Alcoholics Anonymous, Its Christian Endeavor Root, and A.A. Co-founder Dr. Bob
By Dick B.
Copyright 2005. All rights reserved
A New Historical Research Challenge
Whenever I find some solid evidence about A.A. history that no historian has mentioned, I become interested and challenged. Further, whenever I find that neither Bill W. nor the current A.A. publishing group has made mention of the item, I become even more interested and challenged. Finally, when I see that the evidence has a direct bearing on the early A.A. program in Akron, as reported to Rockefeller by Frank Amos – our trustee-to-be – the challenge becomes a priority. And if no one mentions a challenge that smacks of religious, church, Christianity, Bible, or alcoholism cure, I know that I’m on to an investigative quest that will be welcomed by the many who just plain want to know. That’s the case here.
The Christian Endeavor root of A.A. is such a challenge. No AA historian other than Richard K. and I seems to have mentioned it at all. Nor did Bill Wilson or his latter-day, well-paid publishing crew. More and more forcefully, the “headquarters” crowd began pushing the idea “A.A. is not a religious society, since it requires no definite religious belief as a condition of membership” (See 44 Questions. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1952, p. 19). This revisionist theme has nonetheless been rejected by the many courts that have ruled on its flaws.
Yet A.A.’s reticent co-founder Dr. Bob certainly pointed to the Christian Endeavor root.. First, in an almost negative context, Dr. Bob said in his personal story in the A.A. Big Book:
“From childhood through high school I was more or less forced to go to church, Sunday School and evening service, Monday night Christian Endeavor and sometimes to Wednesday evening prayer meeting”
(Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., p. 173)
The foregoing was supplemented with Dr. Bob’s further statement that he resolved thereafter “never to darken the doors of a church” except where circumstances made it seem unwise to do otherwise.” However, more than a decade after A.A.’s founding, Dr. Bob commented as to Bill and himself (The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks. NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975, pp. 11-14):
“We had both been associated with the Oxford Group, Bill in New York, for five months, and I in Akron, for two and a half years. Bill had acquired their idea of service. I had not, but I had done an immense amount of reading they had recommended. I had refreshed my memory of the Good Book, and I had had excellent training in that as a youngster. . . .
“I’m somewhat allergic to work, but I felt that I should continue to increase my familiarity with the Good Book and also should read a good deal of standard literature, possibly of a scientific nature. So I did cultivate the habit of reading. I think I’m not exaggerating when I say I have probably averaged an hour a day for the last 15 years. . . .
“At that point, our stories didn’t amount to anything to speak of. When we started in on Bill D., we had no Twelve Steps, either; we had no Traditions. But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book. . . .
“It wasn’t until 1938 that the teachings and efforts and studies that had been going on were crystallized in the form of the Twelve Steps. I didn’t write the Twelve Steps. I had nothing to do with the writing of them. . . . We already had the basic ideas, though not in terse and tangible form. We got them, as I said, as a result of our study of the Good Book.”
I found after much further research that his statement does not square with the facts—facts still under further extensive investigation by my colleague Richard K. Nor were the facts presented in full or in the context as to Dr. Bob’s other statements and views about the Bible, his training as a youngster, and the ideas which he later promulgated as he worked with over 5,000 alcoholics subsequent to A.A.’s 1935 founding.
I will only summarize here my previously published detailed evidence about Dr. Bob’s youth and his statements about the Bible, his training in the Bible and Bible study, his prayer life, his quiet times, and his church life. In outline form, here are the points:
Dr. Bob’s stated that he had attended three or four church services and meetings in week at the North Congregational Church in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. He said that when he resumed his religious studies, he had refreshed his memory of the Bible and had received excellent training in that in church and through Christian Endeavor as a youngster. His son told me his father had read the Bible completely through three times in his “refreshment” period. His daughter told me her father read the Bible every day. Dr. Bob told his son he had read for an hour every night, drunk or sober, for many years. Dr. Bob spoke of the immense amount of literature he read. Scads and scads of books were found in his home, under his bed, and in the homes of his kids after they were alleged to have been thrown or given away. And we now know the broad scope of the Biblical, devotional, Christian literature he read, just by looking at the remnant books we have found mentioned by family and friends or found in possession of his children. There is no doubt that, from early AA’s beginnings, Dr. Bob set aside a quiet time three times each day for Bible study, prayer, and reflection. He read and circulated a large number of Christian books on the Bible, Jesus Christ, prayer, quiet time, the sermon on the mount, the Book of James, and 1 Corinthians 13. We also have Dr. Bob’s own frequent statement as to the “absolutely essential” study by AAs of the sermon, James, and Corinthians. Also, Bob’s statement that AAs started the day with James, Corinthians, and the Sermon. We also have examined with care Dr. Bob’s specific interest in The Runner’s Bible where James is much discussed, his interest in at least four well-known commentaries on the Sermon on the Mount, and his enthusiastic circulation of Henry Drummond’s The Greatest Thing in the World.
I have a news article from The Tidings (A Roman Catholic paper) printed some eight years after A.A.’s founding. The article reported on the speeches by Dr. Bob and Bill on the same platform in Los Angeles before 4500 at the Shrine Auditorium. There, and once again, Dr. Bob explicitly urged that AAs should cultivate the habit of prayer and of reading the Bible…
Despite incomplete and erroneous reporting, we now know that Dr. Bob not only attended Protestant Christian churches frequently—first as a youngster and later in Akron at St. Lukes, Westside Presbyterian Church, and finally St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Akron.
I particularly want to mention here again the two illuminating statements Dr. Bob made about clergy and churches. His son made the statements to me personally. Smitty, his son, said: (1) Dr. Bob’s real beef was with “sky pilots”—a not uncommon, derogatory statement about preachers of that day. (2) Dr. Bob was far more interested in the “message” than the “messenger”—an interesting declaration of Dr. Bob’s avowed preference for Bible study, prayer and the seeking of guidance, reading Christian literature, and using devotionals And I believe these comments may explain his alleged aversion to church and his patent involvement in Bible study, prayer, guidance, Christian literature, and using devotionals like The Upper Room, Daily Strength for Daily Needs, and My Utmost for His Highest. It may also explain his infrequent mention of his church—though he and Anne were charter members of the Presbyterian Church in Akron, though he tooks his kids to Sunday School, and he recommended that early AAs attend church..
