Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Guide for Beginners’ Recovery from Alcoholism and Addiction Today

The Guide for Beginners’ Recovery from Alcoholism and Addiction Today

By Applying Old School Akron A.A. in Today’s Recovery Scene

Dick B.

© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved


Summary of the Stages of Healing Techniques, Beginning with the Apostles, and How They Lived Their Lives--Praying, Witnessing, converting others, healing,  fellowshipping in homes and  temple, and breaking bread together

How Recovery “Christian techniques” Began to be employed in the manner of First Century Christian Fellowships

The Turning by Christian groups in the 1850’s to Ministering to the “Unworthy”

The Christian Entities That Led the Way

Christian Revivals in the Upbringing of A.A.’s Co-founders

[The Great Revival of 1876 in St. Johnsbury]

Congregationalism in Vermont and in the Families of A.A.’s Co-founders

Participation of Grandparents and Parents

Church, Sunday School, Sermons, Reading of Scripture, Hymns, Prayer Meetings, Young Men’s Christian Association, Christian Endeavor Societies

The Congregational Domination of Academies Attended by Dr. Bob, Bill W., and Ebby Thacher; and the Christian Practices Required of Students

The Spiral Downward (glass in hand) by Dr. Bob and by Bill W. as They Departed for College


The Early Formative Days for Alcoholics and Addicts

How the First Three AAs Got Sober

A.A. Number One. Bill W. became born again at Calvary Chapel in New York. Then Bill was cured of his alcoholism at Towns Hospital when Bill cried out to God for help, there experienced a blazing indescribably white light in his hospital room, and concluded, “Bill, you are a free man. This is the God of the Scriptures.” Bill never again doubted the existence of God, and never drank again.

On a rug on the floor of the home of T. Henry Williams, Dr. Bob (the alcoholic) had joined a small group of friends in prayer for his deliverance from alcoholism. A miraculous phone call soon emerged from the prayers. Bill W., a stranger, phoned Henrietta Seiberling seeking a drunk to work with. She introduced two men (Bill W. and Dr. Bob) at her home; and, after a six hour talk, the two men were bound to the principle of serving others. But Dr. Bob had yet to be cured. Before long, after a bender, Dr. Bob undertook scheduled surgery. Bill and Bob’s family were concerned that Bob was too shaky to operate. But Bob proceeded. He told Bill he had placed the surgery and his life in God’s hands. The operation was a success. Dr. Bob was cured then and there of his drinking problem and said so. It was June 10, 1935; and Bob never drank again.

Bill W. and Dr. Bob  visited attorney Bill D. in Akron City Hospital, persuaded him to admit to his seemingly hopeless alcoholism. Bill D. got on his knees and gave his life to God. He also promised to help others get well. And he walked out of the hospital a free man. He never drank again. And Bill W. announced that the date was July 4. 1935—the founding of Akron Group Number One.

All three men had renounced liquor for good. They believed in God and were students of the Bible. They were Christians. And in their darkest hours, they sought God’s help for their ascent from the abyss.


The First Program of Recovery

The pioneers soon developed a recovery program consisting of seven points; investigated by Rockefeller agent Frank Amos and reported on page 131 of DR. Bob and the Good Oldtimers. The summarized seven points are accompanied in our book, Stick with the Winners and details the 16 principles and  practices the pioneers used to implement the seven point program published in A.A. literature; and Dick B. and his son Ken B. have set forth their summary of those principles and practices. In Stick with the Winners! How to Conduct More Effective  12-Step Recovery Meetings Using Conference-Approved Literature: A Dick B. Guide for Christian Leaders and Workers in the Recovery Arena. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., (2012). Dick and his son Ken have set forth on pages 27-38, with documentation those 16 principles and practices


The Next Major Program Development Was the Remarkable Cleveland Program Offshoot and Its Top Success

There are five reliable summaries of the Cleveland application of old school A.A.

(1) They are Our A.A. Legacy to the Faith Community For Those Who Want to Believe, By Three Clarence Snyder Sponsee-Old-timers and Their Wives: Compiled and Edited by Dick B. (Winter Park, FL: Came to Believe Publications, 2005.) The three author-couples were sponsored by Clarence, sponsored many others, put on retreats organized by Clarence, and were at his side for many years until his death. And, after Clarence died, they later devoted almost a year to interviews, phone calls, correspondence, and manuscript work with Dick B. It is widely used by AAs, at the retreats, and by hundreds who use it as a guide to A.A. and how to take its steps.


(2) Dick B. spoke at many retreats with Grace Snyder. He and his son Ken B. interviewed Grace extensively, and reviewed such books, papers, and records owned by Clarence as Grace made available when Dick and Ken spent a week at the Grace Snyder home in Florida. And her biography  is That Amazing Grace: The Role of Clarence and Grace S. in Alcoholics Anonymous published by Paradise Research Publications, Inc. (Kihei, HI Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1996. It was authored by Dick B.


(3)  The next significant Snyder book was written by Mitchell K. and titled How It Worked: The Story of Clarence H. Snyder and the Early Days of Alcoholics Anonymous in Cleveland (1991). Mitchell had been sponsored by Clarence, gained possession of most of Clarence’s papers, and told the story of Clarence and Cleveland quite well.



