all. Our experience shows that
this is not necessarily so. We meet these conditions every day. An
alcoholic who cannot meet them, still has an alcoholic mind; there is
something the matter with his spiritual status. Page 100

Every few days this doctor suggests our approach to one of his patients.
Understanding our work, he can do this with an eye to selecting those who
are willing and able to recover on a spiritual basis. Page 162

We can laugh at those who think spirituality the way of weakness. Page 68

We are convinced that a spiritual mode of living is a most powerful health
restorative. Page 133

We had to fearlessly face the proposition that either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn't. What was our choice to be? Page 53

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Early A.A. Meetings - "the rest of the story."

This article is for those who want to learn, study, and know what the early Akron AA meetings were like and the actual summary of the program and of the principles and practices of the early Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship pioneers.

Opinions and conjecture do not suffice.

The best starting place is with  A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature. And many in 12 Step Fellowships today are so inundated with nonsense gods (light bulbs, Gertrude, the Big Dipper, door knobs, and "Something") that they settle for small change instead of the real early A.A. meeting evidence.

There are five indisputable evidentiary sources which can mark the beginning of your quest and provide you with the "rest of the story." -- the full details about early A.A. meetings.

The first is, of course, DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. This wonderful book is filled with information about precisely what early Akron AA pioneers did in their meetings, their fellowship, and their program. Start with page 131 for the summary, and keep reading.

The second is The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks. In this exact transcription of their last major talks, Bill W. and Dr. Bob lay out the basic ideas that came from the teachings, studies, and efforts in the Bible. They also lay out Bill's comment that most of the pioneers were "practicing Christians." And they point to the three absolutely essential Bible segments--Jesus's Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13, and the Book of James. Read these segments and see how many parallels there are with the Big Book and the Steps. See

The third is Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition--which contains an introduction by Dick B., the full program of action introduced in Bill's new version, and the real stories of the pioneers (before they were later removed) that we testimonials to the early A.A. Christian techniques and Akron ideas. See

The fourth is our new book Stick with the Winners! - which documents for you just how much of the old school program is literally incorporated into today's Conference-approved literature. See

Finally, there is our unique, current, and timely study of the actual personal stories and testimonies of the pioneers in the First Edition. It is called Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous. See

Please don't settle for some of the time-worn partial accounts that are floating around today. Go directly to the sources of accurate information on early A.A. Meetings. And "the rest of the story."

Gloria Deo

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Story of A.A. Pioneer Bob E.'s Descriptions of Early A.A. Meet ings

An Excerpt on How A.A. Pioneer Bob E. Described Early A.A.


You can’t just say that anonymity is a great thing. Selfless anonymity is indeed exactly that. But there are other kinds of anonymity that are not so good, and some kinds that are just plain bad. A member of any Twelve Step Fellowship owes it to himself to be aware of how and why he is being anonymous.


Bob E., until his death in 1984, was the senior living member of Alcoholics Anonymous in length of sobriety. He was the eleventh man to join the fellowship. His home was in Akron, Ohio, where he joined his first AA group back in 1936. Back then “anonymity” was commonly understood to mean “without names”. Today, with the current understanding of “anonymity,” it may be more properly called “anofaciety” or “without faces”.


Shortly, before his death, Bob E. shared with some members of the Upstate Group of All Addicts Anonymous, the following recollection of what AA was like when he first joined:



I never led meetings (neither did Dr. Bob*) or talked into a microphone. Nobody led our meetings in the very early days. We all just sat around in a circle. After the opening prayer and a short text from the Bible, we had quiet time, silently praying for guidance about what to say. Then each person in turn said something, asking for any help he wanted, bringing up anything that was troubling him or just whatever was on his mind. After everyone was through, there were announcements and we held hands and said the Lord’s Prayer. There was no clapping. At that kind of a meeting, clapping would have seen out of place.


There was no levity either. We all had our sense of humor, but for us recovery was a life-and-death matter. We were all businessmen, but we had reached our bottom and wanted to restore ourselves to our previous place in business and society.


For the first five years we met in someone’s home every night. It was serious business, and we hung on to each other for dear life. We could not afford any failures and so we grew very slowly at first. But we proved that an alcoholic on this program can help another alcoholic as no one else can.


Many AA meetings are very different now, but in the beginning it was absolutely necessary for us to be strict and serious. That is the way Dr. Bob was, gruff and tough. He always put the program on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. Dr. Bob and his wife Annie were both wonderful people. (Annie died in 1949. Bob died in 1950 of cancer.  He knew for years that he had it.) He was a great student of the Bible, which he read every night till the wee hours. In that first group, Dr. Bob selected the readings and made all the appointments and all the major decisions. (I was the first secretary of the group and the following year became chairman.) Everyone had to make a complete surrender to join in the first place, and so we had no reservations; we worked the whole program, 100 percent.


Great emphasis was laid on the daily plan of checking ourselves on the Four Absolutes: absolute

 honest, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love.


The Twelve Steps came from the Absolutes. (The Four Absolutes are very popular to this day in Akron AA. They are mentioned more often than the steps.)


We did not tell our drinking histories at the meetings back then. We did not need to. A man’s sponsor and Dr. Bob knew the details. Frankly, we did not think it was anybody else’s business. We were anonymous and so was our life. Besides, we already knew how to drink. What we wanted to learn was how to get sober and stay sober.


Bill Wilson was in favor of having at least fifty percent of an AA member’s talk at a meeting consist of “qualifying” or telling the story of how he became an alcoholic. Bill himself had a warm, friendly disposition, and this idea of his did attract people and enable the movement to grow to a size where it had helped thousands of people all over the world. For that we must be grateful.


