The International Convention of
A.A.: June 29 - July 2, 2000
Minor editing by Dick B.'s son,
by "Don":) Good morning,
everybody, I am a grateful alcoholic
from Greenville, S.C. My name is
Don. I belong to the world famous
Summit Group in Summit County. Ohio
is where A.A. was born. There is
a wonderful, rich history of A.A.,
and I started studying and learning
about it, and made some of the pilgrimages
a couple of years ago, and I found
a web site that has much of this
information, too. And I found a
very prolific author who has captured
the essence of the spiritual history
of our fellowship and has committed
so much of it to books, which I
have in my collection and which
I treasure. I am sure his journey
is nowhere near done, but he carries
the message in writing in a way
that I have not found other people
to do. It is with great honor and
pleasure that I would like to introduce
Dick B. (Applause . . .)]
B.'s Address on the Six Major Roots
of Alcoholics Anonymous:] I'm Dick.
I am a recovered alcoholic, from
Maui, Hawaii. I have had the pleasure
the last couple of days. As far
as I know this is a first to actually
have a historical display at a national
convention. A good one, a big one,
a tremendous resource here. This
is the kind of thing I have dreamed
about seeing for a long time, and
it is here, and I am certainly grateful
for the people who have worked so
hard to put it together.
couple of days, I have had the pleasure
of listening to a lot of young dudes
who grew old in A.A., graciously
old. Mel [B.] was here yesterday
and had us all in laughter, and
if I were ever going to live for
50 more years, I would like to be
in the same position that he is.
However, I am an old dude that got
young in A.A. I did not get in until
I was 60, and the best years of
my life, truly, have been the last
was not that way at the beginning.
I had a nine-month drunk and then
a week's blackout. I came bounding
into A.A., got a sponsor, got a
Big Book, had grand mal seizures
at my 9th meeting, went into a treatment
program, from there to the VA nut
house for a couple of months, and
from there I went to Vacaville State
Prison, which I like to think of
as a health facility because they
were treating Charlie Manson there
at the time I was there. The long
and the short of it is--I had to
get well. Things were worse, as
they often are in early sobriety,
than they were at the end, although
the last drinking was pretty ghastly.
young man, now dead of alcoholism,
said to me shortly before the convention
in Seattle [the 1990 A.A. International
Convention], "Dick, did you
know that A.A. came from the Bible?"
And having gone to meetings intensely
for four (4) years, I said, "No,"
that I sure did not. He said, "Well,
why don't you read DR. BOB and the
Good Oldtimers. And I did. And I
was astonished. That got me to read
Mel's Pass It On and A.A. Comes
of Age; and I realized that we had
a rich history that I just did not
hear about at meetings. Didn't even
know about the books. But what I
found was missing were the details.
Yes, we came from the Oxford Group.
Yes, we got a lot of information
from Sam Shoemaker. Yes, Anne Smith
was "the mother of A.A."
Yes, the Bible was the source of
our basic ideas. Yes, Quiet Time
was a must. Yes, they read a lot
of books. And what were they? And
what did they say? Because I had
a feeling that A.A. was founded
on a rock! And I believe that today.
I will let you decide what the rock
is, but the rock essentially is
truth, and it works.
don't hold with those people that
say, "Well, I don't know how
it works, it just works." It
works because it is founded on a
rock. Dr. Bob knew that, and Bill
knew that. Dr. Bob said many times
that our basic ideas came from the
Bible. Bill and Bob both said that
the underlying philosophy of A.A.
was the Sermon on the Mount--and
Emmet Fox did not write it! So,
what we are going to do today? 10
years ago, I wrote a lengthy book.
I think I even showed it to Mel.
I did not know what I was talking
about, and Frank Mauser, our [General
Services] archivist, told me that.
He said, "Dick, you don't have
to tell everything you know."
Since I did not know much, I had
to start over again and take it
piece by piece.
A. has been correctly characterized
as a spiritual program of recovery.
Bill Wilson defined "spirituality"
as a reliance on our Creator. Now
where do you suppose he got that
idea? The same place that Dr. Bob
got it when he talked about that
"your heavenly Father will
never let you down."
the first thing we are going to
talk about is that A.A. basically
has six (6) basic roots. They have
all been short circuited in detail,
and it is not possible to cover
those details today, but I will
try to go as far as I can with each
of the six roots of A.A. Just to
give you a flavor of the rock that
I think A.A. is founded upon.
The first root is the Bible. That
is the one we don't talk about.
If you read our literature, you
will see that there was talk by
Dr. Bob that the principal ideas,
the ones that were felt to be essential,
came from 1 Corinthians 13--called
the "love chapter,"--the
Sermon on the Mount, Matthew chapters
5 through 7, and the Book of James.
Some early members wanted to call
A.A.'s fellowship "the James
Club." That is how popular
it was. What did this mean in terms
of where our ideas came from?
us think it about it in these terms.
Dr. Bob studied the Bible, Anne
Smith used to do a Quiet Time at
the Smith home each morning where
people came for what they called
"spiritual pablum." They
read the Bible. They prayed. They
had Quiet Time. They consulted devotionals,
like The Runner's Bible, The Upper
Room, My Utmost for His Highest.
Old timers used to open meetings
by reading from Scripture. It was
exciting for me to go to Akron for
the first time, and Dr. Bob's daughter
said, "Would you like to go
to the King's School Group? [A.A.
Group Number One]" And I said
I sure would. And the first thing
I saw was Dr. Bob's Bible being
brought from the back of the room
to the front. And that Bible is
signed by Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob,
and Bill Dotson (AA # 3). It is
symbolic of where we came from.
is it about this Sermon on the Mount?
Bill never told us. Bob never told
us. But I submit to you if anyone
has ever heard the expression "Thy
will be done" someplace other
than the Lord's Prayer (which is
where it came from), I would be
surprised. It appears in our Big
Book. And at the conclusion of the
Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks
about that he who wants to enter
the kingdom of heaven must want
to do the will of the Father which
is in heaven. That is from the Sermon
on the Mount. Also, the idea of
the Golden Rule. I saw a man just
now crying several times during
his talk. I believe that others
did to him, as they would want done
unto themselves. That is at the
heart of an A.A. idea. And then,
"Thy will be done," which
is quoted in our Big Book, and it
comes from the Lord's Prayer, Matthew
6:10. Then the Lord's Prayer itself.
It is getting out of vogue in some
places, but the early meetings always
closed with the Lord's Prayer. 1
Corinthians 13. A lot of our basic
principles are spelled out in terms
of patience, kindness, tolerance,
love. Dr. Bob once said that some
gal was in detox, and they called
and said, "What do we do with
her?" And he said, "Have
her read Henry Drummond's The Greatest
Thing in the World for 30 or 90
days (I think it was 30), and she
will be a changed person. Why? Because
that is what we have to do in A.A.
If we, . . . I think Mel said it
well the other day. The people that
I see going out are the ones that
go back to where they came from,
and the old stuff begins to look
good again, and we haven't changed,
and if we don't change, there is
not much to be said for just not
taking a drink. It isn't long before
we will want to take one.
other ideas came from the Sermon
on the Mount. Obeying the 10 commandments.
In our early literature, you will
find them quoted. The first one
has to do with only one God. Agreeing
with your adversary quickly, making
amends, loving your neighbor, that
is quoted in the Big Book. Being
anonymous. That is somewhat speculative,
yet Jesus talked about doing your
alms-giving in secret, doing your
praying in secret, doing your fasting
in secret. Why? Because he said
your heavenly Father knows what
you have need of. So, what are you
out there trumpeting for? So, this
whole idea is that we do things
because they are the right thing
to do rather than wanting somebody
to see us. Seeking God first--Matthew
6:33. Nobody knows that "first
things first" came from Matthew
6:33. Seek ye first the kingdom
of God, serving God. Living one
day at a time-What? Yes, read Anne
Smith's journal, and you will see
that concept of living one day at
a time came from Matthew 6:34. Taking
your own inventory--what? The Sermon
on the Mount. Uh huh! Look for the
log in your own eye before you look
for the speck in your neighbor's
eye, and get rid of the one in your
own eye. That is what we do in the
fourth and fifth steps, and maybe
some of the later ones as well.
1 Corinthians, as I said, those
ideas of patience, humility, unselfishness,
truthfulness, those are the heart
of our program, and they came, those
principles, primarily from I Corinthians
then the good ole' Book of James.
It is loaded with A.A. material.
Some of them quoted and some not.
One of my strong points, of course,
is patience; and that comes from
James [laughter]. And there is a
dilly on seeking guidance from God:
If any of your lack wisdom, let
him ask of God who giveth to all
men liberally. Resisting temptation.
I usually pass right over that one
[laughter]. Relying upon the Father
of lights. That expression is found
in the Book of James, and it is
found in your Big Book. Being slow
to anger. There is a toughy. Being
a doer of the word, not a hearer
only. This is an action program,
it is not one where you say, "Yeah,
I know that," and then you
don't do anything.
the "royal law;" loving
your neighbor as yourself. It is
all through the New Testament; but
in the Book of James, it is called
the "royal law." It is
quoted in our Big Book. As I said,
obeying the 10 commandments. And
some people like to think that "faith
without works is dead" was
Anne Smith's favorite verse. Not
from what I can tell. Her favorite
verse was "God is love,"
from 1 John [4:8, 16], but when
she used to read to Bill and Bob
during that summer [of 1935], it
is said that she concluded by saying
that "Faith without works is
dead." Because these were two
gentlemen that were gathered with
her, not merely to study the Bible,
but to find out how to help others,
how to love others, and how to serve
God. There is one that I wish was
as well known as it was in the old
days. Anne said in her journal,
"learn to tame your tongue."
I wish I could. Dr. Bob always talked
about taming your tongue. It is
in his last address, his farewell
address. There is a whole chapter
in the book of James about that,
chapter 3. Avoiding envy and strife,
and being peacemakers, submitting
ourselves to God, humbling ourselves
before God, the concepts of humility-you
will find them in our Third and
Seventh Step prayers. In the Third,
of course also, the Sermon on the
Mount, the idea of "Thy will
near to God, knowing the He will
draw near to you. It is almost an
exact quote in the Big Book as in
the book of James. Eliminating grudges.
Praying for one another. Ever thought
about praying for someone in A.A.
I have been to a number of meetings
where that is done, and it is cool.
People need help. You see it; and
you pray for them. Confessing your
faults one to another. The Fifth
Step is a complete adoption of that
in James 5:16. And then there is
the neat verse that says the "effectual
fervent prayer of a righteous man
availeth much." Remember when
Bill says in the Big Book that "we
should not be shy in the matter
of prayer and meditation."
Where did the idea come from. It
works. It works.
am going to move on to the next
part because I want to be sure to
at least touch on it. But just don't
forget that we have extolled the
Oxford Group so that we could condemn
it, and we have forgotten the Bible
which is where Sam Shoemaker, and
the Oxford Group, and Anne Smith,
and Dr. Bob, and to some extent
Bill Wilson, got their ideas. So,
the Bible comes number one as the
source of the basic ideas of our
- Quiet Time] A second thing that
has passed from existence. And it
is in Pass It On, where Bill says,
"I always sort of thought we
lost something when we lost meditation."
Do you know that our trustee, Frank
Amos, said that meditation was a
must in early A.A. What did meditation
mean? It was called "Quiet
Time." It meant studying the
Bible first, to get in tune with
God's general will. It meant praying.
It meant quiet time, listening for
God's voice. And then it meant sometimes
consulting things like The Upper
Room, The Runner's Bible, and My
Utmost for His Highest for inspiration
as to what would be discussed at
the meetings. There weren't any
drunk-a-logs. No drunk-a-logs.
was going on is, some people were
being taught by some very able teachers
back there in Akron; and, in New
York, by a very able teacher--Sam
Shoemaker and his circle of friends.
So prayers were regular fare in
early A.A., as was listening to
God. And it has gotten a bad rap,
again by laying it on the Oxford
Group. But Quiet Time was something
that, whenever Anne was stressed
out, she would go upstairs to have
what she called "quiet time."
Why? To get peace. To get peace.
To get out of the ring-a-ding that
goes on. And you will see that at
the end of your Eleventh Step.
helpful books, what were they? We
will get into that shortly. They
did not try to invent their own
program. A.A. is not a self- made
religion. A.A. was something that
came from this rock that I am talking
about. They used The Upper Room,
My Utmost for His Highest, The Runner's
Bible, Fosdick's The Meaning of
Prayer, Drummond's The Greatest
thing in the World, to help them.
I am happy to say that now the archives
back there that they have worked
so hard to assemble, Ray G., in
particular, that I know, and his
wife, Ginny. You can see those books.
It is my dream and hope that you
can do more than see them before
very long. That you can open them
up. And it will knock you dead when
you see how much of our program
has come from those books. And it
begins to make certain expressions
in A.A. meaningful.
Time, in other words, doesn't get
its full due, unless you believe
as I do, that those early people
consulted God for guidance as to
what to do in the program. With
the speakers. I firmly believe that
the residue of it in our [Twelve]
Traditions is the ultimate authority
as a loving God as He may express
himself in our group conscience.
That is an attempt to describe the
old steering committee meetings
that were held at the beginning.
night they prayed. Later on, just
before the meeting, they would pray
and ask God to guide them as to
what could be helpful. Also, Bill
reportedly consulted God when he
was writing the Big Book and particularly
the 12 Steps.
there was a reliance upon God and
His guidance at the beginning of
this program. Not only taking ideas
from the Bible, His Word, but also
seeking what the Oxford groupers
called His "particular will"
through prayer and listening. So
the Quiet Time! Bible, number one,
Quiet Time, number two. Why number
two? Because it was a must. No drunk-a-logs.
. . . Just consulting God.
- Rev. Sam Shoemaker] The next source
is an interesting one. Mel said
it very well in Pass It On. Bill
always tried to get away from the
Oxford Group, and he stated one
of the several reasons by laying
it on Sam Shoemaker. When I came
to the Seattle convention 10 years
ago I went there to be informed.
I wanted to know what A.A. had gotten
from the Bible. Zilch. Nothing.
I wanted to know what it got from
the Oxford Group. Zilch. Nothing.
There was a panel, and one old dude
was sitting up there with a book
called What Is the Oxford Group?
Which was not written by an Oxford
grouper! But it contains a lot of
information on that, and that was
it. So, I talked to this guy, and
I said, "Can I get one of those
books?" And he said, "Yes,"
and he sent it to me. And I said,
"Who is this guy Sam Shoemaker?"
And he said, "Well, talk to
Frank." Frank was our [GSO]
archivist at the time. And I said,
"Frank what do you have on
Sam Shoemaker?" And he said,
"Nothing." This is our
archivist in New York. So, he sent
me a list of some of Sam's books,
and then he said to me "Dick,
you have a book in you." Well,
now you tell that to an alcoholic,
and before you know it you have
got sixteen books. Eventually they
had something to say, I hope. Sam
Shoemaker! His writings are beautiful.
Sam wrote over 30 books. He wrote
many, many sermons. Many, many articles.
He addressed two Alcoholics Anonymous
conventions. Would that we have
that kind of person addressing us
today. Where are they? Why have
we excluded these people? Sam and
Father Dowling addressed A.A.'s
convention in St. Louis; and Sam
and a Catholic monsignor addressed
our convention in Long Beach. Why?
Because we felt they had something
to say about our roots.
taught us. So Sam, to be sure, was
a very strong factor in this sense.
In New York, this has been disputed.
But I have been to the Episcopal
Church Archives. And I have been
to Sam's churches. And I have been
everywhere I know how to go to find
what Sam did do. And he was closeted
with Bill Wilson for two or three
years in New York in a book-lined
study that I have been in. And they
discussed the principles of this
program, to the point where Bill
asked Sam to write the 12 steps,
and Sam said "No, they should
be written by an alcoholic."
And they were! Bill submitted the
original manuscript of the Big Book
to Sam for review. Sam was not the
only one, but Sam knew Bill from
the beginning. I unearthed a little
letter that is in Ray's archives
back there now, in which Sam wrote
Bill, in January of 1935. Now, I
wouldn't trust any new convert like
Sam did. He said, "Bill, I
think you could help Fred Breithut,
the little chemistry professor,
with his drinking problem."
Imagine. A great preacher asking
Bill Wilson at less that sixty (60)
days of sobriety to help this dude.
And lo and behold, they all went
in, and there was a baptismal ceremony
in which Ebby was baptized. Bill
was present, and then this guy was
baptized, and Bill was the godfather.
I misstated. Bill was not present
as far as I know at Ebby's baptism.
But it all happened in Sam's church.
was a very close relationship between
Sam and Bill from the beginning,
and what astonished me is that there
were probably 200 expressions in
the Big Book (and I wish I had time
to read some of them to you because
you would recognize them in a moment);
and they come from Sam Shoemaker's
talking, the kind of language he
used. It is phenomenal. I would
not say that Bill plagiarized. I
think he was just like you and I
are when we go to meetings, and
over and over again we hear "How
it works." "Rarely have
we seen a person fail." I had
some dude over in Hawaii that had
six months, and he had been in the
program for 10 years, and that guy
recited the whole part of "How
it works." For 10 years, he
had been listening to it. I happen
to think Bill Wilson was a pretty
smart guy, and he went to those
meetings daily, back in New York,
talked to Sam, listened to his circle
of friends, Rowland Hazard, Shep
Cornell, all those people. And Bill
was absorbing it. It is said that
Bill was not a reader. I don't know.
But I do know that he sure used
a lot of words that you can find
in Sam Shoemaker's books. What did
Sam give to us? The specifics that
I mentioned. I can only tell you
to look at the record and see if
you do not agree that Sam gave us
those expressions. But he gave us
some general ideas. His very first
book said, "You need to find
God. You need a vital religious
experience. You need Jesus Christ."
Well, leave Jesus Christ out. A.A.
has decided to do that for some
reason or another, but the first
two are immediately recognizable.
"You need to find God."
Lots of times when I am talking
to groups, I say, "There is
One who has all power. That One
is Who? (Audience answers 'God.')
May you find Him when? (Audience
answers 'Now.')" We know. You
know we KNOW. And where did we get
that from? Sam Shoemaker wrote a
book on How to Find God. Then another
article in 1935, "A Way to
Find God." And he came up with
the expression, "the turning
point." The turning point.
I used to hear that, and I wondered,
"What does that mean?"
It means when you decide to give
in, to surrender, to turn your life
over to God's care. It is from Sam
Shoemaker, who got it from William
I won't go into John 7:17, but that
was Sam Shoemaker's favorite verse.
You will see willingness throughout
the Big Book, and you will see it
in the writings of the Oxford Groupers
and in Sam's writing. The decision.
The decision. When I first came
in, my sponsor kept saying the Third
Step is a "decision"--not
action. You have to make a decision.
So I passed that on. Well, it came
is God and self is not God. One
of the interesting things in Akron
was that, when the Oxford groupers
came there in 1933, you were seeing
this stuff in headlines. I went
there and spent quite a bit of time
digging out the old newspapers.
I turned some over to Ray, and I
am sure now there are a lot of them
around. But it was all about "Bible
Study Group is here, self-centeredness
is the problem." There wasn't
any A.A. yet. This is what they
were talking about.
there are the mysterious 5 C's.
Everybody has an idea what we got
from the Oxford Group. Well, the
5 C's were: confidence, confession,
conviction, conversion, and continuance.
Take a look at the Tenth Step language.
"Continued to do this,"
"Continued to do that."
It was not enough to surrender and
recognize your faults and confess
them and to ask God to help you
get rid of them. You had to continue.
And this idea of continuance was
talked about by Sam and by the Oxford
the Bible. Sam used to say read
the Bible and all else will fall
into place. Listening to God. One
of the things I like to do with
God is to say, "Hear, Lord,
thy servant speaketh." And
Sam used to say, "Speak, Lord,
thy servant heareth," which
is from 1 Samuel. We ask God. Bill
Wilson said that one of the first
things he learned from Sam was how
to pray. And I must say that my
prayer life is entirely different
today than it was before. When I
was headed for Vacaville State Prison,
you can guess exactly what I was
telling God. They did let me drive
up in my own car. I think that was
a first. But lawyers get to do stuff
like that. But I had some very strong
ideas about what should happen with
me, and the judge had slightly different
ideas. I don't know where God was
at the beginning of the thing, but
I can tell you He was in Vacaville
State Prison. That was the coolest
experience. Man! I sponsored people.
We had A.A. meetings, Bible fellowships.
It was cool. The psychiatrist did
not want to let me out of there.
He said, "I think you have
found a niche here." [Laughter.]
I said, "No, no, no. I want
to go. I want to go." And even
the way I got out is a story in
from Sam. Reading the Bible. Seeking
God first. Remember the expression
in the Big Book, "God either
is or he isn't"? That is from
Confident Faith. Where do we find
Confident Faith? In Dr. Bob's library,
and tucked away in the back of Anne
Smith's journal, at the archives
of Stepping Stones. Who knows where
they are now, but that is where
I found it. Then Sam came before
us at St. Louis, and he defined
this mysterious thing called a spiritual
awakening. You know where we got
those expressions "spiritual
experience" and "spiritual
awakening?" They were common
fare in the Oxford Group. Sam wrote
a book called National Awakening.
Frank Buchman [the Oxford Group
founder] was always talking about
we need a moral rearmament and a
spiritual awakening, and there was
common talk of a spiritual experience.
Contrary to what many think, Carl
Jung was talking about conversion--not
spiritual experience. He was talking
about conversion. But by the time
it reached the Oxford Group, via
A.A., or vice versa, it became a
spiritual experience; and then,
since no one seemed to have hot
flashes but Bill, we got a spiritual
Sam defined this, because this language
was very familiar to him. He said
a spiritual awakening involves four
(4) things: conversion, prayer,
fellowship, and witness. And guess
who authored the expression, "You
got to give it away to keep it?"
Guess who authored "Pass it
on?" I am not saying that those
were the first people who uttered
it. But, Frank Buchman, the founder
of the Oxford Group, said, "You
gotta pass it on." And, Shoemaker
said in many ways, "You got
to give it away to keep it,"
and that has survived. Well, that's
And then there is the Oxford Group.
Boy, do people like to lambaste
that. If they only would walk into
the archives room right here and
pick up any of the Oxford Group
books. Whether it is Soul Surgery
(which has the five C's) or whether
it is For Sinners Only (which discusses
quiet time, the Four Absolutes),
and several other key Oxford Group
Books, which were earlier. One is
Eleanor Forde Newton's The Guidance
of God. Each one of these little
ideas, the guidance of God, the
five C's, the Four Absolutes, the
surrender, the turning point--we
have "codified" the Oxford
Group's life-changing program. So,
if you want to understand expressions
like "God as you understand
Him," let us dwell on that
for a moment.
is a guy that claimed he authored
that concept. You know, if I were
in San Diego . . . . . [end of side
A of the audio cassette] . . . "Give
as much of yourself as you understand
to as much of God as you understand."
did not invent light bulbs. Those
came later Chairs at a beginner's
meeting! A guy used to say, "My
higher power is Ralph." You
know I spent months trying to figure
out that one. No, it was God as
you understand Him. I might ask
you, either now or after the meeting,
to pull out a dollar bill or any
denomination. "In God we trust,"
it says. I asked my little granddaughter
what was on the back, and they did
not have any problem with that.
It was God as you understood Him.
And, if you read your Big Book,
you will see even in the Third Edition,
that Bill says, in Town's Hospital,
he surrendered to God as he "then"
understood God. Where did he get
this language? Sam Shoemaker was
his tutor. That was primarily a
were some other ideas: Sin the disease,
Jesus Christ the cure, the result
a miracle. But I like the things
that we recognize more easily. Surrender
to God. How did you do that? "Thy
will be done" was one way.
Also, they had a prayer in the Oxford
Group, and Sam's church, and in
Anne Smith's journal. I call it
the "manage me" prayer.
"Oh God, manage me, because
I cannot manage myself." And,
I don't know about you, but, boy,
when I was facing those seizures
and that treatment program and two
months in the nut house and the
brief period of recuperation in
Vacaville State Prison, I was unmanageable,
and I needed God's help. And ¼ finally,
in 8 months, I sought! And things
began to change.
There is a word that they deleted.
We had that in the steps originally,
and what was it called in the Oxford
Group and by Sam Shoemaker? That
which blocks you from God and another.
So, if you look at your Big Book,
you will see several references
to the blocks, the obstacles. This
was an Oxford Group idea.
are these? Well, we do not have
a very sound relationship with God
if we are riddled with fear. If
we are riddled with anger, selfishness,
lies. And so those blocks became
the things that in the 5 C's were
to be removed! Somebody instills
his confidence in you, you confess
to him your shortcomings, you become
convinced that they have to change,
you become converted so that the
power of God will change them, and
then you continue to work on that.
It is so simple, and yet we don't
the last convention [in San Diego
in 1995], I had lunch with Smitty
[Dr. Bob's son]. And I said, "You
know, it is really cool the way
you . . ." (Smitty is one of
the most amusing speakers - he will
be here this afternoon). And I said,
"You talk a lot about the Four
Absolutes. Why don't you mention
the five C's." He said, "Dick,
what are they?" So we sat there,
and he wrote them down on a napkin.
Then he got up on the stage and
said, "I was told to mention
the five C's, but I can't remember
them." Well, of course he can't,
because we don't hear about them.
And yet they are at the heart of
An Oxford Group idea. It came from
the Bible. Life changing . . . .
The Oxford Groups were called "The
Life Changers." And that is
the heart of what we are supposed
to do. There is an old dude, a Bird
Colonel, that used to hold forth
in our meetings. He never had much
to say. Because he was deaf, he
couldn't hear what was going on
in the meetings. But every now and
then, he would stand up and say,
"CHANGE!" It would scare
the heck out of you, you know. And
he had a message. If you do not
change, it is not just you are going
to drink, it was you are going to
be miserable. Because I was miserable.
And I don't know about you, but
I didn't want to be miserable anymore.
And today I am happy, joyous, and
do you find the details about Sam
if you want to do some reading about
Sam? Early AAs were readers. The
kids I am working with out in Maui
can 't read, but early AAs could.
They went to school. They learned
how to read. There wasn't TV. There
weren't CDs or "beans"
or "bongs" or all the
other stuff that are diversions.
So people read. And when they read
Shoemaker, they saw solid stuff
that we see in our books: Soul Surgery,
the five C's, life changers, the
story of the group, the guidance
of God, where we got our ideas for
the eleventh step, and For Sinners
Only. I used to think that [For
Sinners Only] was a book written
for me, then I found out, hey, this
contained the stories of the Oxford
Group's Life Change Program and
was recommended by Anne Smith. The
Quiet Time, by Howard Rose, tells
you exactly how early quiet time
was conducted. And, When Man Listens.
You read that book, and you are
astonished when you see them talking
in there about taking a business
inventory. Wait a minute, I thought
that was in the Big Book. Yeah,
but it was in When Man Listens by
Rev. Rose in the Oxford Group.
single idea in our Steps contains
an Oxford Group principle. I love
the fact that, even though the details
are not there, in Pass It On, it
said that when the Big Book was
written it was heavy with Oxford
Group principles. I might have used
the word laden. It was loaded with
Oxford Group principles.
was A.A. a part of the Oxford Group?
You bet it was! We don't like to
talk about that too much, but there
is a little story. The Oxford Group
in Akron was not like the Oxford
Group in New York. I don't think
this point is recognized the way
it should be because people don't
know where Dr. Bob came from. In
St. Johnsbury [Vermont]. He said,
"I was a member of Christian
Endeavor, and I went to church four
(4) nights a week." And yet
the myth grew up that Dr. Bob never
went to church. In fact he said
it himself, but it is not the case.
went back and researched this. Dr.
Bob was very much involved in Christian
Endeavor and in his church. Yes,
it was under pressure from his mom,
but it went on for a substantial
period of time. Then he belonged
to several different churches, and
then, about the time he got into
A.A., he and Anne were charter members
of the Westminster Presbyterian
Church in Akron. And so remained
for several years. And just before
he died, Dr. Bob became a communicant
at the famous St. Paul's church
where Dr. Tunks was the Rector.
So this man had a long history.
what I see in those early meetings.
. . . There are people going to
Moscow right now. They think they
are countering the New Age people
from A.A. that are going there and
telling them their "Higher
Power" can be a whale and all
that sort of thing. These people
have a different story. They conduct
an Oxford Group meeting and tell
people that that is what A.A. was
like. It wasn't.
A. was called an "old fashioned
prayer meeting." If you read
DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers,
you will see that the kinds of meetings
that they held in Akron, more resembled
the Christian Endeavor meetings
that Dr. Bob went to than they did
Oxford Group Meetings. Now, New
York is a different story. Share
your experience, strength, and hope.
That is where we got the storytelling
part. It was called "witnessing."
People got up and told what God
had done for them that they couldn't
do for themselves. So there was
a different flavor in New York than
what there was in Akron.
far as I can see, the Akron people--Henrietta
[Seiberling], T. Henry and Clarace
[Williams], and Anne Smith--they
just wanted to help drunks. Their
focus was not on the Oxford Group.
It was on compassion and love for
the drunk. And they were pretty
- Anne Ripley Smith, Dr. Bob's wife].
Next root. I am going to make it,
the six books on A.A.'s roots].Oh,
no, I am not, because I am going
to hold these books up. This is
not a book sale, and mine are the
only books that are not for sale
here. If you want to know our Bible
roots in detail, The Good Book and
The Big Book is a study of that.
If you want to know what we did
in Quiet Time, Good Morning_ is
a study of that. I got that title
because I went to Princeton and
found Sam Shoemaker's alumni archives.
His first sermon. It was just a
five-minute sermon. And it said:
"When my wife and I wake up
in the morning, here is what we
do." "We don't reach for
a cigarette, we don't reach for
coffee, we reach for our Bibles."
"We read the Bible, we call
our daughter in, we have some prayer,
we seek God's guidance, and we have
a good day, we have a good evening
and if you do that you will have
a good day all day long." It
was such a cool expression that--and
I haven't done a very good job of
it--that I took that as our theme
for Quiet Time study.
there is old Sam. This will keep
you busy for a lifetime [holding
up New Light on Alcoholism: God,
Sam Shoemaker, and A.A.]. I don't
guarantee it will keep you sober
but it will show you how much of
our program came from Sam Shoemaker.
The Oxford Group and Alcoholics
Anonymous was one of the first books
I wrote. I submitted it to many,
many Oxford Group people in Florida,
in England, and in California, and
elsewhere, to make sure that the
28 ideas that found their way into
A.A. were correctly expressed from
an Oxford Group standpoint and then
how they appeared in our Steps.
What does it matter? Well, it matters
to me, because I hear so much baloney.
Sam came before us in St. Louis,
and he put it into his books: "What
can kill us is self-made religion,
absurd names for God, and half-baked
was a very moving speaker that preceded
me. He talked about finding God
in A.A., and he talked about learning
how to pray. Those were not half-baked
prayers. God likes to hear from
His kids. But not these "Please
keep me out of Vacaville" things.
I deserved to be in Vacaville. I
did not tell the judge that but
that is what he found.
back to Anne Smith's Journal. I
don't know why, but still it is
not in these archives. It used to
be sold in Dr. Bob's Home, and that
is a sore point with me but not
any more. Anne Smith's journal is
something that I discovered quite
by accident. It was a footnote in
the book Not God. It was mentioned
in Sister Ignatia. And I went to
Sue Windows [Dr. Bob's daugher],
and I said, "What is this?"
She said, "Well, my mom kept
a notebook." "How do we
find that?" So, I went through
channels. Mel [B.] used to say,
"I don't know how you get all
this stuff, Dick." And I said,
"Well, it is because I am new
and sick, and they take pity on
me." But, I went to Frank [Mauser,
GSO Archivist] and submitted a request
to the [GSO] trustees and asked
to be given a copy of Anne Smith's
first time I wrote it, everyone
called it an Oxford Group book.
It is not. And so my wife looked
at--my ex-wife that I love so dearly--and
she said there is not enough of
Anne Smith in that book. She was
right. So, I rewrote it. But the
astonishing thing about Anne Smith's
journal--it began in 1933. From
the minute they were connected with
the Oxford Group gang (T. Henry,
Clarace, and Henrietta, etc.). And
she recorded that, and Dr. Bob's
daughter Sue typed up some of that.
Some of it is almost undecipherable
in Anne's handwriting, but as I
looked through it, man! I saw the
Bible. I saw the Oxford Group. She
recommends the books to read. She
quotes the verses. This little lady
was called the "Mother of A.A.,"
and now I know why. Bill Wilson
called her a "founder"
of A.A., and now I know why.
was not just a lady who got together
the bread and milk that they used
to have at the kitchen table back
there around the coffee pot. She
is the lady who was the counselor
and the nurse. Many early AAs felt
more comfortable talking to Anne
than they did Bob. Bob was an austere
person, rather dominating, no nonsense.
And Anne was a compassionate lady.
And, they felt more comfortable
with her. She would have these morning
Quiet Times--an hour and a half.
In them, she would share from her
journal. It took me a long time
to find that out. I found it out
through a man named Johnny R. And
the man who made that available
is sitting right over there. Dennis.
And this man, John R., not only
wrote but said, "Anne would
share with us from her journal."
What did she share? Oxford Group
ideas, Bible ideas, the books that
she suggested they read. This is
our program. I don't know whether
Bill was listening to that in that
summer of 1935 .
ought to be a lot of work done on
Anne, and it ought to be done in
Akron, I might add. She is the lost
lady. But if you want to understand
our program, understand Anne Smith
and realize that she wrote it down
before there was a Big Book, before
there were Steps, and when people
were getting well at wonderfully
- The Literature of Early A.A.]
The last part of our roots is the
books that people read. What did
they read? A lot would think that
it was just Oxford Group books.
No. Some of the most popular books
were by people who were not in the
Oxford Group. Henry Drummond's The
Greatest Thing in the World was
one of the best sellers, and it
still is. You can walk into many
stores today and get it. It is a
study of 1 Corinthians 13. Emmet
Fox--I am not a fan of Emmett Fox,
and he is not the only guy that
talked about the Sermon on the Mount.
Dr. Bob had all the books that talked
about that. Oswald Chambers' book
on the Sermon on the Mount, Fosdick's
book, Glen Clark's book, E. Stanley
Jones' book, but the popular one
was Emmet Fox. Unfortunately, that
is the only one that seems to have
survived today. But, there were
As a Man Thinketh. A lot of what
goes on up here that is wrong is
up here, and it has to be changed.
As a man thinketh, so is he. From
the Bible! There were a great many
other books, I will just mention
quickly. There should be a guy raising
his hand about now. Books on prayer
by Glen Clark, Mary Baker Eddy,
Charles Filmore, Fosdick, Emmet
Fox, Gerald Heard, E. Stanley Jones.
You will see Victorious Living mentioned
in the First Edition of the Big
Book. They have taken out all this
stuff. These guys were telling what
they did. So, we think that we need
new books. The Fourth Edition. Heaven
knows how many more!
in those early stories you saw what
they were reading. Books on guidance
in the Oxford Group, When Man Listens,
The God Who Speaks, The Guidance
of God, books on Jesus Christ. They
have got them back there. Anne Smith
said you should read one each year.
By Barton, Fosdick, Grover, . .
. the classics. St. Augustine, That
is tough sledding. Thomas á Kempis
used to be a subject of meditation.
And I believe Sister Ignatia handed
that book out frequently.
Lawrence's Practicing the Presence
of God, the life changing books,
For Sinners Only, etc. The books
on the Sermon on the Mount that
I mentioned. And the books on--heaven
forbid-how to study the Bible! They
keep telling me, Dick don't write
anymore books, and my early demise
may ensure that, but the next one,
if it is, will be on the Good Book.
How do you read the Bible? You know
it is so easy for somebody to say,
"Well, I got to the 'begats,'
and I gave up." Well, there
were a lot of very intelligent people
that did not just say, "Study
the Bible." They would focus
on the things that were helpful.
Bob E. in Akron said that many times
people would go into see Anne, and
she would try to find a verse that
would be helpful to them in a particular
problem. And, if she couldn't find
it, she would read from 1 John 4:8:
"God is love."
is the signal. 5 glorious more minutes.
we have ways to study the Bible
that are almost "peculiar."
And I use that word advisedly for
the AA. I don't know about you,
but I have done many, many, many
5th steps. My sponsor did not have
me do a fear list. I don't know
how you could miss it in the Big
Book, but my experience with AAs--and
here is another heresy that you
can stone me for after the meeting--but
I don't think resentment is the
number one offender. I love resentments,
and I still have them, and I know
they are bad news. But I will tell
you where I come from, and it is
called fear. And fear has a million
forms--shame, guilt, terror, rejection,
low self-esteem, abandonment. The
stuff that is the fodder for our
meetings today, unfortunately, except
it's psychological. There is an
answer to fear, and shame, and guilt.
I did not know that fear had ruled
my life. I was afraid to stand up
in front of the jury. And the one
time I got in front of the jury,
I won the case. My boss gave me
a $50.00 bonus--how about that?
I was afraid to get up in front
of the jury.
of the fabulous things about A.A.
is how many dudes (and dudesses)
get up. And these people, some of
them, can hardly speak English,
but you cannot shut them up. They
have gained self-esteem. They are
able to stand up in front of a group
and express themselves and move
you. This is part of the fear game:
Fear of gals. "I don't want
to ask her to dance." There
is a whole bunch of gals over there,
guys over here and nobody's getting
to dance. That isn't true anymore,
not in A.A. anyway. But, fear, fear,
of these things! If we understand
what our roots are, we can find
out what we can be delivered from.
Did they know that in early A.A.?
You can bet your boots they did.
A.A. was about getting back. I am
happy to say that a lot of the guys
I have sponsored have been around
for 10 years. These guys are getting
married. They are having babies.
They have jobs. Some of them have
gone back to church or a Bible fellowship.
is the kind of thing, I believe.
I don't know anything about the
words "emotional sobriety."
I don't know what that means. But
I do know about full recovery and
what full recovery and deliverance
means. It means that you are restored
to a whole and useful life, something
that is worthwhile, something in
which God becomes a paramount part
of that life and in which we have
accurate and adequate information
about God and what He can do for
us. Right about now it is time to
say, "Thank you very much,
and God bless you all."