There were some principal points that Grace and Mitchell made clear to me. They incorporated these in their writings about the Cleveland fellowship founded by Clarence in 1939. And  these are the important parts of A.A. history Clarence brought with him to Cleveland: (Big Book, Twelve Steps, “most of the old program” including the Four Absolutes and the Bible). The “old program” which included belief in God, surrender to Him through Jesus Christ, study of the Bible, visiting newcomers, particularly in the hospital; and participating in a great deal of fellowship—including sports, choir, braking bread, dances, and group prayer.

            In Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age: A Brief History of A.A. pp. 21-22, Bill  W. described what Cleveland had done with “most of the old school A.A.” program,” and wrote:


We old-timers in New York and Akron had regarded this fantastic phenomenon with deep misgivings. Had it not taken us four whole years, littered with countless failures, to produce even a hundred good recoveries? Yet here in Cleveland we now say about twenty members, not very experienced themselves, suddenly confronted by hundreds of newcomers as a result of the Plain Dealer articles. How could they possibly manage? We did not know. But a year later we did know for by then Cleveland had about thirty groups and several hundred members. . . . Yes, Cleveland’s results were of the best.


Bill W.’s new book and “New Version of the Program” the Twelve Steps

No sooner did the presentation of the Akron Christian Fellowship practices and accomplishment take place, than Bill W. wanted a book, hospitals, and missionaries. But his proposal failed with the Akron group. He did gain approval of the book by a slim vote; but he began writing untethered as to its contents. Dr. Bob had merely commented: “Keep it simple!” And Bill’s product came up with the “new version”—the one that enabled the original or “First” manuscript draft to be written and circulated. But the AAs felt a story or case history was needed—evidence in the form of living proof, written testimonials of the membership.

But there was dissension. For example, Fitz M., the Episcopal minister’s son and the  second man to recover at Towns Hospital constantly traveled to reinforce the position that the book ought to be Christian in the doctrinal sense of the word and should say so. Fitz favored using Biblical terms and expressions to make this clear. But the atheists and agnostics, were still to make a tremendously important contribution, said Bill. The protesters, led by Bill W.’s friend Henry, were for deleting the word “God” from the book entirely. Henry had come to believe in some sort of “universal power.” He wanted a psychological book

There was still argument about the Twelve Steps. Bill wrote: “All this time I had refused to budge on these steps. I would not change a word of the original draft, in which I had consistently used the word “God.’ But praying on one’s knees was still a big affront to Henry. He argued, he begged, he threatened. . . He was positive we would scare off alcoholics by the thousands when they read those Twelve Steps. A detour was fashioned. Bill pointed out that the steps could be made suggestive only.

And the totally compromised draft of the First Edition manuscript was chopped up by a committee of four—Wilson, Hank Parkhurst, Fitz, and the secretary, Ruth Hock. And then an endless number of parties took a crack at it. The Multilith was the name given for the text of the, working manuscript. And it contained “accepted” changes, “rejected” changes, the marginalia, and the “proof sheet” changes. Later editors insisted that it was badly mangled. But a bidder at auction paid almost a million dollars for the manuscript. Then it was published for sale as The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of “Alcoholics Anonymous”  (Center City, MN, Hazelden, 2010).

And, though there are suspect additions, and many hand-written opinions and suggestions, one can look at the Hazelden publication and see the manuscript that contained the First Edition of the Big Book, published by Works Publishing Company in New York

There was a huge compromise in Bill’s 12 Step version. And regardless how you regarded the great compromise, it proposed language such as describing God as a “Power greater than ourselves and inserting the words “God as we understood Him”

So the real “new version” of the program and its steps were compromised in tenor and purpose. In Bill’s language, “God was certainly there is our Steps, but He was now expressed in terms that anybody—anybody at all—could accept and try, , , , “Such were the final concessions to those of little or no faith. . . so all who suffer might pass through, regardless of their belief or lack of belief.”


The Present Program as Embodied in the Several Published Manuscripts That Has Left God in the Dust

Was He a “power?” Could He merely be described as a “Power greater than ourselves?” Was He a light bulb or Big Dipper as some frequently said? Could you –with the stroke of a pen--change God into someone or something anyone or anything could expect to heal him?

 Jim H., probably the A.A. with the most sobriety when he died, once said to me: “Dick. If you take God out of A.A., you have nothing.”

Should a newcomer hear that he should pray to nothing for help? That he need believe in nothing for rescue? That A.A. is just about not-god-ness? That he can select a rock, a chair, a door knob, a table, or some undefined “higher power” for healing?

We think the newcomer needs to hear the whole story and not just about rocks and tables, higher powers, light bulbs, or “nothing at all” and expect to be cured of alcoholism with such an approach. Or should he hear the rest of the story and believe affirm what his basic text claims: that the Creator of the heavens and the earth could have, would be able to wield, can, and does have more power than any product of man’s mind, book, or hands?

You decide.



Friday, December 07, 2012

Alcoholics Anonymous and the Bible - 3 books for you

A.A. and the Bible


Three Excellent Books for Your Holiday Season


All three are now available in print on demand and electronic form


Dick B.

Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved


At long last, AAs and Christians in recovery are recognizing the importance in recovery of what Dr. Bob said in his last major talk about the major importance of the Bible in A.A. recovery.