The challenge? Did Dr. Bob’s younger days in church, his prayer meetings, and Christian Endeavor impact on his later beliefs, actions, A.A. ideas, and the “fixing” of drunks in Akron AA.? Another challenge: What was the background of Christian Endeavor itself; and what ideas of that society bear resemblance to those of pioneer AA? Still another challenge: What, in context, was Dr. Bob’s real view of church, of clergy, of prayer, of prayer meetings, of the Christian Endeavor program, and of the Bible itself?
Some of the answers will be forthcoming in the forthcoming months of research and writing.
Preliminary Glimpses at Christian Endeavor
From its Founding Through the days of Dr. Bob’s Participation
The Genesis of the Christian Endeavor Society
The first society was organized on February 2, 1881. (See Francis E. Clark. Christian Endeavor in all Lands. Boston, MA: The United Society of Christian Endeavor, 1886, pp. 35, 41, 621).
Rev. Francis E. Clark, pastor Williston Church in Portland, Maine, formed the society in the parlor of his home at 62 Neal Street—the parsonage of Williston Church. Members consisted of boys and girls in the “Mizpah Circle”—a missionary circle for young people which was led by the pastor’s wife. During the February Mizpah meeting, Clark framed a constitution for the society and called it “Williston Young People’s Society of Christian Endeavor.” The “greatest stress was on the religious features.” The society was to be “an out-and-out Christian society” The activities “were to centre around the weekly young people’s prayer meeting.” W. H. Pennell, the teacher of the Young Men’s Bible Class, carefully explained the society and its constitution and led all the young people present in signing the new constitution. Several clauses of the constitution are historically instructive and bear repeating here (For the foregoing points and the constitution, see Francis E. Clark. Memories of Many Men In Many Lands: An Autobiography. Boston, MA: United Society of Christian Endeavor, 1922, pp. 77-87):
“Object. Its object shall be to promote an earnest Christian life among its members, to increase their mutual acquaintance, and to make them more useful in the service of God. . . .
Officers. The officers of this society shall be a President, Vice President and Secretary. There shall also be a Prayer meeting Committee of five a Social Committee of five, and a Lookout Committee of Five.
Duties of Officers. . . . The Prayer meeting Committee shall have in charge the Friday evening prayer-meeting;
The Prayer-meeting. It is expected that all the members of the society will be present at every meeting unless detained by some absolute necessity and that each one will take some part however slight in every meeting. The meetings will be held just one hour and at the close some time may be taken for introductions and social intercourse if desired. Once each month an Experience meeting shall” [no further portions shown in autobiography].
About Christian Endeavor Founder Francis E. Clark
Francis Edward Clark was born on September 12, 1851 in the village of Aylmer, Province of Quebec, or Lower Canada, as it was then called. His ancestors, however, had lived in “the Old Bay State” for two centuries. His ancestral lineage was peopled with deacons and pastors and descendents who were members of the Orthodox Congregational Church. His young parents went to the Canadian frontier on other pursuits, but both died when Francis was quite young. He said, “All of my boyhood was spent in two Puritan families. . . . My mother and brother were members of the Presbyterian church, in which I, too, was dedicated to God’s service.” However, very soon after his mother’s death, his uncle, Rev. Edward Warren Clark, of Auburndale, Mass., came to Aylmer and took him to the Auburndale home. The uncle was the first pastor of the newly-formed Congregational Church in Auburndale. Because of ill health, his uncle was obliged to give up his pastorate. But he was elected chaplain of the Massachusetts Senate and Overseer of Harvard College, soon becoming chaplain of the Forty-seventh Regiment of Volunteers in the Civil War.
On the uncle’s return from the war, the family moved to New Hampshire; and the young Francis attended Claremont academy. From there, Francis was enrolled in Kimball Union Academy in Meridian, New Hampshire. On graduation in 1869, he entered the Dartmouth class of ’73. He graduated number 12 in his class and had received a Phi Beta Kappa “key.” Incidentally, Francis commented at some length on the excessive drinking during his years at Dartmouth—something that is part of the Dr. Bob story at Dartmouth as well. In 1873, Francis decided to study for the ministry and entered Andover, which he characterized as “the great theological seminary of New England.” Andover was Congregational in denomination. Near the end of his senior year at Andover, he was called to the pastorate of the Williston Church of Portland, Maine (For the foregoing materials, see Clark, Memories, supra, pp. 1-66).
A Brief Digression To the Period of Dr. Bob’s Youth.
Perhaps not by accident, A.A. literature has chosen to report little about Dr. Bob’s youth. This may be a blessing for those of us who are taking a fresh start, a fresh approach, and a fresh viewpoint. The question concerns just exactly what Dr. Bob did as a youngster in the North Congregational Church at St. Johnsbury and just exactly what he was seeing, hearing, learning, and practicing in the Christian Endeavor Society at his church and even elsewhere. Those questions are being researched right now!
Here’s what AA does tell us about Dr. Bob’s youth. The facts provide an adequate start and framework that can point us toward his early religious years and religious training.
Robert Holbrook Smith was born August 8, 1879 in the family home at Central and Summer Streets in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. Judge and Mrs. Walter Perrin Smith were his parents. The Judge had a distinguished career as Probate Judge, state’s attorney, state legislator, superintendent of St. Johnsbury schools, director of one bank, and president of another. He died in 1918; and he had taught Sunday school for 40 years! Dr. Bob’s mother was said to have felt “that the way to success and salvation lay through strict parental supervision, no-nonsense education, and regular spiritual devotion.”
