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San Diego Young Men's group is reported to have begun in Oct 46 -that 1948

article


also mentions a Young Women's group also there, but does not date its

beginning.


Shakey1aa@aol.com wrote:

> The 35 and Younger Group(Young Peoples Group) was started February 1946

by

> Art L, and Bates Mc L. in Philadelphia, Pa. Being under 30 years of age



they

> thought that AA wasn't doing such a good job with the younger

alcoholic. They

> started a weekly monday meeting for members of AA under 35 years of

age. The

> group had several female members. They felt they could deal with

members who

> were younger and had not yet hit as low a bottom as older members. They

had

> parties, picnic's and other social events as well as the AA meetings.



> Several years ago,at a workshop that had several original group

members,


> I remember Pat C saying that she and several other members of the group

> got in a car and went to Niagra Falls for the 1st Young Peoples

convention.Most

> of those that attended the workshop had a love of life and of each

other and

> were all over 50 years of continuous sobriety.

> The group will celebrate 60 years on Tuesday, February 14th at 7 P.M.

at

> 4021 Walnut St. Philadelphia,Pennsylvania.



> Does anyone know of any Young People's Groups before that date. I think

> there may have been another group in the Los Angeles area.

> Yours in Service,

> Shakey Mike G.

>
-----------------------------

(c) Grapevine, November 1946

What Do You Think About Youth Group In Philadelphia?

From Philadelphia

A group of A.A.s has been formed at Philadelphia for men and women, 35 years

of

age



and under. This group was formed in January, 1946, with just six members,

only


three

of whom had been dry the four months required for voting membership. This

membership

has since been expanded to about thirty, nearly half of whom have been dry

over

four


months.

We were under the impression when we began this group that we were

trailblazers

in

the field, but reports from some of our visiting A.A.s have indicated that



it

has


been tried before, although with very little success. We are not seeking

pioneer


credit in writing this letter, but rather, constructive criticism. We hope

to

hear



from other groups throughout the country, giving us the benefit of your

experience

with young people and with such organizations as ours if they have been

attempted.

We were slow in getting started with our group and we are still proceeding

with


caution since it is apparent that our abilities lie more in the realm of

prevention

than in cure. Most young people have not been hurt badly enough or often

enough,


so

they think, to feel that they are in any need of what we in A.A. have to

offer.

It is


feared that for this reason we will experience more than a normal number of

relapses,

and that our progress will of necessity be slow. However, many of our later

members


have admitted that had it not been for this young group they would not have

stuck to


AA. So, we are doing some good.

Let's hear from other groups. We would like your suggestions, advice,

criticism

and


opinions on what we are trying to do. -- B.D.Mc.
--------------------------------

(c) Grapevine, May 1948

Young Men Solve Meeting Problems

from San Diego, Calif.


In the January issue of The A.A. Grapevine there is a letter from Florence

S.

of



Forest Hills, N.Y., asking for suggestions for the younger ages who need

A.A.


In San Diego, this problem has been met by the formation of the Young

Women's


Group

(under 35), and the Young Men's Group (under 40). These groups have been

very

successful and seem to have tapped an unending source of new A.A.s.



The young men seemed to have the idea, "Hell, if I was as old as John

Doe, I'd


quit

drinking, too." It was rather disheartening to listen to someone tell

of 20

years of


hard drinking, and realize that we had five or ten years to go before we

could


even

approximate the same low bottom. These "old goats" gave us the

idea we had to

hit


several cures, try a few types of "goof balls," and have at least

two or more

trips

to psychopathic wards, before we were ready for A.A. It gave us the feeling



we

couldn't make the Program because we hadn't been knocked around enough.

The first accomplishment noted by the Young Men's Group soon became its

strongest

selling point: It had automatically raised the level for the young man's

turning


point.

The older person's problems are greatly different from ours. There was no

education

on things alcoholic when they were our age, therefore they had to go down

until

their


hand was forced. We have been fortunate in having the subject discussed in

almost


each magazine we read these days. Their immediate families are usually

better


established so far as understanding goes, because they have been married for

a

much



longer period. The average young man is just beginning his family life and

it is


often harder to get his wife to go along in the new way of life. The young

wife


is

more apt to resent the husband's attendance at closed meetings.

The vast majority of our members are combat veterans with some horrible

memories in

their minds. The older members have the same memories but time does do a lot

to

erase



the strength of such thoughts. Only a few of us have seen prohibition days,

but


a lot

of us have put away a surprising amount of GI alcohol, de-icer fluid (that

was

what


we distilled in the Air Corps, and it wasn't too bad then), saki, and other

drinks


that are native to Hawaii, China, the Philippines and other Pacific Islands.

The younger man has an inherent cockiness that gives him a bit of trouble

once

in a


while. There are quite a few problems that confront the young man of today;

problems


that the "old goats" must have had but have now forgotten. These

problems and

many

others, we believe, can best be solved by a Young Men's Group.



