Archive for the ‘A.A.’ Category

A.A. Big Book and 12 Step Sources

May 20, 2011

A.A. Big Book and 12 Step Sources

Identifying the Roots and the References


Dick B.


P. O. Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837

Ph/fax: 808 874 4876

Email:; URL:


© 2011 Anonymous. All rights reserved.



Summary of the Identifiable Sources


My materials which have covered in much detail the seven major Bible sources will be referenced in this article. Those which cover the other sources will refer to my own limited writings, to other studies, and to the areas where further research and writing are appropriate and very much needed.

The identifiable sources, in substantial totality, are:

The Seven Major Bible Roots:


  • The Bible (King James Version) which AAs called the “Good Book.”


  • Quiet  Time – the period of prayer, Bible study, seeking of guidance,

                        reading from sources such as Anne Smith’s Journal and devotionals                              such as The Upper Room, and discussing of thoughts and ideas.


  • Anne Smith’s Journal – a booklet written between 1933 and 1939 in the     hand of Dr. Bob’s wife, with discussions of Bible, Oxford Group,         recommended literature, and practical ideas for Christian living.   Whose contents Anne Smith shared each morning at the Smith home    with AAs and their families.


  • Oxford Group Principles and Practices – some twenty-eight ideas that        impacted on the A.A. fellowship, were codified into its Big Book and            12 Steps, and are contained primarily in a large number of writings            by various Oxford Group activists—beginning with the book Soul       Surgery published in 1919.


  • The Teachings of Rev. Samuel M. Shoemaker, Jr. – Rector of Calvary       Episcopal Church in New York in A.A.’s formative years, a close    friend of and teacher of Bill Wilson’s, and the author of over 30 titles,   many   sermons, and frequently published articles whose language can be found in the Big Book, Steps, and fellowship jargon. Called by Bill             Wilson a “co-founder” of A.A.


  • Religious literature widely circulated among and read by Pioneer AAs —   books, pamphlets, and articles, primarily Christian and Protestant, by           such popular authors as Henry Drummond, Oswald Chambers,          Glenn Clark, E. Stanley Jones, Charles Sheldon, Harry Emerson       Fosdick, Emmet Fox, James Allen, Harold Begbie, Samuel          Shoemaker, Victor Kitchen, Stephen Foot, and A. J. Russell. Also,   daily devotionals such as The Upper Room, My Utmost for His Highest,          The Runner’s Bible, The Meaning of Prayer, Victorious Living,    Practicing the Presence of God, and the Imitation of Christ


  • The Young People’s Christian Endeavor Society—

It was this group (founded in Maine in 1881) in which A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob Smith was active as a youngster in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. And this society of young people had the following principles and practices which became a major pillar of the original Akron Christian Fellowship program founded in 1935: (1) Confession of Jesus Christ. (2) Conversion meetings. (3) Prayer meetings. (4) Bible study meetings. (5) Quiet Hour. (6) Discussion of Christian literature. (7) Furthering the two important sets of mottoes (For Christ and Church; and Love and Service). Of course, A.A. was not—like Christian

Endeavor—aligned with any sect, church, or denomination.


Other Significant Influences on Bill’s Big Book and Steps:


  • William Duncan Silkworth, M.D. — the psychiatrist in charge of Towns Hospital in New York, who frequently treated Bill Wilson for alcoholism, seems to have fostered A.A.’s “obsession and allergy” theories about the so-called “disease” of alcoholism, and who wrote the Doctor’s Opinion contained in each edition of Bill’s Big Book. Silkworth also advised Bill Wilson that the “Great Physician” Jesus Christ could cure Bill of his alcoholism.


Carl Gustav Jung, M.D. — the world-renowned Swiss psychiatrist who     treated Rowland Hazard, recommended affiliation with a religious       group, and opined there was no cure for Rowland’s chronic, alcoholic     mind, except through a religious conversion experience—the solution     thought by Bill Wilson to have been the source of his own cure and       to be the foundation for the later Twelfth Step “spiritual experience”

idea in A.A.


  • William James, M.D. –- called by many the father of American        psychology, long dead before A.A. was founded, a Harvard Professor          whose focus was on psychology, experimental psychology, and   philosophy, whose work impacted the writings and beliefs of Rev.         Sam Shoemaker, Jr. and whose book The Varieties of Religious    Experience was, to Bill Wilson, a validation of his “white light”    experience and also a foundation of Bill’s First Step idea about       “deflation in depth.”


