Monday, April 30, 2012

Twelve Steps and Alcoholics Anonymous--AA Step One Study

The Twelve Steps and Alcoholics Anonymous – Step One Study

Dick B.

Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Here’s what AA Cofounder Bill Wilson said about Step One

“Our recovery Step One reads thus: ‘We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.’ This simply means that all of us have to hit bottom and hit hard and lastingly. But we can seldom make this sweeping admission of personal hopelessness until we fully realize that alcoholism is a grievous and often fatal malady of the mind and body—an obsession that condemns us to drink joined to a physical allergy that condemns us to madness or death.

“So, then, how did we first learn that alcoholism is such a fearful sickness as this? Who gave us this priceless piece of information on which the effectiveness of Step One of our program so much depends? Well, it came from my own doctor, ‘the little doctor who loved drunks,’ William Duncan Silkworth. More than twenty-five years ago at Towns Hospital, New York, he told Lois [Bill Wilson’s wife] and me what the disease of alcoholism actually is.” The Language of the Heart: Bill W.’s Grapevine Writings, page 297.

Here’s what Rev. Sam Shoemaker, the man Bill Wilson called a “cofounder of A.A.” said

“The reason so many people in A.A. give thanks that they are alcoholics is that the problem of living, and the failure to meet life successfully, is singled down for them to the problem of alcohol. It is definite and specific. This is exactly what Christianity has taught from the beginning, not only about a problem like alcoholism, but about the whole range of human defeat: that the old clich├ęs like ‘exerting more will power’ are utterly impractical. We are just as powerless by ourselves over temper, or a bad tongue, or a moody disposition, or a habit of lust, or a hard and critical spirit. It is only pride and lack of insight into ourselves that would keep anyone from saying, ‘our lives have become unmanageable.’ This is the first step, not only towards sobriety, but towards self-understanding and the knowledge of life.” Bill Pittman and Dick B., Courage to Change: The Christian Roots of the Twelve-Step Movement, pages 208-09.

In his usual short and pithy language, A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob said

“’The first one will get you.’ According to John R., he kept repeating that.” DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, page 227.

“. . . Dr. Bob advocated that members stay in dry places whenever possible. ‘You don’t ask the Lord not to lead you into temptation, then turn around and walk right into it,’ he said.” DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, page 281.

“Nobody pushed you into that bar. You walked in there, and you ordered that drink, and naturally, you drank it. So don’t tell me you don’t know how you got there.” DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, page 274.

Bill Wilson called Dr. Bob’s Wife “The Mother of A.A.,” and she said

“Surrender is a simple act of will. What do we surrender? Our life. When? At a certain definite moment. How? ‘Oh God, manage me because I cannot manage myself.’” Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939, page 21.

“Paul speaks of a wish toward good, but power to carry it out is lacking. A stronger power than his was needed. God provided that power through Christ, so that we could find a new kind of relationship with God. Christ gives the power, we appropriate it. It is not anything that we do ourselves, but it is the appropriation of a power that comes from God that saves us from sin and sets us free.” Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal, page 22

Early AAs often said

“We admitted that we were licked, that we were powerless over alcohol.” Dick B., Twelve Steps For You: Take the Twelve Steps with the Big Book, A.A. History, and the Good Book at Your Side, page 33; Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, page 160.

One Personal Story in the First Edition of the Big Book quoted the Bible and said:

“One morning, after a sleepless night worrying over what I could do to straighten myself out, I went to my room alone—took my Bible in hand and asked Him, the One Power, that I might  open to a good place to read—and I read ‘For I delight in the law of God after the inward man. But I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me out of the body of this death.’

That was enough for me—I started to understand. Here were the words of Paul, a great teacher. When then if I had slipped? Now, I could understand.

From that day I gave and still give and always will, time every day to read the word of God and let Him do all the caring. Who am I to try to run myself or anyone else?” Alcoholics Anonymous, 1st ed. 1939, page 347. [See Romans 7:22-25].

Gloria Deo

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A.A. and "Recovery" or "Recovered" or "Cured"

While we don't necessarily agree with the opinions in the following article, we thank their author for the research on the  usages of A.A. and "Recovery" or "Recovered" or "Cured." See our titles, Cured: Proven Help for Alcoholics and Addicts and When Early AAs Were Cured and Why.

Each of the first three AAs was a Christian, had studied the Bible, and returned to God for help at the time of their surrender. All three specifically said they had been cured! See Big Book pages 179-81 and 191 as well as my books specified above.

Instead of putting a spin on A.A. and recovery, or A.A. and recovered, or A.A. and cured, we suggest the suffering person pull out a dictionary and see what cured really means. Then turn to the Bible--whence came the basic ideas of A.A.--and see how frequently people were there cured by the power of God.

Enough said. And here's the study of A.A. and recovery:
How often have you been asked by a well-meaning A.A. friend, "Are you recovering or are you recovered"?

This little chip of a document may throw some light upon your grasp of the question and its answer.

We have searched our Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous) for the root recover. We found it 82 times.

Within the context of Alcoholics Anonymous, the synonyms restored or healed are usually an appropriate definition of recover.

For those who seek a cure, the root cure occurs only 4 times in the Big Book, and in no instance does it mean that the fundamental cause or malady is completely taken away—sorry.

Nor does the Big Book allow us to sneak the impression that we are normal folk again, and that we can drink like they do. It is clear that eternal vigilance is the shield. If you consider yourself "recovering" in order to maintain the consciousness that you must never drink, so be it.

If you consider yourself "recovered" because the Big Book says that's the way we get, then so be that, too.

Either way you will be a winner—you won't drink, and you will base your program of recovery on the teachings of the Big Book.

Here are the 82 sentences in which recover appears.

Decide for yourself whether the authors of the Big Book think you are recovering or recovered.

