Long Overlooked Big Book 1st Edition Personal Stories–AA History

A.A. “Conference-approved” Literature That Frequently Mentions the Bible and God
Yep! You heard or read that correctly

The Third Segment of the Long Overlooked Big Book Personal Stories

Dick B.
Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Part Two: Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition, Segment 2C
(Dover Publications, Inc., 2011)

About Part One

In Part One, we discussed the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book published in 2003, which restored to “Conference-approved” status so many of the Big Book personal stories that were removed—piece by piece—over the years by printing new editions that simply eliminated them and replaced them with stories deemed more suitable to the powers that be.
We pointed to the lame excuses that the replacement took place because First Edition stories were written by the “uneducated;” merely to show “what we were like’ (emphasis added), and that they were written in an alleged “flying blind period,” “trial and error” by nature, and with plenty of “mistakes.”

About This Part Two and Its Three Segments:

How The First Edition, Personal Stories, and Dick B.’s Introduction in the Dover Publications Book Can Really Help Drunks Seek and Be Helped by God.

In Part Two, we propose that those in 12-Step Fellowships freely use today two major tools:

First: Point to, and boldly state that all the Big Book personal stories are now “Conference-approved” and thereby overcome the “bleeding deacon” test which consigned them to oblivion as relics of by-gone days. This can be done by citing the new “Conference-approved” publication by A.A. itself, Experience, Strength and Hope.

Second: Use for general reading, authoritative facts, and application of old school A.A. principles today, the 2011 publication, Alcoholics Anonymous “The Big Book” The Original 1939 Edition Bill W.: With a New Introduction by Dick B. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2011).

In so doing, you can utilize the First Edition personal stories and the testimonies for the purpose and with reference to what they were intended to show. That is, they were written to show exactly how and why the original, old school program—summarized by Frank Amos in DR.BOB and the Good Oldtimers, at page 131—had produced the successes (75% claimed in Akron, and 93% documented in Cleveland). Exactly how those who wrote, in their own language and from their own point of view exactly how they found or rediscovered God.

Exactly how those writing the original personal stories were required to believe in God; were required to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior; were required to obey God’s will; were required to use the Bible and prayer, and then to help others get straightened out by the same means.

Bearing in mind and taking special note that the personal stories did not and could not mention the Big Book or the Twelve Steps because neither existed prior to the date of publication in 1939.

In this final segment, therefore, we urge you to look in the stories and at our quotes here and see how closely the Midwest pioneers followed the summary of their program that Frank Amos gave and is reported in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, at page 131.

Do that. And you will see the simplicity of the original program. You will see how the pioneers followed the lead of Dr. Bob and usually mentioned him in their stories. How closely their simple program adhered to old school A.A. and had nothing to do with the Big Book or Twelve Steps.

You will see that they were not “flying blind,” using the Bible and the power of God in a “trial and error” method of “mistakes.” They were succeeding. They were new men in Christ. They were victorious. And they knew each other well, got together frequently, and openly professed their belief in God and the fact that they used the Bible as their daily guide.

What You Will Learn From the Dover Publications Original First Edition

• Despite shopworn and disarming statements that are frequently made with the claim that the Big Book language has never been changed, you will see the error of that claim. You will see that the entire Bill Wilson conversion experience program was completely altered by eliminating the A.A. Solution—A “Spiritual Experience”—from the First Edition language.

• You will see from the original First Edition personal stories just how many times Christ and Christianity were mentioned, how many times the Bible was mentioned, and how very frequently reliance on God (not some nonsense god or illusory higher power) was stressed.

• You will see from the extensive introduction by Dick B. the importance of the First Edition stories; precise places where God, Christianity, and the Bible were mentioned; and how these stories fit so neatly with the real Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship program that has been the subject of so many Dick B. books and articles. See for example The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., 2010.

You will learn that the techniques described by the pioneers worked. That God, Jesus Christ, the Bible were often described as “ever-present” helps. And that the role of God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible is as available, easily discerned, and can be widely applied in 12 Step groups today. And by all those suffering from alcoholism and addiction who want God’s help and a solution.

