Our Webinar Programs Target “Training the Trainers"—Those Recovered Leaders Providing “Hands-on” Work with Suffering Alcoholics and Addicts
By Dick B.
© 2014 Anonymous. All rights reserved
Why Short Trainer Webinars Can Help
[Who are the “Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena”—the “trainers”—we so often speak of? What information and training about the roots of A.A. are they seeking today? Do they understand and notice the emphasis today in A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature on God, the Creator, the Maker, the deity specifically described from the Bible and incorporated in each of the four editions of Alcoholics Anonymous, the “basic text” of the Society of Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as “the Big Book”).]
Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena should want a full and accurate body of knowledge coming from the basic ideas early AAs studied in the Bible--basic ideas stemming from their reliance on a vital religious experience enabling them to “find or rediscover God.”
Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena should be ready to recognize the gap between the original Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program and the Christian origins of A.A. from the 1850’s forward. They should understand that carrying the A.A. message today can be much more effective when one embraces A.A.’s roots, its formative days in the summer of 1935 when the first three got sober, and the Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program founded in 1935.
They should also learn how to harmonize the roles played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in the highly-successful, original “old-school” A.A. with today’s 12-Step recovery programs.
They need to remember that the A.A. of today is open to anyone who has a desire to quit drinking. And that today’s A.A. admits those of many faiths (including Christianity!) as well as those who have no belief in anything at all. They need to understand both “the new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps’” Bill W. included in the first edition of the Big Book published in April 1939 [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 162], and “old-school” Akron A.A. founded in June 1935 and summarized by Frank Amos in February 1938 [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 131].
Their approach to recovery should be grounded on love and tolerance, producing love and service. And they should understand that the tolerance that today’s A.A. values so highly should preclude intolerance toward those who espouse “old-school” A.A. and its emphasis on surrender to God by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, obedience to God, spiritual growth through prayer and Bible study, and heavy emphasis on helping others get well.
The A.A. message of today that emphasizes lack of belief in God or belief in anything at all is simply a script written to please those who don’t tolerate, actually fight to keep the full A.A. story (“the rest of the story”) from, and/or don’t like, AAs who want all the facts about their Fellowship today. The AAs who want the facts often don’t have “a dog in the race” when it comes to talk about “spirituality,” “higher powers,” and the lack of need for belief. These same, present-day AAs who want the facts may be able to tolerate nonsense gods and self-made religion. They may even tolerate criticism of the Bible, God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the early A.A. “Christian fellowship” in Akron. But scores of them are more and more offended by remarks in meetings to the effect that they can’t talk about their own relationship with the Creator, their own Bible-based prayers, and their own choice of how and where to worship.
Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena may joyfully report that, when A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob was asked a question about the program, his usual reply was: “What does it say in the Good Book?” [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 144]. Dr. Bob said that he didn’t write the Twelve Steps and had nothing to do with the writing of them. But he said he believed the studies, efforts, and teachings that had been going on in the Good Book since 1935 certainly must have influenced the writing of the Twelve Steps. [The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (P-53), 14].
In fact, there are many ideas and practices concerning God and prayer meetings in “old-school” A.A. that are just as relevant for some in today’s recovery scene as they were when originally reported many years ago in A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature.
No Intent Here to Return A.A.’s Two Million Membership Back to Early A.A.’s Akron A.A.’s Christian Fellowship of the 1930’s
The foregoing is not a plea for the return of A.A. to its Christian roots and practices of 1935. Nor is it a plea for making others in today’s A.A. like phrases in the Big Book and other A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature such as Creator, Maker, Heavenly Father, Master, Christ, “faith without works is dead,” “Thy will be done,” and other actual quotes or paraphrases of biblical ideas.
Rather, it is a factual statement that Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena today (the “trainers”) often want and need to know the whole A.A. story and to impart it to trainees. They need to keep love and tolerance in the fore as the A.A. code this very day. And they need to express, and show newcomers that newcomers have a choice to hear and believe, the truth-- without fear of restraint, prohibition, criticism, or rebuke.
The Trainers, the Newcomers, Troubles, and Unique Needs
Anyone who endeavors to work with newcomer alcoholics and addicts quickly discovers how “sick” such a suffering soul may be. Some may call his deeds and their consequences “sin.” Some may see but not recognize deep depression. For sure, the trainer will hear the sobs, note the terror, witness isolation and loneliness, and even recognize the newcomer’s continuing obsession, craving, and yielding to ever-present temptation.
There is usually confusion, forgetfulness, disorientation, guilt, shame, and even remorse in the mind of the newcomer, Then there is trouble—trouble with police, jail, prison, probation, parole, courts, attorneys, divorce, family battles, custody battles, debts, unemployment, failures to appear, suspension of licenses and insurance, and delinquent taxes and tax returns. The pile seems insurmountable. Relief may be seen by the suffering soul as a lost cause—as a very long tunnel with no end. And mental stamina for the newcomer is often taxed to the hilt.
Sponsors, pastors, lawyers, speakers, physicians, counselors, treatment programs, and other care-giving efforts may not be the specialty or study subject of a trainer. But they inevitably are part of the scene. And if the trainer is to comfort and help the newcomer, the trainer may be able to point him to the directions he must take to find the exit. The trainer may be able to give him the boost or recommendation—whether the scene is in a hospital, a court, a jail, treatment, or in a meeting-- toward a recovered and useful life, and bring him into fellowship with others who have made the grade. In fact, that trainer is very apt, based on his own experience, to see a dozen areas where he can be of service to God and to the newcomer, and thus hold the up the pamphlet, the signpost, the Bible, or the Big Book that maps out the recovery route.