  • Richard Peabody – an alcoholism therapist whose title The Common           Sense of Drinking was owned by both Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob and    who, though he did not teach reliance on God and died drunk,          appears to have influenced Bill’s writings and language with such         ideas as “powerlessness,” “once an alcoholic always an alcoholic,” “no          cure for alcoholism,” “surrender,” “half measures availed us

nothing,” and a few other therapeutic ideas.


Other significant religious influences on either Akron A.A. or Wilson’s Big Book:


  • The United Christian Endeavor Society –a worldwide organization, numbering in the tens of thousands, consisting primarily of young people supporting their particular church. Espoused most of the principles and practices that characterized the unique Akron A.A. Christian Fellowship program—conversion to Christ, reliance on the Creator, Bible study, prayer meetings, Quiet Hour, fellowship, witness, love,     and service. Its ideas have simply vanished from A.A. historical discussions yet Dr. Bob’s participation as a youngster seems to have poured into many specifics of the Akron program, items that bore little or no resemblance to Oxford Group practices.


  • Also the following five groups of organizations or people who more directly contributed to A.A. founders the effectiveness of: (1) Salvation, the Bible, and Witnessing. (2) Curing alcoholics by conversion. (3) Doing personal work with the afflicted without denominational or church affiliation. (4) “Rescuing” the down-and-out in their earliest days by “soup, soap, and salvation in missions, (5) Testimonials brining about transformations and rebirth.


The Salvation Army, Gospel and Rescue Missions, the famous evangelists like Dwight L. Moody, the “Great Awakening of 1875 in St. Johnsbury Vermont, and the personal work of YMCA lay brethren.


  • The New Thought Movement –a unique spinoff from conventional

            Christian denominations that includes Christian Science, Unity,             Science of Mind, Divine Science, Religious Science, Psychiana, Society       for the Study of Metaphysical Religion, and Process New Thought—         probably contributing unusual “spiritual” words to A.A. language        such as “Higher Power,” “Fourth Dimension,” “Universal Mind,” and other metaphysical terms differing substantially from Biblical words    used by A.A. pioneers from their King James Version Bibles- words             such as “Creator,” “Maker,” “Father of light,” “God of our Fathers,”             “Heavenly Father,” and “Our Father.”


  •  New Age Ideas – though identification of “New Age” as a “Movement” is            difficult and controversial, the movement is said to focus on “One World Government” and “One World Religion” substituting its             apparent new definitions for words that have long established       biblical meaning—words changing “Jesus” and “Yahweh” to “the

Christ,” “the Lord,” and “the One” and then defining a new theology that tells us we all have Christ in us, that there is “a new god,” and that man can be “saved” by a “message” in which he “believes” rather than through        believing on Jesus Christ (John 3:16). Just read certain Big Book language that implies that “faith” in the “idea of God” can be found deep within us; or the contemporary writing that fashions spirituality” out of a “not-god-ness”thesis, and that “Something” saves, but not Jesus Christ.


The Bill Wilson Legacy


Bill Wilson was the author of the basic text of Alcoholics Anonymous and of the Twelve Steps of recovery suggested therein. Questions have been raised about the authorship of the chapters “To Wives” and “To Employers” in theBig Book; butWilsonsaid he had asked Dr. Bob’s wife to write the chapter to the wives, that Anne Smith declined, that Lois Wilson (his wife) was angry about the slight, and that he wrote the chapter. As to the “To Employers” chapter, I leave that authorship quandary to someone else’s research and conclusions.

Some A.A.-related shibboleths to be discarded.

  • First, that there were “Oxford Group Steps.”  No!  Non-existent. Both Bill Wilson and his wife Lois suggested that the Oxford Group (an A.A. source) had six steps. But the Oxford Group did not have “six steps.” They had no steps at all, no six steps, and no twelve steps, whatever you may have heard.


