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of materials on the history and theory of alcoholism treatment and the
moral and spiritual dimensions of recovery

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Table of
TABLE OF CONTENTS: alphabetical list by author and title of articles and essays

Part 1
HISTORICAL MATERIALS 1: Alcoholics Anonymous and history of alcoholism treatment at the Hindsfoot Foundation

Part 2
HISTORICAL MATERIALS 2: Alcoholics Anonymous and history of alcoholism treatment at the Hindsfoot Foundation

Part 3
HISTORICAL MATERIALS 3: Alcoholics Anonymous and history of alcoholism treatment at the Hindsfoot Foundation

ESSAYS: spirituality, psychology, philosophy, religion

SPIRITUALITY: A.A. spirituality, philosophy, and religion at hindsfoot.org

Books on
& theology
PHILOSOPHY: books on philosophy and theology published by the Hindsfoot Foundation

in progress
FUTURE PUBLICATIONS IN PROGRESS: A.A. history and spirituality, recovery from alcoholism and addiction

To order
TO ORDER BOOKS: Hindsfoot Foundation and iUniverse

To contact
TO CONTACT HINDSFOOT: books on Alcoholics Anonymous history, spirituality, alcoholism and addiction treatment

LINKS: other sources on A.A. history, spirituality, and alcoholism treatment


Future Publications
in Progress

Father Ed Dowling and
Father Ralph Pfau

The following material represents a version which is close to the final draft of this book. It is basically finished, except for a little bit of material which needs to be added at the end of the section on Father Ed and a few things that need to be added at the end of the section on Father Ralph. I hope to have the book ready to go to the typesetters before the end of 2013, if all goes well.

Part One. The First Roman Catholics
in Alcoholics Anonymous

Glenn F. Chesnut, "The First Roman Catholics in Alcoholics Anonymous," April 2012, download as PDF file or as MS Word DOC file.  The story of Joe Doppler, Morgan Ryan, the Cleveland Catholics (and Clarence Snyder). How Sister Ignatia devised a formula in January 1940 (AA, like St. Thomas Hospital, should be nonsectarian, extending help and healing to people of all religious backgrounds), which resulted in AA becoming 25% Catholic by Fall 1940.

Also includes accounts of the liberal vs. fundamentalist controversy in early twentieth-century Protestantism, the problems raised by the Oxford Group, and the way the Roman Catholics broadened and deepened the AA understanding of the fourth step. The Golden Age of AA expansion after Roman Catholics began flooding into AA -- between 1939 and 1949 the AA membership grew over 750 times larger, the biggest growth in all of AA history.

Part Two. Father Ed Dowling

Glenn F. Chesnut, "Father Ed Dowling," May 2013, download as PDF file or as MS Word DOC file.  Topics include childhood and youth in St. Louis, entering the Jesuit order in 1919, Regency teaching at Loyola Academy in Chicago, (1926-1929), involvement in the Catholic Action and Christian Family movements, finding the unmarked grave of the black hero Dred Scott and putting a monument over it, working for the Jesuit magazine The Queen's Work, his "love affair with the cross," his problems with smoking and overeating.

His defense of democracy, siding with the poor against the rich, and the most famous Father Dowling quotation: "The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it."

Founding the Cana Conference movement in 1942, teaching in the Summer School of Catholic Action. Involvement in the Montserrat Circle for scrupulosity and other emotional self-help groups, including Divorcées Anonymous. Instead of the neo-Freudian approach used by many Protestant A.A.'s when dealing with psychological issues, Father Dowling (like Father Ralph Pfau) encouraged the use of the cognitive behavioral psychology of Dr. Abraham A. Low in Chicago.

Fr. Dowling founds the first AA meeting in St. Louis on October 30, 1940. Jack Alexander finally comes to believe in A.A. after seeing this St. Louis AA group in action, and writes his praiseworthy Saturday Evening Post article.

Father Ed meets Bill W. for the first time -- December 1940 -- at the AA clubhouse on West 24th Street in New York City.


(1) Emmet Fox and New Thought: pain and suffering are caused by wrong thoughts. If we change the way we think, the pain and suffering will disappear. As can be seen, Fox preached many radical New Thought ideas, but he had been born in Ireland, was brought up as a Catholic, and had been trained by the Jesuits. God as Creative Intelligence and the power of Being Itself.

(2) Matt Talbot and self-punishment, the very different path taken by another Irish Catholic, a laboring man in Dublin. Wearing chains around his body, sleeping on a bare wooden plank, and so on. We must atone for our sin and guilt by deliberately inflicting pain and hardship on ourselves before God will forgive us. The self-torture game.

(3) In Ignatian spirituality: pain and suffering exist because life in this fallen world is a war. As a good soldier, you must continue to do your duty and fight for the good down to your last breath, even when surrounded on every side by death and horror. The central Ignatian teaching of the Two Standards (Las Dos Banderas), choosing which of these two battle flags you will follow in the war between the forces of Good and the forces of Evil. Choosing between the way of Pride and the way of Humility. St. Augustine and the two cities: the City of God vs. the Earthly City, surrender of my ego to God vs. trying to play God myself.

The centerpiece of traditional Catholic spirituality: humility in the Christ Hymn in Philippians 2:3-11. Father Dowling's message to Bill Wilson: quit beating yourself up because you don't think you're good enough. Remember the Fourth Beatitude from the Sermon on the Mount, "blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness," that is, blessed are those who, with humility, try to make continual spiritual progress, instead of whipping themselves mercilessly in a vain quest for perfectionism and absolutism. St. Thomas Aquinas and the Baltimore Catechism: human beings in this fallen world can with the aid of God's grace avoid committing mortal sins, but can never avoid committing venial sins.

The sense of the divine presence, including Bill Wilson's vision of the light at Towns Hospital on December 14, 1934. The hospital gave patients massive doses of belladonna back in 1909-1912 under Dr. Alexander Lambert, but was no longer doing that in 1934, now that Dr. William Duncan Silkworth was in charge. Bill W. may not have been given any belladonna at all, but would at most have been given enought to make him a little sleepy. And visions of heavenly light were not part of belladonna trips: this particular drug was a deliriant, not a psychedelic.

Richard Maurice Bucke's book Cosmic Consciousness, the English Romantic poets, the New England Transcendentalists, and the formative American poet Walt Whitman. Bill Wilson saw Father Dowling as a charismatic messenger who had himself already experienced some form of Bucke's cosmic consciousness.


(1) In the area of political thought and Christian ethics: liberation theology and Father John Courtney Murray S.J.

(2) Father Teilhard de Chardin S.J. and his understanding of the growth of human spirituality in our evolution from the apes.

(3) Cardinal Jean Daniélou S.J. and the other famous members (many of them Jesuits) of the Catholic Nouvelle Théologie movement over in Europe. Daniélou on the theology of the Jewish philosopher Philo and the early Christian teachers Origen and St. Gregory of Nyssa.
The frightening view into the darkness of the existential abyss according to St. Gregory, and his portrayal of the Jewish patriarch Moses climbing up Mount Sinai and the frightened wandering of the young woman in the Song of Songs through the Dark Night of the Soul. An ancient message that was peculiarly relevant to the issues raised by twentieth-century European existentialists and other modern atheists: how to find God in what was in fact, St. Gregory proclaimed, a Luminous Darkness.

From glory to glory: perfection as perpetual progress. A doctrine of the continual evolution of the soul, driven by a divine Eros and always being asked to peel "the next layer off the onion" and discover even deeper and more profound depths of spirituality.
Two kinds of Catholicism: the religion of the parish church vs. the spirituality of the monasteries.

Aldous Huxley and The Perennial Philosophy (1945): showed the similarities between the teachings of the great Catholic monastic authors and the teachings of many important Asian religions, particularly Vedanta Hinduism. Part of a major American religious movement which began to flourish and grow in the 1940's, 50's, and 60's: Huxley, Gerald Heard, Huston Smith, Alan Watts (who introduced Americans to Zen Buddhism), and so on.
Some of the major Catholic spiritual authors whom Huxley talked about in The Perennial Philosophy: the important fourteenth century Catholic theologian Meister Eckhart was the most quoted figure in Huxley's book, but he also had numerous quotes from St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis de Sales, St. John of the Cross, and the Theologia Germanica. His most important source for Hindu spirituality was Swami Prabhavananda, the founder of the Vedanta Society of Southern California.
Huxley, Heard, Huston Smith, and the LSD experiments (in which Bill W. and Father Dowling both joined). A sideshow, which Bill W. backed away from when the hippies and drug addicts began to take over during the 1960's. Bill W. and Father Dowling originally became interested in Huxley and Heard as important religious thinkers, and that remained their central interest.

Part Three. Father Ralph Pfau

Glenn F. Chesnut, "Father Ralph Pfau: Alcoholics Anonymous Author and American Catholic Thinker," October 2009. Topics include his founding of the National Catholic Council on Alcoholism, the NCCA Blue Book, the major influence of Spanish translations of his writings on early AA in the Spanish Catholic world, scrupulosity and obsessive-compulsive perfectionism, the problem of guilt and shame, the influence of St. Therese of Lisieux's teaching of the Little Way and St. Augustine's anti-Pelagian writings, theological disagreements with Father Ed Dowling, Fr. Ralph's argument that AA dealt only with the via purgativa (and was not involved in the via illuminativa or via unitiva), his insistence that the Big Book taught only natural theology and natural law morality, his work to spread the teachings of the early cognitive-behaviorist psychiatrist Dr. Abraham Low and Recovery Inc. (which used the modern study of semantics to counter Freud and Schopenhauer), his theory of sinner saints "sanctified" because their willingness to keep on trying has been "sanctioned" by God, his campaign to win sainthood for Matt Talbot, the Third Covenant Controversy at the AA International in 1950, his falling out with Bill W. over anonymity (and their making peace in Toronto in 1965).

Richmond Walker

A book on the life and work of Richmond Walker, author of the classical A.A. meditational work Twenty-Four Hours a Day. Rich, a businessman who got sober in the newly founded Boston A.A. group, was one of the four most published early A.A. authors. I have most of the research for this book finished, but have not begun any actual writing yet.

Infinity and the Proofs for
the Existence of God

This book gives a new look at the five traditional proofs for the existence of God presented by St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in his Summa Theologica and Summa Contra Gentiles. The medieval teleological understanding of causality is replaced with a modern dynamic interpretation of the divine energies. This, together with a more careful analysis of what the concept of infinity does and does not mean -- infinity is NOT a number, but a kind of process -- shows that the old proofs still have to be taken seriously today.

Originally written in the 1990's, based on lectures I had given over the years at the University of Virginia (1968-70) and Indiana University (1970-2003), this book basically just needs some careful reformating and a little final editing, and it will be ready to send to the typesetters.

"As the deer longs for flowing streams
so longs my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God."

Psalm 42:1-2