From 1885 to 1894, Bob went to Summer Street elementary school, two blocks from his home. In 1894, Bob was 15 years old and entered St. Johnsbury Academy—an independent secondary school “for the intellectual, moral, and religious training of boys and girls in northeastern Vermont.” In his senior year at St. Johnsbury, he met his bride-to-be Anne Ripley Smith at a dance in the academy gym. Seventeen years later, they were married. Bob graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy in 1898. He then set off for four years at Dartmouth College, sixty miles south at Hanover, New Hampshire. He graduated in 1902 and by that time was an illustrious graduate of the college drinking “fraternity.” Sadly—by comparison with the endless biographies, stories of, by, and about Bill Wilson and his life—A.A. has devoted only 23 pages to the foregoing general facts in the official biography of Bob’s life (See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers: A Biography, with recollections of early A.A. in the Midwest. NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services., Inc., 1980, pp. 1-23). Regrettably, most of these pages contain little more of religious and spiritual significance than a Dr. Bob drunkalog, not even in the words of Dr. Bob.
As to Bill Wilson, Bill himself, A.A., and a host of biographers have provided us with details about Wilson’s birth behind a bar, his renunciation of church, his grandfather, his boomerang, his violin, his first love, his second love and then wife Lois, his Burr and Burton Academy, a hobo motorcycle ride, stock market meanderings, Lois’s Swedenborgian religion, the pair’s marriage in the Swedenborgian church, and a some information about Bill’s Army days and law school attendance.
When it comes to reporting details about Dr. Bob, A.A. has been favored with nothing about Judge Smith’s religious convictions and teachings to Bob; Grandma Smith’s religious beliefs, activities, and communications with her son; the family’s membership in St. Johnsbury’s North Congregational Church, its prayer meetings, church services, Bible studies, and quiet hours; the status of its Christian Endeavor Society there; and the CE activities of that particular church society. Nor has it even mentioned what Bob learned from the church, from the Bible, from Christian Endeavor, from his parents, and from the religiously- oriented academy he attended. And that is where part of our research is now beginning.
Christian Endeavor Growth From 1881 to 1902—the date of Dr. Bob’s graduation from college at Dartmouth.
The growth of Christian Endeavor from its twenty member society in Williston Church in 1881 to its status at the time of Dr. Bob’s graduation from college in 1902 is absolutely astonishing. Though Congregational in origin, Christian Endeavor met the needs of youth and the need of churches of various Protestant denominations to court, encourage, and instruct the young people in the service of Christ. Its influence on churches and youngsters became world-wide in span and duration.
By the time its founder Dr. Francis Clark had written his autobiography in 1922, Christian Endeavor could say that eighty thousand organizations bore its name (Clark, Memoirs, supra, p. 699). It could and did say that three hundred thousand people attended one hundred and fifty different sessions at its 1899 Convention in Detroit (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, p. 368). It could and did estimate that about 250,000 Endeavorers every year join the evangelical churches of the world (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, p. 338).
Let’s compare, as to historical significance, Wilson’s much-discussed Washingtonian Society of a century before A.A.’s founding. Society membership, said Wilson, “passed the hundred thousand mark,” but, said he, it lost sight of its goal of helping alcoholics. It became embroiled in Abolition and Temperance matters, quickly faded from the scene after only a few short years of activity, and had been long dead for a good many decades before A.A. was founded (See Wilson’s remarks quoted in Pass It On. NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1984, pp. 325, 354, 366-367; Twelve Steps And Twelve Traditions. NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1952, pp. 178-179).
So too, the “Oxford Group”—the much discussed yet maligned “root” of Bill Wilson’s A.A. steps. At the beginning, in 1922, its members simply consisted of a small group of Rev. Frank Buchman’s traveling friends who had formed what they called “A First Century Christian Fellowship” which soon faded away (See Garth Lean. Frank Buchman: A Life. London: Constable, 1985, p. 97).
Now, let’s look at a timeline of Christian Endeavor from its founding in 1881 to the time of Dr. Bob’s graduation from Dartmouth in 1902. The growth, tremendous size and outreach, and endurance of this Christian fellowship surpass anything else in the pre-AA history scene.
1881 – February 2, the first society was organized in Williston Church.
October 8, the second society organized in the North Church, Newburyport, Mass.
Before 1882 dawned, there were at least three or four other societies—one in a
Christian church in Rhode Island; another in the St. Lawrence Church of Portland; another in Burlington, Vermont.
1882 – June 2 – the first convention was held in Williston Church with six societies of less than 500 members represented and others known to exist.
1883 – 1891 – Societies were rapidly formed in Canada, Hawaii, Ceylon, Foochow, Africa, England, Australia, Turkey, Japan, Spain, France, Samoa, Mexico, and Chile. With large conventions in those years and many societies.
1892 – Eleventh Annual Convention was held at Madison Square Garden. Attendance: 30,000.
1893 – 1896 – Societies and conventions involved China, Japan, the Army, South Africa, Switzerland, Germany, Laos, Scotland, Marshall Islands, India, Hawaii, Guatemala, the Caroline Islands, Italy, Bulgaria, Mexico, and Burma.
1897 – Sixteenth International Convention in San Francisco. 25,000 journeyed across the continental United States to be a part of the outreach and activity.
1898 – 1902 – Societies and conventions were organized and met in India, Russia, Philippines, Jamaica, Portugal, and Persia.
The Washingtonians were washed up in only a few years and long before AA was a twinkle in Bill Wilson’s eye.. The Oxford Group gained world-wide notice through the 1930’s; faced stiff opposition from the Roman Catholic hierarchy; ran afoul of some political ideas; was a basically a one-man charisma show; and soon found itself splitting in several directions a decade thereafter.
Yet, in the twenty years beginning with1891, Christian Endeavor had stayed afloat, grown, gained support in many denominations, spawned similar groups in others, and acquired tens of thousands of identifiable adherents. It had literature, books, periodicals, newspapers, conventions, world conferences, offices, officers and trustees, hymnals, summer schools, training schools, and an ever-increasing support and growth rate. In sum, there was absolutely nothing similar in form, content, significance, and size in A.A.’s formative years like the Christian Endeavor Society which was to help instruct and train Dr. Bob in his youth, and which emphasized Bible, Church, Prayer Meetings, Quiet Hours, God, Jesus Christ, fellowship, service and witness (For details, see Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, pp. 34-88, 621-628).
