Professor Karen A. Plavan, Ph.D., of Pittsburgh: Listening to and Reading Our Summary of Dick B.’s June 20 Christian Recovery Radio.com Interview
Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
First, the following announcement of where you can hear the interview of Dr. Plavan now:
You may hear the June 20, 2012, episode of the “Christian Recovery Radio with DickB” Internet radio show–“Dick B. interviews Christian Recovery leader Karen Plavan”–here:
Second, here is a synopsis of Today’s Interview of Dr. Plavan by Dick B. on http://www.ChristianRecoveryRadio.com:
Karen A. Plavan, Ph.D., of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is: 1) A Christian Recovery Leader. 2) Interim Chairperson of International Christian Recovery Coalition http://www.ChristianRecoveryCoalition.com. 3) Assistant Professor of Counselor Education-Chemical Dependency at The Pennsylvania State University. 4) Adjunct Professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary where she teaches “Addiction and Grace.”. 4) Director of the Oasis Recovery Center of Western Pennsylvania. 5) Curator of our collection of the books and papers of Rev. Sam Shoemaker in the Shoemaker Room, Calvary Episcopal Church, Pittsburgh. 6) A returning leader at CLEAR.
She has played an enormous role in the research, writing, and publications by my son Rev. Ken B. and myself on Dr. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr., the Episcopal Rector that A.A.’s Bill Wilson dubbed a “cofounder of A.A.” She organized a major “Bill W.-Sam Shoemaker” evening at a large community meeting in a mountain top Pittsburgh restaurant, and I was the keynote speaker. She has spoken much on Dr. Shoemaker’s role in A.A. and his friendship with its cofounder Bill Wilson. She was instrumental in helping us publish the second edition of our voluminous study of Shoemaker’s AA role—New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A. http://www.dickb.com/newlight.shtml; and—along with Shoemaker’s younger daughter Nickie Shoemaker Haggart, and the wife of Shoemaker’s assistant minister, Rev. W. Irving Harris (Julia Harris)–contributed one of the three Forewords to my Shoemaker book.
It was Dr. Plavan who helped develop the funding for an extensive study of Shoemaker’s life, friendship with Bill Wilson, and major role in the spiritual aspects of A.A.’s Twelve Steps and Big Book. That said, her help enabled us to go to Pittsburgh and research at Shoemaker’s Calvary Episcopal Church, The Pittsburgh Experiment, and among Shoemaker’s circle of leaders. as well as his unusual work with what he called “the golf club crowd.” Her supportive efforts also enabled us to spend a week at the Episcopal Church Archives in Austin, Texas and gather a large number of Shoemaker manuscripts, letters, and papers that related to and/or impacted upon A.A. history.
In her talk today, Karen told of her being raised in a Christian family with six children—active in the Catholic Church. She obtained her doctorate in counseling at the University of Pittsburgh. She engaged in addiction consulting for organizations that were dysfunctional. She taught graduate classes at Penn State in addiction, and classes on addiction and grace at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. She states “I myself am in recovery. I am responsible for myself and not other people. I cannot control my addiction. Only God can do that.”
She has a vision that everyone should recover and have a relationship with God. She subscribes to the idea that she is powerless over addiction without God and that only God can restore us to sanity. She believes people must keep out the self-sufficiency in our culture. At Penn State, she taught that problems arise where there is separation from and the lack of a relationship with God.
She worked at the Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation’s project to make Pittsburgh as famous for God as it was for steel. And she developed the Coalition for Leadership and Advocacy and Recovery. Dr. Plavan said they worked for a new solution for addiction—pointing out that each year 250 people die of overdose.
CLEAR has had Nancy Reagan, Bill Moyers, William Cope Moyers, Senator Harold Hughes, and also Dick B. as speakers. It promoted the “Demand Treatment Initiative”—observing that people are not receiving access to treatment. Thus Emergency Rooms now have screening projects caring for some 350 ER patients. Pittsburgh is now in its 11th year of holding Pastoral Care Conferences. And it seeks to help with mental, family, and marriage problems emanating from addiction.
Oasis Center personally helps with the “Demand Treatment Initiative.” It helps people get access to recovery. There is a “Help” line which enables them to assess and refer for treatment, intervention, hospitalization, and detox. She emphasizes that families are often as sick if not more sick that the addicted—often having medical issues emanating from problems of control and enabling. And they help alleviate that.
Karen is firm in her belief that you cannot have recovery without belief in God and in His restoration of our sanity as you turn your life over to His care. She points to the success of the early A.A. Christian fellowship. She says her Pittsburgh recovery approaches do not condone the substitution of some higher power called a light bulb. and advocates fellowship of the First Century Christian Fellowship types constituting strong groups with Christian Faith and the belief that the power to recover comes from God and not from nonsense higher powers.
She emphasizes the importance of daily quiet time and prayer, as well as fellowship with like-minded believers of the type embraced by early AAs. The other believers can be a strong means of lifting the suffering up instead of watching them go down.
Our relationship with Karen Plavan goes back many years. It has encompassed trips to Pittsburgh, telephone calls, emails, and speaking engagements. We particularly treasure her ability to see recovery in Christian terms and through an action program that enables and in fact
catalyzes help and resources for those in need of them.