Big Book sentences containing RECOVER

1) The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism. [Big Book, title page]
2) Because this book has became the basic text for our Society and has helped such large numbers of alcoholic men and women to recovery, there exists a sentiment against any radical changes being made in it. [Big Book, page xi, line 9]
3) Therefore, the first portion of this volume, describing the A.A. recovery program, has been left untouched in the course of revisions made for both the second and the third editions. [Big Book, page xi, line 12]
4) WE, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. [Big Book page xiii, line 2]
5) To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. [Big Book, page xiii, line 5]
6) Sixteen years have elapsed between our first printing of this book and the presentation in 1955 of our second edition. In that brief space, Alcoholics Anonymous has mushroomed into nearly 6,000 groups whose membership is far above 150,000 recovered alcoholics. [Big Book page xv, line 9]
7) By the end of 1939 it was estimated that 800 alcoholics were on their way to recovery. [Big Book, page xiii, line 14]
8) He sobered, never to drink again up to the moment of1his death in 1950. This seemed to prove that one alcoholic could affect another as no nonalcoholic could. It also indicated that strenuous work, one alcoholic with another, was vital to permanent recovery [Big Book page xvi, line 32]
9) Hence the two men set to work almost frantically upon alcoholics arriving in the ward of the Akron City Hospital. Their very first case, a desperate one, recovered immediately and became A.A. number three. [Big Book page xvii, line 5]
10) ...public acceptance of A.A. grew by leaps and bounds. For this there were two principal reasons: the large numbers of recoveries, and reunited homes. [Big Book, page xx, line 3]
11) The basic principles of the A.A. program, it appears, hold good for individuals with many different life-styles, just as the program has brought recovery to those of many different nationalities. [Big Book, page xixi, line
12) The Twelve Steps that summarize the program may be called los Doce Pasos in one country, les Douze Etapes in another, but they trace exactly the same path to recovery that was blazed by the earliest members of Alcoholics Anonymous. [Big Book, page xxii, line 21]
13) We of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the reader will be interested in the medical estimate of the plan of recovery described in this book. [Big Book, page xxiii, line 3]
14) In the course of his third treatment he acquired certain ideas concerning a possible means of recovery. [Big Book, page xxiii, line 18]
15) This man and over one hundred others appear to have recovered. [Big Book, page xxiii, line 24]
16) This is repeated over and over, and unless this person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery. [Big Book, page xxvii, line 9]
17) Though the aggregate of recoveries resulting from psychiatric effort is considerable, we physicians must admit we have made little impression upon the problem as a whole. [Big Book, page xxvii, line 25]
18) He had but partially recovered from a gastric hemorrhage and seemed to be a case of pathological mental deterioration. [Big Book, page xxix, line 5]
19) The market would recover, but I wouldn't. [Big Book, page 6, line 17]
20) Nearly all have recovered. [Big Book, page 17, line 3]
21) Many could recover if they had the opportunity we have enjoyed. [Big Book, page 19, line 17]
22) Doubtless you are curious to discover how and why, in the face of expert opinion to the contrary, we have recovered from a hopeless condition of mind and body. [Big Book, page 20, line 7]
23) So he turned to this doctor, whom he admired, and asked him point-blank why he could not recover. [Big Book, page 26, line 19]
24) I have never seen one single case recover, where that state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you. [Big Book, page 27, line 7]
25) Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered. [Big Book, page 29, line 4]
26) We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. [Big Book, page 30, line 13]
27) We know that no real alcoholic ever recovers control. [Big Book, page 30, line 17]
28) In some instances there has been brief recovery, followed always by a still worse relapse. [Big Book, page 31, line 3]
29) We first saw Fred about a year ago in a hospital where he had gone to recover from a bad case of jitters. [Big Book, page 39, line 22]
30) If a mere code of morals or a better philosophy of life were sufficient to overcome alcoholism, many of us would have recovered long ago. [Big Book, page 45, line 1]
31) Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. [Big Book, page 58, line 3]
32) There are those, too, who suffer from great emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest. [Big Book, page 58, line 12]
33) Here are the steps we took, which are suggested as a program of recovery: [Big Book, page 59, line 8]
34) This brings us to the Fifth Step in the program of recovery mentioned in the preceding chapter. [Big Book, page 72, line 12]
35) Small wonder many in the medical profession have a low opinion of alcoholics and their chance for recovery! [Big Book, page 73, line 32]
36) To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends—this is an experience you must not miss. [Big Book, page 89, line 9]
37) Perhaps you are not acquainted with any drinkers who want to recover. [Big Book, page 89, line 6]
38) If he says yes, then his attention should be drawn to you as a person who has recovered. [Big Book, page 90, line 23]
39) You should be described to him as one of a fellowship who, as part of their own recovery, try to help others and who will be glad to talk to him if he cares to see you. [Big Book, page 90, line 25]
40) But insist that if he is severely afflicted, there may be little chance he can recover by himself. [Big Book, page 92, line 20]
41) It is important for him to realize that your attempt to pass this on to him plays a vital part in your own recovery. [Big Book, page 94, line 9]
42) If you leave such a person alone, he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself. [Big Book, page 96, line 8]
43) He often says that if he had continued to work on them, he might have deprived many others, who have since recovered, of their chance. [Big Book, page 96, line 14]
44) He has read this volume and says he is prepared to go through with the Twelve Steps of the program of recovery. [Big Book, page 96, line 18]
45) ...and that he is not trying to impose upon you for money, connections, or shelter. Permit that and you only harm him. You will be making it possible for him to be insincere. You may be aiding in his destruction rather than his recovery. [Big Book, page 97, line 2]
46) Helping others is the foundation stone of your recovery. [Big Book, page
97, line 5]
47) Should they accept and practice spiritual principles, there is a much better chance that the head of the family will recover. [Big Book, page 97, line 30]
48) The man should be sure of his recovery. [Big Book, page 99, line 20]
49 Let no alcoholic say he cannot recover unless he has his family back. [Big Book, page 99, line 30]
50) Remind the prospect that his recovery is not dependent upon people. It is dependent upon his relationship with God. [Big Book, page 99, line 33]
51) But many of the suggestions given here may be adapted to help the person who lives with a woman alcoholic—whether she is still drinking or is recover ing in A.A. [Big Book page 104, line 32]
52) He knows that thousands of men, much like himself, have recovered. [Big Book, page 113, line 8]
53) Wait until repeated stumbling convinces him he must act, for the more you hurry him the longer his recovery may be delayed. [Big Book, page 113, line 13]
54) Yet often such men had spectacular and powerful recoveries. [Big Book, page 113, line 33]
55) The slightest sign of fear or intolerance may lessen your husband's chance of recovery. [Big Book, page 120, line 19]
56) Our women-folk have suggested certain attitudes a wife may take with her husband who is recovering. [Big Book, page 122, line 3]
57) At the beginning of recovery a man will take, as a rule, one of two directions. He may either plunge into a frantic attempt to get on his feet in business, or he may be so enthralled by his new life that he talks or thinks of little else. [Big Book, page 125, line 33]]
58) He is striving to recover fortune and reputation and feels he is doing very well. [Big Book, page 126, line 18]
59) Although financial recovery is on the way for many of us, we found we could not place money first. [Big Book, page 127, line 15] 60) We have recover ed, and have been given the power to help others. [Big Book, page 132, line 30]
61) A body badly burned by alcohol does not often recover overnight nor do twisted thinking and depression vanish in a twinkling. [Big Book, page 133, line 11]
62) We, who have recovered from serious drinking, are miracles of mental health. [Big Book, page 133, line 14]
63) Whether the family goes on a spiritual basis or not, the alcoholic member has to if he would recover. [Big Book, page 135, line 2]
64) He is undoubtedly on the road to recovery. [Big Book, page 139, line 7]
65) After satisfying yourself that your man wants to recover and that he will go to any extreme to do so, you may suggest a definite course of action. [Big Book, page 142, line 31]
66) We all had to place recovery above everything, We all had to place recovery above everything, [Big Book, page 14396, line 21]
67) ...for without recovery we would have lost both home and business. [Big Book, page 143, line 22]
68) Can you have every confidence in his ability to recover? [Big Book, page 143, line 25]
69) Naturally this sort of thing decreased the man's chance of recovery. [Big Book, page 145, line 33]
70) An alcoholic who has recovered, but holds a relatively unimportant job, can talk to a man with a better position. [Big Book, page 146, line 22]
71) If he is, and is still trying to recover, he will tell you about it even if it means the loss of his job. [Big Book, page 146, line 29]
72) He will appreciate knowing you are not bothering your head about him, that you are not suspicious nor are you trying to run his life so he will be shielded from temptation to drink. If he is conscientiously following the program of recovery he can go anywhere your business may call him. [Big Book, page 147, line 4]
73) The right kind of man, the kind who recovers, will not want this sort of thing. He will not impose. [Big Book, page 149, line 29]
74) The age of miracles is still with us. Our own recovery proves that! [Big Book, page 153, line 14]
75) He has helped other men recover, and is a power in the church from which he was long absent. [Big Book, page 158, line 25]
76) Understanding our work, he can do this with an eye to selecting those who are willing and able to recover on a spiritual basis. [Big Book, page 162, line 13]
77) When a few men in this city have found themselves, and have discovered the joy of helping others to face life again, there will be no stopping until everyone in that town has had his opportunity to recover—if he can and will. [Big Book, Page , line ]
78) One: Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity. [Big Book, page 564, line 2]
79) The terms "spiritual experience: and "spiritual awakening" are used many times in this book which, upon careful reading, shows that the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms. [Big Book, page 569, line 4]
80) Though it was not our intention to create such an impression, many acoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming "God consciousness" followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook. [Big Book, page 569, line 14]
81) Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of our experience can recover, provided he does not close his mind to all spiritual concepts. [Big Book, page 570, line 8]
82) Willingness, honesty and open mindedness are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable. [Big Book, page 570, line 13]

