Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hear the Real Bill Wilson Story of His Upbringing--told by Dick B. in a series of five audio talks

How Bill W.’s A.A. Story Really Began


Dick B. Presents Part Three of His A.A. History Audio Series





Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved


There are five audio talks by Dick B. in this series. They tell you the real Bill Wilson Story in terms of his childhood, Bible study, Christian upbringing, church and Sunday school attendance, and years at Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester, Vermont.


Ultimately, they amplify the material in Dick’s The Conversion of Bill W.


But these five talks will tell you things about Bill Wilson’s Christian upbringing in the State of Vermont that fly in the face of years of distortion about Bill, his church, his Sunday school, the East Dorset  Congregational Church to which Bill, his parents, and his grandparents (both the Griffiths and the Wilsons) belonged. The talks will tell you how he studied the Bible as a youngster. They will tell you about the church’s confession and creeds. They will tell you about the Wilson family’s founding and holding office in the little church. They will tell of the Scripture reading, sermons, prayers, and hymns he heard in the little East Dorset Christian church and its Sunday school. How do we know? We know because we were given the special privilege of going inside the church, seeing Pew 15 which the Wilsons owned, and reviewing the church records with its archivist and treasurer—whose family had long been connected with the church. The little church—seldom if ever visited by AAs—lies on the green between the Griffith House (home of Bill’s maternal grandparents) on one side, and the Wilson House (home of Bill’s paternal grandparents) on the other side.


Onward and upward. Bill was enrolled in the Burr and Burton Seminary a few miles away and located in Manchester, Vermont. There he took a four year Bible study course. He attended daily chapel where he heard sermons, Scripture reading, hymns, and prayers. Like all the scholars at Burr and Burton, Bill attended many services and events at the nearby Manchester Congregational Church—which had close ties to the Congregational influenced academy. Bill  also became president of the school Young Men’s Christian Association; and his girl-friend Bertha Bamford became president of the school Young Women’s Christian Association. The two of  them attended many “Y” activities hand-in-hand.


There is much more about Bill’s Christian upbringing. He remembered conversion meetings, temperance meetings, and revivals. His friend Ebby Thacher attended Burr and Burton at the same time Bill was there; and Ebby lived with the pastor of the Manchester Congregational Church and also remembered the Christian upbringing he had had in a family which had five generations of clergy in its lineage.


Surprise. Surprise. Bill and Ebby then went on to attend the military academy at Northfield, Vermont. And there too, chapel was held, church attendance was required. And the Christian training continued until Bill entered the Army in World War I.


The interesting thing about Bill’s Christian upbringing is that it was really quite similar to that received by Dr. Bob in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. There, Dr. Bob and his entire family belonged to and attended the North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury; and we have established the Dr. Bob Core Library there which contains thousands of books and papers about the Smith family’s connection with the church, with prayer meetings, with the YMCA, with St. Johnsbury Academy, and with the Christian training his highly educated parents gave him in that village.


Also, Dr. Bob was active in the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor which had a program for young people that featured many of the Christian elements that found their way into early A.A. in Akron. The Dr. Bob story can be found in Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous, www/


Be sure to listen to Dick B.’s presentation of the real Bill Wilson story which includes material about Wilson’s religious background and Christian training that most historians, authors, and AAs have probably never heard and certainly have not recounted.


Listen to Dick B. tell the details on

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Welcoming Cleveland McSwain of Montana as Participant in International Christian Recovery Coalition

Welcome to Cleveland McSwain of Montana as the latest to become a participant in International Christian Recovery Coalition.

His listing is:



Cleveland McSwain, Elder in Full Connection with the Yellowstone Annual
Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Presently serving two churches in Montana,

P.O. Box 463, 112 Main ST, Belt, MT  59412

Cleveland McSwain
God Bless, Dick B., Executive Director, International Christian Recovery Coalition;

Brief Program Flyer for Portland Maine September 6-7 First International Alcoholics Anoymous History Conerence


September 6-7, 2013

Portland, Maine

[A.A.’s Dr. Bob was a member of Christian Endeavor (Big Book, 172), founded here 2/2/1881]


Featuring A.A. Historian Dick B. of Maui, Hawaii, and Special Guests


Conference Theme:


“The History of Alcoholics Anonymous:

Another View Which Includes Its Christian Beginnings in New England”


Meetings, Roundtables, Speakers, Research, and Workshops in Portland, Maine

[Plus:  (1) Possible A.A. history research tour of Dr. Bob’s birthplace, St. Johnsbury, VT, 9/8-10;

           (2) Free At Last Group A.A. meeting, Wed., 9/11; 5:30 pm potluck dinner; 7:00-8:30 pm

                speaker discussion meeting; guest speakers Dick B. and Ken B.]


