Monday, August 31, 2015

A reply to a "critique" of my article about Christ in the Big Book

By Ken B.
Copyright 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved
John, in reply to your response to the article I posted titled "Christ, the Cross, and the Holy Ghost in the Big Book? Yep.", I have some questions and comments for you: (1) When you spoke of "you people," to whom were you referring? (2) You spoke of "the first 164 pages." Could you please provide your definition of the phrase "the basic text" as it is used: (a) on the front cover of the dust jacket of the hardback fourth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous; (b) on page xi of the Preface in the fourth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous; and (c) on page 17 of the Foreword in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions? (3) You spoke of "Your opinions" (i.e., my "opinions"). I provided 18 footnotes in my article, some of which contained multiple sources for the statements I made. Please identify my "opinions" to which you alluded. (4) You mentioned "the original program of Alcoholics Anonymous." The "original program of Alcoholics Anonymous"--as of late February 1938--was summarized in seven points on page 131 of the A.A. General Service Conference-approved book DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. (5) You claimed: "Your premise that earlier, unused versions of Bill's Story should now be given the prominence and treatment of the original is flawed." Your asserting that that is what I did is not the same as proving that that is what I did. I made no such claim. My article provided A.A. history-related facts for which I provided the sources. (6) Your claim that "Just as gold is refined by removing the impurities found in common ore, Bill's Story was refined by removing immaterial items that distracted from the primary purpose of recovery from alcoholism." is your unproved assertion. It is an analogy. It is no more valid in this case that the analogy summed up in that old "saw": "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." (7) You said: "Is yours or anyone's sobriety improved by gratuitously injecting a Christian angle into the program . . . " implying that I was "guilty" of "gratuitously injecting a Christian angle into the program." I provided A.A. history-related facts and documented those facts with sources. Your implying that something is a fact doesn't make it so. (8) You stated: "If all that extraneous information regarding Bill Wilson's experience with Christianity was crucial to recovery from alcoholism, don't you think they would have included it in the original publication?" Your statement implied that "Bill Wilson's experience with Christianity" was "extraneous information." And you referenced "the original publication." I provided A.A. history-related facts and related documentation concerning information A.A. cofounder Bill W. himself provided in his personal testimony (i.e., "Bill's Story") in chapter one of Alcoholics Anonymous ("the Big Book"). Let the readers of this post judge from the following statement made by Bill W. whether Bill believed that his "experience with Christianity" was "extraneous information": "I am always glad to say privately that some of the Oxford Group presentation and emphasis upon the Christian message saved my life." [Source: The A.A. General Service Conference-approved book, 'PASS IT ON,' 171]. (9) You put forward the possibility (you said: "It is possible that . . .") that Bill W.'s ". . . his intent was to spread the solution, recovery from alcoholism through "God as we understood Him," . . " A.A.'s solution for overcoming the problem of alcoholism ""is stated clearly on page 25 of the chapter titled "There Is a Solution," chapter two in the fourth edition of Alcoholics Anonymous: "The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves." (10) You stated "Perhaps . . ." and then ". . . I think not." Those words are not statements of fact. Here is a statement of fact from the mouth of A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob as found in ". . . Dr. Bob's last major talk, as transcribed from a recording made at Detroit, Mich., in December 1948"--as found in the A.A. General Service Conference-approved pamphlet The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks on page 13 " (Item # P-53): "In early A.A. days, . . . our stories didn't amount to anything to speak of. When we [A.A. cofounders Bill W. and Dr. Bob] started in on Bill D. ["Alcoholic Anonymous 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." And in that same talk, Dr. Bob also stated: "It wasn't until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and studies that had been going on were crystalized in the form of the Twelve Steps. . . . We already had the basic ideas []of the Twelve Steps, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book." [The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, 14.] Those are facts, not opinions. As stated in the "Foreword to Fourth Edition" in Alcoholics Anonymous: ". . . our literature has preserved the integrity of the A.A. message, . . ." Ken B.

Christ, the Cross, and the Holy Ghost in the Big Book? Yep.

By Ken B. (based on research by Dick B.)
© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved

Did you know that there have been at least five (5) versions of A.A. cofounder Bill W.’s personal testimony known as “Bill’s Story” in the current (fourth, 2001) edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”)?

1.      Bill Wilson, “W. G. Wilson’s Original Story.”[1]

2.      “Another ‘pre-original manuscript’ draft of chapters [one and two] in the Big Book.”[2]

3.      “Chapter One: Bill’s Story” in what Bill W. called the “prepublication copy of the text and some of the stories,” also known as the “Multilith Edition” and as the “Original Manuscript.”[3]

4.      “Chapter One: Bill’s Story” in the printer’s manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous.[4]

5.      “Chapter One: Bill’s Story” in Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism (New York City: Works Publishing Company, 1939).[5]

A number of people have pointed to Bill W.’s mention of Christ in the current (fourth, 2001) edition of the Big Book:

To Christ I conceded the certainty of a great man, not too closely followed by those who claimed Him. His moral teaching—most excellent. For myself, I had adopted those parts which seemed convenient and not too difficult; the rest I disregarded.[6]

But they have often failed to note several important points relating to Bill’s comment about Christ: (1) The context of Bill’s statement; (2) Bill’s Christian upbringing and the Christian training he experienced in common with Ebby T. at Burr and Burton Seminary during Bill’s senior year there (1912-1913); and (3) Bill’s life experiences up to the time of his late-November 1934 meeting with his old school friend Ebby.