In The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks, A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob is quoted as follows on page 13:


In early A.A. days. . . our stories didn’t amount to anything to speak of. When we started in on Bill D. [A.A. Number Three], we had no Twelve Steps either; we had no Traditions.


            But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book.


To some of us older ones, the parts that we found absolutely essential were the Sermon on the Mount, the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and the Book of  James.


Page 14 underlines the continuity of the Bible’s importance. It quotes Dr. Bob as follows:


It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and studies that had been going on were crystallized in the form of the Twelve Steps. I didn’t write the Twelve Steps. I had nothing to do with the writing of them.


We already had the basic ideas, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book.


The “Good Book,” of course, was the Bible that both Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson had studied during their Christian upbringing in Vermont, in church, Sunday school, in their homes, in the daily chapel at their academies, in the Young Men’s Christian Association, and – in Bill’s case – in the four-year Bible study course he took while a student at Burr and Burton Seminary in Manchester, Vermont.


These facts first propelled me into a study of A.A.’s Bible roots. They caused me to research what Dr. Bob and Bill and Bob’s wife and Henrietta Seiberling and T. Henry and Clarace Williams—as well as many pioneers in their First Edition Big Book Stories—said about how and when they read and stressed the Bible and about which portions were of top priority for recovery.


As a result, I published three books which have become landmark guides for AAs, for Christians in recovery, for Christian recovery leaders and pastors, for historians and for meetings.


These are they, and they can help you this year (2012) and hereafter as you look for and strengthen your recovery, sobriety, healing, and relationship with God from this point on:


Dick B., The Good Book and The Big Book: A.A.’s Roots in the Bible, Bridge Builders Edition, 1993, ISBN 1-885803-16- 8.


Dick B., The Good Book-Big Book Guidebook, 2006, 1-885803-91-5,


Dick B., The James Club and The Original A.A. Program’s Absolute Essentials, 2005, ISBN 1-885803-99-0,


All three of these important A.A. and the Bible studies and guides are now available in print on demand and in electronic form. They can be purchased through If you would like to purchase them at wholesale in bulk, please contact Ken B. at


Gloria Deo

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A.A.'s Deep Historical Links to Vermont

International Christian Recovery Coalition

Vermont A.A. History and Christian Recovery September 2012 Workshops


By Dick B.

© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved


Special Observations at the End of the Journey


Locations we visited, did research at, or identified since our previous trip to Vermont in June 2008:


            Emerald Lake State Park, about 3 ½ miles north of East Dorset, Vermont


Where Lois Burnham Wilson’s family--the Burnhams--had two bungalows for vacation; where Ebby Thacher’s family—the Thachers--owned a vacation property; where Bill Wilson visited with some frequency after Bertha's death; where Bill's friend Mark Whalon delivered mail and visited; and where Bill became a good friend of Lois's brother Rogers Burnham.


            Rutland, about 27 miles north of East Dorset, Vermont


Bill's father, Gilman B. (Gilly) Wilson, got a job in Rutland managing the Rutland-Florence quarry. Gilly, Bill's mother Emily Griffith Wilson, Bill's sister Dorothy, and Bill moved there in 1903 and lived at 42 Chestnut Avenue. Bill attended the Longfellow School—also known as the Church Street School—at 6 Church Street. After Bill’s parents separated, Emily, Bill, and Dorothy moved back to East Dorset in 1906. We took photos of the Longfellow School, of the Wilson home, and of the Congregational Church nearby. (We have been working for several years to determine whether the Wilson family attended that church and/or whether Bill attended Sunday school there—since the family had attended the Congregational church in East Dorset, and Bill had attended its Sunday school. The pastor is checking for us.)


Burlington—the Bailey Howe Library on the Central Campus of the University of Vermont


The campus and its architecture and grounds are extraordinarily beautiful and well kept. The Bailey Howe Library is filled with students, a cafe, hundreds of computers, and a tremendous library search system and stacks. It also has excellent reference and archives areas. I was able to review three books about the great evangelists Moody and Sankey—having just visited the Northfield Seminary for girls and the Mount Hermon School for boys (now combined in Gill, Massachusetts) founded by Dwight L. Moody. At the Bailey Howe  Library, I was able to see the track records of many of the prominent teachers at Moody's schools. I saw the tremendous work of Moody’s professor Henry Drummond. I was also able to see the backdrop of Drummond’s famous sermon on 1 Corinthians 13—“The Greatest Thing in the World” (which was later made into a very popular book). I was reminded also by my son Ken that Dr. Bob's foster-sister, Amanda Carolyn Northrop—after having taught briefly at the St. Johnsbury Academy—taught at the Northfield Seminary for girls from 1885 to 1889. I saw the work of Robert E. Speer, the original author of The Principles of Jesus--source of the Four Absolutes. I noted that Speer had been a teacher, a trustee, and vice president of the Board at the Moody Schools in Massachusetts. We will be reporting soon a good deal of the Moody materials we found at the Bailey Howe Library. And my son Ken is working now with the reference librarian on some of the relevant materials. Col. Franklin Fairbanks of St. Johnsbury—who was a member of the International Sunday School Lesson Committee and for years the superintendent of the Sunday school of North Congregational Church of St. Johnsbury—where Bob Smith, his parents, and Amanda Northrop had attended.


