Dick B. Speaks on A.A. History Epochs–1935 to 1939 on the January 28, 2014, episode of the “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show
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You may hear Dick B. speak about Alcoholics Anonymous History Epochs–1935 to 1939 here:
Episodes of the “Christian Recovery Radio with Dick B.” show are archived at:
This evening’s talk is intended to be a small preview of some of the major content which we will call “the rest of the story” in our forthcoming video series titled “Bill W., Dr. Bob, and the Cure of Alcoholism: The Rest of the Story.” Shortly, we will have completed six videos and an accompanying guidebook that will visually and audibly fill in important blank spots in the recording of A.A. history and the Christian Recovery Movement that has already been done. The gaps have occurred in books, articles, forums, tapes, movies, YouTube videos, and other media.
Perhaps the gap has occurred because A.A. itself has never claimed to be a research organization. And almost all of its historical literature derives from the writings of Bill Wilson who has been dead for more than 40 years and himself wrote many books and articles covering various ideas he deemed important.
This first preview will cover what we call “the rest of the story” as to how Bill Wilson attained sobriety and was able to build the structure of ending drinking by alcoholics, suggesting they rely on the Creator for help, and then arguing persuasively that those who got well immediately put a high priority on helping others get well by the same means.
In the ensuing years, A.A. has undergone a number of epochs which expanded or altered the recovery techniques originally used. And we will be handling what might be numbered as five by the time the first edition of A.A.’s Big Book was published in April 1939. The first technique was simply the action taken by the first three AAs at the time when they were relying for answers in the Bible, and had no 12 Steps, no 12 Traditions, no Big Books, no drunkalogs, or meetings (as we know them today).
Alcoholics Anonymous History Epochs – 1935 to 1939
Programs of Recovery that AAs Used – And When!
© 2014 Anonymous. All rights reserved
The Epoch of A.A.’s Founding and the Founding of A.A.’s First Group—Akron Number One– When the First Three AAs Had Each Achieved Permanent Sobriety
A Summary of how and when Bill Wilson was cured in his final Towns Hospital visit:
The first event occurred during Bill Wilson’s third hospitalization at Towns Hospital when Bill, his wife, and Dr. Silkworth had a conversation about the “Great Physician.”
Silkworth had just told Bill that if he didn’t stop drinking he would die or become insane.
Pressed for some solution, Silkworth told Bill that the Great Physician could cure Bill’s alcoholism.
Bill’s old schoolmate and drinking friend Ebby Thacher appeared quite soon thereafter. Ebby told Bill he had been to the altar at Calvary Mission, “got religion,” and “God had done for him what he could not do for himself.” Bill said Ebby “talked about a personal God” and “told me how he had found Him.” He “described to me how I might do the same thing and convinced me utterly that something had come into his life which had accomplished a miracle. The man was transformed; there was no denying he had been reborn.” And Bill checked out Ebby’s story when he went to Calvary Church and heard Ebby give his testimony from the pulpit.
Bill decided that if the Great Physician had done what He did for Ebby, perhaps he could do the same thing for Bill at the Mission. Bill went to the altar at Calvary Mission, prayed with one of the brothers, and was reported by three eye-witnesses to have accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Mrs. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. (wife of the rector of Calvary Church) told Dick B. on the phone that she “was there when Bill made that decision for Christ.” Bill had told his wife Lois what had happened at the Mission; and Lois stated in a talk in Dallas. Texas that “he went up, and really in great sincerity, did hand over his life to Christ.” Shoemaker’s assistant minister Rev. W. Irving Harris sent to Dick B. his own type-written memorandum and stated: “It was at a meeting at Calvary Mission that Bill himself was moved to declare that he had decided to launch out as a follower of Jesus Christ. Bill himself twice confirmed his rebirth in these words: “For sure I’d been born again.” And, in a letter to Bill’s brother-in-law Dr. Leonard Strong which inspected at Stepping Stones, Bill wrote that he, like Ebby, had “found religion.” Lois Wilson wrote: “Although my joy and faith in his rebirth continued, I missed our companionship.”
But Bill encountered still another challenge. He not only got drunk but became depressed and despondent. And, as he reached the end of his rope on the way to Towns Hospital for help, he said: “If there be a Great Physician, I’ll call on him.” And this was followed by Bill’s well known “vital religious experience” in his Towns Hospital room.
Though varied in the way he told the facts, the account involved these events. First, Bill cried out, “If there be a God, let Him show himself.” Second, almost instantly his room as ablaze with an indescribably white light. Third, Bill sensed he was on a mountain top he had not climbed and that he felt the breeze of the Spirit. Fourth, he thought: “Bill, you are a free man. This is the God of the Scriptures.”
Bill was cured. He never drank again. He never again doubted the existence of God. And he confirmed the validity of his religious experience with Dr. Silkworth and by spending most of a day reading accounts of such experiences in the missions by Professor William James in his book Varieties of Religious Experience. Bill believed he had been commissioned to help all the drunks in the world. And, upon his discharge from the hospital, with a Bible under his arm, rushed out to drunks on the streets, in mental wards, in Towns Hospital, in fleabag hotels, and even in Oxford Group meetings telling them that they needed to give their lives to God. And his story is the one that is found on page 191 of even the latest 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.”
By about December 14, 1934: Bill Wilson had been to the altar at Calvary Mission, had been born again, had checked into Towns Hospital, had cried out to God for help, had had his room blaze with an indescribably white light, and had said to himself: “Bill, you are a free man. This is the God of the Scriptures.” And Bill never drank again. He wrote in the Big Book that “the Lord” had cured him.