The first meeting of the Young Men's Group was held October 31, 1946, with

six


young

men and 20 of the older men in attendance. The second meeting saw 15 young

fellows

and 23 "old goats" attending. The "old goats" stayed



with us for three months,

by

which time we had such a large attendance it was necessary to form a new



meeting.

Left on our own, we changed to roundtable type meetings and outlawed any

applause for

the speakers. The newer men soon found it was quite easy to speak since it

was

no

longer necessary to stand in front of an audience. Also, some of the quieter



men

found it easy to question the speaker since it wasn't necessary to address

the

chair.


Questioning and general discussions led to deeper explanations, better

understanding

and, generally speaking, better working of the A.A. Program. The younger

fellows


strike right at the heart of any problem placed before them, and Heaven help

the


person who isn't serious when he offers a problem or question for discussion

and


possible solution. We let our hair down in no uncertain manner with no holds

barred.


There are times when we have asked for help from the older members because

of

their



greater experience in handling some particular problem.

On the whole, our group has been a great success. Some of the boys have

naturally

dropped by the wayside, but most of these have re-enlisted in A.A. and are

now

doing


a splendid job. We have had quite a few drop out in favor of meetings nearer

their


homes, but this is a natural separation and we feel that our group has

played a


huge

part in selling them on this new way of life. The temporary win and lose

columns

of

A.A. will show our group with an exceptionally high percentage in the win



section.

For almost 17 months, our active member list has averaged about 50 men and

the

average meeting will find around 30 members attending. Holidays have not



affected our

attendance. Rather, it has been found that the men are glad that their

meeting

will


be held on the eve of a big holiday.

The third Thursday of each month we open our meeting to the oldtimers and

they

are


very welcome guests. They do not speak unless the leader asks for any word

they


may

have, or unless one feels he may have a message of special benefit for the

group. All

business discussion of any sort, clubs, parties or what have you, must be

left

until


the A.A. meeting has closed for the evening. The only ironclad rule that is

never


excepted: NO WOMEN.

We "charter members" are very proud of our group and its work, and

certainly

hope it


will continue to grow long after we have passed on into the category of

"old


goats." --

W.B.A.
--------------------------------


(c) Grapevine, July 1950

Bridging the Age Gap


TODAY, more than ever, people are becoming aware and taking greater concern

with the


seriousness of our major public health problems. Alcoholism, our fourth

largest


Public Health Problem, has more increasingly been brought before the public

mind.


Many of the taboos and myths formerly attached to alcoholism are gradually

being


supplanted with realistic thinking and serious attempts toward prevention

and


the

arresting of alcoholism in its earlier stages.

One of the most important myths that has been shattered is that young

people,


who

are still in their twenties and thirties cannot be suffering from this

disease.

The


stories of numerous alcoholics, now members of Alcoholics Anonymous, has

proven


that

in a large number of cases symptoms of this disease showed quite early in

the

period


of active drinking. The pattern of "Blackouts," "Excusing a

drink," "Becoming

anti-social" and having "Morning drinks" had become strongly

entrenched while

the

alcoholic was still a college student or in that age bracket. More, however,



started

to have difficulties such as "Solitary Drinking" and

"Benders" quite early in

their


business careers and resulted in the loss of jobs, family, finances and

other


assets.

Alcoholics Anonymous has taken a realistic look at the problem of alcoholism

in

relation to young people. In the last three or four years, groups whose



specific

aim


is to reach the younger alcoholic have mushroomed throughout the country. In

New


York

City alone, the Young Peoples Group better known as the "Thirty-Five

and Under

Group"


has grown from a mere handful in 1947 to its present membership of some 75

to

100



alcoholics ranging in age from the twenties through 35. This group augments

the


older

and more established groups and encourages its members to attend the

meetings of

older-age groups, so as to foster a more rounded and stabilized type of

thinking

about alcoholism and the therapy of AA.

Every member of Alcoholics Anonymous learns, after attendance of the first

few


group

meetings, that the Twelfth Suggested Step is a most important one in the

prolonging

of his or her sobriety. It is not easy for a young person in his early

twenties

or

thirties to be of assistance to the sick alcoholic who has been drinking 20



or

30

years and many times leads to dangerous comparisons by the younger person.



How

much


more useful this younger member can be when using his or her efforts in

'twelfth-stepping' a person of a comparative age level. Members of this age

group are

facing the many sided problems of living at relatively the same time and it

is

encouraging to know that other young people are hurdling similar



difficulties

with


success. Most important is the comfortable feeling which comes of being able

to

discuss problems such as Marriage, resumption of studies, the inherent



tendencies of

alcoholism, its prognosis in relation to certain family situations and other

factors

which might otherwise endanger sobriety. It is important because of the



feeling

of

mutuality and the lack of any taint of "Preaching,"



"Parental- Counseling," or

"Scholastic Pedanticism."

-- J.B., Brooklyn, N.Y.
--------------------------------
(c) Grapevine, June 1958

YOUTH GROUP DISBANDS


THE YOUNG PEOPLE'S GROUP of Boston, after a great deal of deliberation, has

decided


to disband.