“Old-School” A.A. (Featuring the A.A. “Christian Fellowship” of Akron) Can Be the Trainer’s First-rate Helper in the Process
Training as Individuals, Groups, Meetings, even Classes?
After 25 years of research, travels, interviews, conferences, studies, trips to archives and libraries in many states both near and far, my son Ken and I assembled and even donated thousands of records and manuscripts and books to such excellent repositories as the Wilson House in East Dorset, Vermont; North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury, Vermont (location of the “Dr. Bob Core Library”); the Seiberling Gate Lodge in Akron, Ohio; and “the Shoemaker Room” in Calvary Episcopal Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. But those repositories are not readily accessible or even generally reported to the millions of members who flow through today’s A.A.
Through the years, plenty of conferences have hosted our own presentations of A.A. history and Christian Recovery. But that meant our spending thousands of dollars for travel and accommodations, for meals and lodging, and usually for just a short weekend period. The facts were presented. But not in one geographical location. They were often embodied in books, articles, radio talks, and even phone conversations. Thousands of resources. But often as unknown as the rest of the A.A. story itself which is so essential to full recovery today.
Reading A.A. and other recovery-related literature; watching movies, films, videos and plays that touched on A.A.; and even traveling afar did not produce harmonious, reliable, complete “old-school” A.A. that told members where they came from, or where explanations could be found and documented. Nor where the spiritual ideas came from. Nor how the principles and practices had developed—even though often-conflicting, confusing, acrimonious, incomplete, and highly-subjective writings or talks have begun to abound based on the opinions or guesses of those interested in A.A. and its history. In fact, there may well be more groundless “wisdom of the rooms” being passed around today than carefully researched and reported facts.
My son Ken and I developed two major solutions for helping to fill the information gap and disseminating explanatory resources that would provide answers for those who wanted information about missing parts of the story of A.A.’s history and its ingredients and/or based their recovery journey on the power of God.
One solution meant broadcasting as widely as possible facts about:
1. (a) A.A. itself; (b) First Century Christianity; (c) the Christian upbringing of A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob; (d) the organizations and leaders who contributed some very simple biblical and Christian recovery ideas about abstinence, resisting temptation, turning to God for help, obeying God's will, growing in understanding through prayer and Bible study, and (e) the appropriate message to be conveyed to those who still suffered. Those simple A.A. Christian beginnings were tops in priority. Also how the first three got sober; and the principles and practices of the first recovery program of the Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship.”
The body of accurate, pertinent facts is immense. Yet the vast majority of these facts—particularly those highlighting the roles played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in early A.A.’s astonishing successes—have still not reached or impacted in a significant way either the professional, academic, government, treatment, medical, religious, or the alcoholism and addiction trenches. And those facts have certainly not received much careful study.
And we have summarized for you the large quantity of resources we have gathered. They are presented in my 46 published titles and over 1,700 articles. See www.DickB.com. They are also presented on our new website: www.AAHistoryChristianRecovery.com.
2. The story of what has been missing from today’s 12 Step scene. The limited dissemination of what has been seen or heard from our efforts.
Tens of thousands have visited our websites, our blogs, our newsletters, our radio shows, our conferences, seminars, and our writings. But the complete facts, the full details, the needed tools for recovery, the application of “old-school” A.A. in today's "new version of the program . . . the ‘12 Steps,’” have still not impacted the majority of today’s A.A. members because of a prevailing attitude of censorship and limitation “in the rooms” that has produced an information blockade.
Consequently, Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena (the “trainers”), the trainees, the drunks and addicts still suffering in the streets, and the message carriers have been much limited in outreach.
Only when today’s suffering, afflicted people are taught what A.A. cofounder Bill W.’s friend Ebby learned and passed along to Bill—the message that God had done for Ebby what he could not do for himself—will a joining of “old-school” principles and practices of 1935 and thereafter in Akron seem consistent or applicable with a seemingly-fixed conception of the “inclusiveness” and “broad highway” that A.A. literature has promoted for decades.
Ending the Information Blackout and Putting Together “the Rest of the Story”
There has been a repeated exchange of opinions and speculations as to the importance of A.A.’s roots and successes in the early days. There have been repeated discussions of, and requests for information about, “old-school” A.A. as seen in Akron’s “Christian fellowship” of 1935 and later; A.A.’s demonstrable biblical roots; and the vast body of Oxford Group, Shoemaker, Carl Jung, and Dr. Silkworth facts and records still lying in some assembled, albeit, accurate puddle of viewpoints and objections.
That end result has given rise to our forthcoming webinars. They will gather those Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena (the “trainers”) who really want to learn and pass on to trainees, newcomers, and others “the rest of the story” about A.A. effectiveness. Accurate accounts—when beefed up with where A.A. came from, the varying forms it has taken, and how to report “the rest of the story”—will present to AAs and those wanting God’s help the role of God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in the recovery arena.
We plan to present the long-missing or unreported facts in short webinars. Small chunks of facts about A.A. history will be presented in a form that will be easily understood, easily remembered, easily passed along, and easily retained for other and later use.
That's our objective; and now you know! Let’s keep it thorough. Let’s keep it accurate and truthful. Let’s keep it simple in format. And let’s allow Christian leaders and workers the world over to see and evaluate what they may wish to incorporate in their work with others today—the long record of what A.A. was willing to learn and did learn and apply when it was founded..