Main Conference Location:


The First Baptist Church of Portland, Maine

360 Canco Rd., Portland, ME 04103;


Conference Schedule


Friday, September 6


              6:30 pm to 7:00 pm:              Conference registration: FREE, but Required           

  7:00 pm to 7:10 pm:              Prayer by Ken B., welcome, and conference introduction

  7:10 pm to 9:00 pm:              Conf. speaker presentations, or Celebrate Recovery mtg.


Saturday, September 7


              9:00 am to   9:45 am:            Conference registration (cont.), coffee and tea, hospitality

              9:45 am to   9:55 am:            Conference introduction and prayer by Ken B.

              9:55 am to 10:00 am:            Welcome by Wally C.

            10:00 am to 10:50 am:            Session One: The 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous

            11:00 am to 11:50 am:            Session Two: A. A. Origins, History, Founders, and Facts

            12:00 pm to  1:15 pm:             Lunch Break: On your own

              1:15 pm to  2:05 pm:             Session Three: Sponsorship Today

              2:15 pm to  3:05 pm:             Session Four: Orienting and Informing Newcomers

              3:35 pm to  4:15 pm:             Session Five: A.A. History: Past, Present & Future

              4:15 pm                                 Ken B. closes conf. w/prayer; networking, dinner (optional)


Conference Mission


The mission of this conference is to present an accurate and comprehensive picture of Alcoholics Anonymous history which includes the roles played by God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in early A.A.’s astonishing successes.


Of alcoholics who came to A.A. and really tried, 50% got sober at once and remained that way; 25% sobered up after some relapses; and among the remainder, those who stayed on with A.A. showed improvement. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., xx]


Records in Cleveland show that 93 percent of those who came to us never had a drink again. [DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 261]


Your Heavenly Father will never let you down! [Dr. Bob in Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 181]


Bill [W.] looked across at my wife and said to her, “Henrietta, the Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep talking about it and telling people.” [AA # 3, Bill D., in Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191]


When we [Bill W. and Dr. Bob] started in on Bill D., we had no Twelve Steps, either; we had no Traditions.

            But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book. [Dr. Bob in The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks (item # P-53), 13]


Conference Audience


This conference is for members of 12 Step Fellowships (including old-timers, speakers, sponsors, newcomers, and garden variety drunks and addicts); other International Christian Recovery Coalition “participants”; physicians, clergy, recovery pastors, and other Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena; and professionals working in the fields of intervention, detox, treatment, sober living, counseling, psychology, and psychiatry.


Conference Registration


Admission for the First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference is FREE! Registration is required. For more information about the conference please contact Ken B. by email at or by phone at 1-808-276-4945. To register for the conference, please send to Ken B. by email at (1) your name; (2) your postal mailing address; (3) your email address; and (4) your telephone number. Ken B. will send you by email a confirmation as to the acceptance of your registration.


If you would like to make a donation to help offset the costs involved in putting on this conference, please contact Ken B. by email at or by phone at 1-808-276-4945. Thank you!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Google's presentation on author Dick B., his 46 published titles, over 1500 articles, blogs, radio show, and conferences

A.A. Cofounder Bill W.'s Four-Year Bible Study Course While Attending Burr and Burton Seminary

Frederica Templeton, archivist of Burr and Burton Academy (known as "Burr and Burton Seminary" when Bill W. attended from 1909 to 1913) and author of the text in the official history of Burr and Burton Academy [The Castle in the Pasture: Portrait of Burr and Burton Academy (Manchester, Vermont: Burr and Burton Academy, 2005)], told my dad (Dick B.) and me  during our research trip to Vermont in June 2008 that Bill Wilson had taken a required, four-year Bible study course at Burr and Burton Seminary. 

Ken B.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Choosing Your Own Conception of God in A.A.?

Aloha to you, Rick, from Maui, Hawaii!