Ten years ago when the group was formed, there was a definite need for a

Young

People's Group. Today, young people are well represented in most groups. We



feel

that


there is no need for a specialized group. The group is happy to report that

most


of

its original members are active in other groups.

It is encouraging to know that young people can enjoy happy productive

sobriety


such

as these original members are experiencing.

Roy L., Winthrop, Mass.
--------------------------------
(c) Grapevine, September 1961

A Report on YOUTH GROUPS


I ATTENDED the Fourth International Conference of Young People in AA in

Milwaukee

this year, and interviewed everybody present I could pin down. About 250

AAs,


Al-Anon

members and guests attended the three-day meeting in Milwaukee.

AAs and Al-Anons of all ages from the Milwaukee-Chicago area mingled at the

meetings


with young AAs from as far West as Vancouver, British Columbia, and San

Francisco,

California; from as far East as New York. Three Australian members, in their

thirties, sent their greetings and talks on tape.

How young are these AAs, really? Among forty AAs who participated as

speakers


or on

the host planning committee the average age is thirty four -- ranging

from

twenty-two



to fifty-two. The average length of continuous sobriety is four years and

nine


months. When they first came to AA, two of these forty AAs were in their

teens;


twenty-two were in their twenties and fourteen in their thirties.

Speaker after speaker told of dozens of arrests in their teen years. One

girl

had an


eight-year prison record behind her when she sobered up eight years ago,

aged


thirty-four. When one thirty-one-year-old, sober eight years, said from the

platform,

"I had my seventeenth conviction on my seventeenth birthday," no

one in the

audience

seemed particularly impressed.

Many had started drinking at twelve, thirteen and fourteen. One said,

"I was an

alcoholic at thirteen, on skid row at fifteen." Another declared,

"I know I was

an

alky at sixteen." One girl said, "I was on the streets at



seventeen, and knew

then I


was an alcoholic."

Commitment to mental hospitals in their early twenties seemed commonplace

among

these AAs. There were enough skid row alumni to form a group of their own.



Another

could have been made up among the former reformatory students. Warden John

C.

Burke


of Wisconsin State Prison, Waupun, greeted a number of his former charges at

the


conference, including the chairman of the host planning committee, who

introduced the

Warden, with a straight face, as "my former landlord." The prison

official told

one

of the sessions that probably eighty per cent of the young convicts in his



institution have a drinking problem.

Several speakers told of lying about their ages to get into armed services:

"because

in uniform I would have no trouble buying drinks." There were frequent

stories

of

broken youthful marriages: "I thought it would settle me down."



So it wasn't surprising to hear speakers say -- in private conversations

-- they


felt

puzzled upon first coming to AA to hear older members say, "You're too

young to

be an


alcoholic." Several reported being advised to "go out and do some

more drinking.

You're not old enough for AA."

As one speaker put it: "I was leaving one of my first meetings when I

overheard

an

older member remark, 'I've spilled more booze on my vest than that young



punk

has


drunk.' Probably he had," continued the thirty-one-year-old

good-humoredly, "but

it

was the alcohol I had drunk, not the liquor he had spilled, which made my



life

unmanageable."

A twenty-eight-year-old, in AA three years now, demonstrated the seriousness

of

his



alcoholism this way: "My drunken escapades made the papers so often

that my


first

wife began to speak of it as my 'column.' Then they began not printing it,

because my

booze troubles just weren't news in our town any more."

He laughed when he recalled the "deep freeze" older members gave

him his first

year.

He recalled one older man who had said, "Never had the DTs? Sonny, go



drink

another


ten years. You're no alky."

The youngster said seriously: "Once the older fellows started laughing

when I

told


them about a marriage problem I had. So, since they assured me I couldn't be

an

alcoholic at my age, I decided I must be a psycho. I kept seeing a



psychiatrist,

and


drinking, for a whole year. Later I learned it isn't how long you have

drunk, or

how

much, but what alcohol has done to your life that makes you eligible for



AA."

Often these young speakers told of being tolerated within groups of older

members,

but never being given any AA jobs to do. "Even now," said a fellow

in his early

thirties, sober over three years, "when I'm sitting in the clubhouse

and a

Twelfth


Step call comes in, they say I'm too young to go on it."

This lack of acceptance has also taken other forms. When a young people's

group

was


formed in one city, an AA clubhouse used by several other groups refused to

let


the

young people meet in one of its rooms, one young "founder"

reported. "But then,"

added the member with a youthful grin, "the clubhouse found it needed

money

badly, so



they let us rent space after all. And lots of them come to our meetings

now." In


fact, one fifty-five-year-old slipper attributes his re-grasp of sobriety to

this


"infant" group.

Such stories were told in private conversation, not in talks from the

platform.

And


only in one of the forty people I talked to did I find anything like anger

about


such

treatment. In that one case, the stinging memory seems a goad that spurs

this

young


fellow into ferocious energy for twelfth-stepping other young guys.