  • Second, that the Twelve Steps were derived from the Exercises of St. Ignatius Exercises or John Wesley’s Principles of Holiness. No.  Not involved. As to Father Ed Dowling, S.J., who met Bill Wilson after the Twelve Steps were written: According to one writer, Dowling “was interested in the parallels he had intuited between the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Exercises of St. Ignatius. . . . That . . . Wilson wearily confessed ignorance of the Exercises at once endeared the diminutive cleric to Bill” (Kurtz, Not-God, p. 88). Parallels, not  product. And the same may possibly be said of some of Wesley’s ideas on works on grace and mercy. But I have found nothing in the accounts of A.A. or its Biblical progenitors that suggests any significant relationship at all between early A.A. and either Ignatius or Wesley. In fact, as we will point out, the Steps bear an unmistakable Oxford Group imprint and more precisely the imprint and language of Rev. Sam Shoemaker, who, Bill said, had taught Bill almost every step idea.


  • Third, that A.A. originally had an alleged six “word –of-mouth” steps. Bill suggested that there were six word-of-mouth steps being used before the Twelve Steps were written (Pass It On, p. 197). That’s possible, but these steps, if there were any, were certainly not well defined or consistently described. Lois likened them to a supposed six Oxford Group steps (Lois Remembers, pp. 113, 92). Today, it’s quite clear that the Oxford Group had no such six steps (Pass It On, pp. 197, 206 n. 2). Moreover, there is no convincing evidence to support Bill’s assertion of a supposed six steps. Sometimes, they were referred to as the Oxford Groups six steps—which, as we have said—did not exist. On other occasions, Bill described these “word-of-mouth” steps in varying and inconsistent ways (See Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, p. 160; The Language of the Heart, p. 200; Lois Remembers, p. 113; and my review in Dick B., The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd ed., pp. 256-260).


And Bill added his own disclaimer as to any fixed steps in any form, stating that the six were subject to considerable variation—which they were (The Akron Genesis, supra, p. 256). In fact, long after Bill’s death, his secretary and long-time aid Nell Wing personally handed me one of the versions in Bill’s own handwriting. But this version in no way resembled Bill’s other descriptions.

The final myth about the “six steps” seems to stem from a personal story in the Big Book’s later edition which purportedly was the story of Earl Treat of Chicago. There is a description there of a supposed six steps used by Dr. Bob (Alcoholics Anonymous 3rd ed., p. 292; Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, pp. 22-23).  However, Dr. Bob was then dead and the procedure attributed to him uses words like “Complete deflation” and “Higher Power” that were simply not characteristic of the descriptive words such as “God” and “Heavenly Father;” the need for abstinence; and the references to “sins” accurately attributed to Dr. Bob and his technique by Frank Amos (See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, p. 131). I therefore strongly believe, that the descriptive words were not those of Dr. Bob and that that portion was most probably written or edited and changed by someone other than Earl Treat. Even a cursory glance shows that Treat himself spoke of a number of other “Oxford Group” procedures that Dr. Bob used in Bob’s session with Earl in Dr. Bob’s office. And the first two of the supposed Bob Smith six steps employ language that I have never found in any records of what Dr. Bob said in those days—deflation in depth and “higher power.” These were phrases and ideas that came from Bill Wilson, and they were used byWilson long after the earlyAkron days in which Dr. Bob and Bill formulated the seven-point program reported to John D. Rockefeller by Frank Amos and specifically set forth in A.A.’s Conference Approved biography of Dr. Bob.

In describing his actual writing of the Twelve Steps, Bill spoke of six ideas then in use, and he and Lois both indicated he expanded the six to twelve so that there would be no “wiggle room” for those taking the steps. The problem is that all of the major ideas that Bill incorporated into the twelve steps were long previously in Bill’s reservoir from what his own sponsor Ebby Thacher had taught him in 1934—at least four years before the steps were written. (See Alcoholics Anonymous 4th ed., pp. 13-16; also my extended treatment and review of the Stepping Stones manuscripts and what Bill originally wrote about the Oxford Group teachings from Ebby and others, as found in my title, Dick B., Turning Point: A History of the Spiritual Roots and Successes of Early A.A. They were also in Bill’s reservoir of what the Oxford Group had been teaching since 1919—(1) the five C’s of “Soul Surgery,” (2) the “Four Absolutes” borrowed from Dr. Robert E. Speer, (3) the moral inventory ideas that came from the Oxford Group and Matthew 7:1-5 of the sermon on the mount, (4) the confession ideas that came from James 5:16, (5) the restitution ideas that came from many parts of the Bible, particularly the Sermon on the Mount, (6) the Quiet Time ideas that began in the previous century with the “morning watch” and writings of F. B. Meyer, as well as the materials in the first chapter of the Book of James, (7) the “spiritual experience,” “pass it on,” and practice of spiritual principles that came at the very least from 1 Corinthians 13, the Ten Commandments, and portions of the Sermon on the Mount.