As to the context of Bill’s statement, on page eight, Bill discusses his release from Towns Hospital after his third stay there in September 1934 for treatment of alcoholism by Dr. Silkworth. He then moves on to “the end of that bleak November [in 1934],” when he received a telephone call from his “old school friend,” Ebby T. And Bill continues writing about his late-November 1934 interaction with Ebby until page 13, at which point Bill moves on to discuss his fourth and final stay “at the hospital” for treatment of alcoholism by Dr. Silkworth—an event which took place from December 11-18, 1934, at Towns Hospital. His discussion of his interaction with Ebby and his (Bill’s) thoughts about that meeting occupy about one-third of “Bill’s Story.” His reunion with Ebby and what they discussed made up a very important part of what Bill hoped to get across through his story about A.A.’s proposed solution for overcoming the problem of alcoholism.

As to Bill W.’s Christian upbringing, see, for example: Dick B.’s The Conversion of Bill W.: More on the Creator's Role in Early A.A.[7] As to some of the Christianity in Ebby’s upbringing and family, see Mel B., Ebby.[8] And as to Bill’s life experiences up to the time of his meeting with his friend Ebby, it is important to remember that—despite Bill’s Christian upbringing—after the unexpected death of his Burr and Burton Seminary school mate, and “girl friend,” Bertha Bamford, in November 1912 during Bill’s senior year at Burr and Burton, Bill blamed God for Bertha’s death and turned his back on God. And, with the exception of Bill’s brief-but-profound spiritual experience with God at Winchester Cathedral in England in August 1918 on his way to fight in France during World War I, he had not really thought much about God since. That is, until Dr. Silkworth had discussed with Bill during Bill’s third stay at Towns Hospital for treatment of alcoholism in September 1934 that the Great Physician (Jesus Christ) could cure Bill of his alcoholism.[9] And then, about two months later, his friend Ebby showed up sober at Bill and Lois’s house at 182 Clinton St. in Brooklyn talking about how he (Ebby) had been saved (Ebby said, “I’ve got religion.”[10]) and that God had done for him what he could not do for himself.[11]

Now let’s look at an earlier version of Bill W.’s discussion of Christ found in “W. G. Wilson’s Original Story,” an account which would seem to be the earliest version of what has come to be known as “Bill’s Story” in the Big Book.

Late one afternoon near the end of that month of November I sat alone in the kitchen of my home. As usual, I was half drunk and enough so that the keen edge of my remorse was blunted. . . . Just as I was trying to decide whether to risk concealing one of the full ones within easy reach of my side of the bed, the phone rang.

. . . Over the wire came the voice of an old school friend and drinking companion of boom times. By the time we had exchanged greetings, I sensed that he was sober. This seemed strange, for it was years since anyone could remember his coming to New York in that condition. I had come to think of him as another hopeless devotee of Bacchus. Current rumor had it that he had been committed to a state institution for alcoholic insanity. I wondered if perhaps he had not just escaped. Of course he would come over right away and take dinner with us. A fine idea that, for I then would have an excuse to drink openly with him. . . .

The door opened and there he stood, very erect and glowing. His deep voice boomed out cheerily - the cast of his features - his eyes - the freshness of his complexion - this was my friend of schooldays. There was a subtle something or other instantly apparent even to my befuddled perception. Yes - there was certainly something more - he was inexplicably different - what had happened to him?

We sat at the table and I pushed a lusty glass of gin flavored with pineapple juice in his direction. . . .

"Not now", he said. I was a little crest fallen at this, though I was glad to know that someone could refuse a drink at that moment - I knew I couldn't. "On the wagon?" - I asked. He shook his head and looked at me with an impish grin.

"Aren't you going to have anything?"- I ventured presently.

"Just as much obliged, but not tonight" I was disappointed, but curious. What had got into the fellow - he wasn't himself.  

"No, he's not himself - he's somebody is else - not just that either - he was his old self, plus something more, and maybe minus something". I couldn't put my finger on it - his whole bearing almost shouted that something of great import had taken place.

"Come now, what's this all about", I asked. Smilingly, yet seriously, he looked straight at me and said "I've got religion".  

So that was it. Last summer an alcoholic crackpot - this fall, washed in the blood of the Lamb. [H]eavens, that might be even worse. I was thunderstruck, and he, of all people. What on earth could one say to the poor fellow.

So I finally blurted out "That's fine", and sat back waiting for a sizzling blast on salvation and the relation of the Cross, the Holy Ghost, and the Devil thereto. Yes, he did have that starry-eyed look, the old boy was on fire all right. Well, bless his heart, let him rant. It was nice that he was sober after all. I could stand it anyway, for there was plenty of gin and I took a little comfort that tomorrow's ration wouldn't have to be used up right then.

Old memories of Sunday School - the profit temperance pledge, which I never signed - the sound of the preacher's voice which could be heard on still Sunday mornings way over on the hillside beyond the railroad tracks, - My grandfather's quite scorn of things some church people did to him - his fair minded attitude that I should make up my mind about these things myself - his convictions that the . . . spheres really had their music - but his denial of the right of preachers to tell him how he should listen - his perfect lack of fear when he mentioned these things just before his death - these memories surged up out of my childhood as I listened to my friend. My own gorge rose for a moment to an all time high as my anti-preacher - anti-church folk sentiment welled up inside me. These feelings soon gave way to respectful attention as my former drinking companion rattled on. Without knowing it, I stood at the great turning point of my life - I was on the threshold of a fourth dimension of existence that I had doubtfully heard some people describe and others pretend to have. 