A.A. and the Twelve Steps: A.A. History

A.A. and the Twelve Steps

A.A. History

By Dick B.

© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Would you like to learn about A.A. its Twelve Steps? Would you like make A.A. history and the roots of A.A. a part of your study? Would you like to know what A.A. “founder” Rev. Samuel Shoemaker said about A.A. and the Twelve Steps? If you would, then Courage to Change by Bill Pittman and Dick B. is the first place to turn. In fact, Courage to Change: The Christian Roots of the Twelve-Step Movement is one of earliest source books for the study of A.A. history, reporting the role of A.A. founder Bill Wilson and of the man Bill Wilson dubbed a “cofounder” of A.A., as a means for understanding A.A. and the Twelve Steps.

There are other, later, A.A. history books by author Dick B. that add to the A.A. and study groups scene. And we will talk about them in a moment.

In Courage to Change, Bill Pittman and Dick B. crafted a simple, A.A.-founder-related presentation of each of the Twelve Steps—covering the Steps one by one. Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker was Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York. His church was in charge of Calvary Mission where A.A. founder Bill Wilson went to the altar and made his decision for Jesus Christ about December 7, 1934. Shoemaker was the chief American lieutenant of the Oxford Group which laid out the biblical principles and the practical program of action that Bill codified in the A.A. Big Book and its Twelve Steps. So much so, that Bill Wilson asked Rev. Shoemaker to write the Twelve Steps, but Shoemaker declined. However, A.A. “founder” Shoemaker did work with Bill Wilson in Shoemaker’s book-lined study at Calvary House as Bill was developing the language of A.A.’s 12 Steps contained in the book Alcoholics Anonymous published April 10, 1939.

Sam Shoemaker was known as “a Bible-Christian.” His 30-plus books, articles, sermons, and efforts at Calvary Church regularly presented key ideas long before A.A. was founded in June 1935 that eventually made their way into A.A. Shoemaker frequently cited a Bible verse that supported a Step idea. In describing what a Step meant and how to take it, Shoemaker would cite a Bible verse and then use the very language for that Step that one can find in both Shoemaker’s words and in the words of Bill Wilson.

In addition to laying out each Step and the correlative language from the Bible and Shoemaker, Pittman and Dick B. also included two vitally-important and useful articles by Shoemaker which were directly related to A.A. and the Twelve Steps. The first was the “Those Twelve Steps as I Understand Them.” The second was “What the Church Can Learn from Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Dick B. went on to write and publish three additional books about A.A. and the Twelve Steps. Each adds more A.A. history specifics to the ideas that Bill Wilson and Rev. Shoemaker formulated in the actual Steps. The first title is Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A. Pittsburgh ed.: The second title is Dick B., Twelve Steps for You: The third is By the Power of God:

There are several things a reader can do to enhance his understanding of the Twelve Steps, his knowledge about A.A. and the Twelve Steps, and his ability to “take” the Twelve Steps and take a newcomer through each Step. The first is to look at the 12 suggested Steps as they are spelled out in the Big Book. The second is to look for the specific instructions the Big Book provides for taking each Step (sometimes a bit murky or actually missing in details). The third is to read two A.A. General Service Conference-approved books—Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age by Bill Wilson and The Language of the Heart—where Bill Wilson specifically attributes at least 10 of the 12 Steps to Shoemaker. The fourth is to read Bill Pittman and Dick B., Courage to Change. Finally, to read the three Dick B. books cited above and particularly the explanation of Shoemaker’s part in each Step.

Courage to Change is now available in Kindle format from

Good hunting!

Gloria Deo

My A.A. Story - Dick B.