These experiences and reactions are by no means universal among younger AA

members

in all localities, but they had a direct effect on a number of those I



talked to

in

Milwaukee. Younger members began banding together in their own groups. In



some

places, naturally enough, young AA groups were started with high hopes and

flood-tide

energy, but little stable or wise leadership. Groups turned into social

clubs,

or

other Traditions were broken, and groups died. Thus, members of large,



healthy

young


people's groups point out that in some areas the youngsters may miss the

encouragement and interest of older, wiser members, and most attend other AA

meetings, where they find "immediate identification with other young

alcoholics," as

one man put it.

"We find activity," said a thirty-eight-year-old who has been

sober : nine

years.


"We are made members of the group steering committees, we twelfth-step

lots of


other

younger people, and when any of us goes to speak at another group, six or

eight

carloads of us go along."



"Older people always did scare me," one girl admitted. "I

guess we just rebel

more

at our age, even in AA groups. In the younger groups, though, there is no



temptation

to compare my drinking with that of the fellows who reminisce about bathtub

gin

or

speakeasies."



Others took a different tack. "My young group helps me with current

problems,"

one

fellow said. "As a young guy I have lots of domestic, professional and



other

personal


problems. Choosing a career and getting started in it, or starting a family,

are


not

problems most older members are now facing. So we younger ones can face them

together

and help one another. That's in addition to helping each other stay sober,

which

must


come first always, of course."

(In many ways, this was truly more a "family" convention than

other regional AA

conventions I have attended. Many pretty, young, nonalcoholic wives, active

in

local


family Al-Anon groups, helped at every stage in the planning, served as

hostesses and

guides, and talked at both AA and their own meetings. One family present had

four


Alateen members along. Its fifteen-year-old had painted the enormous,

handsome


blue-and-white "Fourth International Conference, Young People in

AA" banner

which

decorated the main AA meeting hall for the Milwaukee sessions.)



If any quality besides enthusiasm and love seemed a hallmark of the brand of

AA

at



the Milwaukee get together, it was seriousness. Healthy, honest

self-criticism,

frank

and open self-inventory and wide varieties of opinion, were evident



constantly.

A thirty-seven-year-old, sober six years, summed up the value of young

people's

groups this way: "We show younger alcoholics that they are not

different just

because


they are young. We show others that you can be young, and alcoholic, yet

still


be

sober and happy in AA. Booze doesn't respect youth any more than it does

age."

The Milwaukee Conference helped prove those facts in a big way and must have



carried

the message to many other young alcoholics, or their friends. Both of

Milwaukee's big

daily newspapers ran many stories about "Young People in AA."

Local ministers and hotel officials also helped, as did many older AA

members


of the

Chicago-Milwaukee area. A Milwaukee clubhouse cooperated and so did the

secretary of

the Milwaukee Central Office. Both Illinois delegates to the Eleventh

General

Service


Conference supported the youth conference with their presence.

Of the thirty-nine AA speakers on the program, only three talked

specifically

about


young people's groups, or the Young People's Conference idea. Others told

their


own

stories, as AAs do everywhere, or addressed themselves to the three theme

words

of

the Conference: Gratitude, Obedience and Devotion.



But do the supporters of these Canadian-American conferences of young people

in

AA



really advocate the formation of more groups designated especially for young

people?


As might be expected among any collection of good AAs, opinions differ, and

each


seems to have a valid foundation in its holder's own individual experience.

A pamphlet distributed at the Milwaukee sessions is entitled "Facts,

Aims,

Purposes


of Young People's Groups in AA in the United States and Canada." It

declares:

"...there is a great need for at least one young people's group in

every city so

the

young coming into AA can get together once a week and discuss their problems



with

other young people of their own age."

Some young members, as we have seen, claim that such groups made it possible

for


them to receive and maintain a sobriety they found impossible in other

groups.


Most

of them insist, though, that it is necessary for any young AA to attend

other

meetings in addition to those for young people.



Other speakers in Milwaukee denied any intention to encourage the formation

of

special groups. "We just want to encourage the acceptance of young



people in any

AA

groups. We do not favor any kind of AA segregation, by age or anything else.



We

do

not seek to divide AA, or set up any separate organization. We just want to



add

an

extra bond of fellowship to the cement of AA."



Three young members in a New England state -- who were not at the

Milwaukee

Convention -- say they have found no need for special young people's

groups.


One twenty-three-year-old mother of two came to AA when she was eighteen.

"I

used to



window-shop the fancy stores on Fifth Avenue, in New York, dead drunk,

dressed


in

sloppy blue jeans and a filthy sweat shirt with university letters on it, so

people

would think I was a college kid! AA is not for kids; it forces us to mature



and

I

didn't want to grow up. So I slipped around for two years before I really



got

sober.


It happened in a regular group."

Her husband was in trouble because of drinking at fifteen, swore off at

eighteen

because of "a car-theft charge." Shaking his head wonderingly, he

says, "I

thought I

was too young to be an alcoholic!" He sobered up in a group full of

older


members.