Three special credits are extended here to workshop participants during our journeys and visits. All had long been sober and involved in A.A.–with two being Christian leaders as well.


Jim H., from the State of Washington receives the first credit. Jim came all the way from Auburn, Washington, to Vermont to participate. He was with us every step of the way. He took some 800 pictures which we will be placing on the Web and elsewhere. The pictures included signs, campuses, libraries, buildings, photos, and text in many books and newspapers and articles. Jim has served A.A. in many capacities, particularly as an Archivist and service person. He has sponsored many members of A.A. and led many meetings. He is a retired Air Force Master Sergeant and A.A. archivist. Jim and others traveled to research and report the East Dorset part in depth. He not only visited but took many pictures of the Wilson House, the Griffith House Library, the East Dorset Congregational Church, and the cemetery where all the Wilson relatives are buried--including the Wilsons, the Griffiths, Dr. Leonard Strong and his wife Dorothy (Bill’s sister). Even Bill’s mother and step-mother are buried there. In closing, Jim H. is one of the sponsors of our trip and is a participant in the International Christian Recovery Coalition. He will continue to work with several workshop participants in receiving and organizing and helping us to publish all the photos on the Web and elsewhere. Three dozen cheers for the enjoyable help and company of Jim in these workshops.


Duane C. from New Hampshire joined us at the Bailey Howe Library on the University of Vermont campus in Burlington for a workshop before we left. Duane is involved in A.A. service as a treasurer; and he has been a GSR and a DCM. He is a devoted Christian leader and participant in the International Christian Recovery Coalition. He is an ardent member of the Christian Motorcyclists Association and works with many afflicted members involved with that organization.


Mel B. of Toledo, Ohio, has not been involved in the workshops, but his book Ebby certainly has. It is an excellent resource and has been substantially used in our preparations for and discussions at the workshops.


Questions to Pursue about Vermont, the Christian Origins of A.A., and the Cofounders of A.A.


As some of you know by now, these workshops have made quite clear the origins of early A.A. in the State of Vermont. There is an abundance of linkage between and among A.A. Vermont personalities and places. The links include:


  • Bill Wilson, born November 26, 1896, in East Dorset, Vermont;
  • East Dorset Congregational Church;
  • Mount Aeolus, and Bill's grandfather Wilson's conversion and cure there;
  • Bill’s parents and grandparents on both sides—who were active in the East Dorset Congregational Church;
  • Bill’s young experiences and familiarity with the Bible, salvation, the Word of God, Sunday school, sermons, hymns, Scripture reading, prayers, conversion meetings, temperance meetings, and revivals;
  • Burr and Burton Seminary--now Burr and Burton Academy--and its Congregational church ties, required four-year Bible study course, daily chapel, prayer meetings, and deep connections with the Young Men’s Christian Association;
  • Ebby Thacher;
  • Reverend Sidney K. Perkins with whom Ebby boarded in Manchester;
  • the Burnham family who summered in Manchester and Emerald Lake;
  • the Young Men's Christian Association;
  • the Young Women's Christian Association;
  • the Manchester Congregational Church;
  • Norwich University which was attended by Bill Wilson, Ebby Thacher, and Lois’s brother Rogers Burnham—where there was required daily chapel, and required church attendance;
  • Bill’s strong ties to Bertha Bamford; and to her father, the Episcopal Rector in Manchester; and
  • the community of Manchester where Bill had played baseball and was visited by his friend Mark Whalon of East Dorset.


The Vermont thread also very much included:


  • Ebby Thacher, whose second home was Manchester.
  • Ebby’s close ties to Bill at Burr and Burton Seminary, during the Bertha Bamford mourning period, and at Norwich Military Academy—not to forget the drinking episodes.
  • The Vermont boyhood period of Bill Wilson and Ebby Thacher, involving Bill, Ebby, Bill’s friend Mark Whalon, the Burnhams, the Congregational churches, the Burr and Burton Seminary, Norwich University (a military academy), Rev. Sidney K. Perkins, and the mutual airplane crash involving Bill and Ebby at Manchester.
  • The whole rescue of Ebby from imprisonment at Brattleboro for inebriety which brought Ebby in touch with the Vermont friends—Cebra Graves, Shep  Cornell, and Rowland Hazard--who taught Ebby much about Jesus Christ, the Bible, and prayer (things which he had been taught as a boy, believed, and admired in these men.)
  • The lodging of Ebby in Calvary Mission in New York where Ebby made his decision for Jesus Christ, followed by his message to Bill, Bill’s checking out the message when Ebby gave his

testimony at Shoemaker’s Calvary Church, and then Bill’s following suit by going himself to the Calvary Mission, handing his life over to Jesus Christ, and proclaiming that he had been born again.

  • Ebby’s visiting Bill in Towns Hospital during Bill’s final stay there beginning December 11, 1934. It was during this hospital stay that Bill reported that his room had “blazed with indescribably white light,” he had experienced the presence of God, he was free, and had been cured of alcoholism--as Bill himself proclaimed on page 191 of the fourth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous.


