Aa history Lovers 2006 moderators Nancy Olson and Glenn F. Chesnut page

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In order to become an Advisory Action, any committee recommendation must

pass the Conference with substantial unanimity--defined as a two-thirds

majority. To reach substantial unanimity, floor discussion may take a very

short time or go on for hours. Ideally, all Conference members, whether or

not they agree with the final decision, will be satisfied that they have

been heard and a genuine consensus has been reached. The A.A. Service Manual

describes how it happens: Before a vote is taken, plenty of time is allotted

for full discussion, including questions about the background of a

recommendation and the committee's reasons for coming to its conclusions

Discussions, both in general sessions and during committee meetings, can at

times be hot and heavy, but Conference members always try to reach a group

conscience and to make decisions in the best interests of the Fellowship.

After the vote, the Conference chairperson calls for minority opinions and

occasionally, a well-reasoned minority opinion can result in another vote,

reversing the first decision.
Once the Conference has voted for approval, the project is turned over to

the G.S.O. publications department for final editing, type-setting, design

and printing. The publications department is an integral part of the process

at every stage, working with the G.S.O. staff to prepare material for

distribution to Conference members, overseeing any preliminary editing that

might need to be done, finding writers when needed (A.A. members with solid

sobriety and strong professional experience), working with them to prepare

manuscripts, and implementing any changes suggested by the Conference.

Sometimes, a book or pamphlet can take a long time to come to fruition. Take

as an example the pamphlet Can A.A. Help Me, Too? for African-American

alcoholics, approved by the Conference in 2001. The idea came up originally

in 1970, with proposal for a cartoon book for black alcoholics, but its time

had not come, and it was turned down by the Conference. The need came to the

fore again in the 1990s and in 1998 a proposal for a pamphlet directed to

the Black/African American alcoholic came from a group, went through the

district and area assembly, was passed on to the General Service Office by

the delegate, and placed on the Conference agenda. The 1999 Conference

recommended that a draft be prepared and brought to the 2000 Conference for

The trustees' Literature Committee appointed a subcommittee to work on the

project, and a call for stories by black alcoholics went out to all

Conference members. Meanwhile, the pamphlet engendered some lively

discussion and while the majority of groups were in favor, there was also

some strong opposition from members who felt that publication of such a

pamphlet would set black alcoholics apart, rather than making them a part of

A.A. Others, however, pointed out that the goal was to inform and attract

still-suffering black alcoholics who needed to know that African Americans

were sober, active members of the Fellowship.
By the end of 1999, the subcommittee had received 34 stories and selected 14

to pass on to the G.S.O. publications department for editing. Because of the

time needed to collect the stories, it was not possible to have a draft

ready for the 2000 Conference, which received a progress report. After input

from the Conference, the editing proceeded and in addition to numerous

revisions, two new stories were added. The final draft went to the 2001

Conference, which approved the Literature Committee's recommendation for


Conference approval means that a piece of literature carries the A.A.

message and represents a good cross section of the Fellowship. Equally

significant, though, is what it does not mean. It does not imply criticism

or dis-approval of any other publications, whether published by A.A. or

outside the Fellowship. For example, many inter-groups and central offices

publish material such as meeting lists and other informational leaflets for

local members. These publications are genuine A.A. literature, because they

provide a necessary service to members and reflect the experience of A.A.'s

in the local community. Service material published by G.S.O. informational

pieces and guidelines do not go through Conference approval, though they

contain shared experience from a good cross section of the Fellowship and

often incorporate excerpts from Conference-approved publications. And

because it would be impossible to put each issue of periodicals such as Box

4-5-9, other G.S.O. bulletins, or the A.A. Grapevine through a two-year

procedure, these too are not Conference approved, though the Conference has

long recognized them as A.A. literature.

Telling A.A. members what to read and not to read is clearly not the

business of the Conference. But when new members search out the group

literature table at their first meeting, when middle-timers have questions,

when old-timers want to widen their knowledge and understanding, the words

"This is A.A. General Service Conference-approved literature" on a

piece of

literature assures them that the message has been the result of several

group conscience decisions--the ultimate authority for A.A. literature.

BOX 4-5-9, APRIL-MAY 2005

Always Say A Prayer

++++Message 3385. . . . . . . . . . . . Success vs. Gloom-and-Doom

From: ny-aa@att.net . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/24/2006 3:07:00 PM

See Excerpt from the "The Exact Quote..." Thread Below:


No More Myths:

Let's be sure nobody takes this statement by Bill W and trumpets,

"Hah! See. A one percent success rate." (I've seen it done.)

That's not what it means at all!


Like someone introducing a new product, Bill was looking at how

many prospects were not reached and offers a number to emphasize,

"If we keep on going there is little doubt that much good will

result, but the surface of the problem would hardly be scratched."

In saying that "a vast procession of the world's drunks has passed

in front of us ... 25 million of them," he is putting forward an

image of how important A.A. can be.