His buddy's first drinks were morning ones. "I reached under the bed

for the

jug


before I got up, in a summer work camp," he said. "I was fifteen

years old." Ten

years later he came to AA and "slipped around at first. I didn't see

any room in

this

outfit for a young man to 'get ahead' -- that is, get to be group



secretary!" He

laughs


at that now. At the age of thirty he was chosen by the name-in the-hat

method


prescribed in "The Third Legacy Manual" as one of his state's two

delegates to

the

Eleventh General Service Conference in New York.



Do the Young People in AA conferences divert energy that could be better

utilized in

contributions to AA as a whole? Maybe so.

None of the young members on the program in Milwaukee spoke of service to AA

as

General Service Representatives, local Committeemen, or G.S. Conference



Delegates.

(However, the Milwaukee Central Office Secretary says local youngsters are

avid

GSO


supporters.) There were no Grapevine Representatives or contributors among

them.


Little was said of institutional work and nothing about correspondence with

loners;


lack of information about AA as a whole and its Third Legacy seemed on a par

with


what I've found in almost any other AA gathering not specifically devoted to

those


larger, more demanding aspects of worldwide AA service.

There was at the Milwaukee gathering, though, an unusually intense awareness

of

AA

Traditions and the need for Public Information activities by AA members.



Newspaper

reporters were especially well treated. Nonalcoholic guests included the

executive

director of the Chicago Alcoholic Treatment Center, a prison warden, and a

high

school principal. A rehabilitation counselor of Chicago's police department



was

also


present by invitation.

On the value of special young people's groups, here is what one central

office

secretary from a large city said: "These young people's groups are the



lifesavers of

AA in our area. They are actually open to members of all ages but the

service

jobs in


them are held by those under thirty-five. It's from these young people that

we

get



most of the best workers who keep our Central Office functioning. They're

the


ones we

can count on most to take on Twelfth Step jobs, institutional work and

public

information tasks."



One of the older "advisors" of the Milwaukee Conference said:

"We noticed in my

regular group that young people didn't stick with us, and we had a meeting

to

discuss



it one night. We wondered if maybe wasn't our own fault. That's why we

helped


establish a young people's group and now do all we can to help these

conferences. You

see, it's great for us!"

The Milwaukee Conference had three such advisors ("We spoke only when

spoken

to,"


grinned one of them), a practice established at the second youth conference,

in

Chicago in 1959, when the youthful sponsors of the get-together found



themselves

with


some pretty tough problems to lick.

Over objections and warnings by some of those present in Milwaukee, a

permanent

"Advisory Council" was formed there to help perpetuate the youth

conference idea

and


accumulate a body of guiding experience.

Two officers from each of the first four conferences make up the Advisory

Council.

They hope to establish a permanent fund to insure the financial solvency of

future

conferences (incidentally, all who went to Milwaukee, even the speakers,



paid

their


own way); set up their own newsletter and public information activities, and

set


up a

permanent address for the exchange of information about young people in AA.

"We're

not a movement, or a breaking away from AA," one conference leader kept



insisting.

"Our primary purpose is to help carry the message to younger

people."

Perhaps these young people have a genuine, valid need for a new AA service

arm,

in

line with our Ninth Tradition: "... we may create service boards or



committees

directly responsible to those they serve." Perhaps not.

The member I know who has been sober longest seems quite unperturbed by such

new


developments as the young people's conferences. He says, "Don't forget,

we have


a

self-corrective factor in AA. These special groups either function in the

framework

of AA, or they fold up. don't know what we have to be afraid of, as long as

we

put


ourselves truly in God's hands. We ought to do everything we can to

encourage

them,

to help them communicate with alcoholics they can reach and we can't. They



don't

need


our censure. We owe them our love."

I felt quite at home among these younger members. I was impressed by the

quality of

their sobriety, their dedication to AA principles and work, their

determination

generally to add to AA, never to detract from it or divide it. They taught

me a

lot,


and I'll be sentimentally grateful for a long time.

One thing is certain: young people, thank God, are coming to AA in

increasing

numbers. They hold the promise and the power of our future leadership, and

the

older


members must help them to utilize their youth, vitality and great potential.

B.L., New York City


IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
++++Message 3164. . . . . . . . . . . . Bill Wilson and Sister Ignatia -

Longbeach Convention?

From: Steve Leeds . . . . . . . . . . . . 2/13/2006 12:04:00 PM
IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII
Hey All,
I have a cassette tape that is marked Sister Ignatia and Bill Wilson -

Longbeach Convention. The recording is old and it's obviously Bill but

I am looking for confermation that the womens voice is that of Sister

Ignatia. Could anyone confirm that she did speak with Bill at that

convention?
Thanks,

Steven
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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++++Message 3165. . . . . . . . . . . . Bill D.