Some have objected to my specific footnotes and citations which abound in my books; but they are the foundation of my writings. When I find something, I identify its source if I can. Then I identify its link to A.A. if I can. And then I specify my sources so that others can check them out and discuss or dispute them if they wish. The end result during the past twenty years has been heart-warming. This despite occasional sarcastic remarks now and then about my supposed “preaching,” my supposed “agenda,” my alleged status as a “hobbyist.” All this nonsense may keep me out of the hair of some revisionists and bleeding deacons. But the perpetrators seldom if ever offer documentation of any kind whatever that discusses, disputes, or analyzes the sources. Therefore I stick to the evidence and let the nay sayers throw stones if they care to. And a few do.

Now let’s get down to cases. Let’s see what Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob Smith, and Dr. Bob’s wife Anne Ripley Smith had to say about the sources embodied in theBig Bookand Twelve Steps. Then we can get specific about those sources, the documentation, and the references. And the references to those specifics are described here only in limited and in outline form.

Some enlightening statements by the founders as to sources:

  • Bill Wilson wrote the following:


                        [I’ve compacted them into the following, though they were written at                                 different points in time:]  (1) A. A. was not invented. (2) Nobody invented               Alcoholics Anonymous. (3) Each of A.A.’s principles, every one of them,                                     has been borrowed from ancient sources. (4) Having now accounted for                              AA’s Steps One and Twelve. . . . Where did the early AAs find this                                   material for the remaining ten Steps. . . . The spiritual substance of the                                remaining ten Steps came straight from Dr. Bob’s and my own association                  with the Oxford Groups, as they were then led in Americaby that                                        Episcopal rector, Dr. Samuel Shoemaker. (5) The early A.A. got its ideas                                   of self-examination, acknowledgment of character defects, restitution for                           harm done, and working with others straight from the Oxford Groups and                                     directly from Sam Shoemaker, their former leader in America, and from                               nowhere else. (6) [As to] the “co-founder” tag [Bill wrote Shoemaker] . . .                               I have no hesitancy in adding your name to the list. (7) I’m always glad to                              say privately that some of the Oxford Group presentation and emphasis on                         the Christian message saved my life. (8) Now that Frank Buchman                                      [founder of the Oxford Group] is gone and I realize more than ever what                                   we owe to him, I wish I had sought him out in recent years to tell him of                          our appreciation” (See Dick B. Turning Point, pp. 12-13).

  • Lois Wilson wrote the following:


                        [Here again compacted:]  (1) Alcoholics Anonymous owes a great debt to                          the Oxford Group. (2) Bob already understood the great opportunity for                                   regeneration through practicing the principles of the Oxford Group. He                                 stopped drinking. (3) God, through the Oxford Group, had accomplished                               in a twinkling what I had failed to do in seventeen years. One minute I                               would get down on my knees and thank God. . .  and the next moment I                            would throw things about and cuss the Oxford Group. (4) Finally it was                            agreed that the book [Big Book] should present a universal spiritual                             program, not a specific religious one, since all drunks were not Christian”                                (Lois Remembers, pp. 92, 96, 99, 113).

            Dr. Bob said quite plainly in his last major address in 1948:       

                        In the early days, there were no Steps, no Traditions, no basic text

materials, no drunkalogs, and no meetings as we know them today.

Dr. Bob said the oldtimers felt that answers to all of their problems were in the Bible (which he almost always called “the Good Book”)

He said the parts which oldtimers considered “absolutely essential” were Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Book of James, and 1 Corinthians.

Bob stated explicitly that he did not write the Twelve Steps and had nothing to do with the writing of them. He went on to say that he was

certain the basic ideas for the Steps had come from the study and effort in the Bible that had been going on since the founding of A.A. in 1935—the Big Book and Steps not having been published until 1939.

The foregoing statements by Dr. Bob can be found in A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature: DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, and The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous (Pamphlet P-53).


A.A.: The Healing Solution for Drunks is Not a New One!

