Dick B. Discusses What He Has Found over the Course of His 24 Years of Research
on the July 26, 2013, episode of the “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show
You Can Hear This Radio Show Right Now
You may hear Dick B. discuss some of the things he has found during his 24 years of research on A.A. history and the Christian Recovery Movement here:
Episodes of the “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show are archived at:
At the outset, I want to thank the many A.A. friends and Christian leaders and workers who joined my son Ken and his wife and me in praying for the success of what in fact resulted in the success of my recent surgery at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu. Thanks to you all. Dick B.
Today’s radio show will give you a large number of historical snippets that author Dick B. has unearthed and published on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous and on the Christian Recovery Movement.
It will serve several purposes. First, my son Ken and I are preparing for the series of three conferences to take place in September and October of this year. All are centered around what I’ve found, and how A.A. leaders and writers are using it and improving on it. The topics will be covered either in my own story or in chunks of substantial importance or in the subjects shared by participants in the conferences. Second, we have devoted 24 years to researching, publishing, and widely distributing to 12 Step people, to Christians, and to others in the recovery community the Christian origins and original program of A.A. to the end that these resources can be learned and applied in today’s recovery scene–beginning with A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature as a guide. Third, we want our materials to be seen and digested in small chunks of discoveries–chunks that will more likely be remembered as such but also applied to the whole recovery scene. The last major objective is to follow the suggestion of a Christian A.A. leader and speaker who is preparing a Big Book sponsor’s guide covering the Big Book in detail and showing its relationship to Christianity. But he wanted us to enable him to append a “Where Dick B. Found It” segment that would use bite-by-bite, footnoted, references to actual facts embodied in the A.A., 12 Step, and Big Book story. And in this show, we will tell you part of the large number of A.A. history bites you can find in my own 29-volume A.A. history reference set; and, of course, in the history we have unearthed.
Synopsis of Dick B.’s Talk
Look What Dick B. Found
By Dick B.
Author of The Good Book and the Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible
© 2013 Anonymous. All rights reserved
What the “Forever Books” Are
What are the “Forever Books” about Alcoholics Anonymous? They are those in the 29 volume Alcoholics Anonymous History Reference set by Dick B. Those that give the 12-Step follower (including a speaker, sponsor, newcomer, historian, recovery leader, clergyman, physician, therapist, or writer) an accurate, truthful, comprehensive, cohesive account of the many varieties of programs A.A. has had; the varied roots A.A. has had; the conflicting ideas about A.A. language and texts; and how to meld and utilize them today. And much, much more.
How the “Forever Books” Enable You
to Study a Complete History of A.A. One Bite at a Time
Today, however, the alcoholic who still suffers, and those trying to help him, can study and digest the contents of the Dick B. 29 volume Alcoholics Anonymous History set at the bargain price of $249.00. And they can own the complete history and many little-known but preciously valuable facts that can tell readers “precisely how to recover” as the successful AAs did.
The Importance of Acquiring This Set for Yourself, Your Group, Your Meeting, and Your Fellowship or Facility
After many travels, vast reading, personal interviews, talks at conferences, and research, I have come to know thousands of Christians, believers in God, students of the Bible, and alcoholic AAs who are hungry to remain in A.A. To tell others the golden text of A.A. To pass along the vitally gathered history of where A.A. came from, where it acquired its ideas and program, how the program has many different approaches and has changed with the years, and how the history can be applied to enhance 12 Step fellowship prospects today and eradicate some grossly absurd or dangerous ideas that have sprung from sources outside A.A. or nonsensical “wisdom of the rooms.”
What’s missing today? Now look at What Dick B. Found about A.A.?
(1) An understanding of the fact and details that A.A. had Christian origins applicable today.
(2) A knowledge of the basic ideas from the Bible that formed the foundation for the early Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship program and Bill W.’s new version in the 12 Steps.
(3) A knowledge of how Bill Wilson’s grandfather Wilson had a mountaintop religious
experience, was saved, and was cured of alcoholism for the remaining 8 years of his life.
(4) A knowledge that both Rowland Hazard and Ebby Thacher were converted to God through accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior—two men that had much to do with the Oxford Group ideas Bill later codified in the 12 Steps.
(5) A knowledge that Dr. William D. Silkworth told his patient Bill W. that the “Great Physician” Jesus Christ could cure him of his alcoholism.
(6) A knowledge that Bill Wilson soon thereafter went to the altar at Calvary Mission in New York and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior—as confirmed by 4 people.
(7) A knowledge that Bill wrote in his own autobiography: “For sure, I’d been born again.”
(8) A knowledge of the “golden text of A.A.” which Bill wrote in what is now the 4th edition of Alcoholics Anonymous: “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.”