But when the “qualifying” business first began, it took some getting used to on our part. I remember one time when we were meeting at King School; some people came in from Cleveland, and most of the qualifying they did was really very bad. They clapped and made a lot of noise. To us it seemed strange and offensive. Gradually we opened up under Bill’s persuasive influence. But we still did not care for it when people would get carried away by their own voice and make their stories too sensational and repulsive.


When Alcoholics Anonymous, the AA Big Book, was printed, we had no money to get the books out of the warehouse in New York. Jack Alexander’s article in the Saturday Evening Post (March 1941) got the Big Book into circulation in a hurry, and that was when the term Alcoholics Anonymous became the accepted name for the movement. Up till then we had simply been called “a Christian fellowship.”


One thing stands out above all else in this account of AA’s beginnings: no-nonsense spirituality, stressing the subordination of all personalities to the recovery principles.


The Twelfth Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous tells us that “anonymity is the spiritual foundation of our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.” The Eleventh Tradition specifies that “ . . . we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.” And beyond that, AA people are expected to protect the anonymity of members by not disclosing the fact of their alcoholism or their AA association to anyone outside the fellowship. The tradition of anonymity does not preclude us from talking with anyone we choose to about our own alcoholism or AA membership, provided that the conversation never appears in print or other media with our full names attached to it. It is acceptable to publish AA-related material if you identify yourself only with your first name and the first initial of your last name, as we have done in the case of Bob E.


This is how anonymity is generally understood throughout the AA movement today. But what is the why behind the tradition of anonymity? What are the reasons for all the stress on it?


Bob E.’s story suggests the first and most obvious function of anonymity. It gives protection to the newcomer who is ashamed of his past and uncertain as to his future – whether he will get sober for good, or not. He  can come to AA meetings and talk openly about his troubles without fear of having his disclosures leaked to the less understanding and often condemnatory non-alcoholic citizens of the area.



An Interview of A..A. Author and Historian on A.A. History, Christian Recovery, and the UCC Roots

Dick B on the Christian History of AA and the 12 Step Movement and It’s UCC Roots – An Interview


September 25. 2013 – Revised.  No Comments



Today we’re interviewing “Dick B” of who is a historian of the Alcoholics Anonymous movement. What sets his work apart is that he has specialized in documenting the Christian origins and roots of the original AA which described itself as a “Christian Fellowship”. This is “news” for many today who are familiar with “12 Step Programs” . They have frequently heard that “A.A. is a ‘spiritual program’ and not a ‘religious program’” and some 12 Step groups are actually known for their hatred of Christianity and the Church. Despite these modern misconceptions, the early program of the AA Christian Fellowship had over a 75% “cure” rate and they frequently used the term “cure” to describe the transformation that occurred through the ministry of A.A.


Of importance to the UCC these days is our role in forming what became the “12 Step Movement” – what a legacy! The 12 Step movement and the UCC have fallen on hard times spiritually speaking. Perhaps in returning to this story of God’s blessing which flowed from our past, we will regain a vision for our future?


Without further delay, let’s get to our discussion with Dick B, AA Historian.


Dick, thank you for your insight. Our readership is composed of “Mainline” Christians and, in particular, members of the United Church of Christ who came from a merger of the Congregationalists and another

 Reformed body, the Evangelical and Reformed Church.


1. Dick what caused you to start looking into the Christian origins of Alcoholics Anonymous?


I came into A.A. on April 23, 1986, having had my last drink two days before. I was a very very sick alcoholic with lots and lots of troubles. I had been the president of the Mill Valley California Community Church, which had become part of UCC. I was also a born-again Christian and a Bible student and one who had attended Bible fellowships. I talked in A.A. meetings and to friends a great deal about God and the Bible. Not without flack! I certainly relied on our Heavenly Father, His son Jesus Christ, and the Bible for help. But I never heard a word in all the meetings I went to about the biblical roots, the Bible, or Jesus Christ. Then, when I was about three years sober, a young man named John (now dead of alcoholism), who had been in Bible fellowships, asked me if I knew that A.A. had come from the Bible. I said I had never heard of such a thing. He suggested I read A.A.’s own DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, which I did. He pointed out that early AAs had wanted to call their society the James Club because the Book of James was their favorite. I found his information and suggestions to be catalysts for research. And all of that started me on a 19 year quest which continues to this day. And see my title, The James Club and the Original A.A. Program’s “Absolute Essentials” (


2. You have many books already on the influence of the Bible (“Good Book”) on AA, the Oxford Group’s influence on AA, and leaders like Rev. Samuel Shoemaker on AA. Now at last you have written on the roots of AA as traceable to St. Johnsbury, VT. Specifically the North Congregational Church and the YMCA and Christian Endeavor movements of the time. What lead you down that research path?


Just as AAs seldom today talk about the Bible, they talk even less about Dr. Bob’s Bible training and church affiliations—particularly as a youngster. But their literature and Dr. Bob’s talks make mention of his excellent training in the Bible as a youngster in Vermont. He mentioned the number of times he and his family went to church each week. He also mentioned his activity in Christian Endeavor—a society which was born in the Williston Congregational Church in Portland, Maine, in February 1881; had come to Vermont that same year; and spread like wildfire to an eventual world-wide membership of four million.