The Christian Endeavor Society Pledge, Principles, and Practices
The Christian Endeavor Covenant and Pledge
The active member’s pledge used in most societies is as follows:
“Trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ for strength, I promise Him that I will strive to do whatever He would like to have me do; that I will make it a rule of my life to pray and to read the Bible every day, and to support my own church in every way, especially by attending all her regular Sunday and midweek services, unless prevented by some reason which I can conscientiously give to my Saviour; and that, just so far as I know how, throughout my whole life, I will endeavor to lead a Christian life. As an active member I promise to be true to all my duties, to be present at and take some part, aside from singing, in every Christian Endeavor prayer-meeting, unless hindered by some reason which I can conscientiously give to my Lord and Master. If obliged to be absent from the monthly consecration meeting of the society, I will, if possible, send at least a verse of Scripture to be read in response to my name at roll-call” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, pp. 251-252).
Interesting also are the first two of six covenants in the prison-societies of Christian Endeavor:
“First. I will accept Jesus as my Lord and Saviour.
“Second. I will try to learn and do His will by forming the habit of praying and carefully reading my Bible daily, and by thinking, speaking, and acting as I believe He would in my place. . . .” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, p. 253).
Rev. Clark said the covenant has thus been analyzed:
“First, I will read the Bible.
“Second, I will pray.
“Third, I will support my own church.
“Fourth, I will attend the weekly prayer-meeting of the society.
“Fifth, I will take some part in it, aside from singing.
“Sixth, I will perform a special duty at the consecration-meeting if obliged to be absent” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, pp 244-245).
Amos R. Wells, a prolific Endeavor writer, editor, and leader, wrote the following in his book The Endeavorer’s Daily Companion:
“Don’t believe in daily prayer and Bible-reading?
“Don’t believe in taking part in prayer-meetings?
“Don’t believe in going to church?
“Don’t believe in supporting your own church?
“Don’t believe in doing Christ’s will?
“Don’t believe in leading a Christian life?
“Don’t believe in trying to do all these things?
“Don’t believe in promising to try to do them?
“Why, of course you do when it is put that way! This is all you promise in the pledge—just to try to do them; and the pledge expressly says that you are not to do them whenever you think Christ would excuse you from them. Certainly no less excuse should satisfy you, pledge or no pledge” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, p. 245).
Though we are getting ahead of ourselves in this article and as to later research, we believe any real student of Dr. Bob’s remarks will find that A.A.’s co-founder was still doing the daily prayer and Bible-reading, was still conducting prayer-meetings, was still going to church, was still supporting his church, was still talking about doing his Master’s will, was still emphasizing the leading of a Christian life, and was not only talking about these things throughout his A.A. years, but was urging these things on his “pigeons”—as he called the new AAs. There is no talk above of Oxford Group Absolutes, of life-changing, of self-examination and confession of sin, of conviction, of restitution, or even of some favored ideas in the Book of James, including James 5:16. The pledge really describes the simple early A.A. Akron program in bright colors. And, if you add to it, some other Christian Endeavor principles and practices, you have the very thing that Dr. Bob, his wife Anne, Henrietta Seiberling, and the Williams couple were holding forth for the deliverance of those early drunks.
The Christian Endeavor Principles
Rev. Clark believed that the following four principles are the “roots of the Christian Endeavor tree.” They are, he wrote, the essential and only essential principles of the Christian Endeavor Society:
1. Confession of Christ.
2. Service for Christ.
3. Fellowship with Christ’s people.
4. Loyalty to Christ’s Church.
As to each of the four, Clark said following, among other things:
“Confession of Christ is absolutely necessary in the Christian Endeavor Society. To ensure this are the methods of the Society adapted in every particular. . . . The true Christian Endeavorer does not take part to exhibit his rhetoric, or to gain practice in public speaking, or to show what a logical prayer he can offer to God; but he does take part to show that he is a Christian, to confess his love for his Lord; and this confession is as acceptable made by the unlearned, stumbling, lisping Christian as by the glib and ready phrase-maker. . . The covenant pledge is simply a tried and proved device to secure frequent confession of Christ. . . . Our form of confession is the prayer-meeting. Here we acknowledge our faith. . . .”
“Another universal principle of Christian Endeavor is constant service. If confession is the lungs of the movement, service is its hands and feet. . . . In ideal society every member is responsible for some definite, particular task. . .a society whose ideal, like Wesley’s is, ‘At it, and all at it, and always at it.’”
“Again, I have learned that our fellowship is an essential feature of Christian Endeavor. . . . This fellowship is not an accident or a matter of chance. It is an inevitable result of the movement. When the second society was formed, nineteen years ago, the fellowship began. Then it became interdenominational, interstate, international, intersocial, intercontinental, and, as some one has suggested, since ‘Part of the hosts have crossed the flood, And part are crossing now,’ it has become intermundane.”
Once more, a universal essential of the Society of Christian Endeavor is fidelity to its own church and the work of that church. It does not and cannot exist for itself. . . a true society of Christian Endeavor must live for Christ and the church. Its confession of love is for Christ, the head, its service is for the church, His bride. . .”
Which reminds me of Dr. Bob’s parting remarks to the A.A. fellowship that its steps and principles can be simmered to their essence and called “love and service.” Wonder where he got that idea!
Clark concludes with this commentary on the fundamental, necessary features of the world-wide movement:
Confession of our love for Christ—devoting ourselves to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, so that we do not simply rely on His work of propitiation, finished on the cross, but view Him as our living King, whose will is law in every department of life.
Proof of it by our service for Him—receiving constant religious training for all kinds of service involved in the various committees. . .
Fellowship with those who love Him—interdenominational spiritual fellowship, through which we hope not for organic unity, but to realize our Lord’s prayer for spiritual unity, that all who believe in Him may be one.
Fidelity to our regiment in which we fight for Him—strenuous loyalty to the local church and denomination with which each society is connected.
For more on the Christian Endeavor principles, see Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, pp.
