Reading the Long-Lost Big Book 1st Ed. Personal Stories Today–Vital for You

A.A. General Service Conference-Approved Literature
That Frequently Mentions the Bible and God
(Yep! You Read That Correctly!)

A Four-Part Discussion of the Long-Overlooked Big Book Personal Stories

Part Two

Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition
(Dover Publications, Inc., 2011)
http://goo.gl/Ayp7m

By Dick B.
© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

About the Prior Part One

In Part One, we discussed the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book, Experience, Strength and Hope: Stories from the First Three Editions of Alcoholics Anonymous (New York, NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2003). It elevated to “Conference-approved” status the many personal stories from the first edition of the Big Book (1939), the second edition (1955), and the third edition (1976) that were not included in the fourth edition (2001).

For example, of the 29 personal stories in the first edition, 22 were not included in the second edition. (The third edition contained the same seven stories from the first edition that were included in the second edition.) Four more of the stories from the first edition were not included in the fourth edition. This left only three of the original 29 stories from the first edition still present in the fourth edition: (1) “Dr. Bob’s Nightmare,” the personal story of A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob; (2) “Our Southern Friend,” which was substantially rewritten for the second edition; and (3) “The Fearful One,” which was retitled “The Man Who Mastered Fear” and substantially rewritten for the second edition.

We pointed to the questionable explanations in Experience, Strength and Hope for the omission of so many of the first edition’s personal stories from later editions of Alcoholics Anonymous. For example:

• “As a collection, . . . they [the personal stories included in the first, second, and/or third editions that were omitted from the fourth edition] greatly enrich our knowledge of ‘what we used to be like’ as a Fellowship.” (p. xi).
• Many “of the A.A. writers [of the omitted personal stories] got sober . . . in that chaotic period when A.A. was ‘flying blind’ and learning from its many mistakes” (p. xi).
• The first edition’s personal stories omitted from later editions “. . . take us back to the ‘trial and error’ days, . . .” (p. 2).
• “The A.A.s we meet here . . . [were] still largely uneducated about their alcoholism.” (p. 2).
• “Some of the rough edges found in the first edition stories (. . . , for example, references to specific religious beliefs, . . .) would be smoothed out in those chosen for later editions.” (pp. 2-3). [emphasis added in quotes above]

About This Part Two:
How the First Edition and Its Personal Stories, Accompanied by the Dick B. Introduction in the Dover Publications Reprint, Can Really Help Drunks Seek and Be Helped by God

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

1. Experience, Strength & Hope (http://goo.gl/ypDmR). Point to, and boldly state, the fact that all of the personal stories included in the first, second, and third editions are now A.A. General Service Conference-approved. And that it is thus entirely appropriate to quote from them as part of carrying the message today to those who still suffer. This can be done by presenting information from and about those stories directly from the new A.A. General Service Conference-approved publication, Experience, Strength and Hope.

2. Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition, with a new Introduction by Dick B. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 2011) [http://goo.gl/OW5TY]. Use for general reading, authoritative facts, and application of “old-school” A.A. principles today, Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition: With a new Introduction by Dick B. This title will help you use more effectively the first edition’s personal stories that were intended to show how and why the original, “old-school” program—summarized in seven points by Frank Amos in DR.BOB and the Good Oldtimers at page 131—had produced the early successes A.A. claimed (i.e., a 75% success rate overall and a 93% success rate documented in Cleveland). To show how and why those successes were attained by relying on God, accepting His Son Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, obeying God’s will, using the Bible and prayer, and helping others. 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 publication of Alcoholics Anonymous in April 1939.

What You Will Learn from Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition (Dover)

• You will see the facts for yourself as to whether the Big Book language has been changed. (For example, check the wording of Step Twelve in the first printing of the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous.) And you will see that the entire program based on Bill Wilson’s conversion at Calvary Mission and spiritual experience at Towns Hospital was completely altered when the A.A. solution, a “spiritual experience”—see chapter two in the Big Book (“There Is a Solution”)—was replaced with a “spiritual awakening” and “the personality change sufficient to bring about recovery from alcoholism.” [See “Appendix II: Spiritual Experience,” pp. 567-68, in the fourth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous.]