The Vermont thread, of course, included the whole Robert Smith boyhood in St. Johnsbury (1879-1898). A youth which involved experiences remarkably similar to those of both Bill, and even of Ebby:


  • Training and acquaintance with salvation and the Word of God  through family, church, Sunday school,  temperance meetings, revivals, conversion meetings, Bible study, prayer meetings, and sermons;
  • Disciplined Christian requirements at  Dr. Bob’s St. Johnsbury Academy, at Burr and Burton

Seminary, and at Norwich University—particularly the mandatory daily chapel with its sermons, Scripture reading, hymns, and prayers;

  • the Young Men’s Christian Association; and
  • Bible reading.  


There will be much more to come as workshop participants return to their venues, network, train others, and apply the findings to serve and glorify God and help others willing to believe



Gloria Deo

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Many Bill W. Presentations - Fact or Film

Dick B.’s Documented Account of the Story of Bill Wilson, Alcoholics Anonymous, and the Influences on Wilson [In reply to a question about Oxford Group influences, if any, on Bill Wilson]

Dick B.

Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights resereved

“Thank you for asking about the possible influence of the Oxford Group on Bill Wilson.

Actually, there were many influences on his A.A. ideas, as there were in the case of Dr. Bob: They definitely include, and I have documented, the following:

1. The Bible.

2. The Christian organizations and people that preceded and influenced AA: a) Evangelists like Dwight Moody and F. B. Meyer; b) Gospel Rescue Missions; c) Lay brethren of Young Men's Christian Association; d) Salvation Army; e) Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor; f) Oxford Group; g)Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.

3. The Christian  upbringing of Wilson in the East Dorset Congregational Church, the Bible studies he did with grandfather Griffith and friend Mark Whalon, the conversion and cure of his grandfather Willie Wilson, the sermons and revivals and conversions and temperance meetings he attended, his 4 years at Burr and Burton Academy where he took a four year Bible study course, went to daily chapel at this Congregationalist school, and was president of and active in the school's Young Men's Christian Association.

5. The advice of his physician Dr. Silkworth on his third visit to Towns Hospital; that he would die or go insane if he didn't stop drinking; and that the Great Physician Jesus Christ could cure him.

6. The visits from his friend Ebby Thacher, telling him: a) that he (Ebby) had been to the altar at Calvary Rescue Mission, been born again, got religion; b) that he (Ebby) had learned several things from the Oxford Group friends (Rowland Hazard, Shep Cornell, and Cebra Graves) about Christian subjects he had studied as a youngster, and also about the power of prayer, about the Oxford Group[ program, about Dr. Carl Jung's advice to Rowland that he (Rowland) could be helped if he had a "vital religious experience"--a conversion experience;] c) Bill's trip to Calvary Church to hear and check up on Ebby Thacher's testimony; d) Bill's thought that perhaps Calvary Mission could do for him what it had done for Ebby; e) Bill's trip to the altar at Calvary Mission where he made his decision for Jesus Christ, wrote twice "For sure I had been born again," and wrote that he had "found religion." f) Bill's subsequent drinking, deep despair and depression, and thoughts that he should call on the Great Physician for help; g) Bill's last trip to Towns Hospital where he cried out to God for help, had his memorable "indescribably white flash" blazing in his room, sensed the presence of God, exclaimed "So this is the God of the Scriptures," stopped doubting the power of God, and never drank again.

7. Bills subsequent discussion with Dr. Silkworth where Bill was told he had had a "conversion experience." Bill's extensive study that day of the William James book on religious experiences that cured alcoholics, and Bill's conclusion that his experience in the hospital was a valid conversion experience.

8. Bill's adventure on discharge from the hospital out on the streets with a Bible under his arm and telling drunks in hospitals, missions, flea bag hotels, Oxford Group meetings that he had found a cure for alcoholism and that they should give their lives to God (See Big Book, page 191).

9. Bill's utter failure to convert or sober up anyone at all. Not before he met with Dr. Bob in Akron.

10. Bill's visit with Dr. Bob at Henrietta Seiberling's Gate Lodge for six hours where Bill convinced Bob that the idea of service to others was an essential element in the Oxford Group that was part of the mix, and Dr. Bob's assent.

11. The three months that Bill spent with the Smiths at their home in Akron where: a) Anne read them the Bible each day. b) Anne may have shared from the journal she had kept since 1933. c) there were daily prayers and  quiet time. d) there was an agreement that hospitalization was an essential ingredient. e) Attendance at the weekly "clandestine lodge" meeting of the Oxford Group at the T. Henry Williams home. f) Where extensive Oxford Group and Shoemaker literature were available at the meeting for the taking.

12. The success--when there was no Big Book, were no Steps, were no Traditions, were no drunkalogs, and were no meetings like those today--with A.A. Number Three-Bill Dotson. Bill and Bob visited Dotson in the hospital, told him to give his life to God and, when healed, go out and help others. Dotson turned to God for help, was immediately healed, and went out from the hospital a new man--which marked the founding of Akron Group Number One July 4, 1935.

13. Bill and Bob learning in November of 1937 by "counting noses" that forty members had achieved and maintained some sobriety--with an assured 50% success rate; and that God had shown them how the cure could be passed on by working with newcomers, hospitalization, belief in God, acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, old fashioned prayer meetings, Bible study meetings, Quiet Time, reading Christian literature, and helping others without charge.