See my title, Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous ( For a number of years, I had been conducting seminars on early A.A.’s roots—and for eight years at the Wilson House in East Dorset, Vermont. I had tried to get several people to go to St. Johnsbury and dig out the facts. Finally, my son Ken and I made two extended trips in October 2007 and June 2008, and encountered a gold mine of unreported information. We found records of: (1) the Fairbanks family of St. Johnsbury, and of their strong Congregational and YMCA ties; (2) Dr. Bob’s family and their involvement in North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury; (3) what North Congregational Church did—as shown in their Sunday school teachings and records, Christian Endeavor records, and YMCA records; and (4) the “Great Awakening” of 1875 in St. Johnsbury. During that “Great Awakening,” the whole community was transformed by revivals and conversions; and, out of a population of about 5,000, some 1,700 made decisions for Christ under the impetus of the Vermont State YMCA Executive Committee, YMCA laymen from Massachusetts, the six local churches (which had been holding “union meetings” in anticipation of such a revival). Also, I had earlier acquired a great deal of Christian Endeavor literature and could see the direct relevance of their principles and practices to those that were incorporated into the early Akron A.A. program. In fact, Tim Eldred, the Executive Director of Christian Endeavor International invited me to speak in Washington, D.C. at the 125th Anniversary of Christian Endeavor, and this furthered my interest and enthusiasm.


3. One of our concerns is how the “Mainline” church helped shape the AA Christian Fellowship. Could we say that between Buchman of the Oxford Group, Shoemaker of Calvary Church, and St. Johnsbury, we have some Lutheran, Episcopal, and Congregationalist influences at the beginning of AA. One early resource you found was the Methodist devotional publication The Upper Room. What did these “streams” share in their contribution to AA, and how did they differ? Most importantly – which “won” out in the final form of the AA program in Akron?


As to the influence of the “Mainline” church, you can and should consider the following:


a. New England Congregationalism dominated every aspect of Bill W.’s training in East Dorset and Manchester, and of Dr. Bob’s training in St. Johnsbury. It was Congregational to the core. And conversions were a major focus of the Congregational Church, of the YMCA, and of the revivals in those days.


b. The Oxford Group had much less influence than most historians would have you believe. The reason is that A.A. began in Akron, not New York. And the Akron Christian Fellowship was having old-fashioned prayer meetings, Bible studies, conversions to Christ, hospitalizations, and outreach to drunks which simply was not characteristic of the Oxford Group. See my titles The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous ( and The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous ( In fact, the Akron group was called a “clandestine” lodge of the Oxford Group because of its particular thrust and methods.


c. Nonetheless, when Bill W. wrote his Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous) three-to-four years later and published it in 1939, the tables turned. Bill knew far less about the Bible than Dr. Bob. He was much more deeply involved in the Oxford Group–with Buchman, business teams, house parties, Calvary House, Irving Harris, Victor Kitchen, Rowland Hazard, and Sam Shoemaker–than Dr. Bob was. See my title New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A. ( The people clustered around Frank Buchman and Sam Shoemaker were “Mainline” in roots though seemingly unconventional in their “life-changing” emphasis. The leaders of the Oxford Group were Episcopalian, Anglican, Dutch Reformed, Presbyterian, and in Buchman’s case Lutheran.


d. One cannot understand A.A. then or now without understanding the varied and diverse sources—16 in all as I count them today. See my title A New Way Out ( The diverse roots are: the Bible, Quiet Time, Anne Smith’s journal, Dr. Bob’s reading and library, the Oxford Group, Sam Shoemaker, William James, Carl Jung, William D. Silkworth, the Salvation Army, the YMCA, Gospel Rescue Missions, conversions, Christian Endeavor, New Thought writings, and Richard Peabody.


During the earlier years of my research (beginning in 1990), the major roots seemed to me to be just: (1) the Bible; (2) Quiet Time; (3) Anne Smith’s journal, (4) the reading of devotionals and other Christian literature; (5) the Oxford Group; and (6) Sam Shoemaker. See my title Turning Point ( But then it became more and more clear that there were at least five major epochs and that each involved different or varied root sources:


a. The youthful training of Dr. Bob (born in 1879) and Bill W. (born in 1895) in Vermont which encompassed Bible study, prayer meetings, conversions to Christ, Quiet Hour, and love and service—these were primarily from New England Congregationalism, the YMCA, Salvation Army techniques, and Rescue Mission work. See my title The Conversion of Bill W. (


b. Next came the melding into the simple program at Akron where Bill W. brought to the table his own conviction about conversion as a solution (see my title The Golden Text of A.A.,; his hospitalization experiences with Dr. Silkworth and the “Great Physician”; and his own conversion at Calvary Rescue Mission. [See my title A New Way In (]. This program arose in the cradle of the Oxford Group events of the early 1930’s but quickly turned into the five-point Akron Christian Fellowship program: (1) abstinence; (2) reliance on the Creator and coming to Him through His son Jesus Christ; (3) obedience to God’s will; (4) growth in fellowship with God through Bible study, prayer, Quiet Time, the reading of devotionals and other Christian literature; and (5) working with others. Anne Smith’s journal, with a strong Bible bent and a clear understanding of Oxford Group life-changing ideas, had a great impact. See my title Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939 ( Henrietta Seiberling’s beliefs and teachings were important in emphasizing the power of God. See my title Henrietta B. Seiberling ( The program achieved astonishing, documented, 75% and 93% success rates (in Akron and in Cleveland, respectively) among “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable,” alcoholics who really tried. See my titles Cured! ( and When Early AAs Were Cured and Why ( It placed enormous emphasis on the Bible (which Dr. Bob often called “the Good Book”); [see my titles The Good Book and the Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible ( and The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook (]; on old-fashioned prayer meetings; on conversions; on Quiet Hour and meditation; on the reading of devotionals and other Christian literature; and on intense work with others.