Alcoholics Anonymous History
Dick B.’s Story

“Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."
(Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 26)
Dick B.’s Story
(May 1, 2012)
I was born in Stockton, California, in 1925. I was the only child of two loving parents. My dad was a successful securities salesman. My mother was a concert pianist and studied the Bible every day. My dad had quit smoking before I was born, and neither parent gave evidence of any problem with alcohol. I saw no reason to smoke, and I didn’t. I saw no reason to drink, and I did not drink until I returned from the Army at age 21.
In school, I excelled. Top of my class in high school and valedictorian at my graduation. At the University of California in Berkeley, I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in my Junior Year and was president of the Inter Fraternity Scholastic Honor Society. Before going to Stanford, I received an A.A. degree in Economics with Honorable Mention. At Stanford University, I was elected to the board of Stanford Law Review, on the basis of grades, and became Case Editor of the Stanford Law Review in my second year on the board. There received B.A. in Law and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree
I married a Stanford girl, and we had two sons. Neither she nor the sons were or became alcoholics. And, after a successful ten-year career as an attorney in a San Francisco law firm, I opened my own law office in Corte Madera, California. I had suffered from sleeping problems in law school and ever since. A psychiatrist had been the first of many physicians who enabled me, step by step, to become dependent upon and to abuse high-powered sedatives and such mind-altering palliatives as valium, thorazine, and quide. Worse, I began mixing them with drinks during the night; and soon I was passing out on the kitchen floor each morning with an almost unbearable body discomfort I called the “heeby jeebies”—not a shaking without, but certainly an unbelievable trembling within. None of this had the slightest impact in deterring my continued excessive drinking.
As success in my law practice increased, the time spent practicing law decreased. But not before I had been very active in business, community, service, and religious affairs. I held an elected office; became president of a Merchant Council and Chamber of Commerce; was Secretary and Vice President of a service club, and became president of a community church and of its retirement center. The money poured in. Ten years later, the story was very different. My drinking had accelerated to the point that I was daily in an almost-drunken state by day’s end. I drank at service club meetings, at chamber of commerce functions, at church meetings, at social events, at the business quarters of a regular drinking buddy next door to my office, and finally alone at home in the evenings. My wife wouldn’t even leave the kitchen to join me despite appeals for her company. If someone had told me I had a problem with alcohol and prescription drugs—and they did—my response was that the problem was my wife, my sleep disorders, and occasionally the number of “minor” auto accidents which occurred when I drank “just a little too much.” Friends, colleagues, physicians, my minister, and other erring commentators—including even some bartenders—began to tell me and others that I was drinking too much. But that did not deter me at all. I had reached the point where I didn’t care what they thought.
I quit drinking for almost two years, however, when my doctor suggested I go on the Pritikin Diet to lose a considerable amount of weight and also to eliminate liquor “for a while.” In this endeavor, I also excelled, losing some 80 pounds, swimming daily, drinking soda water, and following the Pritikin formula. Then I left my wife—cold turkey. The kids had graduated from college and made new lives, and the joy in my marriage had long since left. Or so I thought.
Armed with this new-found fighting trim, I must have believed that I deserved to renew drinking. But alcohol and drugs had taken a toll I did not recognize. They had removed inhibitions and restraints that had previously been solid moral standards in my life. I began engaging in unethical and irresponsible behavior with a “let them eat cake” attitude. And then I got “caught.” A resentful relative of a client called the newspapers and the State Bar. My name appeared repeatedly in the news, along with my picture. I became severely depressed; my clients vanished; and I drank with a vengeance I hadn’t imagined possible. Nothing changed. In fact, everything seemed to get increasingly worse and unbearable—the depression, the drinking, the sleeping pills, the troubles, and the terror. Finally, I consulted a psychiatrist who recommended different sleeping pills and anti-depressants. But I couldn’t wait. I went home, poured a four-ounce glass of cheap gin, and went into an entire week’s blackout—a period I can’t recall or describe even these 26 years later. And that incident, plus a return to the psychiatrist, and the suggestion of my ex-wife, brought me to the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous two days sober and ready to conquer the world without booze. But nobody in A.A. had told me about detoxing, seizures, brain-damaged thinking, and bodily withdrawal misery. Nor was there any idea of the financial and legal wreckage I had created.
What did happen was a series of events that has left me with a continuing appreciation of the unique value of Alcoholics Anonymous to new and still-suffering alcoholics. At early meetings, I had feared the opinions of those who had seen my picture in the newspapers, who might discover some of the things I had done, and who were not as crazy as I was becoming. But those items were definitely unimportant to the mass of drunks I met. At every meeting I attended, I was hugged, welcomed, given phone numbers to call, invited to join other alcoholics after the meetings, given meeting schedules for later meetings, told to “stick with the winners” and “keep coming back” because “it works.” I used the phone numbers repeatedly, followed other recovered alcoholics around, and went to meetings without ceasing. I began to participate in A.A. service where given the opportunity. What these things did for me inspired me to go and do likewise. And I still do. I never see a newcomer at a meeting or a conference or even in a personal encounter without a focus on that person’s story and needs and a possible opportunity to help.
Within a mere nine days of attaining sobriety, however, things changed. I had three grand-mal seizures, the first at an A.A. meeting, the second in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, and the third in the Emergency Room. And these, in turn, took me to a 28-day treatment program—in all cases, with no significant mention of the importance of turning to God for help. Hence I didn’t. I put abstinence and A.A. first—just as my fellowship contactst seemed to be urging.
In no time at all, I faced the wreckage of the past—sober, but stuck as well with a relentless District Attorney, State Bar investigations, a series of ponderous tax audits and levies, divorce outcroppings, loss of my Law License, lack of means of support other than that remaining from my own earlier investments, and a terror and depression and despair that far exceeded that in my drinking period. Without the “supportive” help of booze or sleeping pills, I went sleepless for months and months. I felt like a zombie. I shook for five years. They called me “Shaky Dick.” And my mind was seemingly only a shadow of its former self—producing mostly forgetfulness, confusion, bewilderment, incessant and irrelevant chatter, and tangential talk patterns. Added to that was the unpleasant fact that I was wetting my pants regularly in A.A. meetings.
By the end of the second month of my sobriety—the period just after I was discharged from the treatment program—I couldn’t handle any of these problems any more; so I checked into a VA psychiatric ward in San Francisco and there remained for two months. I wasn’t as looney as some of the patients, but I was twice as jittery, anxious, and talkative as most of them. I was diagnosed as having some form of “hypomania.” I now believe it was “fear” mania!
But I had definitely caught the A.A. bug. I didn’t drink. I didn’t take sleeping pills. I suffered miserably from fear and insomnia. I went to A.A. meetings devotedly, called my sponsor regularly, and followed the crowd. Very importantly, I was made to feel wanted. I sought A.A. companionship in meetings and retreats and conferences and studies. I chased newcomers and tried to help them—even dragging alcoholics from the VA psych ward with me to A.A. meetings all over the San Francisco Area. But terror and despair still plagued me at every turn.
I faced prison, financial ruin, a lost reputation, unbearable physical consequences of delayed withdrawal, incredible mental incapacity, insomnia, depression, uncontrolled anxiety, loneliness, and a seemingly-hopeless state of fear. I briefly wanted to take my life—in sobriety! Neither abstinence nor A.A. nor the psych ward was cutting it for me.
But two factors dramatically changed both the circumstances and my entire life at about eight months of sobriety. These came into play while I was in the psychiatric ward in San Francisco. One of my sons kept insisting that I needed to study the Bible and get back into what I had learned about the availability of help from my Heavenly Father and the accomplishments of His son Jesus Christ. That son sent me biblical tapes to which I began listening. And then, almost every day, an elderly friend from our Bible fellowship kept calling me long distance and listening to me wail. Finally, he asked why I didn’t stop trying to program my life and instead let God guide it. He cited the story of Peter’s walking on the water. When Peter believed, said this man, he walked. When he became afraid, he sank. And it took Jesus to pull him out of the water. I quickly saw that I had a choice—to learn and believe what God had to offer, or to yield my thinking to the seeming disasters the world was offering. To seek what God had to offer and travel where He sent me. I chose God’s help and healing. I believed. Peace came. And without a doubt, I can say that my almost-instantaneous response to these events was to believe that, no matter what might lie ahead, God had the answers to life; and that I had better seek Him first.
On weekend passes from the psych ward, I began attending my elderly friend’s Bible fellowship. I stuck with A.A., and I stuck with the Bible fellowship also. And I got well. Quickly! Nurses noticed it. Family members noticed it. And even my attorney announced that I was ready to bite the bullet—facing whatever the courts, the State Bar, and the newspapers had to throw at me.
The result? I was buttressed with solid sobriety, the A.A. program, and the Word of God. More important, with the help of my Heavenly Father. I had a Big Book and a Bible. And my sponsor jokingly observed: Dick is armed, but not dangerous. The fear vanished. I faced and dealt with court hearings, imprisonment, financial problems, divorce problems, tax problems, and reputation problems. I was released from the VA hospital and began A.A. life in earnest. I studied and learned A.A.’s Big Book. I studied, practiced, “took,” and learned how to take others through, the Twelve Steps. I sponsored newcomers. I served the Fellowship as a speaker, chairperson, secretary, treasurer, General Service Representative, greeter, chair carrier, and floor sweeper. I went to A.A. meetings, gatherings, retreats, conferences, birthday parties, dances, and campouts.
It was then time—long overdue-- to grow in my relationship with, understanding of, and fellowship with my Heavenly Father, and to change my emphasis to serving and glorifying Him. But I hadn’t fully grasped the fact.
Nonetheless, I began bringing newcomers to Christ, and into our Bible fellowship, while not in any way diminishing their participation in and service to Alcoholics Anonymous. Today some of these newcomers are more than 24 years sober, are married, have a family and a job, and are blessed with strong believing. I thanked God daily for what He had done for me. I asked God daily for His directions as to how to serve Him. I studied the Bible daily and read Bible-based literature daily. I prayed to God daily for myself and others. I affirmed the clear evidence that God could and would and did rescue me.
I began fellowshipping with like-minded believers—many of whom had been completely cured of alcoholism and addiction without even having heard of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. But I stuck to them, and to A.A., and to helping others in A.A. I still do.
