A.A. History Studies with “Conference-approved” Foundations

Dick B.
© 2012 Anonymous. All rights reserved

The Problem with a Clear-cut Solution

Fear has often ruled in the minds of those who understand the importance in their recovery of studying, learning, and applying the highly effective techniques of the early A.A. Society. Time and again, someone has mentioned a piece of literature, only to hear someone else claim it is forbidden because it is not “A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature.” So too when a group or a meeting has chosen to study the Big Book and the Bible—something early AAs did for years. Or when some group has been stricken from A.A. meeting schedules because it chose to look into, read about, and discuss some very commonly used early A.A. book such as “The Sermon on the Mount,” or “The Greatest Thing in the World,” or the “Upper Room” daily devotional.

The problem? Fear ruled. “Faith” failed. And censorship prevailed. This to the detriment of group autonomy. To the detriment of freedom of speech. And to the credit of the autocratic beliefs of a few.

There is a solution. That solution is to approach history studies, historical materials, and the reading of all kinds of literature with untrammeled freedom. The answer lies at the very feet of those who don’t want to be suppressed in their search for sobriety in A.A. Those who do not want to be told by someone of one religious persuasion or with no religious belief at all that they cannot study what they choose, believe what they choose, and discuss what they choose.

The solution is boldly to call a fact a fact. To point to facts to support action. And to start the approach with A.A.’s own “Conference-approved” literature.

A Simple Illustration of the Solution

Any individual in A.A.; any speaker in A.A.; any meeting in A.A.; any group in A.A.; and any conference in A.A. can call itself a “Conference-approved A.A. History Study Meeting” and be free of the restrictive efforts of some intrusive A.A. servant, representative, office, or manager.

Such study can begin by citing, using, and relying on elementary “conference-approved” literature.

As examples of such foundational conference-approved literature:

(1) Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th ed., 2001 is read, can be read, and reposes in all meetings.
It states: (a) “The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. This is the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism” p. 17. (b) “There is a solution. . . . The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves” p. 25. (c) “We think it of no concern of ours what religious bodies our members identify themselves with as individuals. This should be an entirely personal affair which each one decides for himself in the light of past associations, or his present choice, Not all of us join religious bodies, but most of us favor such memberships” p. 28. (d) “What is this but a miracle of healing. . . . . He humbly offered himself to his Maker then he knew. Even so has God restored us all to our right minds” p. 57.

(2) The Co-Founders of Alcoholics Anonymous: Biographical sketches Their last major talks is published by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. as Pamphlet P.53. It is available to any A.A. office, group, or meeting which wishes to offer it to members and newcomers. It states: (a) “In early A.A. days. . . 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” p. 13. (b) “But we were convinced that the answer to our problems was in the Good Book. To some of us older ones, the parts that we found absolutely essential were the Sermon on the Mount, the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and the Book of James” p. 13.

(3) DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers was published by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., in 1980. It is available to any A.A. office, group, or meeting which wishes to offer or read it to members and newcomers. It states: (a) [Dr. Bob’s wife Anne:] “read the Bible and counseled me” p. 116. (b) “Dr, Bob was a prominent man. . . . When he stopped drinking, people asked, ‘What’s that not drinking liquor club you’ve got over there?’ ‘A Christian fellowship,’ he’d reply” p. 118. (c) “An alcoholic. . . must have devotions every morning—a ‘quiet time’ of prayer and some reading from the Bible and other religious literature” p. 131.

(4) Other conference-approved literature that expands on all these points is available and can be read or discussed. It includes: Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age; “Pass It On,” and The Language of the Heart. And many early A.A. groups such as those in Akron, in Cleveland, and elsewhere published and still use and sell their own literature available to all.

All That is Needed to Enjoy the Solution is to Learn About A.A. Itself

If you wish to read and discuss A.A. Conference-approved literature to get started, you certainly may. If you wish to read the Bible, have devotions in the morning, have a quiet time of prayer and some reading of other religious literature, you may. There is no such thing as A.A. General Service Conference-disapproved literature. And any literature or discussion that will fill in the blanks as to what was studied in the Bible, what early AAs read, which devotionals they used, how they observed quiet time, and which prayers were used is a matter of information, education, and the choice of members according as their “group conscience” allows.

Gloria Deo

Author's Bio: 

Writer, Historian, Retired attorney, Bible student, CDAAC, active recovered A.A. member. Published 42 titles and over 800 articles on Alcoholics Anonymous History and the Christian Recovery Movement