c. Oddly, the use of devotionals–such as The Upper Room, The Runner’s Bible, The Greatest Thing in the World, Daily Strength for Daily Needs, Abundant Living, The Meaning of Prayer, My Utmost for His Highest–seems to have come from a number of influences. For example: (1) “Mother Galbraith” used to bring The Upper Room to Akron meetings, and it became a standby. (2) The use of The Runner’s Bible–and the use of books by Drummond, Glenn Clark, and E. Stanley Jones–was largely the product of Dr. Bob’s own reading, spurred perhaps by the Christian Endeavor practice of choosing topics and reading literature. (3) Sam Shoemaker and several other Oxford Group members were prolific writers, and the Oxford Group pieces early AAs in Akron used very probably came from T. Henry Williams’ home where the meetings were held. The meetings at his home were at first “clandestine” Oxford Group meetings; though Williams had been a Sunday school teacher at two churches, and his wife had studied to be a Baptist missionary.” Meditation” was a “must” and was called “Quiet Time.” But it faded away as Bill’s Eleventh Step approach took precedence. See my title Good Morning: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A. ( (4) Oswald Chambers, Glenn Clark, Harry Emerson Fosdick, and E. Stanley Jones were popular writers of the day.


4. If the early AA program worked so well… why do you think it was changed? Was it for the sake of secular respectability? to incorporate Roman Catholics? Both? Or other reasons? It seems hard to believe that when Lois said that the changes were made to accommodate people who were not Christians that there really were that many non-Christians they were coming into contact with…


The changing tides of AA are mapped out in these titles I have written: (a) Introduction to the Sources and Founding of Alcoholics Anonymous (; (b) Real Twelve Step Fellowship History (; (c) The First Nationwide Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference (http://dickb.com1stAAHistConf.shtml); and (d) Making Known the Biblical History and Roots of Alcoholics Anonymous ( The early program worked well for believers because they believed and tried to stick with God, His Word, resisting temptation, fellowshipping together, and focusing on new people. But the influence of a few atheists, (and later) treatment people, historians, psychiatrists, and New Thought took their toll. The five resultant phases or epochs, I believe, were these:


1) The New England training of Dr. Bob and Bill W., and of Bill’s conversion to Christ.


2) The formulation and development of the Akron program, based primarily on Christian Endeavor principles and practices, hospitalization, conversions to Christ (resembling a James 5:16 ceremony), outreach to drunks, reading of devotionals and other Christian literature, and fellowship with like-minded believers.


3) Bill’s attempt to write a book that would “sell” and would eliminate all specific traces of the Bible, Quiet Time, Oxford Group, Sam Shoemaker, prayer meetings, and Christian literature. Yet his ideas codified Oxford Group life-changing ideas; drew on William James and his “higher power”; drew on Carl Jung and his discussion with Rowland Hazard of the need for “conversion”; drew on William D. Silkworth and his “disease” concept (yet leaving Silkworth’s solid convictions about Jesus Christ unmentioned); drew on Richard Peabody and his “no cure” thesis; picked up New Thought language about “Czar of the Universe,” and so forth; and changed conversion to “spiritual experience.” Bill and his partner Hank had their eye on book sales and profits. Bill took his “theology” largely from Sam Shoemaker and, in fact, asked Sam to write the Twelve Steps (which Sam did not do).


4) The period immediately following the publication of the Big Book in 1939 and lasting until Dr. Bob’s death in 1950. A.A. was much altered while Bill W. was, for the most part, “missing in action,” due to his deep depression of 12 years. Dr. Bob—based in Akron–focused on helping alcoholics recover. And new writers, writings, and workers emerged to fill the gap. The new alterations came from sources such as: (1) Clarence Snyder; (2) Sister Ignatia; (3) Father Ed Dowling, S.J.; (4) Father Ralph Pfau; (5) Richmond Walker; (6) Ed Webster; and, finally (7) Dr. Bob himself, who made his own “last stand” of sorts through his approval of the publishing of the four AA of Akron pamphlets (which are still in available today through the Akron and Cleveland Intergroup offices).


5) The period that began after Dr. Bob’s death in 1950. A.A. was heavily influenced by the activity and writing of the two Jesuit priests (Father John C. Ford, S.J., and Father Ed Dowling, S.J.); and the tide turned toward “spiritual,” and left “religion” outside of A.A. from their perspective and by their seeming design.