I had done all things without any knowledge of the fact that my behavior much resembled the behavior of the pioneers in A.A. and of those in numerous movements that came into existence before A.A. And what had my “predecessors” done?
Here is how I found out. I had been sober and very active in A.A. for about four years. One night, a young man named John—now dead of alcoholism—walked up to me in a Step Study meeting in San Rafael, California, and asked if I knew that A.A. had come from the Bible. John was in the Bible fellowship I was involved with and knew of my interest in Scripture. I responded that I had been to hundreds and hundreds of meetings; that I had been to many conferences; but that I had never heard such a thing. John suggested that I read the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book, DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980). John said it would provide details about the biblical roots of our A.A. Fellowship. He pointed out that the Book of James had been so popular in early A.A. that members had wanted to call their Society, “the James Club.” I jumped at the suggestion and began reading as much A.A. historical material as I could find. There certainly was actually relatively little to find. Yet, sure enough, the Bible was mentioned frequently. Also the James Club account. Also Dr. Bob’s statements that the basic ideas of A.A. had come from the pioneers’ study of the Bible; that the old-timers believed the answers to their problems were in the Bible; and that the Book of James, Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13 were considered absolutely essential to the program’s success. [See the A.A. General Service Conference-approved pamphlet, The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches; Their Last Major Talks (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975), 11-14, 18-20.] I was later to learn that most of the material in Dr. Bob’s talk was incorporated into the DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers book I had previously read.
And success there had been for sure. The A.A. basic text, Alcoholics Anonymous (also known as the Big Book), stated that, of those alcoholics who really tried, 50% got sober and remained that way; and 25% sobered up after some relapses. [See Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed. (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001), xx.] It also said of the A.A. members whose stories were included in the book: “Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language and from his own point of view the way he established his relationship with God” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 29). DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers pointed out on page 261: “Records in Cleveland show that 93 percent of those who came to us never had a drink again.” And the early Cleveland A.A. fellowship used the same principles that had been used successfully in Akron, together with the Big Book (first published in 1939), the Twelve Steps, and the “Four Absolutes” of the Oxford Group (absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love) as moral standards for testing behavior.
Moreover, the principles and practices of the early Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship had caused many an objective observer—particularly those among the supportive Rockefeller people—to observe that early A.A. was “First Century Christianity” at work. The pioneers in Akron were engaged in daily practices the Apostles carried on in the Book of Acts. And you just never found a speaker or a sponsor talking about that.
Then came a further turning point—an event which was to change my life pursuits, my interests, and my service to the Creator and His son Jesus Christ. I had never heard anything significant about God, or Jesus Christ, or the Bible in the many A.A. fellowship meetings I had attended. Yet A.A.’s own General Service Conference-approved literature contained much to suggest there was more to the picture than most knew. For example, I had read that early AAs in Akron had called themselves a Christian fellowship. (See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 118.) I had read that they stressed Bible study and old-fashioned prayer meetings. I had read that Christian literature was distributed to them by Dr. Bob for reading and study. And I had read that Dr. Bob always insisted that newcomers in the hospital profess a belief in God and surrender their lives to Christ. [See Dick B., The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, 2d ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc. 1998), 177-78, 181-86, 187, 188-215. And see also DR. BOB, 144, for the specifics of what I later found.]
I still knew very, very little about what the A.A. pioneers actually did, where they got their ideas, and why their program produced such a high rate of success.
In almost every meeting I attended, there was incessant chatter about some “higher power.” One man insisted his “higher power” was Ralph. Another insisted that “it” was a rock. Another insisted that “it” was a chair. And still another insisted that “it” was the Big Dipper. These remarks were made regularly in meetings I attended in Marin County, California. There was also bizarre talk about “spirituality” that was foreign to my ears. Where, I thought, did such nonsense come from? To make matters worse, my own friend and sponsor began telling me that people who read the Bible got drunk. His sponsor convened a meeting where he and my own sponsor “warned” me that I was getting ready to drink because I had brought my sponsees to a Bible fellowship. But there was still more to be experienced and endured.
I myself have never been the slightest bit concerned about the fact that many of my A.A. friends are Roman Catholics and Jews and that they talk about their faith in meetings. But I began picking up at A.A. meetings some A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature which seemed to endorse, and even encourage, unbelief—the idea that you didn’t need to believe in anything at all to get well. The following are but a few of many examples:
“A.A. is not a religious society, since it requires no definite religious belief as a condition of membership. . . . Included in its membership are Catholics, Protestants, Jews, members of other religious bodies, agnostics, and atheists. . . . A.A. suggests that to achieve and maintain sobriety, alcoholics need to accept and depend upon another Power recognized as greater than themselves. Some alcoholics choose to consider the A.A. group itself as the power greater than themselves; for many others, this power is God—as they individually understand Him; still others rely upon entirely different concepts of a Higher Power” [44 Questions, 19].
“The majority of A.A. members believe that we have found the solution to our drinking problem not through individual willpower, but through a power greater than ourselves. However, everyone defines this power as he or she wishes. Many people call it God, others think it is the A.A. group, still others don’t believe in it at all. There is room in A.A. for people of all shades of belief and nonbelief” [A Newcomer Asks . . .].
“While some members prefer to call this Power ‘God,’ we were told that this was purely a matter of personal interpretation; we could conceive of the Power in any terms we thought fit” [This is AA: An Introduction to the A.A. Recovery Program, 15].
“Many people in A.A. talk about ‘God’ or a ‘Higher Power,’ but A.A. is not connected with any religion. A.A. is a spiritual program, not a religious one. Faith is a personal thing and it is not necessary to believe in God or in any form of religion to be a member of A.A. . . . Atheists, agnostics, and believers of all religions have a place in A.A.—provided they wish to stay away from the first drink.” [AA and the Gay/Lesbian Alcoholic, 16].
The foregoing statements were not consistent with A.A.’s Big Book text as I read it. A.A.’s Steps said it was about “coming to believe.” (See Step Two.) The original language of that Step—before it was changed dramatically in 1939—said: “Came to believe that God could restore us to sanity.” And the many A.A. statements quoted above were not consistent with Bill Wilson’s message that the Lord had cured him of his terrible disease (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191). Neither were they consistent with Dr. Bob’s statement that he felt sorry for the atheist and the agnostic because “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 181]. Nor were they consistent with Dr. Bob’s insistence that newcomers profess a belief in God before they were released from Akron City Hospital (DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 144). Granted, such statements are not today considered mandatory, any more than opening the parachute is when you jump out of an airplane. But they represented to me the wisdom of the winners—our founders.
I didn’t have a problem with the diversity and varieties of believers and unbelievers I met in the rooms of A.A. But I did have a big problem with the ever-growing talk about idols (I call them nonsense higher powers)—called light bulbs, door knobs, chairs, trees, radiators, Big Dippers, and even Santa Claus/
I also had a big problem with the ever-increasing vocalizing by a few “bleeding deacons” (as some call them) who said that you could not mention the Bible or God in a meeting; that the Bible and other religious literature were not “Conference-approved” and therefore could not be brought to a meeting; or that it was a violation of the Twelve Traditions of A.A. for a person to share his or her own experience about how he or she established his or her relationship with God. And the “official,” “A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature” quoted above, combined with the vociferous and seemingly-irrepressible outbursts of some at meetings, seemed to me to be at great variance with the program I entered, the program I had learned from the Big Book, and the encouragement I had received from A.A. members and meetings when I needed it most—even when I talked much about looking to God for help in my life.
I wondered how one could reject God in a program which spoke so much about God. Stewart C., has shown that the word “God”—when considered together with synonyms and pronouns referring to Him--can be found more than 400 times in A.A.’s Big Book. [Stewart C., A Reference Guide to the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous (Seattle, WA: Recovery Press, 1986), 115-16)]. So I resolved to go to the Seattle International Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1990 in order to try to find out what role, if any, the Bible had really played in the founding, development, program, and successes of Alcoholics Anonymous. There I met Frank Mauser, the General Service Archivist from New York. But I was able to discover very little about the role of the Bible in early A.A. And upon my return, my older son and I had a discussion about launching a real effort to discover what role, if any, God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible had played in the tremendous successes of early A.A.
With encouragement from Frank Mauser, Dr. Bob’s children (Sue Smith Windows and Robert R. Smith), Ray G. (archivist at Dr. Bob’s Home in Akron), and later Ozzie and Bonnie L. (the managers of the Wilson House where Bill Wilson was born in East Dorset, Vermont)—I devoted the next 23 years to learning details about A.A.’s use of the Bible. I investigated what its early program really did; where the reliance of members on God really fit in; what proof there was of the early success rates; and what institutions, principles, practices, and Bible studies had impacted on early A.A., on the Big Book and Twelve Steps, and ultimately on the literature of today. I’ll let those who would like to know more about what I have discovered so far learn the details from my 44 published titles on the subject. (See But, to say the least, there is far more to A.A., its roots, its successes, and its early reliance on the Creator for healing and help than virtually anyone involved in present-day treatment, therapy, professional groups, 12-Step groups, or religious fellowships knows.
Today I believe there is “A New Way Out” of the wilderness. “A New Way Out” for children of the living Creator who are awash and adrift in the sea of gossip, speculation, opinion, and unbelief that exists in most of today’s recovery scene. What wilderness? It is a wilderness that A.A. “cofounder” Rev. Sam Shoemaker called “self-made religion” and “absurd names for God.” A wilderness of outright idolatrous thinking and amateur psychological introspection. Let me illustrate “A New Way Out” with my own experiences.