Thank you for writing to my dad (Dick B.-- about the origin of "God as we understood Him" and about the question "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?" attributed to Bill W.'s "spiritual sponsor," Ebby T. on page 12 of chapter one, "Bill's Story," in the fourth edition (2001) of Alcoholics Anonymous ("the Big Book)."

1. My dad and I thoroughly discussed how the question "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?" found its way into the first edition (April 1939) of the Big Book in a 20+-page appendix ("Appendix One"--pages 43-64) in one of our most recent books titled Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous: God's Role in Recovery Confirmed!--available from and other outlets in 6" x 9" and Kindle (and other eBook formats):

That appendix is, to our knowledge, the most extensive discussion of the question available in print, on the Internet, or otherwise.

2. Briefly:

  • The question attributed to Ebby on page 12 of the fourth edition of the Big Book is foreign to the language of both Bill W. and Ebby T. as found in the earliest draft manuscripts of the Big Book Dick B. inspected and copied (with permission) at Stepping Stones (Bill W. and Lois W.'s home in New York);
  • As you may know, the chapters of the Big Book were thoroughly reviewed by the first A.A. group (Akron) and by the second A.A.. group (New York) before they were included in the first edition (April 1939) of the Big Book.
  • After "the story section of the book" and "the text of the book" were "complete in the latter part of January, 1939" [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 164], "[f]our hundred mimeograph copies of the book were made and sent to everyone we could think of who might be concerned with the problem of alcoholism." [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 165].  Bill W. explained that this "book" was actually "a prepublication copy of the text and some of the stories" [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 165]. This document--better known today as "the Multilith Edition" or "the Original Manuscript"--was completely-typewritten. You may see a retyped version of the so-called "Original Manuscript" here: The four paragraphs found on page 12 of the fourth edition which begin with the words "Despite the living example of my friend . . . and end with the words "Would I have it? Of course I would!" were not in the so-called "Original Manuscript." The question "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?" is found in those four paragraphs which were not present in the so-called "Original Manuscript."
  • Next, although Bill W. "had consistently used the word 'God'" in "the original draft" of the Twelve Steps (Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 166), a group of four people--Fitz, Henry P., A.A.'s first secretary Ruth Hock, and Bill W.--decided on "compromise words" for several of the Twelve Steps: "In Step Two we decided to describe God as a 'Power greater than ourselves.' In Steps Three and Eleven we inserted the words 'God as we understood Him.' . . . Such were the final concessions to those of little or no faith; this was the great contribution of our atheists and agnostics. . . . God was certainly there in our Steps, but He was now expressed in terms that anybody . . .  could accept and try." (Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 167).
  • After "great numbers of the 400 mimeographs which had been sent out had been returned" and "many helpful suggestions had been made [by the reviewers who had returned their mimeograph copies]" (Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 167), "the printer's copy of the book" was prepared. "We selected one of the mimeographs, and in Henry's clear handwriting all the corrections were transferred to it. There were few large changes . . ." [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 169]. In what seemed to be, by far, the largest "correction" transferred, four handwritten paragraphs were added beginning on the reverse side of the typed title page and continuing onto a page inserted between the title page and the typed Foreword. And a handwritten "Inst>#1" was added in the margin of the otherwise typewritten document just slightly below the sentence now found on page 12 of the fourth edition: "His roots grasped a new soil." [See: The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 2010):]
  • Consider these two points: (a) It was only after the "committee of four"--Fitz, Henry P., Ruth Hock, and Bill W.--had made "the final concessions to those of little or no faith" (i.e., the "atheists and agnostics"), and had changed Bill W.'s original use of the unmodified word "God" in Steps Two, Three, and Eleven, that the four handwritten paragraphs were added at the very last minute to "the printer's copy of the book." And it was those four paragraphs that contained, not only the question "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?", but also the four non-biblical descriptions of God also found on page 12 in the fourth edition of the Big Book; i.e.: "Creative Intelligence," "Universal Mind," "Spirit of Nature," and "a Czar of the Heavens." And (b) there is no indication in Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age--or in any other A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature of which I am aware--that anyone other than the "committee of four, take two"--i.e., Henry, Ruth, Dorothy S. of Cleveland, and Bill W. (Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 170)--got to review the last-minute insertion of those handwritten paragraphs. Not the Akron group, not the New York group, and not the 400 recipients of "the prepublication copy of the book" (i.e., the "Multilith Edition"; also known as the "Original Manuscript.") But those four paragraphs ended up in the Big Book in April 1939, nonetheless.