Part Two, Segment 2 C: Probative Direct Quotes from Personal Stories–Using Dover’s Pages as References. Thus, Still More First Edition Personal Stories about God, Jesus Christ, and the Bible:

1. The Car Smasher, pp. 364-369:

I was shown what might be done about my drinking with the help of God.

My every need was being met as long as I accepted and acknowledged the Divine Help which was so generously given.

Their suggestion was that we simply acknowledge we had made a pretty dismal failure of our lives, that we accept as truth and act upon what we had always been taught and known, that there was a kind and merciful God, that we were His children, and that if we would let Him, He would help us.

There are, it seems to me, four steps by be taken by one who is a victim of alcoholism.

First: Have a real desire to quit.

Second: Admit you can’t. (This is the hardest.)

Third: Ask for His ever-present help.

Fourth: Accept and acknowledge this help.

2. An Alcoholic’s Wife, pp. 378-379:

Since giving my husband’s problem to God I have found a peace and happiness. I know that when I try to take care of the problems of my husband I am a stumbling block as my husband has to take his problems to God the same as I do.

My husband and I now talk over our problems and trust in a Divine Power. We have now started to live. When we live with God we want for nothing.

3. An Artist’s Concept, pp. 380-385:

A seed had been planted, however, and a short time afterward I met a man who has for the past five years devoted a great deal of time and energy to helping alcoholics. Looking back on that meeting, the simplicity of his talk with me is amazing. He told me very little but what I already knew, in part, but what he did have to say was bereft of all fancy spiritual phraseology—it was simple Christianity imparted with Divine Power.

The next day I met over twenty men who had achieved a mental rebirth from alcoholism.

4. The Rolling Stone, pp. 386-390:

I went into the hospital and started to build my body up again through proper nourishment, and my mind through a different method than I had ever known of. A religious awakening was conveyed to me. . .

It has been nearly a year and a half since I have found this new life and I know as long as I do the few things that God requires me to do, I never will take another drink.

5. Lone Endeavor, pp. 391-396:

I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your letters and for ‘ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS.’

Before the book arrived and after reading the chapters I knew that the only way to combat this curse was to ask the help of the greater Power, God. I realized it even though I was then on a binge.

I thought to myself, yes this is the only way. God is still my only chance. . . . I’m sure I have found the solution, thanks to ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS.

Addendum and the Curious Nonsense about “Basic Text” That Has Kept So Many From Ever Getting Beyond “The Doctor’s Opinion,” The Ensuing Chapters, and the “Spiritual Appendix.”

Over and over, when I was new, people—including me—were repeatedly told to read the “Big Book.” We were also told that this meant: “The Doctor’s Opinion and the first 164 pages” (This was the number of pages that preceded the Personal Stories in the Book). To that advice was added the repeated expression that the “basic text” consisted only of the Doctor’s Opinion and 164 pages. Therefore, we were told NOT to read the personal stories. In fact, many that I met, knew in the fellowship, and counted as friends simply tore out of their Big Book all of the pages containing the personal stories.

Then I learned, of course, that A.A. itself had been systematically changing and eliminating personal stories. I now know it eliminated all but two that had been in the First Edition. And then there was the story of A.A. Number Three—Bill Dotson of Akron. His story was simply not included in the First Edition. Later, it was consigned to a place in the rear of the Big Book, following Dr. Bob’s story. And the result was that most of us didn’t have a clue who A.A. Number Three was, or what his story was, or how the eventual version contained, on page 191, what Dotson (Number Three) called “the Golden Text of A.A.”

Worse still, there was a story in an earlier edition where Bill Wilson plainly told a newcomer that the successful factor in the program was Jesus Christ! And he told it graphically by pointing to a painting on Jesus, stating, “There it is!” The solution! This story was also removed in the latest 4th edition of the Big Book.