14. When Akron, by a barely passing vote in Akron, authorized Wilson to write a book, Bill claimed there were six word-of-mouth ideas being used with success. He phrased the six ideas in at least 4 different ways--when it came to God's help. He claimed they were derived from the Oxford Group, but that there was no general agreement, particularly in the mid-west , on what they were. He also said they were applied according to the "whim" of the group involved. But Bill's  "six" word-of-mouth ideas were very different from the 7 point Akron Christian Fellowship program that Frank Amos summarized in his report to the Rockefeller people in 1937. See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 131.

15. Bill soon sat down with Rev. Sam Shoemaker at the book-lined study at Calvary House--with closed doors--and worked out the program of the Big Book, derived largely from Oxford Group ideas (and the Oxford Group itself declared that the principles of the Oxford Group were the principles of the Bible--as Rev. Sherwood Day twice wrote in The Principles of the Oxford Group).

16. When it came time to write Chapter 5 of his new book, Bill asked Sam Shoemaker to write the 12 Steps, but Shoemaker declined saying that they should be written by an alcoholic, namely Bill. Bill then sat down, looked at his alleged "six ideas", and  quickly wrote out Twelve Steps in a book where the word "God" had consistently been used without qualification.

17. Just before the book went to press, four people (Ruth Hock-secretary, Hank Parkhurst--Bill's partner, Bill Wilson--the author, and John Henry Fitzhugh Mayo--who wanted the book to be Christian to the core) changed the language of the steps, deleting God from Step Two, and adding "as we understood Him" to Steps 3 and 11. Bill attributed this change to a "broad highway" to the contributions of the atheists and agnostics.

Most of this material can be found in various of my books listed in

And the material is placed in updated, comprehensive, documented, teachable form in "The Dick B. Christian Recovery Guide," 3rd ed., 2010.

Most of the recent, documented research is set forth in my two preceding books "Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous",shtml, and "The Conversion of Bill W."

Friday, May 04, 2012

Let's look at A.A. and Dr. Bob for a Change!

Dr. Bob of A.A. - The Prince of All Twelfth-steppers: the title given him by A.A. cofounder Bill W.

Dick B., Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved.

The purpose of this article is to highlight and underline the value of knowing all the details about Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith (Dr. Bob) who founded the Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship with Bill Wilson in June of 1935. DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 2001. It is also aimed at letting those in recovery, those leaders in recovery, those who are Christians, and the general public see Alcoholics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous History, Bill Wilson, Dr. Robert Smith (Dr. Bob), the Bible, the Oxford Group, and the real original program of A.A. in a new, comprehensive, balanced setting.

The value? It is because there are so many biographies of Bill Wilson, so many detractors of Bill Wilson, so many films and stories about Bill W. that many AAs and a host of critics of A.A. have had a field day with Bill W.'s shortcomings. They have ignored the real origins, history, founding, original program, and high rate of success in the Akron Fellowship (Akron Number One, as Bill W. called it).
They have in fact fostered the nonsense gods, illusory "spirituality," and secularization of so many 12 Step meetings today. And it is Dr. Bob and his recovered life that bring the picture in balance.

Christian critics of A.A. and the Steps point to Bill's lengthy affair with spiritualism, Bill's affairs with other women, Bill's compromises on God in order to make his book more saleable, Bill's extensive use of LSD and his even introducing it to his wife, his secretary Nell, and his Roman Catholic friend, Father Ed Dowling. They seem to ignore the Christian precepts by which both Bill and Dr. Bob lived--there is therefore no condemnation in them that are in Christ Jesus. Provided--they walk by the spirit and not by way of the flesh (Romans 8:1). Far worse, they have painted the A.A. fellowship, A.A. members, the A.A. program, and the A.A. literature with a dark swash of obliteration just because of the sins of a founder. And that founder was not Dr. Bob.

AAs themselves are prone to emphasize the role of Bill W. and ignore the agreement that Bill and Dr. Bob made that Bob was to take care of hospitalizations and Twelfth Step work. The two were friends. They did not fight with each other. Within the parameters of their own Christian upbringing and later principles and practices--however different--the two men supported one another, kept in frequent contact, and appeared at conferences together. And all this while Bill (shortly after publishing his Big Book) went into a deep and catastrophic major depression that was widely known, immensely destructive to the appropriate growth of the A.A. fellowship, and influential in some of Bill's wild adventures into Niacin, LSD, and even spiritualism--all to relieve him of his melancholia.

Now to Dr. Bob. If AAs and the general public are ever to cease attributing A.A.'s birth to the Oxford Group and truthfully report A.A.'s basic ideas taken from the Bible, they will probably do it only if and when more people pay attention to Dr. Bob--this even though many of the biblical ideas that Bob learned and practiced in his youth were also learned and practiced by Bill Wilson. See Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W. Little attention has been paid to Bill's Christian upbringing in Vermont, his decision for Jesus Christ at the altar of Calvary Rescue Mission, his statement that Jesus' Sermon on the Mount contained the underlying spiritual philosophy of A.A., and--even in later editions--his frequent quotations from the Bible such as "Thy will be done," "Love thy neighbor as thyself," "Faith without works is dead," "Creator," "Maker," "Father," "Heavenly Father," "God of our fathers," "Father of Lights," and, of course, "God."

But let's begin where I began and grow in the manner I grew in my understanding of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Dr. Bob.