From: Ernest Kurtz . . . . . . . . . . . . 2/13/2006 7:39:00 AM


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Mel and interested others,
Back when I was doing research at GSO in 1976, Nell Wing for sure and, I

think, trustee George G. told me that Bill D's story was not in the

first edition because he wanted to be paid for it.
At best third-hand hearsay to you, but . . . .
ernie k.
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++++Message 3166. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: God as we understand Him

From: Archie Bunkers . . . . . . . . . . . . 2/13/2006 4:45:00 PM


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In reading Glenn C.'s response to my original e-mail, I see that I did not

make myself clear enough. I realize that "God as we understand

Him" is a

paraphrase of what James was saying. The Akron AA's knew this too. Could

this early referrence to James be an indication that whoever originated the

Big Book phrase "God as we understand Him" (either Bill W. or

Jimmy B. or

whoever) been paraphasing William James?? My point is, that if this is

true, the Big Book would be that original printed source of the phrase

"God


as we understand Him".
Archie B.
----- Original Message -----

From: "Archie Bunkers"

To:

Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006 11:38 PM

Subject: [AAHistoryLovers] God as we understand Him
> This is an excerpt from http://hindsfoot.org/AkrSpir.pdf

>

> "William James, stripped of verbiage, says that



> we should believe in God AS WE UNDERSTAND HIM."

>

> Is William James the source of the Big Book



> phrase "God as we understand him"??

>

> Archie B.



>

> ________________________________

>

> From the moderator (Glenn C., South Bend, Indiana)



>

> The passage which Archie quotes is from one

> of the four pamphlets we possess which

> were written by the early AA people in Akron.

> They are "A Manual for Alcoholics Anonymous,"

> "Second Reader for Alcoholics Anonymous,"

> "A Guide to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics

> Anonymous," and this one, which is entitled

> "Spiritual Milestones in Alcoholics Anonymous.

>

> In the passage in question, which says "William



> James, stripped of verbiage, says that we should

> believe in God AS WE UNDERSTAND HIM,"

> it seems to me that the early AA's in Akron

> believed, not that William James wrote that line,

> but instead were agreeing that adding "as we

> understand Him" to the references to God in the

> twelve steps was in agreement with James' belief

> that people of different personality types needed

> different types of spirituality and different kinds

> of conceptions of God.

>

> "God as we understand Him" was not a quote



> from James however, as they give it in this

> pamphlet. The pamphlet says that "God as we

> understand Him" was a shorter way of saying what

> James was saying in the long quotation which they

> give from him, where James says "Religion shall

> mean for us the feelings, acts and experiences of

> individual men in their solitude, so far as they

> apprehend themselves to stand in relation to

> whatever they may consider the divine."

>

> The early Akron AA people were clearly saying



> in that pamphlet that Christians who followed the

> teaching of the epistle of James, skeptics and

> freethinkers like Immanuel Kant, Catholics who

> followed the teachings of St. Augustine the great

> Doctor of the Church, Jews, Muslims, and

> Buddhists, could all join together in following the

> twelve steps and could understand why following

> these spiritual guides to action could lead us to

> the higher spiritual life.

>

> Here is that particular section of the pamphlet,



> which is Part IV, giving the entire text of that

> section, so the group can read in context what

> the early Akron AA people believed:

> _____________________________________

>

> "Spiritual Milestones in Alcoholics Anonymous"



>

> Part IV

>

> BUT IF OUR CONCEPT of God is on the



> nebulous side, we are offered more concrete

> guidance on the subject of religion and spirituality.

> It is not awesome, abstract and complex, even

> though it seems so at first.

>

> Let's examine what some of the fine minds of



> history -- philosophers, psychologists, educators --

> have to say about religion. Note that none of them,

> with the exception of St. James, is a professional

> religionist.

>

> "Religion is the worship of higher powers from a



> sense of need." --Allan Menzies.

>

> "Religion shall mean for us the feelings, acts and



> experiences of individual men in their solitude, so

> far as they apprehend themselves to stand in

> relation to whatever they may consider the divine."

> -- William James.

>

> "Religion is the recognition of all our duties as



> divine commands."--Immanual Kant.

>

> "Religion is that part of human experience in



> which man feels himself in relation with powers

> of psychic nature, usually personal powers, and

> makes use of them."--James Henry Leuba.

>

> "Pure religion and undefiled before our God and



> Father is this, to visit the fatherless and windows

> in their affliction and to keep oneself unspotted

> from the world."--The General Epistle of James,

> 1:27.


>

> One cannot but be impressed with the similarity

> of these definitions to our own Twelve Steps.

>

> The Menzies definition is nothing more than a



> condensed version of the first three steps wherein

> we admit we are beaten, come to believe a Power

> greater than ourselves can restore us, and turn our

> wills and lives over to that Power.

>

> William James, stripped of verbiage, says that we



> should believe in God AS WE UNDERSTAND HIM.

>

> Immanuel Kant also tells us to turn our wills and lives



> over to God, and then hints at Steps Five to Eleven,

> wherein we are admonished to give our lives a

> thorough housecleaning. For such confessions and

> restitutions are without question divine commands.