(9) An understanding that, when Bill had his vital religious experience in his Towns Hospital room, he saw a blazing, indescribably white light fill his room; sensed the presence of Spirit; thought: “Bill, you are a free man. This is the God of the Scriptures;” stopped doubting God; and never drank again.
(10) A knowledge of the prayer meeting in Akron prior to the meeting of Bob and Bill and prior to the founding of A.A. in June, 1935, where Dr. Bob and his friends dropped to their knees and prayed for his deliverance from alcoholism.
(11) A knowledge that Dr. Bob (after he met Bill in Akron and after Bill moved in with Dr. Bob and his family in the summer of 1935) had heard Bill say he was cured of alcoholism, and (after his own last drink) himself said that he had been cured of alcoholism, and then ended his personal story in the Big Book: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”
(12) A knowledge of how, immediately upon his discharge from Towns Hospital, Bill ran around feverishly to the Bowery, flea bag hotels, Bellevue Hospital, Towns Hospital, Oxford Group meetings, and drunks in the street; and that Bill had a Bible under his arm, telling every drunk he could find that he must give his life to God—with Bill’s then relating his own story.
(13) The growing proof that Bill’s friend Ebby Thacher never said to Bill: “choose your own conception of God” and that this alleged language was written by an unidentified hand and inserted in the typed Big Book printer’s manuscript just before the Big Book went to press.
(14) A knowledge that Bill, his wife Lois,, and others were constantly going to Oxford Group meetings immediately after Bill was discharged from Towns Hospital in December, 1934; that Bill participated in a Calvary Church processional led by Rev. Shoemaker—with a member carrying a sign “Jesus Christ changes lives—and went to Madison Square, got on a soap box, and witnessed to others.
(15) Knowing that it was Rev. Samuel Shoemaker, Jr., who urged Bill—even when Bill was, at first, getting nobody sober—to work with drunks, witness, and continue to do so. Just as Bill then did when he went to Akron and relentlessly sought a drunk to help there.
(16) A knowledge of the real origins of the “Four Absolutes” in the writings of professors Robert E. Speer and Henry B. Wright.
(17) A knowledge of the biblical origins of A.A. expressions like First Things First, Easy Does It, One Day at a Time, and But for the Grace of God.
(18) A knowledge of the critical necessity and importance of hospitalization for early AAs.
(19) A knowledge of the influence of the Oxford Group’s 5 C’s (Confidence, Confession, Conviction, Conversion, and Continuance) on A.A.’s 12 Step content.
(20) The wide participation in and observance of (by varied pre-A.A. Christians) of “Quiet Time,” “Quiet Hour,” “Morning Watch,” and devotionals like The Runner’s Bible, Upper Room, My Utmost for His Highest among A.A.’s sources; how those meditation practices and tools found their way into the original Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship program, and then into the Eleventh Step of Bill’s new version of the program in the 1939 Steps.
(21) A knowledge of the content and purpose of regarding as “absolutely essential” the Book of James, Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13
(22) An understanding and knowledge of how much the Christian upbringing of Bill and Bob influenced the original Akron A.A. program as well as Bill’s “new version” embodied in the Twelve Steps.
(23) An understanding of exactly how and why the first three AAs got sober.
(24) An understanding of the whole panoply of pre-A.A. influences in Vermont—influences of Ebby Thacher, Rowland Hazard, F. Shepard Cornell, Cebra Graves, Cebra’s father Judge Graves, Rev. Sidney K. Perkins, Bertha Bamford and her family, Mark Whalon, the Griffith family, the Wilson family, even the Burnham family of Lois Wilson.
(25) A realization that A.A. ultimately adopted effective principles and practices that were used and typical long before A.A. in: (a) the Young Men’s Christian Association, (b) the Gospel Rescue Missions; (c) the “Great Awakening of 1875” in St. Johnsbury, Vermont; (d) Congregationalism; (e) the great evangelists like Dwight L. Moody, Ira Sankey, Francis Clark, Allen Folger, F. B. Meyer, Amos Wells and Henry Drummond; the United Christian Endeavor Society; and later the Oxford Group itself
(26) A knowledge of the Christian training, biblical studies, sermons, Scripture reading, hymns, church services, and prayer meetings that Dr. Bob and later Bill W. attended or participated in.
(27) A knowledge that the Academies (St. Johnsbury for Dr. Bob; Burr and Burton Seminary for Bill; and Norwich University for Bill) had daily chapel; that this included sermons, reading of Scripture, prayers, and hymns; that all students were required to attend church (usually a Congregational one), and a Bible study; that Bill W. took a four year Bible study course at Burr and Burton Seminary; that Dr. Bob and his family were much involved in the Young Men’s Christian Association, that Bill was president of the Burr and Burton YMCA, and his girl-friend Bertha was president of the YWCA there.