First, I read DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. Next, I visited Akron to investigate. I went to Dr. Bob's Home, to the home where his daughter Sue Smith Windows lived, to the Akron Intergroup offices, to Akron's Founders Day, to the Akron Beacon Journal, to the Bierce Library at University of Akron, to the Summit County Library in Akron, to St. Thomas Hospital, to Congressman John Seiberling--son of A.A. founder Henrietta B. Seiberling, past the Palisades home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams where the original Wednesday night meetings were held, past the Gate Lodge where Henrietta and her three children lived and where Bill and Dr. Bob first met, to the King School where the Akron A.A. meetings were regularly held beginning at the end of 1939, and to Akron Number One's Wednesday Night meeting which still exists and where Dr. Bob's Bible was brought to the podium at the beginning of the meeting and retired at the close.

In rapid order, and after interviewing Dr. Bob's son and daughter, Congressman Seiberling and his two sisters, Dorothy Culver--the daughter of T. Henry Williams, Nell Wing (Bill's secretary), and Frank Mauser (A.A.'s General Services Archivist), and after researching at A.A.'s World Services office and archives in New York, I began collecting books, manuscripts, correspondence, tapes, and much material from the Smith children, the Seiberling children, the daughter of T. Henry Williams, the archivist at Dr. Bob's Home, the Founders Day archivist, many A.A. oldtimers, and a host of Oxford Group activists still surviving.

Then came the books I wrote and now urge all to read. The first was Dick B., Dr. Bob and His Library (as it was called in later editions). The second was Dick B., Anne Smith's Journal, 1933-1939 (as it was called in later editions). Next came Dick B., The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous. And then a number of other titles that fleshed out the history of the roots of Alcoholics Anonymous

Before I conclude, I want to point out two major things:

First, my son Ken and I went to Dr. Bob's boyhood town in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. We were there two times and for three weeks in all. We unearthed thousands of books, manuscripts, news articles, biographies, sermons, Sunday school teachings, histories, church records, Academy records, Library records, census and birth records, and YMCA--Christian Endeavor--St. Johnsbury Academy--North Congregational Church--Congregational--Great Awakening of 1875 in St. Johnsbury--and evangelism-revival records, as well as records from the Congregational churches, the Young Men's Christian Association, public records, school records, curricula, and other materials. Most are now lodged in the Dr. Bob Core Library at the Smith family church--North Congregational Church UCC of St. Johnsbury.

From all this came the extensive records of Dr. Bob's excellent training in the Bible as a youngster in Vermont, his frequent daily chapels and Bible studies and Congregational Church attendance, and his invovement in the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor.

All this Vermont material--and its relationship to the Christian upbringing of Robert Holbrook Smith--is examined and documented in the book by Dick B. and Ken B. Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Good Book as a Youngster in Vermont.

Once the reader has examined these materials--as well as our later books such as The James Club, The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, The Oxford Group & Alcoholics Anonymous, The Good Book and The Big Book:A.A.'s Roots in the Bible; Turning Point; and When Early AAs Were Cured and Why, he or she will be able objectively to weigh the origins, roots, history, founding, original program, and successes of early A.A.;

Gloria Deo

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

AA Twelve Steps - A Study of Them as History

A.A. and the Twelve Steps

A.A. History

By Dick B.

© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Would you like to learn about A.A. its Twelve Steps? Would you like make A.A. history and the roots of A.A. a part of your study? Would you like to know what A.A. “founder” Rev. Samuel Shoemaker said about A.A. and the Twelve Steps? If you would, then Courage to Change by Bill Pittman and Dick B. is the first place to turn. In fact, Courage to Change: The Christian Roots of the Twelve-Step Movement is one of earliest source books for the study of A.A. history, reporting the role of A.A. founder Bill Wilson and of the man Bill Wilson dubbed a “cofounder” of A.A., as a means for understanding A.A. and the Twelve Steps.

There are other, later, A.A. history books by author Dick B. that add to the A.A. and study groups scene. And we will talk about them in a moment.

In Courage to Change, Bill Pittman and Dick B. crafted a simple, A.A.-founder-related presentation of each of the Twelve Steps—covering the Steps one by one. Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker was Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York. His church was in charge of Calvary Mission where A.A. founder Bill Wilson went to the altar and made his decision for Jesus Christ about December 7, 1934. Shoemaker was the chief American lieutenant of the Oxford Group which laid out the biblical principles and the practical program of action that Bill codified in the A.A. Big Book and its Twelve Steps. So much so, that Bill Wilson asked Rev. Shoemaker to write the Twelve Steps, but Shoemaker declined. However, A.A. “founder” Shoemaker did work with Bill Wilson in Shoemaker’s book-lined study at Calvary House as Bill was developing the language of A.A.’s 12 Steps contained in the book Alcoholics Anonymous published April 10, 1939.

Sam Shoemaker was known as “a Bible-Christian.” His 30-plus books, articles, sermons, and efforts at Calvary Church regularly presented key ideas long before A.A. was founded in June 1935 that eventually made their way into A.A. Shoemaker frequently cited a Bible verse that supported a Step idea. In describing what a Step meant and how to take it, Shoemaker would cite a Bible verse and then use the very language for that Step that one can find in both Shoemaker’s words and in the words of Bill Wilson.