Thank you so much for writing to Dick B.

Dick B.'s son, Ken


Sunday, June 23, 2013

On Radio, Dick B. Discusses "The First Step in Recovery Revival Is to the Bible

Dick B. discusses his forthcoming title, "Recovery Revival: Early A.A.'s 'First Century Christianity' in Recovery Today" (Part 2), on the June 23, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show


Dick B.

© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved


You may hear this program now on




You may hear Dick B.'s second presentation on his forthcoming title, Recovery Revival, on the June 23, 2013, episode of the "Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B." show here:



or here:



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






This is the second in a series of brief presentations in separate chunks of the material on the origins of A.A. in the Bible, the various elements of "old-school A.A.," and how the principles and practices of the Akron Group Number One "Christian fellowship" can be applied in today's recovery programs and in A.A. itself to enhance and make more useful the historical tools that were used when A.A. was put on the map with its astonishing successes. 


Last evening, the first in the series was launched. The series itself will be presented in three ways: (1) By this series of radio interviews covering one old-school A.A. development at a time. (2) In a book by Dick B. and Ken B. titled Recovery Revival: Early A.A.'s First Century Christianity in Recovery Today. and (3) For the benefit of sponsors, trainers, leaders, and speakers--many of whom will be attending "The First International Alcoholics Anonymous History Conference" in Portland, Maine, on September 6-7, 2013.


Our first and previous program introduced the facts about "old-school A.A.," its names, its nature, accounts of its techniques, and how it is supported by Conference-approved literature today .

This program will deal with the explicit roots and remarks of the early AAs as to how they were using the Bible for their recoveries and what portions of the Bible were emphasized. In our new book, each paragraph is accompanied by a footnote. Each footnote will enable the reader and trainer to quote from the source; to authenticate the quote; and to research the subject of the paragraph, as well as identify it for trainees, classes, sponsors, and newcomers.




The First Step in Recovery Revival Is to the Bible


Dr. Bob said: “I had refreshed my memory of the Good Book, and I had had excellent training in that as a youngster.”[1]


Dr. Bob read the Bible from cover to cover three times and could quote from its passages verbatim.[2]


“Dr. Bob was always positive about his faith. Clarence [his sponsee Clarence H. S.] said, If someone asked him a question about the program, his usual response was: ‘What does it say in the Good Book.’”[3]


Bill W. had read the Bible with his grandfather Griffith and attended church and Sunday school at East Dorset Congregational Church, East Dorset, Vermont.[4]


Bill W. had taken a required four-year Bible study course at Burr and Burton Seminary where he attended high school. He also there attended daily chapel where Scriptures were read, sermons were delivered, prayers were given, and hymns were sung.[5]


Dr. Bob said of AA Number 3, Bill D.: “Now I knew that this Bill was a Sunday-school superintendent, and I thought that he probably forgot more about the Good Book every night than I ever knew.”[6]


Earl T. said: “I remember most distinctly the first meeting that I attended—Bill D. sat with the Holy Bible in his lap. . . . Bill read excerpts from the Bible.”[7]


To T. Henry Williams (in whose Akron home Wednesday meetings were held) Bill said: “I learned a great deal from you people. I hadn’t looked in the Bible up to this time, at all. You see, I had the experience [the blazing extraordinary white light experience in his hospital room at Towns Hospital] first and then this rushing around to help drunks and nothing happened.”[8]


Henrietta Seiberling often taught AAs at their early meetings; and her daughter Dorothy Seiberling wrote Dick B: “Mother did read Corinthians a great deal, but she read a lot, just picking up the Bible wherever it opened & going on from there. . . Of course, she believed in God & Christ, & and looked to the Bible for her guidance.”[9]


Bill W.’s wife, Lois, wrote in a small notebook at Stepping Stones: “Sat. A.M. Chas Haines—Bible. . . Home Quiet Time,” p. 7.