The Bible – As Sourcebook, Subject of Study, and as to Quotation of Verses
In early A.A., the Bible was studied to develop the basic recovery program ideas. It was read and to be read daily. Circulated literature centered on the Bible. Bible study was stressed, and the Bible was read at the beginning of each meeting. When asked about a program question, Dr. Bob would usually say: “What does it say in the Good Book.” He also frequently quoted relevant verses to AAs and their families. Until very recently, Dr. Bob’s Bible (with inscriptions by him, Bill Wilson, and Bill Dotson—A,A, Number Three) was brought to the front of the A.A. Number One (King School Group) meeting room and there remained until the meeting was over. Each AA meeting had a topic, and the topic was usually based on some Bible idea, segment, or application (See Dick B., The Good Book and The Big Book; The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous; Why Early A.A. Succeeded; When Early AAs Were Cured and Why)
The Bible occupied no less a prominent place in Christian Endeavor.
Its journal was called The Golden Rule with Rev. Clark as its editor-in chief (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, pp. 82, 622; Memories, supra, pp. 92, 97-98).
The covenant pledge was designed, among other purposes, to secure “familiarity with the Word of God by promoting Bible-reading and study in preparation for every meeting” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, p. 94). As mentioned, the first point in the analysis of the covenant is “I will read the Bible.” The pledge itself says: “that I will make it the rule of my life to pray and to read the Bible every day. . .” “Every Endeavor meeting has its topic, with many Scripture references and abundant helps.” “The Golden Rule. . . offered as a premium at one time the well-known ‘International Bible,’ a famous teacher’s Bible with notes by eminent scholars.” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, pp. 244, 252, 261, 293).
Bible study was often the subject of oratory at Christian Endeavor Conventions. Speaking on some Christian Endeavor Principles, Rev. Russell H. Conwell—a favorite convention speaker—said: “I believe that a pledge is a good thing. . . . Hence I believe in the Christian Endeavor pledge to speak every week in the meeting; it makes men. I believe in the advice of studying the Holy Bible for itself; it makes men” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, p. 606). Said to be the greatest preacher in England of his time, the Rev. Dr. J. H. Jowett said at the British National Convention in Glasgow: “Let your endeavor grow out of the great and studious contemplation of the great mysteries in Christ;” and Jowett was speaking on “Christian Endeavor and Bible-Study” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, pp. 608-609).
Writing on the non-denominational and international character of Christian Endeavor, Count Bernstorff, an eminent German Christian, wrote: “There is only one Christianity, because there is only one Christ. Is it English that one insists upon conversion. . . . Is it English to avow a oneness of spirit with Christians of other denominations. . . . Is it English that one should seek after holiness. . . . Is it English that all Christians should work together for the upbuilding of Christ’s kingdom? All these things are simple biblical truths, and should be the universal spirit of Christendom. Indeed, they constitute living Christendom” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, pp. 618-619).
There is much more about the Bible in the Christian Endeavorer’s life and meetings; and some will be discussed here, but most is being researched right now.
The Prayer-Meetings – their content and importance
Dr. Amos R. Wells was Editorial Secretary of the United Society of Christian Endeavor. His text-book on meetings and methods tell us much about the prayer meetings. He wrote:
“What are the results we may gain from the prayer meeting? They are five: original thought on religious subjects; open committal to the cause of Christ; the helpful expression of Christian thought and experience; the cultivation of the spirit of worship through public prayer and through singing; the guidance of others along these lines of service and life.
“How can we get original thought on the prayer-meeting topics? Only by study of the Bible, followed by meditation and observation. First, the Endeavorer should read the Bible passage; then he should read some good commentary upon it; then he should take the subject with him into his daily life for five or six days, thinking about it in his odd minutes and watching for experiences in his own life, or the lives of others, or of observing nature and looking for illustrations on the subject from all these sources.
“Are we to read Bible verses and other quotations? Yes, all we please, if we will make them the original expression of our own lives by thinking about them, and adding to them something, if only a sentence, to show that we have made them our own. Always give the writer’s name, or the part of the Bible from which you quote. Commit the quotation to memory and do not read it” (Amos R. Wells, Expert Endeavor: A Text-book of Christian Endeavor Methods and Principles. Boston: United Society of Christian Endeavor, 1911, pp. 9-11; Dick B., Dr. Bob and His Library, p. 114; The Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, 7th ed., pp. 13-17).
We now know that Dr. Bob’s wife said the Bible was the main source book of all and that not a day should pass without reading it. We know that Dr. Bob read it every day. We know that it was read at every one of the pioneer meetings and each morning at the quiet times conducted by Anne Smith at the Smith home. And we know how often Dr. Bob quoted Scripture to make some point. There were “topics” at the early meetings, and many resembled those suggested by CE. There were some limited testimonies. And there was group prayer to the extent that the meetings were often Christian Fellowship meetings that were, in effect, “old fashioned prayer meetings.”—the essence of the Christian Endeavor program (See DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers, supra, pp. 56, 71-72, 96-97, 100-102, 111, 116, 118-119, 129-136, 139-142, 144, 150-151; Dick B., Anne Smith’s Journal, 1933-1939).
The Quiet Hour – A regular Endeavor observance and a required AA pioneer practice
“Quiet Time” was a “must” in early Akron A.A.; and, as trustee-to-be Frank Amos reported it, “He [the alcoholic] must have devotions every morning—a ‘quiet time of prayer and some reading from the Bible and other religious literature.” “The A.A. members of that time did not consider meetings necessary to maintain sobriety. They were simply ‘desirable.’ Morning devotion and ‘quiet time,’ however, were musts” (DR. BOB, supra, pp. 131, 136. In fact, Bill Wilson once said: “I sort of always felt that something was lost from A.A. when we stopped emphasizing the morning meditation.” (Bill and Lois themselves, however, continued this practice together until his death in 1971)” See DR. BOB, supra, p. 178).
Unfortunately, almost all A.A. writers have mischaracterized A.A. quiet times. Possibly because they were steering wide of Jesus Christ and the Bible, probably because they did not mention or want to mention the requisite “born again” part, and mostly because they did not do their homework. First, quiet time was and could be an individual thing, a morning thing, or a group thing; and it often was any or all of these. Second, some of the Oxford Group trappings of journaling and listening and writing down and checking were just not a significant, if even relevant part, of Akron pioneer A.A. Finally, almost invariably, A.A. revisionists have left out the need for becoming a child of God in order to pray to and hear from our “Heavenly Father.” See Dick B., Good Morning: Quiet Time, Morning Watch, Meditation, and Early A.A.; The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous; New Light on Alcoholism.