May 20, 2011

The Dick B. YouTube Channel

The History of Alcoholics Anonymous and the Christian Recovery Movement


[Eleventh Program: The Healing Solution for Drunks is Not a New One; dickbchannel]


This is the eleventh presentation on the Dick B. YouTube Channel. It follows our discussion of plight of the sick, bewildered newcomer today. And it moves forward to the original A.A. solution to that plight. This presentation definitely covers the solution to alcoholism and addiction that has been available throughout the ages and was the heart of the Christian Recovery Movement and of the original Akron A.A. “Christian fellowship” program that emerged from it in 1935.

My name is Dick B. I am an active, recovered member of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.

In the previous, tenth program, I lumped together many of the difficulties that confront an end-of-the-line alcoholic or addict who faces the possibility of interminable disasters versus a hope that emerges from seeking a solution that works.

Today, recovery fellowships, treatment programs, scientists, writers, and even a number of religious entities have been veering farther and farther from the power of God as a demonstrable, effective option for the alcoholic or addict who suffers and suffers and suffers, and returns for more. Arguments against Divine Aid emanate from those who don’t believe in God, don’t like religion, don’t believe history, don’t seems to believe in much but research, therapy, science, pharmaceuticals, and psychology, and in many cases blame their own failures on a program that turns to God. Some religious people regularly try to drive alcoholics and addicts from recovery fellowships based on establishing a relationship with God through Jesus Christ by claiming the recovery fellowships are “not of the Lord,” involve “steps to destruction,” and are non-Christian and contrary to biblical texts.

But here are some demonstrable, long-standing, experiential testimonies and witnesses of the ages. And we will merely summarize a limited number of these here: (1) In Old Testament times, there are accounts of the miracles God performed for Noah, Abraham, Moses, and countless others. (2) In reports in the Gospels, there is testimony of healings by Jesus of blindness, deafness, dumbness, lameness, leprosy, and other oppressions. There are solid examples of his raising the dead. (3) Once early Christians received the gift of the Holy Spirit in its fullness on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), they accomplished the very things that Jesus had accomplished—they raised people from the dead (Tabitha and Eutychus); they healed people lame from birth; they healed other sick people, they healed people vexed with unclean spirits, they healed many paralyzed and lame folks; Ananias restored Saul’s sight; Peter helped Aeneas to be made whole from paralysis; Paul healed a man who never had walked and cast a spirit of divination out of a woman; Paul was healed from the viper’s bite, and he healed the father of Publius of fever and dysentery; and others where Paul was shipwrecked were healed as well.

In several of my books, I have listed account after account of healings by Christians from Apostolic times to the present. As I have shown, evangelists, rescue missions, Salvation Army people, and other Christians healed alcoholics with God’s power. And this particular situation seems to have caught Dr. Bob’s attention when the great evangelist, Ethel Willitts, spent 15 weeks in Akron from October 1938 through January 1939, carrying out Christian healings. In fact, her book, Healing in Jesus’ Name, along with many other healing books, was found by me in Dr. Bob’s own library of books.

Even early AAs clearly testified in newspapers and articles that they has been healed (“cured” was the word often used) of alcoholism by the power of God.

As we progress in future programs, we will see how the early AAs, time after time, professed their belief in God, came to Him through His Son Jesus Christ, and were cured of alcoholism. And it was this unique situation involving drunks helping drunks to obtain help from God that put early A.A. on the map. It is also mentioned over and over and over in the first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous (affectionately known as “the Big Book”) that Bill Wilson assembled in 1938 and 1939. And it was left in place in the Big Book even after his famous compromise with three other people on the language of Steps Two, Three, and Eleven that took place on the East Coast just before the Wilson text went to print.

And what was the solution presented to seemingly-hopeless drunks by the founders of A.A. and their early counterparts?

Bill Wilson said, in quoted remarks on page 191 of the fourth edition of his Big Book (2001), “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.”

A.A. Number Three, Bill Dotson of Akron, recounted Bill’s words on that same page of the fourth edition of the Big Book and said: “That sentence, ‘The Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease, that I just want to keep telling people about it,’ has been a sort of a golden text for the A.A. program and for me.”

A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob was the second AA to be cured and phoned a nurse at Akron City Hospital to inform her that he had found a cure for alcoholism and been cured. In his personal story, he wrote: “It is a most wonderful blessing to be relieved of the terrible curse with which I was afflicted.” And at the close of his personal story, he assured others: “Your Heavenly Father will never let you down!”