Most Never Came to A.A.:

The 25 million alcoholics he speaks of died somewhere in the world

in the 25 years Alcoholics Anonymous had been around. Only a very

few came "through the doors of A.A.." A "mind experiment,

" as Albert

Einstein suggests, proves that. For all 25 million of them to visit

exactly one meeting of one group, the average group would have hosted

300+ per year. For each of them to talk with exactly one A.A. member,

the average member would have talked with 15 per year. As the robot

on Lost In Space would say, "That does not compute." :-)


My calculation is based on an estimated 75,000 group-years.

(I added up the annual census of groups for first 25 years.)

Similarly, it is based on an estimated 1,600,0000 member-years

(I added up the annual census of members for first 25 years.)

Think about it. It makes sense. :-)

History Challenge:

Can anyone find the source of Bill's estimate of 25 million of the

worlds drunks? It sounds to me like some agency may have estimated

"one million per year" and Bill multiplied that by 25 years. That

is just a guess. Some other historian may have a real answer.


En2joy! Tom En2ger
-------------- Original message ----------------------

From: "ArtSheehan"


> What is the quantitative number "of alcoholics who came to

AA" at any

> particular period of time? Nobody knows, but it was likely substantial

> and likely remains substantial. In an address to the 1960 General

> Service Conference, Bill W commented:


> "I took note", the co-founder pointed out, "that in this


> which has seen AA come alive, this period of 25 years, a vast

> procession of the world's drunks has passed in front of us and over

> the precipice. Worldwide, there would appear to have been something

> like 25 million of them. And out of this stream of despair, illness,

> misery and death, we have fished out just one in a hundred in the

> last 25 years."


++++Message 3386. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: 95% First Year Dropout Myth

From: Billlwhite@AOL.COM . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/23/2006 2:30:00 PM

The article you refer to was written by Don McIntyre and appeared in

Volume 18, Number 4, 2000, issue of Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, pp.


The title was "How well does A.A. work? An Analysis of published A.A.


(1968-1996) and related analyses/comments.

Bill White
In a message dated 4/23/2006 3:57:03 PM Eastern Daylight Time,

kurtzern@umich.edu writes:

There was also an article in the *Alcoholism Treatment

Quarterly* a few years ago that dissected this too

widespread fallacy. Perhaps someone can give the

exact citation, which I do not have at hand right

ernie kurtz
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3387. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: Reading lists for AA study


From: ArtSheehan . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/24/2006 12:47:00 PM
If anyone can make it to the National Archives Workshop (or knows

someone who is going) there is a chance that "A House Full of

Miracles" might be available there for purchase. That's where I picked

up my copies a few years ago when it was first aired. It was described

then as being intended to be a pilot production for a more expanded

video targeted to a History Channel, AandE or PBS viewing audience.

Also, the revised (and previous) "Markings On the Journey" videos


GSO Archives are wonderful and informative works. I believe the first

version of "Markings on the Journey" was not Conference-approved.

The video "My Name is Bill W" is also a great film. It has one


historical inaccuracy (probably for poetic license and time

restraints) of showing Ebby and Bill working and drinking together in

New York City prior to the stock market collapse in the great economic

depression. Ebby lived in Albany, NY (and Vermont) and, with a very

notable exception regarding an airplane flight from Albany to Vermont,

he and Bill did not do all that much drinking together.


-----Original Message-----

From: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

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


Sent: Saturday, April 22, 2006 10:32 AM

To: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

Subject: RE: [AAHistoryLovers] Reading lists for AA study groups

Joe A. asked: "Can you tell us where these films are available for


I believe "A HOUSE FULL OF MIRACLES" is still sold at Dr. Bob's


and the

earlier one, "DAWN OF HOPE," which came from the same place, may


out of

circulation. I would suggest you write or check out their website.


are about 30 minutes long which makes them convenient to play at


Bob S.
----Original Message-----

From: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

[mailto:AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Joe Adams

Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 4:48 AM

To: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

Subject: [AAHistoryLovers] Reading lists for AA study groups

Can you tell us where these films are available for

local sharing?

Joe Adams

(sober_in_nc at yahoo.com)

Robert Stonebraker

(rstonebraker212 at insightbb.com) wrote:

Our Big Book Step Study Group in Richmond, IN,

spends the first two Tuesdays studying AA history -

we show a short movie, "DAWN OF HOPE"

and sometimes "A HOUSE FULL OF MIRACLES"

from Dr. Bob's Home.
Yahoo! Groups Links
Yahoo! Groups Links
++++Message 3388. . . . . . . . . . . . Panel 37

From: theresa . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/24/2006 12:27:00 PM

Hello all! I'm new to this group,and was wondering if there is

anywhere I could get(or read) a copy of the General Service Conference

report from panel 37('87-'88)? I volunteered to share on concept five

at next months area meeting,and heard and interesting concept five

story that involves that panel.I have a list of our past delegates,but

that particular one is no longer with us. I love all the contributions

to this group,it's taught me alot already.Thanks, Theresa
++++Message 3389. . . . . . . . . . . . link for directions to Stepping

Stones in Bedford Hills, N.Y.