Let’s first weigh a few of the untenable arguments made against those who even want to study the personal stories. Was the Big Book “basic text” just a part of the Big Book—the part that AAs wanted to hear about without looking at the testimonies? This curious product of the “wisdom of the room” confounds reason.

Here are the noteworthy points:

The latest (4th) edition of Alcoholics Anonymous has a book cover whose front page reads as follows: Alcoholics Anonymous: This is the Fourth Edition of the Big Book, the Basic Text for Alcoholics Anonymous.

It does not say the personal stories are not part of the text.

It does not say that the text for A.A. consists of the smaller portion of the book—the Doctor’s Opinion and a mere 164 pages.

It does not make the personal stories an “appendix” or “notes” or “footnotes.”

In the Fourth Edition, published in 2001, the page numbers run from 1 to 565. The title page of this edition says: “Alcoholics Anonymous The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism FOURTH EDITION.” It does not say “The” Story consists of the first 164 pages, but not any of the rest of the 565 pages.

As A.A.’s new “Conference-approved” Experience, Strength and Hope states in its Introduction on page ix: “The importance of these personal stories cannot be overstated.” And “The story section of the Big Book is far more important than most of us think.”

Page 29 of the Fourth Edition states: “Further on, clear-cut directions are given showing how we recovered. These are followed by forty-two personal experiences.” It does not say that the book contains Bill’s story, some directions for taking the steps, and forty-two stories that you need not bother to read. No!

Even in the Fourth Edition, the stories are testimonies, presumably written by those who followed directions. In fact, on page 58 of the Fourth Edition, the text tells the heart of what follows: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” It does not say “thoroughly followed” Bill’s path. It says, “our path.” And the testimonies—the personal stories—show the results of the individual writers thought to have “thoroughly followed” the path. And all this is certainly true of the purposeful personal stories of the pioneers—almost all of which have been removed. But now, finally! Restored! Years later!

A text is a text is a text, as Gertrude Stein can be paraphrased in her “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” She did not say, “A rose has many petals, but only a few constitute the rose.” Neither did A.A. say “Our text has 565 pages, but only 164 constitute the book.” It doesn’t take a genius to reject that nonsense.

Two More Completely Persuasive Personal Stories—Testimonials—Seldom Known or Mentioned

1. He Thought He Could Drink Like a Gentleman, a personal story in the Third Edition, pages 216 to 217 about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, which story was removed, but now has been restored in Experience, Strength and Hope, where page 243 relates:

One evening I had gone out after dinner to take on a couple of double-headers and stayed a little later than usual, and when I came home Clarence [Clarence H. Snyder, who founded Cleveland A.A. in 1939] was sitting on the davenport with Bill W.

I do not recollect the specific conversation that went on but I believe I did challenge Bill to tell me something about A.A. and I do recall one other thing: I wanted to know what this was that worked so many wonders, and hanging over the mantle was a picture of Gethsemane [referring to a famous painting of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, with details in Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32—where Jesus told his disciples to sit while he went and prayed]

and Bill pointed to it and said, “There it is.”

2. Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three: Pioneer member of Akron’s Group No. 1 the first A.A. group in the world. He kept the faith; therefore, he and countless others found a new life. Page 191 of the Fourth Edition states:

We were eating lunch, and I was listening and trying to find out why they had this release that they seemed to have. Bill [Wilson] 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.”

I thought, I think I have the answer. Bill was very, very grateful that he had been released from this terrible thing and he had given God the credit for having done it, and he’s so grateful l about it he wants to tell other people about it.

That sentence, “The Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep telling people about it” has been a sort of golden text for the A.A. program and for me.”

[Note that, on the same occasion, Bill Wilson and Bill Dotson—A.A. Number Three—both tied their release from alcoholism to the “Lord.” They both said they had been “cured” by the “Lord.” And Dotson said the expression was “a golden text for the A.A. program” and for him.

Miss the Stories, Miss the Heavenly Father, the “Lord,” the Bible, The “Cure”

At least one, two, or things seem to happen when you tinker with the Big Book—to the extent that it contains concepts that Bill Wilson or the later “trusted” servants personally dislike and/or decide to change.