(28) Learning the original Akron A.A. Christian fellowship Group Number One program, summarized in 7 points, and printed on page 131 of DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers.
(29) The sixteen practices of the Akron A.A. pioneers that implemented the 7 point program; and are laid out in “Stick with the Winners” by Dick B. and Ken B.
(30) The contents of the journal and the morning quiet times of Anne Ripley Smith (Dr. Bob’s wife), who recorded in and taught from them during 1933-1939 the principles and practices she gleaned from the Bible, Oxford Group, and Christian literature she recommended.
(31) The specific principles and ideas found in the large number of books read by Dr. Bob, recommended by him, and distributed by him to the early Akron A.A. pioneers.
(32) The specific ideas of early A.A. that Bill W. gleaned from the writings of Professor William James on the variety of religious experiences.
(33) The essence of what Dr. Carl Jung told Rowland Hazard, and later Bill W., about conversion as a possible solution to alcoholism for those with the mind of a chronic alcoholic that had rendered them “medically” incurable.
(34) The immense influences of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. on Bill Wilson’s formulation of his new version of the A.A. recovery program.
(35) The fact that Bill Wilson asked Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. to write the Twelve Steps; but that Shoemaker declined, telling Bill they should be written by an alcoholic, namely Bill.
(36) The real picture of what Shoemaker did, wrote, and said about the ideas of the Big Book and Steps.
(37) The immense influence of some 28 Oxford Group ideas which, like the Shoemaker ideas, found their way into the actual language of the Big Book and Steps.
(38) The exact details of and their sources on the subject of Quiet Time.
(39) The position of the early Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship on belief in God, and on “surrender” to Him through accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
(40) The sources and meaning of the strange phrases like “higher power,” “Power greater than ourselves,” “God as we understood Him,” “spirituality,” and “spiritual but not religious.”
(41) The cures that early Akron AAs claimed, wrote about, and widely publicized.
(42) The nonsense gods, self-made religion, and half-baked prayers that emerged after the changes in the Big Book text; the new language introduced in 1939 in the wording of the Twelve Steps; the original view of Bill on God (using an unqualified and undeniable description of “the God of the Scriptures”); and the compromise with atheists and agnostics that took place just before the Big Book went to print in 1939.
(43) The rapid growth, exact program, and recorded successes of the Cleveland A.A. group founded by Clarence Snyder in 1939.
(44) The best information on the “counting of noses” in 1937, the success rates Bill and Bob counted and recorded thereafter, and the real early Akron A.A. group success record.
(45) The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous.
(46) The testimonies of Christian deliverance found in the personal stories of the pioneers in the First Edition of the Big Book—stories that were removed from AAs’ view for years.
(47) The importance of the First Edition of the Big Book when Bill’s new version of the program is compared with what the pioneers testified had happened in the personal stories.
(48) The importance and purpose of the personal stories in the Big Book, and the restoration of these to a conference-approved book many many years after early A.A.
(49) The practices of First Century Christians as recorded in the Book of Acts.
(50) The various people—including some Congregational leaders, the Rockefeller group, Frank Amos, Lois Wilson, and Dr. Bob–who specifically likened the principles and practices of the First Century Christians to the early Akron pioneer group which Dr. Bob called a “Christian Fellowship.”
(51) The heart of the Christian Endeavor program in which Dr. Bob and his family were involved in St. Johnsbury, and how much early A.A. principles and practices seem to have embodied that program in both the Akron A.A. program itself, and in their special “Christian technique” (as Rockefeller’s agent Frank Amos described it).
(52) The emphasis on daily prayers, listening to the Word of God, witnessing, breaking bread together, gathering in the homes and temple daily, the healings, and the conversions and growth in numbers of the First Century Christians.
(53) The many comparisons of early Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship practices as well as those of the Congregational churches of the Bill W.-Dr. Bob youth to those of First Century Christianity.
(54) The frequency of biblical words like God, Creator, Maker, Father, Heavenly Father, Father of Lights, and God of our fathers in the Big Book in all editions.
(55) The critical importance of beginning one’s journey on the path to recovery by mastering the contents of A.A. General Services Conference-approved literature such as the Big Book, The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous Pamphlet P-53, RHS—the Grapevine Memorial on Dr. Bob’s death, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, “Pass It On,” The Language of the Heart, and the Best of the Grapevine editions..
