A Story of Benefactors, Books, Prisoners, and Thankfulness
Dick B. A.A. History Book Gifts Still Traveling Far – A Great Story
© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved
We began researching, traveling, interviewing, speaking, and publishing my A.A. history books about 1990. About the time of the Seattle Convention, I attended mostly to learn if what I had heard about A.A.’s roots in the Bible could be verified, could help others still suffering, and was a story that needed to be told.
Since that date, we have published some 46 titles and 1700 articles laying out the history of A.A. and the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible have played in recovery, One alcoholic who was a priest began joking about the quest. He said he didn’t favor A.A. But he asserted that an “amateur,” a “hobbyist,” and a “non-professional” (unnamed but quite clearly Dick B.) was trying to prove that every line in the Big Book came from the Bible, He doted on his criticism and wrote five or six articles over 25 years. He coached a lady who organized “aa history buffs,” And he began writing that those who saw the importance of God, the Bible, and reliance on the Creator were trying to “Christianize A.A.” and lacked integrity. His incessant writing was about not-god-ness, “spirituality,” and a higher power that could be “something,” “somebody.” Or anything that dumped God from A.A.’s roots and substituted a mythical spirituality of imperfection as its idol.
Like many an A.A. newcomer, I had devoted myself to active service in A.A., to study of the Steps, the Big Books, the biblical training and teaching of A.A.’s founders, and to hands-on help for the newcomers still suffering. I sponsored more than 100 men, was invited to speak widely across the United States, and began meeting A.A. pioneers like Dr. Bob’s children, Rev. Shoemaker’s wife and daughters, and Henrietta Seiberling’s three children. And as I did, I became aware that many later A.A. newcomers were calling Christian members “Jesus freaks.” They invented a deity they called “higher power,” called that higher power a rock, Santa Claus, a chair, a table, and the Big Dipper.
Soon my reading, research, active contact with real fellow-historians, and real “twelfth steppers” made clear that pioneer A.A. was totally unlike the “new version” of the program that Wilson wrote and advocated in 1939. AAs began asking that I write “the rest of the story.” And they were objecting to the ridicule they received in meetings when they mentioned God, Jesus, the Bible—even prayer.
A doctor-and director of a counselor training institute in Florida whom I had come to know well and with whom I had spoken at various conferences said to me: “Dick, why don’t you write a book which tells us where all these crazy names like “higher power,” “light bulb,” “rock,” and “light bulb” came from. And I did just that – locating all the “scholars” and “counselors” and leaders who were regularly referring to some illusory nonsense god like higher power or rock or “something.” I took all the Wilson nonsense about a “Power,” about “as we understood Him,” and about self-made religion; and I documented the many people and places who had fallen into that trap and wound up with self-made religion, absurd names for “a” god, and nonsense deities like a Coke Bottle. The book was published as God and Alcoholism: Our Growing Opportunity in the 21st Century (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2002)
This story begins there. I had a fine young AA sponsee working with me here on Maui for about six months. He was an excellent researcher and writer. One day he was watching TV and heard Governor Linda Lingle of Hawaii talking about the “ice” problem here. He phoned her and said we had a host of books on recovery, dependence, God, the Bible, the Steps, and the successes of pioneer A.A. He said we wanted to donate them to the Hawaii prison system. She referred him to Lt. Governor “Duke” Aiona. Aiona asked what it would cost. And he was told they were free and that we would send a box for each of the fourteen prisons. Aiona jumped on the offer and wrote every warden directing that they receive and use the books. A lady benefactor donated copies of “God and Alcoholism” to each prison; and Governor Aiona became our friend.
The story ends here. Today, years later. a prisoner in Idaho wrote that he had been reading the book. He felt the meetings in prison were not helpful; but he was sure that he would read and circulate my book if it were sent to him in prison. This we did. And it was one of many which were sent to other wardens and resulted in communications to us from the prisoner or his family.
And thanks be to the executive branch in Hawaii, to the wardens, to the benefactors who paid for the books and shipping, and to the prisoners who have been blessed to have them!