In addition to laying out each Step and the correlative language from the Bible and Shoemaker, Pittman and Dick B. also included two vitally-important and useful articles by Shoemaker which were directly related to A.A. and the Twelve Steps. The first was the “Those Twelve Steps as I Understand Them.” The second was “What the Church Can Learn from Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Dick B. went on to write and publish three additional books about A.A. and the Twelve Steps. Each adds more A.A. history specifics to the ideas that Bill Wilson and Rev. Shoemaker formulated in the actual Steps. The first title is Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and A.A. Pittsburgh ed.: The second title is Dick B., Twelve Steps for You: The third is By the Power of God:

There are several things a reader can do to enhance his understanding of the Twelve Steps, his knowledge about A.A. and the Twelve Steps, and his ability to “take” the Twelve Steps and take a newcomer through each Step. The first is to look at the 12 suggested Steps as they are spelled out in the Big Book. The second is to look for the specific instructions the Big Book provides for taking each Step (sometimes a bit murky or actually missing in details). The third is to read two A.A. General Service Conference-approved books—Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age by Bill Wilson and The Language of the Heart—where Bill Wilson specifically attributes at least 10 of the 12 Steps to Shoemaker. The fourth is to read Bill Pittman and Dick B., Courage to Change. Finally, to read the three Dick B. books cited above and particularly the explanation of Shoemaker’s part in each Step.

Courage to Change is now available in Kindle format from

Good hunting!

Gloria Deo

AA-Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous: Step One Study

The Twelve Steps and Alcoholics Anonymous – Step One Study

Dick B.

Copyright 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Here’s what AA Cofounder Bill Wilson said about Step One

“Our recovery Step One reads thus: ‘We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.’ This simply means that all of us have to hit bottom and hit hard and lastingly. But we can seldom make this sweeping admission of personal hopelessness until we fully realize that alcoholism is a grievous and often fatal malady of the mind and body—an obsession that condemns us to drink joined to a physical allergy that condemns us to madness or death.

“So, then, how did we first learn that alcoholism is such a fearful sickness as this? Who gave us this priceless piece of information on which the effectiveness of Step One of our program so much depends? Well, it came from my own doctor, ‘the little doctor who loved drunks,’ William Duncan Silkworth. More than twenty-five years ago at Towns Hospital, New York, he told Lois [Bill Wilson’s wife] and me what the disease of alcoholism actually is.” The Language of the Heart: Bill W.’s Grapevine Writings, page 297.

Here’s what Rev. Sam Shoemaker, the man Bill Wilson called a “cofounder of A.A.” said

“The reason so many people in A.A. give thanks that they are alcoholics is that the problem of living, and the failure to meet life successfully, is singled down for them to the problem of alcohol. It is definite and specific. This is exactly what Christianity has taught from the beginning, not only about a problem like alcoholism, but about the whole range of human defeat: that the old clichés like ‘exerting more will power’ are utterly impractical. We are just as powerless by ourselves over temper, or a bad tongue, or a moody disposition, or a habit of lust, or a hard and critical spirit. It is only pride and lack of insight into ourselves that would keep anyone from saying, ‘our lives have become unmanageable.’ This is the first step, not only towards sobriety, but towards self-understanding and the knowledge of life.” Bill Pittman and Dick B., Courage to Change: The Christian Roots of the Twelve-Step Movement, pages 208-09.

In his usual short and pithy language, A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob said

“’The first one will get you.’ According to John R., he kept repeating that.” DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, page 227.

“. . . Dr. Bob advocated that members stay in dry places whenever possible. ‘You don’t ask the Lord not to lead you into temptation, then turn around and walk right into it,’ he said.” DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, page 281.

“Nobody pushed you into that bar. You walked in there, and you ordered that drink, and naturally, you drank it. So don’t tell me you don’t know how you got there.” DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, page 274.

Bill Wilson called Dr. Bob’s Wife “The Mother of A.A.,” and she said

“Surrender is a simple act of will. What do we surrender? Our life. When? At a certain definite moment. How? ‘Oh God, manage me because I cannot manage myself.’” Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal 1933-1939, page 21.

“Paul speaks of a wish toward good, but power to carry it out is lacking. A stronger power than his was needed. God provided that power through Christ, so that we could find a new kind of relationship with God. Christ gives the power, we appropriate it. It is not anything that we do ourselves, but it is the appropriation of a power that comes from God that saves us from sin and sets us free.” Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal, page 22

Early AAs often said

“We admitted that we were licked, that we were powerless over alcohol.” Dick B., Twelve Steps For You: Take the Twelve Steps with the Big Book, A.A. History, and the Good Book at Your Side, page 33; Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, page 160.

One Personal Story in the First Edition of the Big Book quoted the Bible and said:

“One morning, after a sleepless night worrying over what I could do to straighten myself out, I went to my room alone—took my Bible in hand and asked Him, the One Power, that I might  open to a good place to read—and I read ‘For I delight in the law of God after the inward man. But I see a different law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity under the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me out of the body of this death.’

That was enough for me—I started to understand. Here were the words of Paul, a great teacher. When then if I had slipped? Now, I could understand.

From that day I gave and still give and always will, time every day to read the word of God and let Him do all the caring. Who am I to try to run myself or anyone else?” Alcoholics Anonymous, 1st ed. 1939, page 347. [See Romans 7:22-25].

Gloria Deo