Expressed in very simple terms, early AA “quiet time” involved these elements: (1) Surrender first and being born-again of God’s spirit. (2) Studying the Bible. (3) Prayer-both group and individual. (4) Using devotionals like The Upper Room and The Runner’s Bible. (5) Seeking God’s guidance for their lives.
And here are the guidelines which were part of Dr. Bob’s Christian Endeavor training as a youngster. Even more can be found in materials by The Rev Dr. F. B. Meyer. And Founder Dr. Francis Clark wrote:
“Undoubtedly the effort that has done most to impress the deepest things of the Spirit of God upon the Christian Endeavor movement is the so-called ‘Quiet Hour.’ . . . . Because there may be some who read these pages who may not understand the inner meaning of the Quiet Hour, or what the old writers understand by ‘practising the presence of God,’ the writer. . . tries to tell his young friends just how the Quiet Hour may be spent. ‘Our Bible is open, perhaps to the familiar passage which reveals the wondrous truth that man dwells in God, and God in man, as John records it. Seek to realize this stupendous fact, for all Scripture is a lie if it is not a fact. Say to yourself over and over again: ‘God is here. God is here. God is within me. I am His child. God is my Father’.” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, pp. 525-526).
“So it was proposed that those who wished should band themselves together in a purely voluntary organization called ‘the Comrades of the Quiet Hour.’ The name was chosen rather than the similar name of ‘The Morning Watch’ in order to give the utmost freedom as to the time which should be devoted to meditation and personal communion with God, though the morning was strongly recommended. Those who became “comrades” agreed to spend fifteen minutes a day not merely in Bible-reading and petition, but in genuine personal communion with the Unseen. . . . Quiet Hour literature began to abound; ‘Quiet Hours’ led by some of the most eminent Christians in the land began to be held in connection with the conventions both State and national. Now more than 40,000 have been definitely enrolled. . .” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, p. 357).
The Christian Endeavor/AA Emphasis on Love and Service
There is very frequent mention in Christian Endeavor literature of the importance of love, service and ministering. Dr. Clark wrote:
“Christian Endeavor is a watch
Whose mainspring is love,
Whose movement is service.
Whose hands point to heavenly joys on the dial of eternity” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, p. 316)
The following is a relevant, succinct description of Endeavor’s position:
“…it is a fellowship based on a broad platform of service, love to Christ, and work for Him. On this platform all can stand.” (Francs E. Clark. World Wide Endeavor: The Story of The Young Peoples Society of Christian Endeavor, From the Beginning and In All Lands. [Philadelphia, PA: Gillespie, Metzgar & Kelley], 1895, p. 263).
In his last, very brief, and much quoted address to AAs, Dr. Bob made the following point—seemingly out of a discerning memory of his youthful work in Christian Endeavor:
“Our Twelve Steps, when simmered down to the last, resolve themselves into the words ‘love’ and ‘service.’ We understand what love is, and we understand what service is. So let’s bear those two things in mind” (DR. BOB, supra, p. 338).
The last paragraph of A.A.’s own biographical sketch on Dr. Bob said:
“Dr. Bob firmly believed that ‘love and service’ are the cornerstones of Alcoholics Anonymous” (The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches. Their Last Major Talks). NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975, p. 9).
The Necessity for Believing on Jesus Christ:
The Bible makes the following very specific comments about the way to salvation, the abundant life, and everlasting life through Jesus Christ (and see John 3:1-8, 14-17; 10:9-10; 14:5-6):
“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. . . . Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:32, 36)
“Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God hath raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand before you whole. . . . Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” Acts 4:10, 12).
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. . . .For whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9-10, 13}.
In early A.A., a surrender to, and decision for, Christ was a “must”—though you’d hardly know it from reading almost any history pertaining to Bill Wilson or the fellowship as a whole. But the following statements by several A.A. pioneers in the Akron program describe and verify the required early A.A. “surrender to Christ”:
‘They would not let you in unless you surrendered to Jesus Christ on your knees” (From a recorded telephone conversation with Danny W. in Lancaster, California, from A.A. old-timer Ed Andy of Lorain, Ohio. The statement was made on January 9, 1993; see also, Dick B., The Golden Text of A.A., p. 31).
“They took me upstairs to be a born again human being and be God’s helper to alcoholics” (Letter from Larry B., A.A. old-timer from Cleveland, Ohio to the author, dated September 18, 1992. Larry stated that this quote correctly described his surrender; see also, Dick B., The Golden Text of A.A., p. 32).
Clarence Snyder—who came into A.A. in February of 1938 and was sponsored by Dr. Bob—said: “[I] went upstairs to T. Henry Williams’s master bedroom with Dr. Bob, T. Henry Williams, and an Oxford Group member. These men told [me] to get on [my] knees, and they joined me on their knees around T. Henry’s bed. These three men then led [me] through a ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ . . . which was the very one Dr. Bob had used from the beginning of A.A. surrenders in Akron” (See Dick B., Turning Point, pp. 140-142; The Golden Text of A.A., p. 32; That Amazing Grace, p. 27; Clarence Snyder, Going Through The Steps, p. 3; Mitch K., How It Worked, pp. 58, 70).