He went on to lay before me a simple proposal. It was so simple and so little complicated with the theology and dogma I had associated with religion that by degrees I became astonished and delighted. I was astonished because a thing so simple could accomplish the profound result I now beheld in the person of my friend. To say that I was delighted is putting it mildly, for I realized that I could go for his program also. Like all but a few . . . human beings I had believed in the existence of a power greater than myself. True atheists are really very scarce. It always seemed to me more difficult and illogical to be an atheist than to believe there is a certain amount of law and order and purpose underlying the universe. The faith of an atheist in his convictions is far more blind then that of the religionist for it leads inevitably to the absurd conclusion that the vast and ever changing cosmos originally grew out of a cipher, and now has arrived at its present state through a series of haphazard accidents, one of which is man himself. . . .

Such was the picture I had of myself and the world in which I lived, that there was a mighty rhythm, intelligence and purpose behind it all despite inconsistencies. I had rather strongly believed.

But this was as far as I had ever got toward the realization of God and my personal relationship to Him. My thoughts of God were academic and speculative when I had them, which for some years past had not been often. That God was an intelligence power and love upon which I could absolutely rely as an individual had not seriously occurred to me. Of course I knew in a general way what theologians claimed but I could not see that religious persons as a class demonstrated any more power, love and intelligence than those who claimed no special dispensation from God though I granted that Christianity ought to be a wonderful influence I was annoyed, irked and confused by the attitudes they took, the beliefs they held and the things they had done in the name of Christ. People like myself had been burned and whole population put to fire and sword on the pretext they did not believe as Christians did. History taught that Christians were not the only offenders in this respect. It seemed to me that on the whole it made little difference whether you were Mohammedan, Catholic, Jew, Protestant or Hotentot. You were supposed to look askance at the other fellows approach to God. Nobody could be saved unless they fell in with your ideas. I had a great admiration for Christ as a man. He practiced what he preached and set a marvelous example. It was not hard to agree in Principle with His moral teachings but like most people, I preferred to live up to some moral standard[s] but not to others. At any rate I thought I understood as well as any one what good morals were and with the exceptions of my drinking I felt superior to most Christians I knew. I might be weak in some respects but at least I was not hypocritical. So my interest in Christianity other than its teaching of moral principles and the good I hoped it did on balance was slight.

Sometimes I wished that I had been religiously trained from early childhood[12] that I might have the comfortable assurance about so many things I found it impossible to have any definite convictions upon. The question of the hereafter, the many theological abstractions and seeming contradictions - these things were puzzling and finally annoying for religious people told me I must believe a great many seemingly impossible things to be one of them. This insistence on their part plus a powerful desire to possess the things of this life while there was yet time had crowded the idea of the personal God more and more out of my mind as the years went by. Neither were my convictions strengthened by my own misfortunes. The great war and its aftermath seemed to more certainly demonstrate the omnipotence of the devil than the loving care of an all-powerful God

Nevertheless here I was sitting opposite a man who talked about a personal God who told me how he had found Him, who described to me how I might do the same thing and who 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. He was radiant of something which soothed my troubled spirit as though the fresh clean wind of mountain top blowing through and through me I saw and felt and in a great surge of joy I realized that the great presence which had made itself felt to me that war time day in Winchester Cathedral had again returned.

As he continued I commenced to see myself as in as in an unearthly mirror. I saw how ridiculous and futile the whole basis of my life had been. Standing in the middle of the stage of my life's setting I had been feverishly trying to arrange ideas and things and people and even God, to my own liking, to my own ends and to promote what I had thought to be true happiness. It was truly a sudden and breath-taking illumination. Then the idea came – “The tragic thing about you is, that you have been playing God.” That was it. Playing God. Then the humor of the situation burst upon me, here was I a tiny grain of sand of the infinite shores of God’s great universe and the little grain of sand, had been trying to play God. He really thought he could arrange all of the other little grains about him just to suit himself. And when his little hour was run out, people would weep and say in awed tones—“How wonderful.”

So then came the question – If I were no longer to be God than was I to find and perfect the new relationship with my creator – with the Father of Lights who presides over all ? My friend laid down to me the terms and conditions which were simple but not easy, drastic yet broad and acceptable to honest men everywhere, of whatever faith or lack thereof. He did not tell me that these were the only terms – he merely said that they were terms that had worked in his case. They were spiritual principles and rules of practice he thought common to all of the worthwhile religions and philosophies of mankind. He regarded them as stepping stones to a better understanding of our relation to the spirit of the universe and as a practical set of directions setting forth how the spirit could work in and through us that we might become spearheads and more effective agents for the promotion of God’s Will for our lives and for our fellows. The great thing about it all was its simplicity and scope. [N]o really religious persons belief would be interfered with no matter what his training. For the man on the street who just wondered about such things, it was a providential approach, for with a small beginning of faith and a very large dose of action along spiritual lines he could be sure to demonstrate the Power and Love of God as a practical workable twenty four hour a day design for living.

