The Development of the Message of Alcoholics Anonymous
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Burns M. Brady, MD, FASAM, FAAFP
Bill Wilson - letter to Carl Jung, Jan. 23, 1961 A. Thanks for direction to Rowland Hazard B.
Jung’s reply: Jan. 30, 1961 1. Alcohol excess Man’s thirst for God (union) 2. Relieved by Grace Companionship with others Higher education of the mind beyond rationalism 3. Alcohol in Latin – Spiritus a. Highest religious experience b. Most depraving poison Spiritus contra Spiritum “It takes the Spirit of God to overcome the (harmful) spirit of alcohol.”
Rowland Hazard given the spiritual – religious solution
Background 1. Wealthy family – Connecticut 2. Carl Jung 1931-1933 3. Joined Oxford Group 1934 4. Died 1944 – never in AA Oxford Group participation 1. Carried the message Key man Change Guidance – prayer & share Service (help people – all, not just alcoholics) Restitution Inventory
Meets Ebby Thacher – 1934 1. Manchester – Ebby jail a. Judge Graves – Father Cebra G. b. Cebra G. c. Shep C. d. Rowland Hazard Sponsors Ebby for approximately 6 months 1. Texas 2. Clean up Manchester 3. Delivers to Calvary Mission Fall 1934 (Home Oxford Group)
1878 – Lutheran background Ordained as minister in 1905 Serious resentment and rebuff at orphanage where he was director 1908 – Keswick Convention Keswick, England – where he had a rapture experience of Jesus while listening to a sermon by a little-known minister, Jessie Penn-Lewis (spiritual awakening of the sudden “light experience”) vs (educational experience)
He talked of sin and acceptance of Christ Alcoholics Anonymous, 27 years later, talked of character defects and a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps
He spent 6 years at Penn State as a YMCA secretary where he developed his philosophy of the Oxford Group, which was primarily the “Key Man and Abstinence” position (alcohol and smoking)
Initially, from 1920 to 1928, the group was called “First Century Christian Fellowship” From 1928 to 1938 it was known as the “Oxford Group” - (first called by South African press when a group from Oxford came there to preach)
In this 10-year period were developed the concepts of: A. B. C. D.
House parties Change Guidance Maximum
Attempts to refer to the 6 steps of the Oxford Group (as precursors of the 12 Steps of AA) were only loosely connected since the Oxford Group referred to the “four absolutes”, not the 6 steps: Honesty Unselfishness Love Purity
Derived from Robert Speer in his 1902 book “The Principles of Jesus”
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6.
The Oxford Group did have some critical points that were emphasized Men are sinners Men can be changed Confession is prerequisite to change The changed soul has direct access to God The age of miracles has returned Those who have been changed must change others
These absolutes and 6 points were the foundation of anecdotal communication prior to the writing of the book “Alcoholics Anonymous” with its Twelve Step Program
In 1938, the Oxford Group became known as MRA – Moral Rearmament It still exists with its headquarters in Caux, Switzerland Its membership and support declined greatly after Buckman’s death in 1961
Calvary Episcopal Church – International Headquarters of the Oxford Group Calvary Mission 1926-1936 – Indigent recovery center – where Rowland Hazard left Ebby Fall 1934 Calvary House – location of administration of the church - also housed meetings of the Oxford groups Priest – Sam Shoemaker Director of Mission – Henry Harrison Hadley II
Director D. Henry Harrison Hadley II 1. Jerry McAuley – Water Street Mission NYC 1870 Died 1984 2. Mission run by Samuel Hopkins Hadley (Varieties of Religious Experience) and his brother Henry Harrison Hadley 3. Sam’s son, Henry Harrison Hadley II, brought the fundamental basis of spiritual conversion to Calvary Mission from his own and his father’s experience
Priest E. Sam Shoemaker 1. Met Frank Buchman in China in 1918 while on missionary trip (Sam was 24 years old, handsome, rich, devout, Princeton graduate 2. He asked for help and through their work together underwent a conversion experience “Give to God the resentment and look at my part. God’s love and turn the other cheek. Do God’s work in God’s way.”
Sam Shoemaker (cont’d) 3. To Seminary and was ordained 1921. In 1924 became rector of Calvary Church and was there 28 years 4. To Pittsburgh Calvary Church in 1950. Died 1963 5. Condolences – good friends Norman Vincent Peale and Billy Graham 6. This man was a giant. Wilson stated that he and he alone was the inspiration of the Steps of AA
Development of the Firestone connection 1. 1924 James Newton (19 years old, luggage salesman) by mistake went into a “First Century Christianity” meeting (precursor of the Oxford Group). He underwent a spiritual change 2. 1928 – hired as personal assistant by Harvey Firestone, Sr., age 23 3. Became close friend of Russell (Bud) Firestone, Harvey’s second son. 4. Bud was severe alcoholic and tried with Newton to deal with this unsuccessfully until 1931
1931 – Trip to Denver for Episcopal Church meeting – Newton, Firestone, and “coincidentally” some Oxford Group team members including Sam Shoemaker On return trip Shoemaker and Firestone had a personal and private talk. Surrender and conversion occurred. 1951 – Died sober Harvey Firestone, Sr., so grateful he sponsored Oxford Group House Party 1933
Oxford Group 1933 Akron 1. Lasted weekend with thousands attending,
including many industrialists (key man) 2. Train met by Bud’s wife, Dorothy, and Rev. Walter Tunks, Bill’s contact in Mayflower. Anne Smith (Bob’s wife) and Henrietta Seiberling were there. Bob was not. 3. 1934 Bob began to attend Oxford Group meeting at the home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams with Ann and Henrietta. They had been attending for 2 years.
4. Bob confessed (they all knew) that his secret was he could not stop drinking 5. They all knelt and prayed for guidance (this was approximately 2 weeks prior to Bill’s arrival in May 1935) The stage was set in Akron
Relationship – William D. Silkworth 1. Disease – physical allergy & mental obsession 2. Solution – moral psychology Relationship – Ebby 1. Ebby’s background, rich family, politicians, manufacturers, summered in Manchester 2. Drinking – Bill Ebby had some episodes, not frequent 3. Call – Ebby made “12” Step call in November 1934. Contents – personal story – choose your own concept of a Higher Power, do the steps (Oxford Group) 4. Fellowship – Roland, Sam, Oxford Group and Towns
Rapture experience “Hot Flash” Religious Experience – Spiritual Experience – Spiritual Awakening Richard Bucke – Cosmic Consciousness William James – Varieties of Religious Experience Wilson did the Steps December 11-18 “wind blew through” The stage was set in New York
B. C. D.
Failed business deal Broke and afraid Multiple phone calls Reached Rev. Walter Tunks – Henrietta Seiberling – Bob Smith
A. B. C.
One alcoholic to another “I drank like that – I feel like that” Disease – Bodily and mentally different Spiritual Solution – mental, physical, emotional illness Spirituality – Humility – 1-2-3 Steps Responsibility – 4-12 Steps “Faith without works is dead” Pass it on
1937 – Bill and Lois left the Oxford Group
1939 – Bob and Ann left the Oxford Group
1941 – Sam Shoemaker and Calvary Episcopal Church left the Oxford Group
AA at this time had the message, recorded it in text book form, and became all inclusive never exclusive