The alcoholic: The “wilderness” I am speaking about concerns the alcoholic’s own plight—not the nature or shortcomings of A.A., of N.A., or of other 12-Step or recovery-oriented fellowships. As I have told above, I had become a full-fledged drunk and sleeping pill addict by the time of my entry into A.A. Smitten by a seemingly-uncontrollable intention to drink too much regardless of the consequences. Driven by a desire to return to the mire again and again, despite the known and predictable self-destructive disasters. Bill Wilson wrote: “Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., xiii]. I was!
The Bible called the sickness a sin. It clearly commanded “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; . . .” (Ephesians 5:18a, KJV). But I did just that! Later, in sobriety, I came to see what I had actually been doing. I drank. I got drunk. I produced disaster. Yet I returned to that same pattern over and over—always seeing the disasters get worse. The Book of James—a favorite in early A.A.—defined the progression from temptation to death. Many have called this “lunacy.” Perhaps the Apostle Peter best described the behavior when he spoke of the proverb, “The dog is returned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:21, KJV). But I got tired of hearing in A.A. that I was “powerless” over alcohol, even over “people, places, and things.” Such doleful “acceptance” didn’t sit right with what I knew was my own need for responsibility, control, and accountability. In fact, however, Dr. Bob’s wife Anne made plain in her journal that a stronger power than mine was needed achieve victory. (See Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939; And when--as a child of the one, true, living God--I utilized that power (the power of Almighty God) and did what God commanded in the Bible, I neither drank again, nor wanted to.
There remained, however, a very real and destructive condition and illness still to be dealt with—brain damage, withdrawal, fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, despair, legal troubles, imprisonment, hospitalization, confusion, forgetfulness, sleeplessness, bewilderment. I didn’t want to drink. I just wanted it all to go away—immediately! I just wanted out. But I found for myself that God provided the power, the love, the strength, the healing, the forgiveness, the guidance, and the rescue. I could and did face the multiple problems believing the truths in biblical promises like these:
I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psa 32:8, KJV)
I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. (Psa 34:4, KJV)
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. (Psa 46:1, KJV)
In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. (Psa 56:11, KJV)
In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion. (Psa 71:2, KJV)
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies. (Psa 103:2-4, KJV)
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Pro 3:5-6, KJV)
The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.” (Pro 29:25, KJV)
To me, these were not simply quaint or catchy sayings. Nor were they what new A.A. detractors are now calling them—defunct Protestant fundamentalism. No! They were promises of God. And, true to His promises, God produced the results when I put the words in my mind and consistently repeated and believed them. That, I believe, is what the Bible assures us.
There were more pertinent verses. They were specifically addressed to the born-again believer, and based on what Jesus Christ had come to do and make available. I learned, believed, and saw that his work and sacrifice had made me free. I had to claim that freedom. Some of the Bible verses that helped me include the following:
For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God: Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. (Rom 3:23-25, KJV)
There is therefore no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom 8:1, KJV)
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . . Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Rom 8:35, 37, KJV)
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (Rom 10:9, KJV)
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. (Rom 12:2, KJV)
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new. (2 Cor 5:17, KJV)
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you: that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. (2 Cor 9:8, KJV)
Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor 10:5, KJV)
Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of Christ in them that are saved, and in them that perish. (2 Cor 2:14, KJV)
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. (Eph 3:20, KJV)
Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son. (Col 1:3, KJV)
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Tim 1:7, KJV)
My experience, then, was that—by reading these and many other verses over and over and over; by putting them in my mind as frequently as possible and whenever negative claims were made over me; and by believing them—my release, my deliverance, and the peace of God came into my life. The accomplishments of God’s own son had delivered me from the wilderness, not merely of being an alcoholic (sick and sinful with excess), but from the status of a beaten-down child filled with guilt, shame, anxiety, despair, fear, bodily maladies, and a sense of hopelessness. And I know that, as one of God’s kids, I still am and can be rescued.
When sober and instructed, the choice is mine. And I try to tell others that--through becoming a child of God, through learning the truth about Him and His will, and through walking in fellowship with Him and His son Jesus Christ--they too can be delivered from their drinking problem and from much, much more as well. That is my testimony.
The message: There is a simple message that I carry today to those willing to listen and who want my help. It is this: God wants all men to be saved and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4). We can be saved—born again of the Spirit of God—by confessing Jesus as Lord and believing that God raised Jesus from the dead (Rom 10:9; John 3:1-16). When God’s kids then seek Him out by studying His Word and communicating with Him, they can walk from darkness to light as and when they walk in fellowship with Him and His son, and keep His word (1 John 1:1-10; 2:1-6).
Still “A New Way Out” today: For centuries, believers have pointed to the way out and rescue for those who wanted help. These laboring believers have included workers in the YMCA, in Christian Endeavor Society, in the Salvation Army, in Gospel Rescue Missions, and in revivals. Even workers in the Oxford Group with which Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob were briefly associated. Whatever their particular technique, their message was salvation and a new life in Christ. There was the additional stipulation that the message be carried to others. The founder of the YMCA took young men off the streets of London and into his basement, brought them to Christ, and held Bible studies—rescuing them from destruction. Evangelists in and out of the YMCA followed suit. Christian Endeavor Societies formed young people’s groups in the churches themselves and taught them confession of Christ, Bible study, prayer, Quiet Hour, obedience, and the principles of love and service. Salvation Army workers dove into the slums of London and brought the wretched to Christ and into God’s Army to help others. Gospel Rescue Missions furnished food, shelter, and brotherhood, but their unswerving objective was to bring men to the altar, a decision for Christ, and a changed Christian life. So too the old-time revivals and tent meetings. And so too the Oxford Group people who were focused on changing lives through surrender to God. This was the way alcoholics were helped in the early days of A.A. as well.
Once informed of God’s way, suffering souls flocked to the rescue, confessed belief in God, accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, fellowshipped together, and grew through Bible study, prayer meetings, and Quiet Times. Love and service to others was the only demand made of them.
Today, when someone in an A.A. meeting tells a person, as they did me, that people get drunk if they read the Bible, I feel disappointed that they know so little about the real Way out. When someone tells a person in A.A. or some recovery fellowship that they can’t mention or study the Bible in A.A., I feel equally disappointed that hurting souls may soon be deprived of what the early solution was. When someone says that the Bible and religious literature cannot be read because they are not “Conference-approved,” I wonder how many newcomers are being driven away from a relationship with and reliance upon God. When someone talks of some nonsense god that can be a tree, a radiator, a light bulb, or a group, I think of the clear-cut descriptive language in Psalm 115 about the impotence of false gods. And I regret that a newcomer is hearing that he can pray to a light bulb and get well. I’ve yet to see that happen.
For me, it is about telling my story, reporting the facts about the role our Creator has played in the YMCA, in Christian Endeavor, in the Salvation Army, in Gospel Rescue Missions, in the Oxford Group, and in the early Akron A.A.’s Christian Fellowship. There are other ways, of course. But the one with unquestioned success is the Way, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). With increasing fervor, I try to tell people how God’s liberation, power, and guidance worked in my life, how it worked in the lives of others, and what an appealing alternative it is to the way of idolatry, apathy, acceptance, and institutionalized meeting attendance. I point out that eternal life and the abundant life do not lie in meeting attendance. See John 3:16 and John 10:10. They spring from a relationship with God and His son Jesus Christ.
An answer today: I believe there is “A New Way Out”—a way out of the wretchedness of alcoholism and addiction, out of the bondage of worldly wisdom and opinion and condemnation, out of the prisons of the mind that come from depression, fear, physical illness, anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, and resentment. There is “A New Way Out” for people—not just for people attending Alcoholics Anonymous and 12-Step fellowships—but for those who are homeless, imprisoned, physically disabled, mentally impaired, at risk, cowering in fear and self-loathing, drinking and drugging to excess, and encountering major barriers and defeat at every turn. Those people should not be herded into “centers for self-centeredness” where they keep confessing how sick and hurting they are. “A New Way Out” is not a way out of A.A., or 12 Step fellowships, or therapy, or meetings, or groups, or churches, or psychiatric wards. It starts with a decision by an individual to stop his or her self-destructive behavior(s).
The path starts with a determination to “stay stopped” permanently, to change, to abstain. It starts with a discipline that guarantees change for those who go to any length to bring it about. For those in deep holes, as I was, it may take time. But the way out starts by looking up from the hole--not out or down. The way out begins by believing that “with God nothing shall be impossible” when God gives the revelation. (See Luke 1:37.) The way out begins by recognizing that God wants children and enables people to become His children by acknowledging what Jesus Christ did to make that new birth possible. (See 1 Peter 1:23.) The way out—the path to deliverance and freedom—continues when a child of God sets his or her mind, thoughts, and outpouring words on what God reveals—not on what the world says. (See 1 Corinthians 2:1-16.) The way out—the path assuring deliverance and freedom—is followed by walking in the light of God’s Word and the revelation He chooses to give His family members. The way out is assured by obeying God, talking with Him, and staying in fellowship with Him, His son Jesus Christ, and other believers. And that way out is just as available today as it was when Peter urged, after the miracle at Pentecost:
. . . Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. (Acts 2:38-39)
This, and the messages from other messengers in the Book of Acts, changed the lives of millions and millions of those who believed throughout the following centuries.
I continue to find it a joy and a privilege to introduce myself to a newcomer, wherever he or she may be. Then—after gaining his confidence--to ask if that person would like to become a child of God. I invite the new person simply to confess with his or her mouth that Jesus is Lord and to believe in his or her heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. (See Romans 10:9.) And I’m seldom turned down. Then, with them, as it did with me, the healing and growth can begin. Freedom is certain to follow for those who walk in fellowship with our Heavenly Father. It did for me. That’s my story.,,, 808 874 4876

