Biography of Author Dick B. – Updated December 24, 2013
I am an author, A.A. historian, retired attorney, Bible student, CDAAC, Christian recovery leader, and an active, recovered member of Alcoholics Anonymous with more than 27 years of continuous sobriety. I use the pen name Dick B. to conform to A.A. Traditions. I have sponsored over 100 men in their recovery program.
I began my quest to learn A.A. History when I was about three years sober. A young AA named John came up to me in an A.A. Step Study Meeting in Marin County, California. He said: “Dick, did you know that A.A. came from the Bible. They were so fond of the Book of James that they first wanted to call A.A. “The James Club.” I said: “John, I have been to more than a thousand meetings; and I have never heard that statement made.” John said I should read A.A.’s own “DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers.” And I did. And the pages were surfeited with mention of God, the Bible, prayer, Quiet Time, their Christian Fellowship, their required belief in God, their required acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in order to come to Him. And I was intrigued, excited, and off to the races.
Joined by my son Ken (a non-alcoholic, ordained minister, teacher, researcher, and businessman):As of September,2013, I had, for more than 24 years, been researching the origins, history, Christian upbringing of A.A. cofounders Dr. Bob and Bill W., how the first three AAs got sober, the original Akron A.A. Group Number One–a Christian fellowship, the literature of and by AAs, the founding of Akron A.A. in 1935, the new version of the program of Twelve Steps in the Big Book first published in 1939, the basic ideas that the original Akron AAs took and developed from their teachings, studies, and efforts in the Bible; the fundamental roots of early A.A. in the Bible, United Christian Endeavor, the Salvation Army, the Rescue Missions, the Young Men’s Christian Association, the evangelists of the 1800’s, later, the life-changing program of A First Century Christian Fellowship also known as the Oxford Group, the teachings of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Quiet Time, the teachings of Anne Ripley Smith (Dr. Bob’s wife), and the roles of William James, Carl Jung, William D. Silkworth, Christian literature and devotionals of the day, and the conversion to God when Bill W. accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at Calvary Mission in New York, followed by Bill’s decision to seek the help of the “Great Physician” (Jesus Christ); Bill’s checking in to Towns Hospital, crying out to God for help, and then having his blazing indescribably white light vital religious experience in his hospital room, his sensing the presence of God, and his conclusion: “Bill, you are a free man. This is the God of the Scriptures.” Bill stopped drinking at once, lost all doubts he had about the existence of God, and believed he had been commissioned to help drunks all over the world. He was discharged from the hospital, went into the streets, hospitals, and flea bag hotels with a Bible under his arm, telling drunks they must give their lives to God, and relating that “the Lord had been so wonderful to [Bill] curing him of his terrible disease that he just wanted to keep talking about it and telling people”. These were the beginnings of the research and then turned into a major search for the original program, the practices of its pioneer members, the proof of their testimonies, and the astonishing successes they achieved.
Of late, the research and writing has shifted emphasis: Now that we know the astonishing successes of early Akron AAs can be attributed to the power and love of God and the truth of His Word, the challenge and accomplishments have been and are how to encourage today’s alcoholics and addicts to see, learn, and apply the techniques of the early Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship, and succeed in like manner. That is, if they want God’s help and realize they neither they nor any other human power has been able to cure and release them. And, in all, I have published 46 titles and over 1,500 articles on all aspects of A.A.’s spiritual history, biblical roots, Christian beginnings, and the many changes that occurred thereafter. And why? Because many in the 12 Step Fellowships tire of hearing about nonsense gods and a ‘higher power’ that can be a tree, a radiator, a light bulb, the group, or Gertrude. And they tire of seeing Biblical expressions in A.A.’s basic text and early literature and yet hearing today’s literature stating that A.A. is ‘spiritual, but not religious’ and “not-god-ness” when outsiders and the courts readily see its religious character and many therefore believe they should be able to learn A.A. Christian roots to help them recover from alcoholism, change their lives, and make new victorious lives for themselves.
And they tire of the fatalism that abounds in recovery writings and talk today. So I decided to find out where A.A. came from, and then pass on to the 100-plus men I have sponsored and then tens of thousands of others, the truth about A.A.’s roots. And later some 4 million readers and viewers.
Currently and still today, one history after another appears in print and purports to talk about A.A.’s beginnings. Yet there is little or no mention of the Bible, of God, of Jesus Christ, of the gift of the Holy Spirit, of divine healing, of redemptive forgiveness, or of deliverance from the power of darkness. Nonetheless, these unmentioned or little mentioned Christian elements were relied upon by early AAs for their astonishing recoveries. The fact is that the pioneers declared they were cured by the power of God and had a documented 75 to 93% success rate among seemingly hopeless, medically incurable, alcoholics who gave the program their best shot.
So each of my 46 published titles and innumerable articles covers some aspect, and often more than one, of A.A.’s seven major Biblical and basic roots: (1) The Bible. (2) Quiet Time and the daily devotionals. (3) The teachings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker, Jr. (4) The life-changing program of the Oxford Group. (5) The details in the spiritual journal kept by Anne Ripley Smith (co-founder DR. Bob’s wife) and shared with the pioneers and their families, but unmentioned today. (6) The extensive Christian literature ranging from St. Augustine to Brother Lawrence to Henry Drummond to John Mott to Harry Emerson Fosdick to Glenn Clark to Oswald Chambers, and a host of others. (7) One of the most recent finds has been the roots of Akron A.A. in the United Christian Endeavor Society.
If one wants to admit the disastrous results emanating from excessive use of alcohol and drugs, to concede he is at the bottom of the well, to acknowledge that he is in a seemingly hopeless medically incurable situation, and to understand the role, power, and love of God our Creator in A.A. today, that person will not accomplish much in the meetings, nor even in the “something” or “somebody” definitions that are pumped out today as a “power” to seek. Nonetheless, they can find accurate facts in my thoroughly researched and documented work of the past 24 years. For A.A. history abounds with truths from the Bible: how to come to God through His son Jesus Christ, how to be healed, how to comport yourself in accordance with Christian principles, how to pray, and how to receive guidance as one of God’s kids. It’s all there; and I welcome your comments and the many I receive each day.
There’s still plenty to learn and pass on. God Bless, Dick B. PS: Many of our latest findings are in The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide, 3rd ed., (2010) www.dickb.com/Christian-Recov-Guide.shtml. Many are frequently posted on my blogs such as www.mauihistorian.blogspot.com, as well as my Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Tumbler, Pinterest, WordPress, In the Rooms, Daily Recovery, Christian Recovery Social, CyberRecoverySocial, www.DrBob.info, and Hub Pages entries. I conduct interviews of recovered Christian leaders with great frequency on the “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show–www.ChristianRecoveryRadio.com.