This is what my friend suggested I do. One: Turn my face to God as I understand Him and say to Him with earnestness - complete honesty and abandon that I henceforth place my life at His disposal and direction. forever. . .  [13]

It is intriguing to note Bill W.’s references in his personal testimony to “the blood of the Lamb;” “salvation and the relation of the Cross, the Holy Ghost;” “Christianity;” “the name of Christ,” and “Christians” that did not make it into later versions of “Bill’s Story.” But their presence in this very early—perhaps “original”—version of his personal story begins to make sense once one has an understanding of Bill W.’s and Ebby’s shared Christian experience at Burr and Burton Seminary during Bill’s senior year there in 1912-1913. During that school year:  

1.     Bill and Ebby attended Burr and Burton Seminary’s required Bible study course;[14]

2.     Bill and Ebby attended Burr and Burton Seminary’s required daily chapel (which included hymns, prayers, Bible reading, and sermons);[15]

3.     Bill was president of the seminary’s Young Men’s Christian Association;[16]

4.     Bill’s “girl friend,” Bertha Bamford, was president of the seminary's Young Women’s Christian Association;[17] and

5.     Ebby lodged for the entire school year with Rev. Sidney K. Perkins, minister of the First Congregational Church in Manchester, Vermont (where Burr and Burton Seminary was and still is located).[18]

In closing this article, it is also important to remember that A.A.’s cofounders, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, were Christian laymen, not ministers or theologians.

[1] Bill Wilson, W. G. Wilson’s Original Story, no date, typescript, Stepping Stones archive, Katonah, New York. Dick B. was given permission by the Stepping Stones archivist at the time, Paul Lang, to photocopy this unpublished manuscript. Each line in the manuscript is numbered, with the lines numbers going from 1 to 1,180. And Dick B. discussed this document in a number of his published titles, including: (1) Dick B., The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous, new, rev. ed./3rd ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1992, 1995, 1998), 373 [called “Bill Wilson’s Original Story”]; (2) Dick B., The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, Newton ed. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1992, 1998), 327-28 [called “Bill Wilson’s Original Story”]. Dick B. states in footnote 31 (on page 28) concerning this manuscript: “The author obtained a copy of this manuscript from Bill’s home at Stepping Stones during his October, 1991, visit there.” (3) Dick B., New Light on Alcoholism: God, Sam Shoemaker, and (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 1994, 1999), 580 [called “Bill Wilson’s Original Story”]. (4) Dick B., Turning Point: A History of Early A.A.’s Spiritual Roots and Successes (San Rafael, Calif.: Paradise Research Publications, 1997), 82, fn. 1 (continued from page 81) [called “Bill Wilson’s Original Story”];
Here are two places on the Internet where (purported) reproductions of this manuscript may be seen currently: (1); accessed 8/29/2015; and (2) “Message 6500 . . . Original draft of Bill’s Story; From: bbthumpthump . . . 5/1/2010 3:47:00 PM;; accessed 8/28/2015.”
[2] In this (purported) document, the chapter titled “There Is a Solution”—now chapter two in the book Alcoholics Anonymous—is chapter one. And the chapter titled “Bill’s Story”—now chapter one in the book Alcoholics Anonymous–is chapter two. Bill W. said about these two chapters: “Some time in March or April [1938] I began to work on what was to become the book Alcoholics Anonymous. [—Bill’s wife Lois, who kept a diary, stated in her memoir, Lois Remembers, that the start date for the Big Book was actually in May 1938.] By the time our big money push was under way {“from early summer to early fall [1938]”—page 152 in Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age} I had completed my own story and had roughed out what is now the second chapter of the A.A. book. Mimeographed copies of these two chapters were part of the paraphernalia for the money-raising operation, . . .” See Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1957), 153.
This (purported) document—with no accompanying explanation as to where it came from—appears in several places on the Internet; e.g.: (1); accessed 8/29/2015; (2) “Pre-Original Draft of Chapter 1 & 2”:; accessed 8/29/2015; and (3) “‘There Is A Solution’ & the 2nd Draft of ‘Bill's Story’”:; accessed 8/29/2015.
[3] “‘Chapter One: Bill’s Story’ in the ‘Original Manuscript’”:; accessed 8/29/2015. Bill W. stated concerning what he called “a prepublication copy of the text and some of the stories”: “By January [1939] the Akronites had produced eighteen fine stories. . . . With somewhat more difficulty the New York group produced ten stories. . . [T]he story section of the book was complete in the latter part of January, 1939. So at last was the text. . . . But someone . . . sounded a note of caution. . . . ‘. . . Had we not better make a prepublication copy of the text and some of the stories and try the book out on our own membership and on every kind and class of person that has anything to do with drunks?’ . . . Four hundred mimeograph copies of the book were made and sent to everyone we could think of who might be concerned with the problem of alcoholism.” See Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 164-65.
[4] See “Chapter One: Bill’s Story” in The Book That Started It All: The Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous (Center City, Minn.: Hazelden, 2010): For additional information on the printer’s manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous, see, for example: “The ‘Holy Grail’ of Alcoholics Anonymous”:; accessed 8/29/2015. Bill W. stated about the preparation of the printer’s manuscript: “By now great numbers of the 400 mimeographs which had been sent out had been returned. . . . Nothing now remained except to prepare the printer’s copy of the book. We selected one of the mimeographs, and in Henry’s clear handwriting all the corrections were transferred to it. [“Henry” was Bill’s business partner and first “successful” sponsee in the New York area, Henry (Hank) P., who later got drunk around September 1939.] There were few large changes but the small ones were very numerous. The copy was hardly legible and we wondered if the printer would take it, heavily marked up as it was.” See Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 167, 169.
[5] The first printing of the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous was published in April 1939. Its copyright date was April 10, 1939. On April 10, 2014, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., published the 75th Anniversary Commemorative Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous , an exact reprint of the first printing of the first edition of the Big Book: See also: Alcoholics Anonymous: “The Big Book”: The Original 1939 Edition, with a new Introduction [23 pages] by Dick B. (Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2011).
[6] Chapter One, “Bill’s Story,” in Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed. (New York City: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 2001), 11.
[7] Dick B., The Conversion of Bill W.: More on the Creator’s Role in Early A.A. (Kihei, HI: Paradise Research Publications, Inc., 2006).
[8] Mel B., Ebby: The Man Who Sponsored Bill W. (Center City, MN: Hazelden, 1998).
[9] Dick B., “A.A., Dr. William D. Silkworth, and the ‘Great Physician’”:; accessed 8/30/2015.
[10] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 9.
[11] Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 11.
[12] Bill W.’s comment here about his wishing he “had been religiously trained from early childhood” is misleading. Dick B. has written about Bill’s Christian upbringing and training in several of his published titles and in numerous articles. Bill’s Christian upbringing included: (1) Bill’s mother’s recounting to him from his earliest childhood days his paternal grandfather  William C. (“Willie”) Wilson’s religious conversion experience which freed Willie from his alcoholism; (2) Bill’s attendance at Sunday school at East Dorset Congregational Church; (3) Bill’s reading the Bible with his maternal grandfather, Gardner Fayette Griffith; and (4) the various Christian activities in which Bill participated at Burr and Burton Seminary. Here’s just one example: Bill Wilson's pastor, D. Miner Rogers of East Dorset Congregational Church, awarded Bill a New Testament for one quarter-of-a-year’s perfect Sunday school attendance right after Bill and his sister Dorothy returned from Rutland in 1906. There is an inscription in the New Testament Bill received. It reads:  “Will Wilson, for perfect attendance at Sunday School, Fourth Quarter 1906 from his pastor D. Miner Rogers East Dorset Vt. Jan 1, 1907 II Tim.3/14.15.” See: “The Library of Books found at Stepping Stones, the historic home of Bill and Lois Wilson”: [This information is found near the end of the document under the listing for “various” (i.e., miscellaneous/otherwise unclassified items)].
[13] “Bill’s Original Story”:; accessed 8/30/2015. Please note that I have corrected a few obvious typos, but have left several of the typo’s in the text—some of which were in the typed manuscript, and some of which were introduced by the person who attempted to reproduce my dad’s (authorized) copy of the typed manuscript.
[14] Ken B., “A.A. Cofounder Bill W.'s Four-Year Bible Study Course While Attending Burr and Burton Seminary”;; accessed 8/30/2015.
[15] Dick B., “A.A. Cofounder Bill W.: His Younger Years at a Glance”;; accessed 8/30/2015.
[16] Bill W., My First 40 Years (Center City, Minn.: Hazelden, 2000), 29.
[17] Manchester Journal [Manchester, Vermont], Number 31, Thursday morning, November 21, 1912, Volume LII, page 3 (unnumbered) under “Manchester Center”:; accessed 8/30/2015.
[18] Mel B., Ebby, 51.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Standing on the Promises of God