5. Were the effects of this change positive in helping alcoholics?


If herding alcoholics into support groups, emphasizing the changing of old habits and friends, stressing abstinence, catalyzing outreach to others, and talking about “spirituality” can be deemed “positive,” the answer is yes. But Jim Houck of the Oxford Group and A.A. endorsed one of my books, saying: “Take God out of A.A., and you have nothing.” Today, there are still tens of thousands in A.A. who believe in God. Roman Catholics comprise a large chunk. Their stance seems to call for going to church for religion and to A.A. for alcoholism. Christian critics in and out of A.A. are claiming A.A. is not “of the Lord” and should not be attended. There are now thousands of AAs who never heard anything about their history, the Bible’s role, Dr. Bob’s emphasis on the Good Book, or the original Akron “Program” set forth in Frank Amos’ report to John D. Rockefeller in 1938; and the best of these are “Big Book Thumpers.” My 19 years of research have shown that God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible had major roles in the highly-successful Akron “Program” led by Dr. Bob. And I believe that Christians involved in A.A.—as well as Christians trying to help other Christians involved with A.A.—can benefit greatly from learning about those important roles. The Big Book, in many ways, had its roots in the Bible. See my title The Good Book and the Big Book ( But the Big Book incorporated fuzzy New Thought words, un-credited biblical language, no-cure thinking, and Oxford Group practices. And the proliferation of “higher powers,” criticism of religion, inadequately-answered intimidation of Christians in A.A., growth of New Thought and New Age as well as atheism and idolatry provide a tough challenge for a newcomer. In a very real sense, the newcomer to A.A. has these choices: (a) Leave A.A. because it is too “religious.” (b) Leave A.A. because it is not Christian enough; (c) Don’t leave A.A., and don’t talk about God or Jesus Christ or the Bible (in order to avoid having one’s beliefs challenged publicly); (d) Change A.A.’s Steps so they are or look “Christian”; (e) Join outside Christian groups comprised of former alcoholics and addicts focused on learning about the Creator’s role in early A.A. and on sharing that role with other Christians in A.A. and other Twelve-Step Fellowships; or (f) Get drunk. The current facts are that A.A.’s original, documented, 75% and 93% success rates in Akron and Cleveland have dropped to a disputed, one-to-five percent success rate today–or at least to no more than 25%. A.A. has stopped growing. There are still 1 million American AAs and perhaps 18 million American drunks. A.A. cannot come to terms with the fact that, although most of its members today have used both drugs and alcohol, its members are urged not to mention anything but alcohol. A.A. is diverse in belief and population today, not monolithic. A.A. is compulsory for many, not voluntary. A.A. suffers increasingly from “leadership” rigidity and enforcement thinking. A.A. in a sense competes with therapy, treatment programs, religious programs, and support groups of other types. But it is still vibrant, supportive, enthusiastic, and almost ever-present. My view is that I got sober in A.A. I loved its support and activities. I loved helping others. I have found no appealing alternative. At least not one that offers day-in-day-out, continuous, hands-on help and outreach to the suffering newcomer. I believe it’s possible to be a Christian, a Bible student, and an AA—and to enjoy sobriety in the comfort of my heavenly Father’s Everlasting Arms. I believe that is what I am–22 years to the good at age 83.


6. One common Lutheran, Reformed, and Anglican (Episcopalian) emphasis in doctrine historically was the doctrine called “Justification by faith”. How does that doctrine find expression in the early AA movement?


Justification by faith. I will leave the answer to that question, for the most part, to others. Your question did send me scurrying to the Bible; and, in particular, to the Rom 1:17 of Martin Luther and the Reformation, to John 3:16, to Romans 10:9, and to the first chapter of 1 John. But it also turned me to some of my reading in Schaff, in Harnack, in the New Bible Dictionary, and about the disputes with Universalists in Dr. Bob’s days. The theology is not something I am qualified to discuss. I just go by the Bible and the justification, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption that are covered, for example, in Galatians 2:20; 3:11-14, 26. The newcomer to A.A. is filled with guilt, fear, shame, anxiety, confusion, and worldly problems. For me, these need to be filled with standing as a child of the living Creator and with a renewed mind walk. The facts of the early program seem to be these: (1) A person would voluntarily confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, believing in his or her heart that God had raised Jesus from the dead (John 3:16; Rom 10:9, 10). Dr. Bob very likely had done that in North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury. Bill W. very likely did that at Calvary Rescue Mission in New York; and he had probably also done that earlier at the Congregational churches in East Dorset, in Rutland, and/or in Manchester, Vermont (at Burr and Burton Academy, at which he was president of the YMCA). And early AAs did it upstairs at T. Henry’s house. (2) That person was then born again of the spirit of God; and, by God’s grace, that person was at that moment saved from the wrath to come, acquitted of his or her past sins, and enabled to ask forgiveness for deeds thereafter. (3) What that person then reaped from that point on was another matter which depended on his or her fellowship with the Father and with His son Jesus Christ—i.e., on walking by the spirit, not by the flesh. And that choice is tough. But to attempt an injection of theological justification into the early program is not for me except to say that Dr. Bob Smith, his wife Anne, and the Akron folk read and studied the Bible daily, they led newcomers to acceptance of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and they endeavored to stay in fellowship with God and with like-minded believers. Probably none of these precepts could be declared universal in today’s recovery groups.


7. As you also note in your books, the Book of James (along with the Sermon on the Mount and 1 Corinthians 13) holds a place of preeminence in early AA Bible reading. James 2:20 says “faith without works is dead”. Why were such passages so compelling do you think to early AA’s?


E. Stanley Jones and Oswald Chambers expressed the relationship between the gift of the Holy Spirit and the precepts of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in different ways. One said the Sermon without the Holy Spirit is “spiritual powwow.” The other said that the Holy Spirit without the Sermon leaves work to be done and hence something missing. One might equate that with 1 Cor. 13. “Faith without works” is used in the Big Book out of context. James is deep into other matters such as overcoming temptation, asking wisdom of God, being a doer of the Word and not just a hearer, loving one’s neighbor, submitting to God and resisting the devil, seeking help when sick, confessing faults one to another, and the efficacy of prayer. I truly believe that the pioneers STUDIED the three segments (i.e., Matthew 5-7, 1 Cor. 13, and the Book of James) lots and did not merely hang on such ideas as “faith without works.” The emphasis on the three segments was very very substantial, and it explains the loose references to each that are embodied in the Big Book.


