Bill W.: The Man You Thought You Knew
© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved
My son Ken and I are now preparing a series of eight videos—titled “Bill W.: The Man You Thought You Knew”–which will present key details about Bill W. as they should be told. These videos will include the latest findings in our research, visits, and reviews.
You’ll hear about Bill’s paternal grandfather, William C. (“Willie”) Wilson, and his conversion experience on Mt. Aeolus before Bill was born–a story Bill was told many times by his mother–including the part about Willie’s salvation and deliverance from alcoholism.
You’ll hear about the little East Dorset Congregational Church–located between the Wilson House and the Griffith House in East Dorset, Vermont–where Bill W. was born and raised; where his paternal and maternal grandparents attended; where his parents attended and were married; and where Bill himself went to Sunday school and received much of his Christian upbringing.
You’ll hear about Bill’s studies of the Bible with his maternal grandfather, Fayette Griffith, with his friend Mark Whalon, and as part of the required, four-year Bible study course he took at Burr and Burton Academy.
You’ll hear about Bill’s attendance at required daily chapel at the Academy and his presidency of the Young Men’s Christian Association during his senior year there.
You’ll hear about Bill W.’s memories of his parents’ singing religious songs; his recollections of the sermons and music at the family church; and his participation in conversion meetings, revivals, and Temperance meetings.
You’ll hear about Dr. Silkworth’s telling Bill he could be cured of his alcoholism by the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.
You’ll hear how Rowland Hazard reacted to Dr. Carl Jung’s advice by making a decision for Jesus Christ. You’ll hear how he helped to get Ebby Thacher into Calvary Mission where Ebby accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
You’ll hear what Ebby Thacher really told Bill about the Calvary Mission and other events; how Bill checked out Ebby’s story by listening to his testimony from the Calvary Church pulpit the night before Bill went to Calvary Mission; and how Bill decided that perhaps the Mission could help him too.
You’ll learn that Bill went to the Calvary Mission, then went to the altar, and then—as his wife Lois put it—in all sincerity went up and “handed his life over to Christ.”
You’ll find out that Bill wrote twice that he had been “born again”; that his wife Lois was overjoyed with his “rebirth”; and that Bill wrote his brother-in-law that he had “found religion”—just as Ebby Thacher had said (“I’ve got religion) and done.
You’ll see how Bill again descended into darkness and depression, but felt he should call on the Great Physician for help. How Bill told Dr. Silkworth at the hospital that he had “found something.” How Bill cried out to God for help in his hospital room, how his room suddenly blazed with an “indescribably white light,” and how he sensed the presence of God in his room. And that he really thought (and later wrote) “Bill, you are a free man. This is the God of the Scriptures.”
You’ll learn how Dr. Silkworth told Bill he had had a “conversion experience”; how Bill read William James’ book, The Varieties of Religious Experience, which contained many accounts of cure of alcoholism by such experiences; and how Bill never again doubted the existence of God and never had another drink.
You’ll see that Bill W. bounded out of Towns Hospital on December 18, 1934, with a Bible under his arm, and rushed around telling drunks wherever he could find them that they must give their lives to God. You’ll find that Bill even had some temporary success with people like the little chemistry professor, but that he failed for six months to enable any to “stay” sober.’
You’ll see in later editions of the Big Book further Wilson remarks. For example, in the second through fourth editions, one of Bill’s comments was that “the Lord” had cured him of his terrible disease and that he just wanted to keep talking about it and telling people. You’ll learn that he told this to the wife of Bill D., A.A. Number Three. Bill D. then repeated Bill W.’s statement, and declared how important it had been for the A.A. program and for him personally.
You’ll see that, in the third edition of the Big Book, Bill told a newcomer that what had accomplished the miracles was right in front of him. Bill pointed to a painting of Jesus praying at the Garden of Gethsemane; and Bill said: “There it is.”
You’ll learn that one of the required actions for early AAs was that each one had to declare his belief in God—not “a” god, God! Then every early newcomer was required to confirm his relationship with God by accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior in what was called a “real surrender” (if he was not already a child of God).
You will wonder why the several films about Bill, why the many recorded talks, why the multiple biographies and the “official” A.A. literature and other historians have failed to detail these stories that help make the real Bill W. known and better understood.
You will now be able to watch the videos in this new series, read The Conversion of Bill W. book, and find out the facts. In the past, they have been scattered and sometimes inadequately presented. Now you will see that they are laid out in Bill’s own autobiography, in many biographies of Bill and Lois and Dr. Silkworth, in extensive writing about Rowland Hazard and Ebby Thacher, in some histories, and in many interviews over a 20-year period. These videos, together with The Conversion of Bill W. book, will make a much-fuller Bill W. story known.