>

> James Henry Leuba hints at the Twelfth Step,



> where we make use of our newly found powers.

>

> And all we need to do in the St. James passage is



> to substitute the word "Alcoholic" for "Father less

> and Widows" and we have Step Twelve. As a

> matter of fact, before we gave up alcohol we

> were very definitely fatherless and widows.

>

> The spiritual life is by no means a Christian monopoly.



> There is not an ethical religion in the world today

> that does not teach to a great extent the principles

> of Love, Charity and Good Will.

>

> The Jehovah of the Hebrews is a stern God who



> will have vengeance if his laws are broken, yet the

> great Hebrew prophets taught a message of social

> justice. Incidentally, the modern Jewish family is one

> of our finest examples of helping one another. When

> a member of the family gets into trouble of any

> kind, the relatives, from parents to cousins, rally

> around with advice, admonition, and even financial

> assistance. This, incidentally, may be one reason

> there are not more Jewish members of AA. The

> family, in many cases, can handle the alcoholic

> problem.

>

> Followers of Mohammed are taught to help the



> poor, give shelter to the homeless and the traveler,

> and conduct themselves with personal dignity.

>

> Consider the eight-part program laid down in



> Buddhism: Right view, right aim, right speech, right

> action, right living, right effort, right mind- edness

> and right contemplation. The Buddhist philosophy,

> as exemplified by these eight points, could be

> literally adopted by AA as a substitute for or

> addition to the Twelve Steps. Generosity, universal

> love and welfare of others rather than

> considerations of self are basic to Buddhism.

>

> The ultimate aim of all men is peace of spirit.



> Without a spiritual life there can be no tranquility

> and serenity.

>

> St. Augustine says, "Peace is the tranquility of order."



> We will find peace when our lives are rightly ordered.

>

>



>

>

>



> Yahoo! Groups Links

>

>



>

>

>



>
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++++Message 3167. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: God as we understand Him

From: ArtSheehan . . . . . . . . . . . . 2/13/2006 4:46:00 PM


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Hi Archie
On the matter of "God as we understand Him" it might be useful to

examine more of the pamphlet "Spiritual Milestones in Alcoholics

Anonymous." The pamphlet is far more historically endearing than it is

factually enlightening.


Section IV of the pamphlet contains citations from Allan Menzies,

William James, Immanuel Kant, James Henry Leuba and "The General

Epistle of James" 1:27 (also called "The Book of James" in

other


literature). In the 2nd paragraph of section IV it states:
"Let's examine what some of the fine minds of history-philosophers,

psychologists, educators-have to say about religion. Note that none of

them, with the exception of St James, is a professional religionist."
Ouch!
James is the brother of Jesus. He was a martyr for his faith and is

the source of the maxim "faith without works is dead" (James

2:17). I

had to wince at describing him as a "professional religionist."

But

this is the difficulty that occurs when a member's (or group of



members') viewpoint is given the aura of factual history when it is no

more than the substance of opinion.


The pamphlet goes on to creatively cite from William James' "The

Varieties of Religious Experience:"


"Religion shall mean for us the feelings, acts and experiences of

individual men in their solitude, so far as they apprehend themselves

to stand in relation to whatever they may consider the divine."
The pamphlet then creatively interprets the citation as "William

James, stripped of verbiage, states that we should believe in God AS

WE UNDERSTAND HIM."
Well William James has been stripped of verbiage. He didn't quite

state what is being attributed to him. An accurate and contextually

complete citation would read:
"Religion, therefore, as I now ask you arbitrarily to take it, shall

mean for us THE FEELINGS, ACTS, AND EXPERIENCES OF INDIVIDUAL MEN IN

THEIR SOLITUDE, SO FAR AS THEY APPREHEND THEMSELVES TO STAND IN

RELATION TO WHATEVER THEY MAY CONSIDER THE DIVINE. Since the relation

may be either moral, physical, or ritual, it is evident that out of

religion in the sense in which we take it, theologies, philosophies,

and ecclesiastical organizations may secondarily grow. In these

lectures, however, as I have already said, the immediate personal

experiences will amply fill our time, and we shall hardly consider

theology or ecclesiasticism at all."


As far as the assertion about what William James stated, I'd put it in

the same niche as the description of St James being a "professional

religionist." It's probably well intended but not at all well stated.

It's much more poetic license rather than a concise summation of

James' magnificent book.
William James didn't write about a variety of understandings. He wrote

about a variety of experiences and conversions (some occurring

suddenly and some occurring gradually). His book certainly allowed the

notion of individual understandings of God among the varieties of

religious experiences but I wouldn't focus on William James as the

primary source of the notion.