8. Are there 12 step groups that are recovering this early vision? How can people find these AA groups that foster this early vision? Do you consider the ministry “Celebrate Recovery” to be walking in the steps of early AA?


There are many 12 Step study groups that are returning to the early A.A. emphasis on Bible study, prayer, asking God for guidance, Quiet Time, reading the Book of James and the other segments, reading Christian literature, using Christian devotionals, and looking for the roots of the Steps. See my titles By the Power of God (; The Books Early AAs Read (; Utilizing Early A.A.’s Spiritual Roots (; and Twelve Steps for You ( There is emerging recognition that the phony, nonsense gods of recovery talk are detours from truth, recovery, and cure. See my titles God and Alcoholism ( and Why Early A.A. Succeeded ( There are many groups today in A.A. who are conducting Bible/Big Book study groups. Not a day goes by that I don’t receive several phone calls or emails from people wanting to know where to begin. In the years past, I have: (a) conducted eight A.A. history weekend seminars at the Wilson House in Vermont; (b) conducted six A.A. history conferences; (c) spoken by invitation at annual conferences of Alcoholics Victorious, Celebrate Recovery founders, Overcomers Outreach, Inc., The Net Ministries in Florida, the Tampa Bay Clean and Sober Conference, YWAM, City Team Ministries, Roman Catholic and A.A. spiritual retreats, and many Clarence Snyder spiritual retreats for AAs and their families. I believe there is an immense hunger for books, for articles, for talks, for teachers, for leadership, for support, for guidance, and for encouragement WITHIN 12 Step Groups. My 33 published titles and four websites endeavor to help feed the hungry (;;; and These contain articles, archives, links, resources, audio talks, radio talks, tributes, and recommendations.


Conclusion. In many ways the mainline churches in the US parallel this story. Our historic faith was the foundation for the AA ministry and the Risen Lord described in our confessions is the One who brought these wonderful cures.


But somewhere along the line, the mainline and the 12 Step movement has become secularized and lost it’s connection to this historic faith.


I pray your work will restore the Christian faith to it’s proper place in the AA movement and that the same faith in the living Christ will predominate again in the Mainline churches. Thank you Dick.


Note: Those interested in providing donations so that Dick B’s works may be circulated free of charge to those in need of them may contact Dick B directly through the links above or here:;  808 874 4876 ; PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837




We were delighted today to interview our long-time friend who is the owner and manager of Smile God Loves You Tapes and has recorded over 35 12 Step Fellowship conferences this year and, in the past, has attended and recorded a number of our A.A. History and Christian Recovery Conferences in the past.

Shortly, I'll post a review of this interview which can now be heard on

In  the meantime, please listen to Rusty's talk because it is a classic of what should be fed to 12 Step and recovery audiences today about A.A., the Big Book, the Steps, the Bible, God, Jesus Christ, the Four Absolutes, and how these became a part of the story and life experience of this fine long-recovered alkie.

God Bless, Dick B.

Rusty W. of Smile God Loves You Gives Tremendous Interview to AA author Dick B. on Christian Recovoery Radio toda y

We were delighted today to interview our long-time friend who is the owner and manager of Smile God Loves You Tapes and has recorded over 35 12 Step Fellowship conferences this year and, in the past, has attended and recorded a number of our A.A. History and Christian Recovery Conferences in the past.

Shortly, I'll post a review of this interview which can now be heard on

In  the meantime, please listen to Rusty's talk because it is a classic of what should be fed to 12 Step and recovery audiences today about A.A., the Big Book, the Steps, the Bible, God, Jesus Christ, the Four Absolutes, and how these became a part of the story and life experience of this fine long-recovered alkie.

God Bless, Dick B.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Dick B.-Ken B. A.A. History, Old School A.A., and Recovery Conferences/Workshops Phoenix/Tucson Oct 11-12

Here's a chance for the populous Southwest US to hear Dick B. and Ken B. conduct Alcoholics Anonymous History, Old School A.A., and Recovery Conferences in Arizona October  11-12, 2013

The first conference appearances will be in Phoenix on Friday.

The second conference appearances will be in Tucson on Saturday.

If you missed The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference in Portland Maine, and the St. Johnsbury, Vermont side trip, in September, here's an opportunity to meet with and hear the A.A. author/historians next month in Arizona

For  questions, contact, or 808 874 4876

Dick B., Kihei, Hawaii

Nedical Specialist Dr. Robb H. Interviewd on Christian Recovery Radio by author Dick B.

Dick B. interviews Robb H., M.D., on the Tuesday, September 24, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show





Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved




Hear Dick B. interview Robb H., M.D., on the Tuesday, September 24, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show here:



or here:



Episodes of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show are archived at:






Today's guest is Robb Hicks. M.D. Robb is a neuro-scientist, specialist in treating impaired professionals with various addictive problems, and a particular emphasis on preventing the relapses that so often follow the treatment of these individuals. We have been in communication with Dr. Hicks for a number of months now. He just spent a week with us on Maui, telling us what he knows in his area of expertise and soaking up as much information as possible about the history, Christian backdrop, hands-on 12 Step work with alcoholics and addicts, and A.A. techniques for working with them. Following his visit with us on Maui, Dr. Hicks came to the very recent First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference in Portland, Maine. He there spoke to the participants on his specialty and continued to soak up the practical aspects of A.A. recovery he found there. Dr. Hicks also joined us in an intense visit to the heartland of Alcoholics Anonymous spirituality--the boyhood home and training of A.A. cofounder Dr. Robert H. Smith. Robb was with us almost every moment of our many meetings in St. Johnsbury. And now he will tell you about his own background, work, practice, interests, and plans for the future. Take it away Robb




Synopsis of and Commentary on the Interview of Dr. Hicks


Dr. Hicks has become a valued member of the International Christian Recovery Coalition team, He is one who brings medical expertise to the fore, who is jumping at the opportunity to help others overcome and avoid relapse from alcoholism and many addictive problems, and whose immediate focus and work is in a field peopled with those in difficulty who can be rescued and restored to their previous effective and respected callings.