One would expect to see in Christian Endeavor literature countless examples of a decision for, acceptance of, or surrender to, Christ, and the resultant born again standing as sons of God. But that is not the case. Why? I am of the opinion that the “altar call” or similar invitation was not mentioned with frequency because the Endeavorer’s were already Christians, had already made their profession of faith in the church, and in fact were already part of the body of Christ. The Christian Endeavor pledge and program were designed to keep young Christians fired up in the church, keep them giving confessions of Christ, keep them supporting their church, and keep them serving their Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Nonetheless, there is certainly discussion of decisions for Christ within Christian Endeavor. See Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, p. 537. Note also what James DeForest Murch wrote in Successful C.E. Prayer-Meetings. The book was designed to spruce up, diversify, and multiply the various possible meetings Endeavorers could hold. As to possible evangelistic meetings, Murch suggested:
“An Evangelistic Meeting. Pattern your program after that of a modern revival meeting. A live leader of song should have charge of the music. The songs should be songs of soul-winning. Have a number of church-members to give brief testimonies and urge the young people to make decisions for Christ. The minister should be invited to make a closing exhortation and hear the confessions of faith, if such is the usual order. Personal work prior to the meeting itself will make it more effective in every way” (James DeForest Murch, Successful C.E. Prayer- Meetings (Cincinnati, OH: The Standard Publishing Company, pp. 66-67).
“A Front-seat Meeting. Or this might be called a Reconsecration Meeting. . . . At the close of the service let your minister give an invitation to all those who want to reconsecrate themselves to their C.E. pledge to come forward and occupy the front seats. Those who wish to accept Christ as their personal Saviour should be included in this invitation. Those who have taken the front seats should then kneel in prayer” (Murch, Successful C.E., supra, p. 72)
The Reverend Dr. Charles M. Sheldon was an enthusiastic Christian Endeavor supporter (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, pp. 283, 149, 330, 563, 595). He wrote the famous In His Steps, said to be the most widely-read religious novel of all time, with over 8,000,000 copies sold. His book was owned, read, and recommended by Dr. Bob, by his wife Anne Smith, and by pioneer leader Henrietta Seiberling. Speaking about Christian Endeavor evangelism and Sheldon’s suggestions, Rev. Francis Clark wrote in Christian Endeavor, supra:
“The Sunday-evening after –meeting is another rare opportunity for evangelistic service, into which many pastors wisely press their Endeavorers. Dr. Charles M. Sheldon, as has been before stated, advocates making this great young people’s evangelistic service of the week for the actual bringing of men to a decision for Christ, and in his own experience has proved the vast usefulness of such a plan (p. 330).
The Practical Test: What would Jesus do?
There is a recurring “underground” expression uttered by A.A. old-timer believers. You will encounter it from time to time when they suggest as a solution for a quandary, “What would the Master say?” In his last major address to AAs, Bill Wilson told this “Dr. Bob story” on the point:
“For example, a fellow came to Dr. Bob and said, ‘I’m an alcoholic; here is my history. But I also have this other ‘complication.’ Can I join A.A.? Bob threw it out to all the other deacons, while the poor guy waited.
“Finally, there was some kind of hearing on it among the self-appointed elders. I remember how perfectly Bob put it to them. He reminded us that most of us were practicing Christians. Then he asked, ‘What would the Master have thought? Would he have kept this man away?’ He had them cold! The man came in, was a prodigious worker, and was one of our most respected people” (The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical Sketches Their Last Major Talks. NY: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1972, 1975, p. 30).
There is a similar vein in the approach by Dr. Bob himself in his last major address to AAs:
“I’m talking about the attitude of every one of us toward our Heavenly Father. Christ said, ‘Of Myself, I am nothing—My strength cometh from My Father in heaven.’ If He had to say that, how about you and me? Did you say it? Did I say it? No. That’s exactly wht we didn’t say. We were inclined to say instead, ‘Look me over, boys. Pretty good, huh?’ We had no humility, no sense of having received anything through the grace of our Heavenly Father” (Co-Founders, supra, p. 19).
I cannot declare that the “what would Jesus do” idea in A.A. came from Christian Endeavor language Dr. Bob had heard again and again. But I can say emphasize how popular Charles Sheldon’s book was among the A.A. founders and pioneers. I can say that the expression, “What would Jesus do” can be found in several important Christian Endeavor writings. And I can say that nowhere is the background idea and humility thinking more evident than in Christian Endeavor leader Sheldon’s In His Steps.
In fact, Sheldon begins his famous best-seller by quoting 1 Peter 2:21:
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”
Much of his story is about Henry Maxwell, pastor of the First Church of Raymond; and early on, Sheldon quotes the preacher as follows:
“I want volunteers from the First Church who will pledge themselves, earnestly and honestly for an entire year, not to do anything without first asking the question, ‘What would Jesus do?’
“Our motto will be, ‘What would Jesus do?’ Our aim will be to act as He would if He was in our places, regardless of immediate results. In other words, we propose to follow Jesus’ steps as closely and as literally as we believe He taught His disciples to do” (Charles M. Sheldon. In His Steps—first published in 1897 (Old Tappan, NJ: Spire Books, published by Pyramid Publications, Inc. for the Fleming H. Revell Company, 1963, p. 16).
In His Steps repeats this same question over and over and over (pp. 21, 26, 28, 35, 38, 61, 63, 69, 73, 75, 84, 100, 104, 107, 110, 124, 134, 173, 174, 177, 183, 184, 188). The book illustrates the use of this simple test in a host of life-situations. And the test is not without Biblical context. Frequently, author Sheldon uses the question in connection with (1) Walking obediently in Jesus’ steps (pp. 11, 124, 155, 189). (2) Following Jesus (pp. 11, 65, 124, 140). (3) The imitation of Christ – which brought into play the Thomas a’Kempis book by that name, which was owned by the pioneers, used by them in their Quiet Times, and even later handed out to patients at St. Thomas by Sister Ignatia, who worked with Dr. Bob for 10 years there. (4) Seeking the wisdom of God as Jesus did so often and as believers are directed in the first chapter of the Book of James—a favorite in early A.A.
Christian Endeavor, “Cure,” and early A.A.
Though recently published Alcoholics Anonymous literature has meticulously erased Jesus Christ, the Bible, and over a decade of A.A. cures from the scene, AA pioneers were cured. They said so. Reporters of their cures said so. Countless news and journal articles said so. And—whatever current A.A. scribes may say—cure is the proper word. And cured they were. They believed in the power of God. They believed they could be cured. And they reported they were cured by reliance on the Creator. No revisionist, secular, universalist writings can change that! See: Dick B., God and Alcoholism: Our Growing Challenge in the 21st Century; Cured: Proven Help for Alcoholics and Addicts; When Early AAs Were Cured and Why; Richard K., Early A.A. – Separating Fact from Fiction: How Revisionists Have Led Our History Astray; So You Think Drunks Can’t Be Cured: Press Releases By Witnesses To the Cure; A New Light: “The First Forty” (All three titles: Haverhill, MA: Golden Text Publishing Company, 2003).