In AA history, it is likely that William James' book helped to

reinforce a notion already planted beforehand by Ebby T and the Oxford

Group. Bill W was given the book "Varieties ..." during his last

stay


at Towns Hospital by either Ebby T or Rowland H.
Something else occurred prior to that is likely more relevant and

described in the Big Book (which is sometimes underappreciated for the

rich history it contains). In Chapter 1, Bill W recounts a poignant

and profound revelation for which Ebby T deserves credit along with

the Oxford Group:
[Big Book pg 12]
"Despite the living example of my friend there remained in me the

vestiges of my old prejudice. The word God still aroused a certain

antipathy. When the thought was expressed that there might be a God

personal to me this feeling was intensified. I didn't like the idea. I

could go for such conceptions as Creative Intelligence, Universal Mind

or Spirit of Nature but I resisted the thought of a Czar of the

Heavens, however loving His sway might be. I have since talked with

scores of men who felt the same way.


My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, "Why don't

you choose your own conception of God?"


That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in

whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the

sunlight at last.
It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater

than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning. I

saw that growth could start from that point. Upon a foundation of

complete willingness I might build what I saw in my friend. Would I

have it? Of course I would!
Thus was I convinced that God is concerned with us humans when we want

Him enough. At long last I saw, I felt, I believed. Scales of pride

and prejudice fell from my eyes. A new world came into view."
This goes on to be repeated and reinforced throughout the remaining

chapters of the Big Book. Choosing one's own conception of God also

has the brilliance that the individual cannot blame anyone else for

the understanding and that they are responsible for it - good or bad.


As for the addition of "God as we understand Him" in the 12 Steps

(along with "Power greater than ourselves") both Jim B and Hank P

are

credited with being the primary influence ("AA Comes of Age" pgs



166-167). Both claimed to be atheists at the time.
Although James' book was popular reading in early AA, the Oxford

Group's principles and practices (and Sam Shoemaker) carried much

influence - probably more than William James even though he is

mentioned twice in the Big Book.


Other influences such as Emmet Fox in "Power Through Constructive

Thinking" and "Sermon on the Mount" and a number of other

authors and

books cannot be excluded either for their influence in both NY and

Akron. Dick B, in his writings about the Rev Sam Shoemaker, offers

quite a number of enlightening citations from Shoemaker's writings -

among them:
"Security lies in a faith in God which includes an experiment. It lies

in believing that God is" (Shoemaker, National Awakening, pp. 40-41).


"When we come to believe in God at all, we come to believe in Him as

having something definite to say about our lives. To believe in the

fact of the will of God is only to believe in God in the concrete"

(Shoemaker, Religion That Works, p. 55).


"Opening their minds to as much of God as he understood, removing

first the hindrance of self-will" (Shoemaker, Children of the Second

Birth, p. 47).
What I'm driving at is I don't see how the notion of "God as you

understand Him" can be attributed to a single primary source. It has

far too much of an ecumenical nature for conversion and redemption.
The idea certainly has served AA well - except when degraded to the

level of "door knob" and other things of that ilk. (Rule #62).


Cheers

Arthur
-----Original Message-----

From: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

[mailto:AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Archie Bunkers

Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2006 11:38 PM

To: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

Subject: [AAHistoryLovers] God as we understand Him
This is an excerpt from http://hindsfoot.org/AkrSpir.pdf
"William James, stripped of verbiage, says that

we should believe in God AS WE UNDERSTAND HIM."


Is William James the source of the Big Book

phrase "God as we understand him"??


Archie B.
________________________________
From the moderator (Glenn C., South Bend, Indiana)
The passage which Archie quotes is from one

of the four pamphlets we possess which

were written by the early AA people in Akron.

They are "A Manual for Alcoholics Anonymous,"

"Second Reader for Alcoholics Anonymous,"

"A Guide to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics

Anonymous," and this one, which is entitled

"Spiritual Milestones in Alcoholics Anonymous.


In the passage in question, which says "William

James, stripped of verbiage, says that we should

believe in God AS WE UNDERSTAND HIM,"

it seems to me that the early AA's in Akron

believed, not that William James wrote that line,

but instead were agreeing that adding "as we

understand Him" to the references to God in the

twelve steps was in agreement with James' belief

that people of different personality types needed

different types of spirituality and different kinds

of conceptions of God.
"God as we understand Him" was not a quote

from James however, as they give it in this

pamphlet. The pamphlet says that "God as we

understand Him" was a shorter way of saying what

James was saying in the long quotation which they

give from him, where James says "Religion shall

mean for us the feelings, acts and experiences of

individual men in their solitude, so far as they

apprehend themselves to stand in relation to

whatever they may consider the divine."


The early Akron AA people were clearly saying

in that pamphlet that Christians who followed the

teaching of the epistle of James, skeptics and

freethinkers like Immanuel Kant, Catholics who

followed the teachings of St. Augustine the great

Doctor of the Church, Jews, Muslims, and

Buddhists, could all join together in following the

twelve steps and could understand why following

these spiritual guides to action could lead us to

the higher spiritual life.


Here is that particular section of the pamphlet,

which is Part IV, giving the entire text of that

section, so the group can read in context what

the early Akron AA people believed:

_____________________________________
"Spiritual Milestones in Alcoholics Anonymous"




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