The field is or certainly can be assisting impaired professionals and other skilled people—doctors, lawyers, judges, clergy, first responders, dentists, pharmacists, artists, athletes, actors, entertainers, producers, authors, and countless other formerly talented and accomplished individuals. These individuals have sometimes lost everything. More often, they are despondent and depressed with the thoughts that they have lost or will forever lose their reputations and employment. They are stymied into inaction by the supposed unbearable weight of their difficulties. And most are much inclined to hide in the bushes in shame, guilt, and remorse, thinking suicidal thoughts or seeking isolation from the world at large.


The vision that we have seen developing with our friend Dr. Robb Hicks is one of emphasizing several key tools: (1) Establishing and relying on a relationship with God as quickly as possible much as A.A.’s Big Book suggests on page 29 of its fourth edition. (2) Focusing a maimed and suffering person on accountability, the support and service opportunities of organizations like A.A., and what Robb calls “intentional sobriety.” (3) Challenging the afflicted to the needed service to and glorification of God and service and help for others right in the fellowship to which the suffering have turned and yet often flee, leave, or visit without the fervent sacrifice and service which characterized and galvanized the successes of the early AAs in Akron and later in Cleveland.


This, in part, was my story. One where I lacked the initial assistance covered here; and I believe many will want to listen to this doctor and receive the inspiration his path is offering right now.


Gloria Deo

Monday, September 23, 2013

Neuro-scientist, recidivism and impaired professionals specialist Rob Hicks, M.D. will be interviewed tomorrow by AA Author Dick B.

Tomorrow's listeners on the Christian Recovery show will hear a medical specialist (neuro-scientist, impaired professionals expert, and relapse prevention) named Robb Hicks., M.D. of Missouri in an interview by AA author and historian Dick B. on Christian Recovery

This is a very special presentation and one not to be missed.

Dick B.

Special Interview of Radio Personality Monty M. of by Dick B. on

Dick B. interviews Christian Recovery radio personality Monty M. ( on the Monday, September 23, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B."





Dick B.

2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved




Hear Dick B. interview Christian Recovery radio personality Monty M. of on the Monday, September 23, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show here:



or here:



Episodes of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show are archived at:




Our good friend and long-recovered Christian A.A. recovery leader Monty M. of Oregon today presents a picture of the dramatic and benign changes in format, interviews, and mission of his well-known and much heard Take 12 show.


The important improved presentations are so detailed and important that I will not endeavor to summarize them or Monty’s talk. Just go to the radio sites above mentioned and hear Monty tell the story directly to you. It offers new hope to those seeking to improve recovery from all sorts of addictive behaviors by relying upon the power of God, the path of the Steps, and the successes of the A.A. support structure.


Gloria Deo

Religion News and Alcoholics Anonymous: Some Comments by Author and Historian Dick B.

Many of the foregoing commentators fail to mention the number of times a Christian in A.A. is told that people who read the Bible get drunk. That was the message my grandsponsor pushed to absurdity for the first few years of my sobriety. Or the number of times a Christian in A.A. is rebuked in an open meeting for sharing what God has done for him that he could not do for himself. Or the number of times Christians in A.A. have to listen to the self-made religions that characterize a “higher power” as a chair, a table, Santa Claus, the Big Dipper, a light bulb, a Coke bottle, Something, Somebody, or “it.” The ones I have counted as friends and helped to get well over the past 27 years have heard it all. But they have managed to keep their focus on what Dr. Bob called “love and service” and what Bill W. wrote could be called the “love and tolerance” code.The degeneration of the original Akron A.A. pioneer Christian fellowship program into the blather and mindless chatter so common in meetings need not deter those who recovered and help others recover the same way the early Akron and Cleveland AAs did. All the absurd concepts and comments about “spirituality,” half-baked prayers, and higher powers are an integral part of the diverse A.A. and 12 Step meetings of today. That is why so many Christians today have gathered to make clear to those who want God’s help the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible played in the history, origins, Christian upbringing of the cofounders, and the original Akron AA Christian Fellowship founded in 1939. As one who has been continuously active and sober since my first day in A.A. and who has focused for decades on the history and biblical roots of A.A. and its increasing secularization, I haven’t found it necessary or advisable to stop helping drunks in A.A., to leave the fellowship, or to try quashing the remarks of those who today have chosen to follow the great compromise that Wilson and three others made in the steps at the last minute before printing the Big Book in 1939. The successes of Christians in early Akron A.A. and of their successors in Cleveland make these important historical facts–good and bad– part and parcel of what tolerant AAs must listen to and ignore if they are to carry out in their chosen fellowship and meetings the primary purpose of helping the still suffering alcoholics to recover and to point out the long history of successes in A.A. by those who chose and choose to rely on the power and love of God for recovery. Gloria Deo! And let me suggest that I am sure I never could have dug out of the cesspool of alcoholism and sleeping pill horrors and the troubles that went with them had I not walked in the doors of A.A. on April 23, 1886 and gone to any lengths to put my trust in Almighty God, stick with the winners, and help as many drunks as possible to do likewise and be victorious. Dick B.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Today's Christian Recovery Radio Interview of Sandy R. of Rhode Island