Standing on the Promises of God 

By Dick B.
© 2015 Anonymous. All rights reserved

When I first entered the rooms of A.A. in April 1986, I frequently heard a disabled Army colonel who had lost his hearing, gone through several divorces, encountered seemingly-endless troubles. The colonel often said, “It’s not a bed of roses out there.” But I took his statement to mean that though the going might be rough, we all could make it if we tried. Here are the Bible verses which I frequently reviewed and which enabled me to be victorious. One such verse is found in the book of Exodus: 

And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. [Exod 15:26 KJV] 

Another verse I often recited to my self is found in the book of Psalms: 

Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. [Psa 103:1-5, 8 KJV] 

Another is found in Mark chapter 16:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. [Mark 16:15, 17-20 KJV] 

Both A.A. cofounders, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, placed great emphasis on the importance of the book of James, 1 Corinthians 13, and “the Sermon on the Mount.” And we stress that standing on the promises of God should be grounded on the following verses from the book of James: 

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. [Jam 4:7, 10 KJV] 

Standing on the promises of God is what early AAs did. 

Gloria Deo

Friday, May 15, 2015

A Huge Opportunity to Serve God, Help Others, and Improve Your Life

A Huge Opportunity to Serve God, Help Others, and Improve Your Life


By Dick B.

© Anonymous 2015. All rights reserved


·         I will be 90 years old tomorrow. (I was born May 15, 1925.)

·         I have more than 29 years of continuous sobriety in A.A. (I got sober April 21, 1986.)

·         I have dozens of clean, sober, accomplished, service-oriented, new friends in recovery.

·         I know thousands of Christians in recovery.

·         I encourage those who believe or seek to believe that they—and others suffering from alcoholism and addiction—can depend upon Almighty God for their recovery.

·         I well remember the many people who came from all over the United States and Canada to the huge conference my son Ken and I hosted at Mariners Church Community Center in May 2009 (with tremendous help from Rev. Jim Gaffney and others) for Christians concerned about recovery. And at that conference, Ken and I were able to describe and report the role that God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible play and can play in recovery from alcoholism and addiction.

·         I know many Christian leaders and workers in the recovery arena who have become “Participants” in the International Christian Recovery Coalition Ken and I founded in July 2009 (

·         I know many people who do not want to support any takeover of Alcoholics Anonymous by the atheists and agnostics who are trying to exclude God from recovery or re-write a program that will blot out the need for “Divine aid,” and obscure the facts about what God can do for those still suffering (

·         I know many who have not read or heard what Dr. Bob wrote in his Big Book story about his feeling sorry for atheists and agnostics, followed by his asserting in the final sentence of his personal story: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”

·         I continue to reach out to all those who are friendly to each other.