Gloria Deo

Friday, April 27, 2012

Orange County CA Christian Recovery Conference Draws Near

The International Christian Recovery Coalition


The First 2012 North American Conference

May 18-19, 2012

His Place Church, 14061 Chestnut St., Westminster, CA 92683

Conference Theme:

“Stick with the Winners”

“Living First Century Christianity in Recovery Today;

Rediscovering ‘Old-School’ A.A. in Conference-Approved Literature”

Conference Schedule

Session One: Friday, May 18, 2012

Doors Open:                                                                            6:00 PM

Registration, Music, Displays, Networking                             6:00 to 7:00 PM

Conference Start                                                            7:00 to 7:10 PM


Prayer:                           Rev. Ken B.

Introduction:                  Pastor Joe Furey

Conference Overview:    Rev. Ken B.

Focus One:                                                                    7:10 to 7:55 PM

Dick B., Executive Director of the International Christian Recovery Coalition and author of more than 40 titles on A.A. history, A.A.’s Christian predecessors, and applying early A.A. principles in modern Christian Recovery efforts—together with his son and coauthor, Ken B.--will present key passages from A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature and other authoritative resources showing that the original Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship”—from the summer of 1935 until at least April 10, 1939, when the Big Book was published—was amazingly successful in helping “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable” alcoholics recover primarily because the group, in many ways, was “living” the Book of Acts.