Dick B. interviews Christian Recovery leader Sandy R. on the Sunday, September 22, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show


Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved




Hear Dick B. interview Christian Recovery leader Sandy R. on the Sunday, September 22, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show here:



or here:



Episodes of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show are archived at:






Interview of Sandy R. of Rhode Island


This is our first interview in a number of days and follows our lengthy International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference and meetings in Portland Maine, St. Johnsbury Vermont, and South San Francisco. But it introduces the first of several new points of emphasis in the Christian recovery arena. For one thing, our speaker is one of several women Christian recovery leaders who will be sharing in the days to come. For another, it suggests the growing interest in healing by the power of God by people suffering from a variety of addictive problems other than alcohol and drugs. For still another, it highlights a trend of larger conferences that then split up into small groups that focus on particular areas of suffering--whether alcoholism, codependency, sexual problems, family difficulties, and items such as gambling, debt, and smoking. I mention all this because our guest is a very special one who will tell us about her bringing a large group of women and friends to our conference--a group consisting largely of those with overeating problems. They too look to the power and love of God for victory. She brought her entourage from Rhode Island and has supported our Christian recovery history emphasis for quite some time. She will give us a unique perspective on her own life, her Christian faith in help from God, her recognition of the 12 Step programs, and her evangelistic zeal. She is Sandy R., and now we will let her tell you her story.

Synopsis of Talk


1.      Sandy brought 11 women from her group in Rhode Island to participate in our Maine conference.


2.      She has formed an overeaters group called “That Power Which Is God.”


3.      She is convinced that the Big Book and cofounders promised, and she has experienced, permanent cure—which in her case is her dependency on food.


4.      Her real deliverance began when she cried out to God for help, said she was tired of suffering from the inferiority and misery she had felt.


5.      Sandy has a bachelor’s in nursing and places strong emphasis on the power and love of God in overcoming any kind of addictive behavior. And when she sought Him, she was surrounded by a white light and sensed the presence of God and heard a voice tell her that He wanted to be the God of every area in her life.


6.      Sandy pays due deference to working the 12 Steps, studying the Big Book, getting a sponsor, going to meetings, and getting a “new Director” – which is God.


7.      Her wish for the women who attend her little Rhode Island women’s group is that they be free and permanently cured by Jesus Christ—just as the first three AAs were of their alcoholism. She also wishes her group to be listed with Overeaters Anonymous.


8.      Sandy is a vigorous supporter of Christian recovery, of the belief that only God could have healed her, and that working with others is an emphasis which is not to be forgotten.


9.      Her talk was a classic of what stories should be today—recitals about the problem, seeking God’s help, believing He can and will deliver when sought, that the A.A. 12 Step program has a universal support aim, but that Christian recovery is the one dependable goal.



Gloria Deo

Synopsis of Important Topics at Portalnd Maine International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference - September

Friday, a number of top A.A. history leaders and hands-on workers shared at length on their areas of major interest and substantial expertise: Tim K. of Colorado on Came to Believe Retreats worldwide; Mark G. of Ontario Canada on Akron A.A.'s techniques reaping great success today; Father Bill W. of Texas on the merits of listening to God and Quiet Time; Jim H. of Washington on the 1000 or more films he has produced during the A. A. history research trips on history in Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Cleveland, and Akron; Gary A. of Connecticut--long recovered counselor for AAs, prisoners, and homeless vets--with his excellent historical video presentation of AA history; Robb Hicks, M.D., of Missouri on the neuro science discoveries about universal relapse causes in the brain and methods for ending them; and Chris P. of Toronto on the major victory of Christian CAs in Canada who held the line for freedom of speech  in meetings and reversed an entire area's restrictive prohibitions. Participants asked numerous questions of the speakers.

Saturday, these speakers had a brief opportunity to appear again and summarize their major points made on Friday. Dick B. and Ken B. presented at length five major A.A. history topics--The historical roots of Alcoholics Anonymous, beginning with the Book of Acts and moving forward through 1939; The Neglected Sponsor; Facts that newcomers need to  hear from the beginning; The parallels so often observed as to the resemblance of First Century Christianity and the early Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship principles, practices, and techniques; Application of Old School A.A. in recovery programs today--using conference-approved literature.

Sunday  through Tuesday: A group of researchers went to St. Johnsbury, Vermont--heart of A.A.'s Christian historical roots. There they met with community leaders who expressed great  interest in furthering the historical resources in Dr. Bob's home and village. They met with the head of the new and beginning St. Johnsbury historical museum director and discussed plans to incorporate A.A. Vermont history in the presentations. They heard local community TV station interviews of Dick B. and Ken B. on the objective of A.A. history quests in Vermont and St. Johnsbury. They viewed the Dr. Bob Core Library and church archives at North Congregational Church on Main Street--the church in which Dr. Bob and his family were active. They met with the village historical project leaders to discuss resources and plans. They met with a prosecutor who suggested a tremendously appealing pre-arraignment plan for those arrested for drug and alcohol charges. They met with the Christian 12-Step leader and his wife who manage Covered Bridge--an effective residential Christian treatment program located in the heart of St. Johnsbury.

Prior  to departure, Dick B. returned with Ken to Portland and delivered at a regular A.A. meeting the story of his own continuous  27 years of sobriety and his 24 year quest with his son to locate, define, describe, publish, and encourage  information on early A.A.'s Christian roots, history. and successes.