·         I continue to reach out to those who believe they can help others by love and service.

·         I continue to reach out to those who grasp the fact that hatred of other beliefs or unbelief is poisonous.

·         I continue to seek out and encourage those who are friendly to A.A. fellowships.

·         I continue to encourage groups, meetings, and participants who are friendly to any who seek recovery from alcoholism and addiction, and want to stop the destroyers.

·         I continue to seek out and encourage people who are friendly to those in the fields of religion, science, education, charity, medicine, and psychology—fields composed of those who seek to help others and become informed themselves.

·         I continue to appreciate the dozens and dozens of sponsees who have asked and allowed me through the years to help them.


There has been growing a loud voice from opponents and destroyers of fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous. Most of you know how much you have enjoyed and profited from all the activities, achievements, and rewards of A.A. Most believe that God can and will and does do for suffering alcoholics and addicts what they could not do for themselves.


·         Please consider that thousands have participated in the International Christian Recovery Coalition and its conferences. We believe the strong testimonial approach of the original AAs is the most persuasive and effective method of standing tall for God’s help. It allows the many who have been rebuked for mentioning God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible to tell believers, other recovery participants, and others who strongly seek to help others, to stand on the ideas that A.A. will perish, if we forget where we came from; and that,  if we do not have before us the truth that God has the (best) solution for overcoming the problem of alcoholism, do not carry that message to those who still suffer, the (original, highly-successful) A.A. program will be lost.


·         Please communicate with us in any way you choose; and let us know your suggestions, questions, and views as to how to keep God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Bible in the same, clear, successful role that prompted millions to choose the “old-school” A.A. program for their complete healing. 


Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Prov 3:5-6 KJV)



Gloria Deo

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Hearing "the rest of" A.A. History