First, they eliminate something completely—as they did the personal stories which talked about the original A.A. program in terms of God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, and cure.

Second, they insert confusing synonyms that leave the reader in doubt as to what the intended meaning was.

Third, they invent a concept that denigrates a major portion of the “offensive” material. For example, at one point, A.A. itself published a “Big Book” without the personal stories at all (other than Bill’s). And when their General Manager came to Maui, I asked him why and pointed out that the original intent of the Big Book was to have it consist only of stories. He replied in front of the audience, “You’re right.” And before long, the hybrid Big Book, sans stories, just disappeared.

There are other ways that extraneous or corrupting ideas are sometimes introduced. But let’s just take the ones that can clearly be demonstrated.

• If the suffering alcoholic and his mentors do not see, in their chosen portion of an edition, the words, “Heavenly Father,” “Lord,” “Bible, and “Cure;” and if the deletions are sometimes accompanied by apologetic explanations in their place, the readers and the leaders are left with some “higher power” or “Power” or a god “as we understood Him,” when the program itself originally referred only to God or to Jesus Christ.

• “Heavenly Father:” Therefore, if you relegate Dr. Bob’s personal story to the ignored personal stories “further on,” you miss the reference on page 181 by Dr. Bob that says: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!” In fact, the newly published original Big Book printer’s manuscript shows plainly the vain attempt to substitute the word “Faith” for “Heavenly Father.” Yet compare Dr. Bob’s last major address where he repeatedly and consistently refers to “Heavenly Father.” See The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks (Pamphlet P-53), pp. 15—“Heavenly Father;” 19—“Heavenly Father,” “My Father in heaven,” “Heavenly Father,” “My Father;” 30—“Heavenly Father.” In fact, when I heard Dr. Bob’s son speak at the A.A. International Convention in San Diego, he repeatedly used the phrase “Heavenly Father.”

• “Lord,” If you relegate A.A. Number Three’s personal story to the ignored personal stories “further on,” you miss the two references on page 191 by Bill Wilson and Bill Dotson (AA Number Three) which state “The Lord has been so wonderful to me curing me.” Interestingly, the other place where the complete statement about the Lord and the cure is quoted is in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, at page 83. Combined with the deleted “Gethsemane” story in the Third edition, where Bill ascribes the cure to Jesus Christ, the meaning of the word “Lord” becomes clear.

• “Bible,” If you eliminate all the personal stories where, as quoted above, the Bible is clearly mentioned, you are left with unattributed quotes from Bible language such as “Thy will be done;” “Faith without works is dead,” “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” “Creator,” “Maker,” “Father of lights.” And the befuddled newcomer hasn’t a clue where these words came from or to whom they refer.

• “Cure,” Ignoring his own statement and that of Bill Dotson that the Lord had cured them, Bill directly contradicted his own faith and belief and wrote on page 85 of the Fourth Edition: “We are not cured of alcoholism.” And that statement has given rise to endless controversies in the rooms over whether AAs are “in recovery,” “recovering,” or “recovered.” Seldom is the word “cured” even mentioned. Yet see DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, where page 129 states “Dr. Howard S. . . had been cured by Smith and his friends’ activities and the Christian technique prescribed.”

Miss the Stories: And You May Just Hear Disputes Over the Facts Themselves

Try these experiments:

(1) Tell people in a meeting or a treatment program that there is a cure for alcoholism, and that the statement in the Big Book on page 33 of the Fourth edition does not apply to those cured of alcoholism by “Divine Aid”—by the power of God. The statement is: “Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.” Howls of protest may accompany every word thereafter. The reason? Most of the howlers don’t know that all three of the first AAs said explicitly that they had been cured of alcoholism—this after each had turned to God for help and been healed. Thus the quoted remarks of Bill Wilson and A.A. Number 3 on page 191 that the Lord had cured each are either unknown, claimed to be erroneous, or falling on the ears of those who don’t believe what Dr. William D. Silkworth expressly told Bill and other patients: The Great Physician (Jesus Christ) can cure your alcoholism; and Silkworth made the statement before the Rockefellers, AAs, and others that he had treated alcoholics who had been “permanently cured.”