Break:         Visit Display Tables & and Network                   7:55 to 8:10 PM

Focus Two:                                                                    8:10 to 8:55 PM

Dick B. and Ken B., along with volunteer leaders, will elaborate on points made during Part One; and Dick B. and Ken B. will receive and respond to godly questions and suggestions from the audience through the use of an “Ask-It” basket. This is a real opportunity for leaders to share how they are implementing their Christian Recovery Movement programs right now!

[Depending on the size of the audience attending, we may well use the same technique recently employed in Northern California at the workshops, question and answer, and round-table participation by leaders and others attending]

Wrap-Up and Closing Prayer:          Rev. Ken B.                             8:55 to 9:00 PM

Session Two: Saturday, May 19, 2012

Doors Open:                                                                            9:00 AM

Final Registration, Music, Displays, Networking          9:00 AM to 9:30 AM

Conference Start                                                            9:30 AM to 10:00 AM


Prayer:                                     Rev. Ken B.

Introduction by Host Church:           Pastor Joe Furey

Conference Overview:             Rev. Ken B.

Purposes of the Conference: To enable participants: (1) to hear speakers on how to apply “old-school” A.A. principles and practices today; (2) to get acquainted with Conference-approved literature, “old-school” resources, and a training plan; (3) to partake in refreshments and lunch; (4) to share with a panel of speakers by presenting godly “Ask-It” basket questions and suggestions; and (5) to hear the comments of Christian leaders and workers who are “in the trenches” of Christian Recovery efforts today.

First Speaker:       (To Be Announced)

                                                                                                10:00 to 10:50 AM

Break:                  View displays and networking                             10:50 to 11:10 PM

Second Speaker:   Russell Spatz, attorney,

Alive Again, Miami, Florida                       11:10 to noon

Lunch:        (Eat on premises), view displays, network          Noon to 1:00 PM

Third Speakers:    Dick B. & Ken B.                                       1:00 to 2:10 PM


International Christian Recovery Coalition plan for training

meetings, a Guide, and Videos presenting the application of

“old-school” A.A. and First Century Christianity principles and

practices in modern Christian Recovery efforts

Break:                  View displays and network                        2:10 to 2:30 PM

Fourth Speaker:   Gary Martin, Christian Recovery efforts

at Mariners Church, Irvine, California                 2:30 to 3:05 PM

                             Roger McDiarmid, Christian Recovery

efforts in Southern California                     3:05 to 3:40 PM

Break:                   View displays and network                        3:40 to 4:00 PM

Panel Discussion:                                                                    4:00 to 5:15 PM

                             Dick B., Ken B., Russell Spatz,

Gary Martin, Roger McDiarmid

                             Godly audience questions and comments via “Ask-It” basket

Break:                   View displays and network:                       5:15 to 5:30 PM

Final Speakers:    Dick B. and Ken B.                                    5:30 to 5:55 PM

International Christian Recovery Coalition Plans,

Challenges, and Announcements

Closing Prayer:    Rev. Ken B.                                                          5:55 to 6:00 PM

Conference Registration:                 $25.00 donation

To register for the conference, or for more information, please contact: 


Ken B.:       Email:

Cell:     (808) 276-4945

Important Additional Announcements

·        Throughout the Conference Trip period from May 14 to May 21, Dick B. and Ken B. will be in Orange County, California. They will be staying at a private home for some of the period and at the Marriott Costa Mesa Hotel.

·        They highly value personal meetings, contacts, and discussions with individuals and groups throughout the May 14 to 21 period. These may include: (1) Meetings and or meals with individual leaders and others at places we will be staying. (2) Visiting churches, groups, fellowships, and offices in the area. (3) Conducting review of, and displaying the new “Stick with the Winners” Guide, accompanying exhibits, and accompanying film clips – to stimulate organization and establishment of Classes and/or special study meetings for AAs, NAs, Al-anons, and other support or 12 Step fellowships, and Christian recovery-related programs, fellowships, meetings, classes, and pastoral and chaplain settings.

·         Please contact us either before or during the May 14-21 period to arrange to arrange a personal meeting. Please contact Dick B. by email at until May 12, or Ken B. by email at or on his cell phone at (808) 276-4945 before or during May 14-21.

Sponsors of These Meetings and Conferences

·       Hazelden: Treating Addiction, Transforming Lives, Center City, MN

·       Episcopal Diocese of Texas Recovery Committee, Rev. Bill Wigmore, Chair, Austin, TX

·       Rock Recovery Ministries, ABC Sober Living, Soledad House, David Powers, San Diego, CA

·       New Hope Ministry, Golden Hills Community Church, Brentwood, CA: Matt Pierce, Recovery Pastor; David Sadler Group Leader

·       Good Book-Big Book Group, Cornerstone Fellowship—Livermore Campus, CA

·       Good Book Publishing Company, Maui, HI

·       His Place Church, Joe Furey, Pastor, Westminster, CA

·       Wally Lowe, Businessman, Christian Recovery Resource Center, Vero Beach, FL

·       Richard Skolnik, Addiction Counselor Assistant, Christian Recovery Resource Center, NY

·       Bob J., Believer, Philanthropist, Maui, HI

·       Rick S., Believer, Businessman, San Jose, CA

·       Rob W., Entrepreneur, UT

·       Robert Turner, M.D., Medical University of South Carolina

·       Sean L., Recovered believer, Seattle, WA

·       Dale Marsh, Serenity Pastor, Oroville Church of the Nazarene; International Christian Recovery Coalition Speakers Bureau, Oroville, CA

·       Roger McDiarmid, Salesman, International Christian Recovery Coalition Speakers Bureau, Huntington Beach, CA

·       Jeff and Debra Jay, Love First: A Family’s Guide to Intervention, Grosse Point, MI

[More expected to be added by Conference Time]

Announcing the New Stick with the Winners! Guide

Dick B. and Ken B., Stick with the Winners!: How to Conduct More Effective 12-Step Recovery Meetings Using Conference-Approved Literature: A Dick B. Guide for Christian Leaders and Workers in the Recovery Arena (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2012)

[This new book is available at right now for $9.95]

By the time the May conference arrives, we expect to have: (1) published this book in Print-On-Demand form; (2) completed a series of about ten videos relating to the topics in the book; and (3) made available the resource exhibits that form a training package relating to this book. Already, this book—in spiral-bound form—has been presented to a number of Christian recovery leaders and workers participating in the International Christian Recovery Coalition in several parts of the United States and Canada. In addition, it will enhance recovery efforts already underway at Oroville Church of the Nazarene in Oroville, CA; at New Life Spirit Recovery, Inc., in Huntington Beach, CA; in the Good Book-Big Book Group at Cornerstone Fellowship—Livermore Campus in Livermore, CA; at New Hope Ministry, Golden Hills Community Church in Brentwood, CA; and at several other locations.

This book will be the center piece for discussion, examination, and training at the First 2012 North American Conference of the International Christian Recovery Coalition, and at other meeting places in Orange County, California.

Gloria Deo