In collaborative research and writing, and in independent and ongoing investigations, Richard K. and I can tell you that this “cure” historical researcht is a work-in-progress. The facts are there. The history is voluminous. The analysis and dissemination has only begun! You will find hundreds and hundreds of materials on early A.A. and Cure. You will probably find none in Oxford Group writings or the Washingtonian history on the cure of alcoholism. It is true, however, that a favorite Oxford Group expression was: “Sin the Problem. Jesus Christ the Cure. The result: A Miracle.” And this should interest those who define alcoholism as sin.
Christian Endeavor, however, was far ahead of its time in seeing the practical application of the power of God and and producing miraculous cures in our lives. I will not discuss it at length here, but Christian Endeavor spoke glowingly of the work of Dr. E. D. Starbuck, published in his title, The Psychology of Religion; and by Professor Coe who confirmed it.
Christian Endeavor had this to say:
“The Christian Endeavor Society may also fairly claim from the beginning to have put into practical operation the psychologist’s dictum already quoted, ‘No impression without expression.’ Long before psychology was studied except by the learned few, long before it had become a fad in certain quarters, the Society attempted to put into practice its latest philosophy, and recognized the vital importance of religious activity to supplement and round out religious instruction.
“’The cure for helplessness that comes with storm and stress in the period of adolescence, says Professor Starbuck, ‘is often found in inducing wholesome activity. ‘Faith without works is dead.’ Let us call to mind that storm and stress and doubt are expressed sometime during youth by something like seventy per cent of all the persons studied. On the other hand, heightened activity, which is characterized not only by interest in religious matters, but by engaging in actual religious work, was experienced by only about twenty per cent of all these persons. This is doubtless very much out of proportion. Many persons have found the solution of their difficulties by actually setting about doing things’” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, pp. 228-229).
The foregoing quotes bespeak the pre-occupation of religion and psychology of that day with “mind cure,” “new thought,” and similar approaches mislabeled “conversion.” As we will mention in a moment, the Christian Endeavor people were involved in temperance, and there is no particular indication that this led them into the arena of curing drunks.
However, Sheldon’s In His Steps and the tremendous evangelism of Dwight Moody certainly devoted a good deal of time to bringing salvation to drunks and watching them be healed of their addiction. In the eyes of all these Christians, drunks were not “powerless;” they were in need of a new birth accompanied by spiritual, mental, and physical wholeness, forgiveness, and healing.
Temperance and Politics.
Some proponents of A.A., and a good many others, are very proud of, and satisfied with, A.A.’s refusal to become involved in liquor issues. Regrettably, this has led some to draw conclusions that Christians interested in temperance were almost certain to fail as a group and in the alcohol field because of their focus on “outside” and “political issues.” Invariably, the faulty and flawed example of the Washingtonian Movement is cited. The group was large for a moment, involved in liquor and temperance and politics for a moment, and perished in a moment. The Oxford Group people were sometimes involved in sobering up drunks as part of its life-changing program; and the Group devoted its fair share of time to politicians, war, and other topical issues. Yet the Oxford Group was hardly diminishing in importance when it turned itself primarily to “world changing through life-changing.” Those later days brought prominent national and international leaders, many foreign nations, and a good many activist Americans and British into the scene between at least 1930 and 1950. It did not perish in its saving of drunks. In fact, some of its best-known writers and long-surviving activists were not only drunks, but were cured of drinking by the power of God. These included Rowland Hazard, Victor Kitchen, Charles Clapp, Jr., F. Shepard Cornell, and later James Houck.
Wilson was fond of saying that the Washingtonians and the Oxford Group taught us more about “what not to do” than “what to do.” But the statement was a canard. The Washingtonians were long gone before Wilson picked up his first drink. And the Oxford Group program formed the heart of Wilson’s 12 Steps and Big Book writings.
Christian Endeavor was involved in temperance, political, and war issues. Dr. Clark wrote:
“Temperance is always a burning theme in Endeavor conventions in English- speaking countries, and sometimes practical temperance measures are taken, as when the Endeavorers of Boston, seeing that one of the rumsellers, like most of the other shopkeepers of Boston, had hung out the sign, ‘Welcome Endeavorers!” took him at his word, went into the saloon, and held a prayer-meeting before the bar” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, p. 196)
“TEMPERANCE WORK. A society temperance pledge may be hung upon the wall, with the signatures of all members upon it. Plan for temperance meetings long in advance, and make them as strong as possible. Introduce into every temperance meeting some account of recent temperance victories, and the progress of the movement. Obtain addresses now and then from temperance enthusiasts. Learn what are the temperance laws of your own State and community, and how they are kept. How long since your town held a temperance mass-meeting? Plan one and hold it. Why should not the temperance committee learn, for the information of voters, the position as to temperance of the candidates before the people for election” (Clark, Christian Endeavor, supra, p. 584).
Christian Endeavor was founded in 1881. It had soon had world-wide membership and significance. And it was and is embraced by far more Protestant clergy and churches over the long-run than the Washingtonians and Oxford Groupers could ever claim. It may properly be said, to the extent that Christian Endeavor ideas were a major force in the foundation of Akron A.A., that Christian Endeavor taught the pioneers what to do. And they did it with astonishing success. Yet Christian Endeavor itself never laid a glove on them. The AAs applied the ideas by personal decisions for Christ, reliance on the Creator, Bible study, old fashioned prayers and prayer meetings, quiet times, “works,” fellowship, love and service.
Note: This is the first of several roundtable articles which will be written about A.A. and Christian Endeavor. “More will be revealed,” as some AAs like to say. Much more is being collected and read. Many books and materials are under review. A good deal of personal investigation is taking place in New England where it all began and where both Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob were born, raised, and educated.