Bill Wilson later embodied the solution to alcoholism with a challenge and an emphatic statement in the Big Book he published in 1939. He wrote: “Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power—that One is God. May you find Him now!” He concluded his discussion of the suggested Twelve Steps with the assurance “That God could and would if He were sought.”

Whether an afflicted alcoholic or addict wants to receive God’s power, love, forgiveness, and healing or not, there is little doubt that this was the solution offered in A.A.’s earliest views. Its veracity was based on what the Bible itself assured. It is a solution for which early A.A. claimed a 75% success rate among the early drunks who had thoroughly followed the suggested path. And, when the same ideas, coupled with the Program of the Big Book, were introduced in Cleveland in 1939, those ideas produced a documented 93% success rate.

These presentations, then, will explain in brief summaries the role of God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible in healings throughout the centuries—including in early A.A. and still available today. And God, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Bible are still available—in or out of A.A., in or out of church, in or out of a hospital, in or out of treatment, in or out of therapy, in and out of Christian fellowships, and in many other places where the afflicted start their journey toward recovery.

Our next video will cover the Christian upbringing of Dr. Bob as a youngster in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, and the excellent training in the Bible that he received there and applied in early A.A.

A.A.’s Bill W. and Dr. Bob with some Quotable Remarks

October 30, 2008

A.A.’s Bill W. and Dr. Bob and Some Quotable A.A. History Remarks

About the Matter of “Cure”

Dick B.

© 2008 by Anonymous. All rights reserved

  • Bill Wilson said: “By the fall of 1937 we could count what looked like forty recovered members. One of us had been sober three years, another two and a half, and a fair number had a year or more behind them. As all of us had been hopeless cases, this amount of time elapsed began to be significant. The realization that we “had found something” began to take hold of us. No longer were we a dubious experiment. . . . If forty alcoholics could recover, why not four hundred, four thousand – even forty thousand?” (The Language of the Heart (NY: The AA Grapevine, Inc., 1988), p. 10.

  • Bill Wilson said: [about meeting A.A. Number Three]: “Two days before this, Dr. Bob had said to me, ‘If you and I are going to stay sober, we had better get busy.’ Straightaway, Bob called Akron’s City Hospital and asked for the nurse on the receiving ward. He explained that he and a man from New York had a cure for alcoholism. . . . Knowing Dr. Bob of old, she jokingly replied, ‘Well, Doctor, I suppose you’ve already tried it yourself?’” (The Language of the Heart, p. 361).

  • Dr. Bob said about his first meeting with Bill Wilson: “But this was a man who had experienced many years of frightful drinking, who had had most all the drunkard’s experiences known to man, but who had been cured by the very means I had been trying to employ, that is to say the spiritual approach.” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 180).

  • Bill Wilson said to Henrietta Dotson, wife of AA Number Three: “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., p. 191).

  • Bill Wilson had the following conversation with Cleveland newcomer Al. G.: “ [Al G. related]. . . when I cam home Clarence [Snyder] was sitting on the davenport with Bill W. I do not recollect the specific conversation that went on but I believe I did challenge Bill to tell me something about A.A. and I do recall one other thing: I wanted to know what this was that worked so many wonders, and hanging over the mantel was a picture of Gethsemane [Jesus praying in the garden] and Bill pointed to it and said, “There it is. . .” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd ed., pp. 216-17 – a story that A.A. World Services has removed from the later edition).

  • Bill Dotson [A.A. Number Three] said: “I thought, I think I have the answer. Bill was very very grateful that he had been released from this terrible thing and he had given God the credit for having done it, and he’s so grateful about it he wants to tell other people about it. That sentence, ‘The Lord has been so wonderful to me, curing me of this terrible disease that I just want to keep telling people about it,’ has been a sort of golden text for the A.A. program and for me” (Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 191).

  • Frank Amos reported to John D. Rockefeller, Jr.: “Dr. Howard S—, general practitioner at Cuyahoga Falls, aged about 35. S— had been an alcoholic and had been cured by Smith and his friends’ activities and the Christian technique prescribed” (DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, 1980, p. 129).

As documented in A.A. literature, accounts by pioneer AAs, newspaper articles across the U.S., and the founders themselves: Early A.A. had a 75% to 93% success rate among seemingly hopeless, medically incurable, real alcoholics who went to any lengths to establish their relationship with God.

Gloria Deo