(2) Tell people in a meeting or a treatment program that, by turning to God, that you have had a miraculous healing of your alcoholism. Howls of protest may claim in your presence that your claim is a violation of the Traditions because A.A. is not religious, or that A.A. is “spiritual, but not religious,” or that you have just offended someone who is an atheist, an agnostic, a Hindu, a Buddhist, or tried God and failed. The reason? Many don’t believe in God, don’t believe in miracles, and say that they go to church for their religion and to A.A. for their alcoholism. Or someone has never read to them page 57 which states:

Seemingly he could not drink even if he would. God had restored his sanity. What is this but a miracle of healing? Circumstances made him willing to believe. He humbly offered himself to his Maker, then he knew. Even so has God restored us all to our right minds.

Or someone has never challenged them as to whether they believed the
statement on page 15:

There is a solution. . . . The great fact is just this, and nothing less. That we have had had deep and effective spiritual experiences. . . .
The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.

Or they have been led to believe they cannot read, quote, or believe any
literature that is not “Conference-approved.” Therefore they may never have
read the account by Clarence Snyder of how he was healed. In Mitchell K.’s
How It Worked: The Story of Clarence H. Snyder and the Early Days of
Alcoholics Anonymous in Cleveland, Ohio, page 70 states this:

At Clarence’s surrender, T. Henry, Doc, and a couple of the other Oxford Group members went into T. Henry’s bedroom. They all, including Clarence, who by now was used to this kneeling, got down on their knees in an attitude of prayer. They all placed their hands on Clarence, and then proceeded to pray.

These people introduced Clarence to Jesus as his Lord and Savior. They explained to Clarence that this was First Century Christianity. Then they prayed for a healing and removal of Clarence’s sins, especially his alcoholism. When he arose, said Clarence, he once again felt like a new man.

The details about these “real surrenders” in which a newcomer was led to
accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior and in which he and others prayed
for his healing are not confined to Clarence Snyder—though they have
independently been confirmed by many. See Dick B., That Amazing Grace:
The Role of Clarence and Grace S. in Alcoholics Anonymous, 27, and Three
Clarence Snyder Sponsee Old-timers and Their Wives, Compiled and Edited
by Dick B., Our A.A. Legacy to the Faith Community: A Twelve-Step Guide for
Those Who Want to Believe, 20-28.

(3) The requirement that all early A.A. newcomers profess a belief in God and accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior was personally confirmed by me in
telephone conversations with A.A. Old-timer Ed Andy of Lorain, Ohio and by
Larry B., A.A. Old-timer Larry B. from Cleveland, Ohio; and I still have in my
possession Larry’s letter to me stating the facts and that they had taken him upstairs and had him become a born-again human being and God’s helper to alcoholics. And the biographer of Dr. William D. Silkworth quoted Dr. Silkworth to the same effect: Bill had originally insisted on surrenders to Jesus Christ—just as he had done at Calvary Mission in 1934.

All three of the first AAs—Bill W., Dr. Bob, and A.A. Number Three, who were all Christians and had studied the Bible—stated in writing that they had been cured. So did Clarence H. Snyder. And so did dozens of alcoholics whose stories were printed in newspapers and magazines across the nation. These articles can be seen by purchasing the scrap book obtaining them from A.A. World Services, Inc., in New York.

Those whose personal stories were published in the Big Book First Edition told exactly the procedure they followed after A.A. was founded in June, 1935 and the first group was founded on Jul y 4, 1935.

dickb@dickb.com

Gloria Deo

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About mauihistorian

Uses pen name Dick B.: Writer, Historian, Retired attorney, Bible student, CDAAC, and active and recovered A.A. member with over 25 years of continuous sobriety. Published 42 titles and over 650 articles on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Christian Recovery Movement. www.dickb.com
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