(56) How to restore, incorporate, apply, and utilize “old school” Akron A.A. principles and practices in 12-Step programs today for those who are Christians, want God’s help, or want to learn and know what pioneer AAs did to attain complete cures they claimed.
(57) Why the new “broad highway” open to atheists and agnostics and those of other than Christian religious persuasions in no way excludes their unbelieving views or excludes the privileges of Christians and other believers in God to seek His help and healing as the “abc’s” of A.A. clearly suggest can be done.
(58) The evidence—underlined by the numerous statements by William D. Silkworth, M.D.–that alcoholism and addiction can be cured by the power of God versus the claims that these maladies are still incurable and the borrowed from Richard Peabody allegation that–as occurred in the case of the “choose your own conception of god” insertion once again “added”) that “once an alcoholic always an alcoholic”—despite the crystal clear statements by both Bill Wilson and Bill Dotson (A.A. Number Three) on page 191 of the 4th edition of the Big Book that “the Lord” had “cured” them of their terrible disease.
(59) How to cope with the insults, intimidation, and attacks of various AAs in A.A. meetings when an A.A. Christian or believer mentions God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, or religion.
(60) Using Conference-approved literature to phrase and frame such defensive but warranted remarks.
(61) Learning the real answer to the efforts within A.A. groups to ban or prevent the use and mention of any but “conference-approved literature.”
(62) Learning the relevance of the Twelve Traditions (including the Long Form) in dealing with comments about what AAs can believe, can read, can study, and can discuss in their meetings.
(63) Using the powerful expression “a loving God as He may express Himself” when opening, conducting, deciding, and recording an “informed group conscience” by a group.
(64) Understanding the number of times, A.A.’s own literature emphasizes that there are no laws, rulers, rules, governors, officers, trustees, or employees who control or decide what A.A. members and groups and meetings can discuss, read, or bring to meetings.
(65) Understanding there is no “index of forbidden books,” no “Conference-disapproved” literature in the A.A. lexicon, and nothing in the phrase “conference-approved” that bestows control of groups and reading by A.A. officers, employees, delegates, office managers, and trustees.
(66) Dealing with listings in A.A. meeting schedules when notifying A.A. offices of the name of a group, its purpose, and what it will conduct.
(67) Knowing the amount of A.A.-related literature that is published, distributed, sold, and discussed—literature like the Cleveland Central Bulletin, the AA of Akron pamphlets, the Bible, books about A.A. sources, the founders of A.A., the way to “take” the Steps,” what the meaning of words and phrases in the Big Book and A.A. literature is.
(68) Knowing exactly what the founders and early AAs did, wrote, and said that can help today and yet is often spurned, criticized, or hindered in use by A.A. members who mistakenly or intentionally cite some alleged Tradition or “Conference-approved” rule.
(69) In A.A. meetings, groups, and conferences, the things that newcomers are missing today.
(70) In A.A. meetings, groups, and conferences the things that sponsors are not doing today.
(71) In the A.A. fellowship today, how newcomers can be introduced effectively to the vital parts of all these principles.
(72) In the A.A. fellowship today, how AAs themselves can be urged to script and use more effective orientation, indoctrination, or beginner’s meetings to start the newcomer off on his path with a full quiver of arrows.
(73) Knowledge of the variety of viewpoints on the origins of the Twelve Steps—those of Bill Wilson, those of Dr. Bob, those of A.A. “cofounder” Rev. Sam Shoemaker, and others.
(74) Knowledge of the exact contributing sources to the language of the Big Book and Twelve Steps.
(75) And there are more!
Surely there will be much more reading, study, and research in the future. Not only by me, but also by those who recognize that the lacuna has not been filled and is still voluminous. A.A. frequently publishes promotional materials, pamphlets, guidelines, and other writings that are not binding on any person, meeting, group, or conference. But A.A. never intended to write a complete history or become a research organization, nor did Bill W. or Dr. Bob or practically all the “historians” that have dipped their toes into this or that subject. Or, if they tried, they left out subjects intentionally, failed to do the extensive traveling and interviewing necessary to a reliable account, or were not willing to consult with colleagues and researchers for more information before pushing their own particular subject and attendant conclusions.
Relapses, recidivism, “slips,” and further “returns” to the bottle or needle are commonplace today—in and outside of A.A., treatment, and religious endeavors, and probably always have been. But that does not mean they are the norm, the aim, the goal, or the desired result. Early AAs were pressed to be “teetotalers.” Later they were urged to attain the status of “recovered” and to tell precisely how they recovered. They were also invited to tell, from their own standpoint and their own language, how they established their relationship with God. Their solution—as embodied in page 25 of the Fourth Edition of the Big Book—does not include failure. It includes what the Creator can do when sought.