Dr. Bob’s wife, Anne, taught from her journal, stating: “Of course the Bible ought to be the main Source Book of all. No day ought to pass without reading it.”[10]


The Rockefeller people dispatched Frank Amos to Akron to investigate the Christian Fellowship there. Amos summarized the program and in Item 4, he  wrote: “He must have devotions every morning—a quiet time’ of prayer and some reading from the Bible and other religious literature.[11]


Rev. Samuel Shoemaker was credited by Bill W. as the major source of A.A.’s 12 Steps. And Shoemaker’s assistant minister W. Irving Harris wrote: “The Scriptures formed the basis of Sam Shoemaker’s preaching. He was a “Bible Christian.”[12]


Dr. Frank Buchman was the founder and leader of “A First Century Christian Fellowship”—the Oxford Group--with which both Bill W. and Dr. Bob had been associated. Buchman’s biographer wrote: “Buchman was. . . “soaked in the Bible” and made certain it formed the basis of the training given in Oxford.”[13]


Dr. Bob pointed out in his last major speech: “In early A.A. days. . . when we started in on Bill D., our stories didn’t amount to anything to speak of. When we started in on Bill D., we had no Twelve Steps, either; we had no Traditions.

But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book. To some of us older ones, the parts that we found absolutely essential were the Sermon on the Mount, the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and the Book of James. We used to have daily meetings at a friend’s house.[14]


Dr. Bob also wrote: “It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and studies that had been going on were crystallized in the form of the Twelve Steps. I didn’t write the Twelve Steps. I had nothing to do with the writing of them. . . .  We already had the basic ideas, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book.[15]


‘Ere long, Bill W. secured a vote of approval for his new idea of publishing the “Big Book.”  Bill wrote the basic manuscript; and, when two visitors came to see him, Bill said: “I was greatly pleased with what I had written, and I read them the new version of the program, now the ‘Twelve Steps.” But a great deal of debate arose over their contention that “You’ve got too much God in these steps.” On the other side, Fitz M., the Episcopal minister’s son, pushed the position that “the book ought to be Christian in the doctrinal sense of the word and that it should say so. He was in favor of using Biblical terms and expressions to make that clear.” But Bill W.’s partner, Henry P.

had “come to believe in some sort of ‘universal power.’” Henry P. wanted “a psychological book which would lure the alcoholic in. Once in, the prospect could take God or leave Him alone as he wished.[16]


In the original draft, however, Bill “had refused to budge on these steps.” As Bill put it, “I would not change a word of the original draft, in which, you will remember, I had consistently used the word “God,” and in one place the expression “on our knees” was used.” Henry P. was affronted; and he argued Bill into changing the “God” language entirely in the Steps. This, said Bill, final concession to those of little or no faith . . . had widened our gateway so that all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.[17]


But that was far from the end of the Bible in Alcoholics Anonymous. In the very first edition published in 1939, the Big Book used a seemingly endless number of biblical descriptions of God (Creator, God, Maker, Father, Heavenly Father).  It actually quoted the Bible using such phrases as “Thy will be done,” “Faith without works is dead,” and “love thy neighbor as thyself.”[18] Moreover, the personal stories of the pioneers

talked a great deal about God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible.[19] And subsequent “Conference-approved” A.A. literature contained extensive information about how the Bible was stressed, how it  was read at meetings, and how it was “required” to be read by the newcomer. The official biography of Bill W. contained material on Bill’s studying the Bible with Bob and Anne in their home in Akron.[20] The two men favored “Quiet Time” and Christian literature containing biblical ideas and verses.[21]


For the reader of this chapter, we recommend that pursuing the biblical roots of A.A. should begin with the book, Dick B., The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible.


[1] The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, 11-12
[2] DR, BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 310
[3] DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 144
[4] Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob: the Green Mountain Men of Vermont: The Roots of Early A.A.’s Original Program, Chapter 2
[5] Dick B. and Ken B., Bill W. and Dr. Bob: the Green Mountain Men of Vermont:, Chapters 2 and 3
[6] The Co-Founders, 12
[7] The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, 190
[8] The Akron Genesis, 64
[9] The Akron Genesis, 95
[10] The Akron Genesis, 111
[11] DR. BOB and The Good Oldtimers, 220,  131, 227-28
[12] The Akron Genesis, 211
[13] The Akron Genesis, 211
[14] The Co-Founders, 13
[15] The Co-Founders, 14
[16] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 161-64
[17] Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 166-67
[18] Alcoholics Anonymous “THE BIG BOOK”: The Original 1939 Edition, Bill W. With a New Introduction by Dick B. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2011.
[19] Dick B. and Ken B., Pioneer Stories in Alcoholics Anonymous: God’s Role in Recovery Confirmed
[20] “PASS IT ON,” 147.
[21] DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 130-31, 178, 227-28.