The Purpose of Dick B.’s Alcoholics Anonymous and A.A. History Website Why this site by Dick B. on the history of A.A., and the people and organizations involved with successful Christian Recovery efforts which preceded and influenced Alcoholics Anonymous? We believe you should hear the whole A.A. history story if you are to receive and pass on the spiritual tools that A.A. offers to those who still suffer. But our primary focus is on “the rest of the story.” The fact is that there are countless untold, ignored, discarded, distorted, or omitted pieces of A.A. history that offer opportunities to still-suffering alcoholics and addicts to be lifted out of the mire, to seek the same cure that early AAs received, and to pursue a transformed life anew. The many resources here will supply what has been missing. They will highlight what AAs in misery, in confusion, and in repeated relapses can do if they learn and know what the original A.A. pioneers did in depending and relying upon the power and love of God. And in finding or rediscovering God through His Son Jesus Christ on the path found in the Bible. Major Historical Landmarks along the Alcoholics Anonymous Path to Recovery In Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”), the “basic text” of A.A. (the first edition of which was published in April 1939), A.A. cofounder Bill W. wrote: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” [Big Book, 4th ed., 58]. What is usually unfamiliar to the A.A. Fellowship is Bill W.’s inspiring declaration in the personal story of AA Number Three (Bill D.) found in the second edition (published in 1955), the third edition (published in 1976), and the fourth edition (published in 2001) of the “basic text”: “. . . [T]he 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.” [Big Book, 4th ed., 191] A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob said in his last major talk to AAs: It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and stories 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 [i.e., the Bible]. [The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches: Their Last Major Talks (Item # P-53), 14] An effort that began with the founding of A.A. in June 1935 in Akron, Ohio. And Dr. Bob concluded his own personal story in the Big Book by voicing the same emphasis that Bill W. gave when he spoke of his having been cured of alcoholism by the Lord. Dr. Bob stated: Your Heavenly Father will never let you down! [Big Book, 4th ed., 181] The problem is that neither I nor most AAs nor most other people in the recovery arena know or even seem to want to know exactly what occurred that put A.A. on the map. Or that generated sales of over 40 million Big Books. Or that brought the worldwide Society of Alcoholics Anonymous to a membership level of about 2 million people. Yet A.A. had produced a wide variety of solid, reliable, spiritual tools between its founding in June 1935 and the publication of the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (“the Big Book”) in April 1939. And we want to be sure that desperate, “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable” alcoholics hear the whole story. Better stated, that they know “the rest of the story” about their cherished Fellowship. And the option of placing their recovery in God’s hands today. A Brief Outline of Key Points about A.A.’s Earliest Years First Century Christianity. Many early observers of Alcoholics Anonymous likened early Akron A.A. to First Century Christianity. As Mr. Albert Scott, chairman of the trustees of Riverside Church, put it at a meeting with a number of early AAs and some supporters in New York: “Why, this is first-century Christianity!” Then he asked, “What can we do to help?” [‘PASS IT ON,’ 184] And a careful study of what the Apostles did in the First Century, as reported in the Book of Acts in the Bible and as mirrored in early A.A. (particularly in Akron), is very rewarding. A.A.’s Christian Predecessors. Centuries later, beginning around the mid-1800s, Christian individuals, churches, and movements began looking at alcoholics, addicts, homeless people, and derelicts in a new light. Instead of condemning them as downtrodden wretches, many Christian people and entities set about bringing to them the Bible, salvation, and some very real help. One such Christian organization was the Salvation Army. The distinguished scholar and theology professor Howard J. Clinebell wrote, for example: The long history of the Salvation Army . . . has demonstrated persistent concern with the practical application of religious resources to help victims of social chaos, oppression, and addictions. From the beginning, there has been an ongoing commitment to help “the least, the last, and the lost” with “soup, soap, and salvation.” This down-to-earth orientation led the Army from its inception into the field of alcoholism. Firsthand experiences in the squalor of London slums made the founders, William and Evangeline Booth, and their fellow Salvationists keenly sensitive to the problem. Booth agonized over the tragic plight of England’s half million alcoholics. [Howard Clinebell, Understanding and Counseling Persons with Alcohol, Drug, and Behavioral Addictions, rev. and enl. ed. (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 1998), 184]. And the Salvation Army efforts coincided with those of: •Gospel Rescue Missions; •the Young Men’s Christian Association; •Christian evangelists such as Moody, Sankey, Moorhouse, Meyer, Drummond, Moore, and Folger—who accomplished many a healing as they carried the need for salvation and the Word of God to the derelicts; •Congregationalists in Vermont; and • the Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor (in which Dr. Bob and his parents were active in Bob’s youth), which developed a program for young Christians that much resembled that of the subsequently-developed Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program. (E.g., both programs included conversion, Bible study, prayer, Quiet Hour, and outreach to newcomers.) The group founded in the autumn of 1922 by Lutheran minister Dr. Frank N. D. Buchman and a couple of his associates called “A First Century Christian Fellowship”—better known after 1928 as “the Oxford Group”—also contributed its share of life-changing ideas to early Alcoholics Anonymous, though Buchman’s group focused primarily on saving “drunken nations” rather than on saving drunks. But its emphasis of God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible, brought rescue to a number of alcoholics in its ranks. The Christian Upbringings of A.A. Cofounders in Vermont. As A.A.’s cofounders-to-be were receiving their Christian upbringing in Vermont, they absorbed the news about the organizations and people just mentioned. But they also attended Congregational Sunday schools, churches, and Congregationalist-dominated academies. There they studied the Bible and attended daily chapel (with its sermons, reading of Scripture, hymns, and prayers). And they were necessarily put in touch with a substantial amount of the Young Men’s Christian Association’s salvation and Bible emphasis. How the First Three AAs Got Sober. The story of how the first three AAs got sober is not a story about an A.A. program. It is an account of how three down-and-out Christian alcoholics—who believed in God, had been Bible students, and had been active in churches at a one or more points in their lives—admitted their alcoholism, determined to quit for good, turned to God for help, were cured, and actively helped others for the rest of their days. The Original Akron A.A. “Christian Fellowship” Program. This first actual A.A. program founded in Akron in June 1935 was Bible-based. It had no Twelve Steps or Twelve Traditions. It had no Big Book. And it had no “war stories” or meetings like those seen today. The pioneers believed the answers to their problems were in the Bible. The AAs in Akron called themselves a “Christian fellowship.” And their seven-point program as it looked in February 1938 is summarized on page 131 of DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers. Its principles and practices incorporated ideas both Bill W. and Dr. Bob had learned growing up in Vermont. And do you know what that program really was? Bill W.’s “New Version of the Program, . . . the ‘Twelve Steps.’” Then came Bill Wilson’s “new version of the program, . . . the ‘Twelve Steps.’” [See Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 162]. Bill prepared his Big Book and the content of his “Steps” from the things he borrowed from Dr. William D. Silkworth, Professor William James, and Reverend Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr.—a chief lieutenant of the Oxford Group in America and rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York. [See The Language of the Heart , 195-98, 297-98]. A Major Compromise by a “Committee of Four.” Shortly before Bill W.’s Big Book was published in April 1939, a dramatic change in A.A. occurred. Bill described in considerable detail how the Big Book was written on pages 153-73 of Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. On page 166, Bill described what he said “[a]t the time . . . looked like just another battle over the book.” On pages 17 and 162-64, he had given the background of an ongoing “debate” among the “conservative, liberal, and radical viewpoints,” out of which “came the spiritual form and substance of the document.” And on page 166, Bill stated: We [i.e., a “committee of four” comprised of Fitz, Henry, Henry’s secretary Ruth, and Bill W.] were still arguing about the Twelve Steps. All this time I had refused to budge on these steps. I would not change a word of the original draft, in which, you will remember, I had consistently used the word “God,” . . . From the quote immediately above, together with other language in the same paragraph, we learn from the Big Book’s (primary) author, Bill W., that he had written the (unmodified) word “God” in his “original draft” of the Twelve Steps and had firmly stuck with that language up to the point of this “battle over the book.” But then the “contentions” of the “radical” viewpoint—represented by Bill’s partner Henry (“Hank P.”) and Jimmy B.—won out. Bill spoke of “compromise” and “compromise words,” stating: . . . In Step Two we decided to describe God as a “Power greater than ourselves.” In Steps Three and Eleven we inserted the words “God as we understood Him.” . . . Such were the final concessions to those of little or no faith; this was the great contribution of our atheists and agnostics. . . . God was certainly there in our Steps, but . . . [Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, 167; italics in original] When 400 copies of the typed “prepublication copy of the text and some of the stories,” which Bill said he had labeled “the mimeograph issue ‘Alcoholics Anonymous,’ were circulated to “everyone we could think of who might be concerned with the problem of alcoholism,” the wording of Steps Two and Three had already been changed to reflect the “compromise.” But Step Eleven still contained the unmodified word “God”: 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. [“Chapter Five: How It Works” in The Original Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous available on] It was not until Hazelden published high-resolution scans of the printer’s manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous in 2010 under the title, The Book That Started It All: The Original Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous, that it became possible for the first time for the public to see both the unmodified word “God” in Step Eleven and the handwritten circle added around the word “God,” accompanied by the handwritten words “as we understood” stretching into the right-hand margin. The scanned copy of the printer’s manuscript, reprinted on pages 21-190 in The Book That Started It All, is filled with scribbled notes, changes, deletions, and initials of those who fiddled with it. And a considerable number of the markings reflect an effort to remove Christian and Bible traces, as well as references to God. And they surely altered the whole tenor of Bill’s codified Oxford Group “new version of the program.” What This Website Offers Alcoholics and Addicts Still Suffering Today The history, origins, and development of A.A. are certainly covered by the many dissemination categories covered by the many sources referred to in this website. But “the rest of the story” is what we emphasize. “The rest of the story” documents the early successes based on, and the later shift away from, the Bible roots, Christian fellowship, and original and concise Akron A.A. program The major and previously-obscured points are found in the books, articles, blogs, audios, videos, radio shows, YouTube presentations, and other materials you will find through this website. You will note how A.A. moved from its original quest for a Bible-based cure of alcoholism by the power of God to self-made Twelve Steps drawn from a philosopher, a psychiatrist, and an Episcopalian Rector. You will see that there has been a decided drift in recovery tools from reliance on God to literature that describes “gods” with weird names like “light bulb, Big Dipper, tree, and door knob.” It shifted descriptions of God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible to “higher powers,” “spirituality,” and the newly-proclaimed dictum that you may now, if you wish, believe in nothing at all as you enter the rooms of A.A. And it is the result of 25 years of research, and 28 years of continuous sobriety, as well as the hands-on work “in the trenches” by Dick B. and his son Ken B., that almost demand of the newcomer admission of some kind of total defeat, a determination not to drink, reliance on God, reference to the Bible, and the helping of and service to others. These are the simple ingredients of “old-school” A.A.—particularly as it was seen in A.A.’s early days in Akron and to some extent in Cleveland as well. We believe that Christians will—when fully informed—consider their options in recovery today. The “old-school” ideas can and should be applied in the 12-Step Fellowships as an option that placed A.A. on the map and fostered the sale of millions of A.A. books in the ensuing decades. The All-But-Ignored-or-Forgotten Precepts of “Old School” A.A. As a taste of “the rest of the story” that you will find here, the following pieces of evidence speak more loudly than any research, lectures, history books, opinions, and statistical surveys. Around the beginning of December 1934, Bill Wilson went to Calvary Mission in New York City where his friend Ebby was living and made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. On December 11, 1934, he checked into Towns Hospital as a patient needing care for alcoholism for the fourth and final time. About three days into that stay, Bill cried out to God for help. He had his famous vital religious experience in which he said his hospital room “blazed with an indescribably white light.” And Bill wrote that he believed “the God of the Scriptures” was present in his room and that this was the source of Bill’s being cured of alcoholism. [See, for example, The Language of the Heart, 284]. Bill W.’s story still rests on his statement quoted by AA Number Three, Bill D., in Bill D.’s personal story in the Big Book: “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.” [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 191] Dr. Bob was persuaded by a tiny group of friends meeting at T. Henry and Clarace Williams’ home in Akron, Ohio, to confess publically to them that he was a “secret drinker.” He dropped to the floor on his knees with them and prayed for his deliverance. The miracle of the appearance of Bill Wilson, a total stranger, in Akron in May 1935, followed and constituted what the group and Dr. Bob believed was the answer to the prayer. Soon, after one last binge in early June, Dr. Bob said in Bill W.’s presence that he was leaving the surgery he was about to perform and his determination to quit drinking in God’s hands. And June 1935 marked A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob’s last drink and the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. There is much much more to give present-day alcoholics and addicts a reliable picture of how they can, even today, learn and apply the history, the belief, and the actions that buttressed the successful efforts of 40 “seemingly-hopeless,” “medically-incurable,” “last-gasp-case,” “real” alcoholics who were staying sober as of November 1937 to get well and stay well. And we suggest that the principles and practices required in the highly-successful, early Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program are still an option today, based on current A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature. Help Support Our Work [Your gifts, contributions, patronizing Google advertisers, and buying recommended books on our Associates page enable us to distribute history materials free; help fund research trips to resource sites as East Dorset, Vermont (Bill W.’s birthplace), St. Johnsbury, Vermont (Dr. Bob’s birthplace), and the Dr. Bob Core Library in St. Johnsbury, Vermont; and help us acquire the books and documents for the Wilson House and Dr. Bob’s Core Library; and to publish our findings as well as to post them on web sites of ours and of those who welcome history materials.] First, if you have benefited from and wish to support this work financially, you can now make your donations online by clicking here! Credit or Debit Card, or PayPal Accepted. (PayPal is the gateway BUT NO PAYPAL ACCOUNT IS REQUIRED.) Contact Dick B. Phone: (808) 874 4876 PO Box 837 Kihei, HI 96753-0837 © 1999-2014. Paradise Research Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Trademarks and Disclaimer: ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, A.A., and Big Book are registered trademarks of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Dick B.’s web site, Paradise Research Publications, Inc., and Good Book Publishing Company are neither endorsed nor approved by nor associated or affiliated with Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Established November 18, 1995 Site Visitors: 4,749,354 Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional - See more at: