Ripley Smith, wife of Dr. Bob, Mother
and Co-Founder of A.A.
A.A.ís Most Ignored, Forgotten,
yet Critically Important Resource
From the Original Journal kept by
we said in the first part of this
series on Anne Smith, it is virtually
impossible today for AAs to see,
enjoy, and utilize the original
journal that Dr. Bobís wife assembled
and used from 1933 to 1939. We have
set out many portions of it in our
title Anne Smithís Journal, 1933-1939,
3rd ed. Those quotes
were used to illustrate how much
of Anneís language can still be
found in A.A. itself.
we want to introduce you to some
specific segments that illustrate
the diversity, practicality, and
love that can be found in the comments
of this wonderful woman of early
A.A.Ėa non-alcoholic, yet perhaps
its most articulate teacher. For
it was Bill Wilson himself who said
that during his stay at the Smith
home in the summer of 1935, it was
Anne Smith and Henrietta Seiberling
who gave him and Dr. Bob a much
needed spiritual infusion.
PRINCIPLES [From page 2 as numbered
A general experience of God is the
first essential, the beginning.
We canít give away what we havenít
got. We must have a genuine contact
with God in our present experience.
Not an experience of the past, but
an experience in the present - -
- actually genuine.
we have that, witnessing to it is
natural, just as we wish to share
a beautiful sunset. We must be in
such close touch with God that the
whole sharing is guided. The person
with a genuine experience of God
and with no technique will make
fewer mistakes than one with lots
of technique, and no sense of God.
Under guidance, you are almost a
spectator of what is happening.
Your sharing is not strained, it
is not tense.
must clearly see and understand
our own experience and carefully
articulate it, so as to be ready
to know what to say or use parts
of it, when the need comes to share
with others, in order to help them.
only on prayer and under guidance.
Prayer is real, and prepares the
way for people.
with people - donít preach, donít
argue. Donít talk up nor down to
people. Talk to them, and share
in terms of their own experiences,
speak on their level.
with imagination and real faith
- expect things to happen. If you
EXPECT things to happen, they DO
happen. This is based on FAITH IN
GOD, not on our own strength. A
negative attitude toward ourselves
or others cuts off Godís power;
it is evidence of lack of faith
in His power. If you go into a situation
admitting defeat, of course you
Those who are familiar with A.A.ís Big
Book will quickly recognize the large
number of ideas in the foregoing half-page
of quotes that correspond to language
Bill Wilson used in A.A.ís basic text.
Thus on pages 18-19 of the Third Edition
of A.A.ís Big Book, Bill talks presenting
no "Holier Than Thou" attitude,
nor lectures, but rather a sharing of
experience. Bill even refers to a Bible
expression in saying, "many take
up their beds and walk again" (John
5:8: "Jesus saith unto him, Rise,
take up thy bed, and walk. And immediately
the man was made whole, and took up his
bed, and walked: and on the same day was
the sabbath."). See also, the Big
Bookís comments about being "beyond
human aid" (p. 24). About "the
loving and powerful hand of God"
(p. 18). About contact with "that
Power, which is God" (p. 46). About
"consciousness of the Presence of
God" (pp. 51, 63). About "All
men of faith have courage. They trust
their God. We never apologize for God"
(p. 68). About "we ask God what we
should do about each specific matter"
(p. 69) About "God can remove whatever
self-will has blocked you off from Him."
There are many more examples.]
FIVE CíS (From page 4, as numbered
by GSO) . . . .
to bring a person to a decision to
"surrender as much of himself
as he knows to as much
of God as he knows. Stay with him
until he makes a decision and says
is the turning to God, the decision, the
SURRENDER MEANS (From page 42,
as numbered by GSO)
is a complete handing over of our
wills to God, a wreckless abandon
of ourselves, all that we have,
all that we think, that we are,
everything we held dear, to God
to do what he likes with. . ."
Again, just look at the Big Book
Third Edition: "We stood at
the turning point. We asked His
protection and care with complete
abandon" (p. 59). "3.
Made a decision to turn our will
and our lives over to the care of
God as we understood Him."
What are the conditions of receiving
Godís guidance? (From page 38,
as numbered by GSO)
must be in such relationship with
God that He can guide us;
He will not force Himself on us.
The Sons of God are those who are
guided by the Spirit of God. If
we are wholly surrendered we can
absolutely count on guidance. Constant
renewal of consecration is necessary.
Surrender is not an attitude
attained; it is an attitude maintained.
The major condition is being absolutely
willing and looking for Godís direction
in all things. We cannot receive
guidance if we hold back an area,
an habit, a plan. We must be alert
to His direction in Every thing;
little things, as well as big ones
such as career and marriage"
Anne had her eye on passages in
the Good Book that were familiar
to our pioneer AAs. See 1 Corinthians
1:17-24; 2:9-16; 3:11, 16; 12:3-13;
2 Timothy 1:14; James 1:5-8; 1 John
2:27, 4:1-6, 13; 5:1-5].
LET ALL YOUR READING BE GUIDED (From
page 16, as numbered by GSO)
does God want me to read? A newly
surrendered person is like a convalescent
after an operation. He needs a carefully
balanced diet of nourishing and
easily assimilated food. Reading
is an essential part of the Christianís
diet. It is important that he read
that which can be assimilated and
will be nourishing. If you do not
know what books to read see some
one who is surrendered and who is
mature in the Groups. Biographies,
or stories of changed lives are
very helpful for the young Christian.
"Life Changers "
by Begbie; "Children of
the Second Birth" Shoemaker;
"New Lives for Old,"
Reynolds; "For Sinners
Only," Russell; "Twice
Born Men," by Begbie, story
of the Salvation Army in London
Slums; "Twice Born Ministers,"
Shoemaker; and others.
like, "He That Cometh,"
Allen; "Conversion of the
Church," Shoemaker; all
of E. Stanley Jonesí books are very
good. Some have found Fosdickís
little books, "The Meaning
of Prayer," and "The
Manhood of the Master"
helpful. One should by all means
read at least one book on the life
of Christ a year for a while. More
would be better. "The
Life of Christ," Stalker;
"Jesus of Nazareth,"
Barton; "The Jesus of History,"
Glover; "The Man Christ
Jesus," Speer, are all
good. See your ministers for others
if you desire. But get those biographies
of the Master which bring out his
humanity. An understanding of the
Cross and its meaning for life is
absolutely essential. The best popular
interpretation I know is, "If
I be lifted Up," by Shoemaker.
It is a group of lenten sermons.
Christ ought to be as real to us
as our nearest and best friend.
course the Bible ought to be the
main Source Book of all. No day
ought to pass without reading in
it. Read until some passage comes
that "hits" you. Then
pause and meditate over its meaning
for your life. Begin reading the
Bible with the Book of Acts and
follow up with the Gospels and then
the Epistles of Paul. Let "Revelation"
alone for a while. The Psalms ought
also be read and the Prophets."
Early AAs read all these items. I
found them in Dr. Bobís library (See
Dick B., Dr. Bob and His
Library). I found them in Henrietta
Seiberlingís reading (See Dick B.,
The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics
Anonymous and The Books Early
AAs Read for Spiritual Growth,
7th ed). I found them in
Clarence Snyderís library as shown
to me by his wife Grace in Florida
(See Dick B., That Amazing Grace
and The Books Early AAs Read,
supra). And I found many mentioned
in DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers
and in early A.A. pamphlets and articles.
Anne was the Bible student, the teacher,
and the one who conducted the Morning
Watch at the Smith home. It is therefore
not surprising to see the language
on page 87 of the Big Book, 3rd
ed.: "There are many helpful
books also. Suggestions about these
may be obtained from oneís priest,
minister, or rabbi. Be quick to see
where religious people are right.
Make use of what they offer."
And when I see communications from
people that say "A.A. is not
for Christians only" or
Lois Wilsonís remark that "not
all drunks are Christians," or
hear someone in a meeting talk about
excluding all but Conference Approved
books from meetings and discussions,
I bemoan the lack of knowledge of
our own history and of the Big Book
itself that exists today. There is
no index of forbidden books in Alcoholics
Anonymous, and there never was one.
Dr. Bob was an avowed Bible student,
Christian, and member of Protestant
churches. But he read, recommended,
circulated, and studied the works
of Roman Catholic writers, of Confucius,
of "new thought" writers
like Trine and Fox, and the Bible
itself. He went to Roman Catholic
retreats, Bible and tooth brush in
hand. And he seems never to have spoken
ill of any religion or denominationĖan
example todayís AAs would do well
"Barriers to a full surrender.
(From page 18, as numbered by GSO)
there anything I wonít give up?
there an apology I wonít make?
there any defeat in my whole life,
I refuse to count as sin?
person I donít like to meet?
restitution I wonít make?
there any guidance I have had but
refused to follow?
there anything I wonít share? Let
my surrender be wholesale.
vision, rigidity, a staleness in
your relationship with Christ.
you are sore in yourself, do you
work it off on somebody else.
doubts arise out of an attitude
canít ask forgiveness from someone
you donít believe in.
about self - holding on to my own
judgment of things, people, common
sense and reason.
canít use a fine needle to do rough
darning"Ė Are you willing to
take any amount of trouble to win
others that Christ has taken to
confession a fresh humiliation breaks
down another barrier. You can get
to the place where you have nothing
left to defend - that is release.
You can go naked to God"
There are hundreds of similar guides,
observations, challenges, and ideas in
Anneís 64 pages, plus those we still need
to find. You can see many discussed in
my title, Anne Smithís Journal,
1933-1939, 3rd ed. You
will be surprised, as so many are each
day, to see just how much of Anneís thinking
and teaching underlies our fellowship
ideas. And do you see any mention of "higher
power," or of "acceptance,"
or of "things happen for a reason,"
or "there are no coincidences in
A.A." Whatever you think of such
expressions, they should certainly balanced
against an understanding of what some
of us now "old school A.A."
Letís learn what we were and how
successful we were before we start
inventing new gods, new philosophies,
and new interpretations of "reality."
The Big Book and the chatter in meetings,
if not accompanied by our history, could
be likened to a conversation with Thomas
Jefferson without a knowledge of the Declaration
Great Opportunity Today
a great and unusual day it could
be in Twelve Step Fellowships if
we actually saw a copy of Anne
Smithís Journal Ėmine or hersĖon
the literature table at a meeting.
What a great and unusual day if
someone read just one page from
the real, the original, the un-edited
Anne Smithís Journal at an A.A.
meeting on the 4th week
of every month. What a great and
unusual day if A. A. World Services
started publishing the real history
of early A.A. instead of the diverse
opinions of thousands who havenít
a clue where we came from. What
an opportunity to change the failing
treatment ideas to the early "Program"
by just reading at a treatment program
what that early program was, as
exemplified by Anneís Journal. What
a great and unusual day if speakers
and International Conventions and
other Conferences began talking
about something other than their
own experience, strength, and hope.
One can read the Book of Acts, as
Anne suggested, and see plenty of
victorious experience, strength,
and hope that was based on belief
in, and reliance upon, the power
of God. The lame walked. The dead
were raised. The sick were healed.
Thatís what early A.A. was really
about. In fact, if you look at the
12 times the word "Creator"
is used in our Big Book today, and
if you realize that the word "God"
with a capital "G" is
set forthĖby name or by explicit
referenceĖover 400 times in todayís
Big Book, you might be hesitant
about questioning the literature
that gave rise to the very "Power"
(the power of Almighty God, our
Creator), Whose kindness, healing,
and forgiveness put Alcoholics Anonymous
on the map as a viable life-changing
society that really had an answer
to the "drug problem."