• You will see from the original, first edition personal stories just how many times Jesus 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 personal stories; e.g., the 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.

Part Two: Direct Quotes from Personal Stories
[Using page numbers from Alcoholics Anonymous: The Original 1939 Edition (Dover)]

1. The first story is Dr. Bob’s. And the last page—193—will suffice:

If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you. . . . Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!

2. “The Unbeliever,” pp. 194-205:

I asked him desperately what it was. And he said, “God.”

. . . [I]f I will humble myself, if I will give in and bow in submission to that SOMETHING and then try to lead a life as fully in accord with my idea of good as possible, I will be in tune. And later the word good contracted in his mind to God.

God, have mercy on my soul!

3. “The European Drinker,” pp. 206-16:

You can’t win unless you try God’s way.

. . . [H]e made God seem personal to me, explained Him as a being who was interested in me, the alcoholic, and that all I needed to do was to follow His way; that as long as I followed it I would be able to overcome my desire for liquor.

And he further said that God would not accept me as a sincere follower of His Divine Law unless I was ready to be thoroughly honest about it.

That day I gave my will to God and asked to be directed. . . . So I began to pray; to place my problems in God’s hands.

I have proven to myself and to many others who know me that God can keep a man sober if he will let him.

4. “A Feminine Victory,” pp. 217-25:

The ability to accept them as my own has been derived from trying with the un-ending help of God. . . .

He asked me if I believed in God. . . . Well, I did believe in God. . . .

“Our Father which art in Heaven.”

I had been taught to realize there is a God and to “love” him.

“Here it is God, all mixed up. I don’t know how to un-mix it, I’ll leave it to you”

Finally I . . . briefly asked God to show me how to do what He wanted me today.

Well, I got the Bible and “Victorious Living” [Victorious Living is a book read widely by early AAs and written by E. Stanley Jones—whose books Dr. Bob’s wife recommended as “all good.”] and sitting down in full view of the bottle of whiskey, I commenced to read. I also prayed.

I must keep myself worthy of Divine help.

5. “Our Southern Friend,” pp. 226-41:

Suddenly a thought comes. Can all the worthwhile people I have known be wrong about God?

“Who are you to say there is no God?” It rings in my head. I can’t get rid of it.

I tumble out of bed onto my knees. I know not what I say. But slowly a great peace comes to me. I feel lifted up. I believe in God. I crawl back into bed and sleep like a child.

Today as I become more harmonized within, I become more in tune with all of God’s wonderful creation. . . . [A]nd a host of other things tell me of the glory of God.

And with it, direction by the Spirit of God.

And above all else comes a greater thankfulness to, and a greater love for Our Father in heaven.

6. “A Business Man’s Recovery,” pp. 242-51:

The thing that Bill told me was his own story. . . . I had always believed in God even though I was not a devout church goer.

Crazy as the idea seemed when broached to me by these men who had found it worked, God did come right into my work, when permitted, as He had come into the other activities connected with my life.

7. “Traveler, Editor, Scholar,” pp. 254-64. A.A. itself wrote: “Originally published under the title ‘Traveler, Editor, Scholar’ in the first edition. The title was changed to ‘The News Hawk’ and the story was edited for the second edition.” (Experience, Strength and Hope, 268) (emphasis added)]

I found my friend was there for alcoholism and now he was insisting that he had found the only cure. I listened to him, rather tolerantly. I noticed a Bible on his table and it amazed me. I had never known him to be anything but a good healthy pagan with a propensity for getting into liquor jams and scrapes.

I had never, since the believing days of childhood, been able to conceive an authority directly the universe. But I had never been a flippant, wise-cracking sneerer at the few persons I had met who had impressed me as Christian men and women. . . . No conviction was necessary to establish my status as a miserable failure at managing my own life. I began to read the Bible daily . . .

I can remember the urge of the Prodigal Son to return to his Father. . . .

. . . in those days I had no one to whom I might take my troubles. Today I have. Today I have Someone who will always hear me . . .

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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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