From: Gene . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/23/2006 4:26:00 PM
Here from the Stepping Stones web site is a link for "mapquest"

directions to Bill and Lois' house...

Near Katonah, N.Y. Rt 684 is the big highway close by...easy to get

Plan on coming....

Gene in Westchester
++++Message 3390. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: Was Bill a Swedenborgian?

From: ArtSheehan . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/24/2006 9:37:00 AM

We need to encourage folks to visit the AAHistoryLovers web site and

take advantage of the search function for perusing through past

posting on subjects. There is much in the archives that is of interest

to this question.

Lois Wilson's paternal grandfather, Nathan Clarke Burnham, practiced

law, medicine and was also a minister of the Swedenborgian Church. He

wrote a book "Discrete Degrees" about the relation Swedenborg had

found between the spiritual and natural life.

On January 24, 1918, spurred by rumor that Bill W might soon go

overseas (World War I duty) he and Lois were married at the

Swedenborgian Church of the New Jerusalem in Brooklyn, NY. The wedding

date was originally Feb 1. Lois' brother Rogers Burnham was best man.


-----Original Message-----

From: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

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

Sent: Saturday, April 22, 2006 1:26 PM

To: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

Subject: [AAHistoryLovers] Was Bill a Swedenborgian?
Having done some reading on Swedenborg's beliefs and understanding of

spitituality, I wonder how much Bill W. was in contact with the

The higher power as we understand him sounds very close to their


Gene in Westchester


This from some of their beliefs:
Love Is Life

Love, Swedenborg says, is the basic element of reality. It is the

source of all life, the essence of God. Our souls are individual

finite forms of love, our bodies serving as mirrors of that inner

essence. As we live, we choose what kind of love we will be. We may

choose to regard ourselves as the only reality--our own needs,

desires, and feelings as all important. Or we may choose to focus on

others. In the former instance, we shrink in spirit, allowing a part

of our potential as loving beings to atrophy. In the latter instance,

we grow spiritually, heightening our awareness of the nature of love

and thus also of the nature of ourselves and God.
Truth Is Love In Action

Truth is the way love works. Most of us sense that. Actions we

perform out of love are honest actions, genuine expressions in a

physical form of what love means, or the truth of love.

Swedenborgians feel that ultimately the two are inseparable, a part

of the same reality. Actualized love is truth, and hence faith and

charity are especially significant in human living. Swedenborg

defines faith as a kind of inner sight, a perception of what is true.

Charity is founded in the desire to do service and live a useful

life, beginning with the choice of career or life work. The spiritual

life involves the active development of a useful and meaningful life

in service to the betterment of the world as a whole. Whereas the

religious life often connotes withdrawal from the world and life,

active participation in the world is a commitment to actualizing

faith and charity. The life of charity and faith parallel the union

of love and truth which is the essence of God.

Freedom of the Will

Swedenborg emphasizes the responsibility of all people to develop

their own beliefs and live their lives accordingly.
Without free will in spiritual things the human being can in no wise

advance into light, i.e., into truths and goods of the church, or

procure himself a life. Without that free will he would not be a

human being but only a figure and a phantom. For his thought would be

without reflection, consequently without judgment and thus in Divine

things which are of the Church he would have no more ability to turn

than a door without a hinge, or with one fastened with a bolt of

steel. His will, too, would be devoid of decision, hence no more

active towards justice or injustice than the stone on the mound under

which lies a dead body...." (Coronis, 24 28)

An Inner Meaning Within the Bible

Swedenborg likens the Spiritual teachings to a parent teaching a

.. explaining all things according to their genius and capacities,

although he himself thinks from an interior or deeper ground.

Otherwise it would be like teaching what would not be learned.

(Arcana Coelestia, 2533)

Thus the scriptures are written on the literal level in plain

language expressing the truth and wisdom of God as it is adapted to

our limited human understanding. The Bible also contains a deeper

meaning, an inner essence, in addition to its obvious and overt

meaning. Swedenborg notes in The True Christian Religion:
The Word in its essence is spiritual. Descending from Jehovah the

Lord, and passing through the angelic heavens, the Divine (in itself

unutterable and imperceptible) became level with the perception of

angels and finally the perception of man. Hence, the Word has a

spiritual sense, which is within the natural, just as the soul is

within the body, or as thought is in speech, or volition in action.

The belief that all things have an inner reality, as well as an outer

manifestation is a significant concept for the whole of Swedenborgian


This, then, is the living reality of Swedenborg's teachings. In

stressing freedom, diversity, and individualism, he issued a

challenge to individuals, churches, and other organizations to be

committed to the human growth processes and to express their personal

commitment in ways as diverse as their numbers. Sensitivity to, and

respect for, each individual's "internal church," or spirituality,


what Swedenborgianism is really all about.

One primary pathway advocated in the Swedenborgian Church for

spiritual growth is a specialized study of scripture, enabling the

diligent student to become aware of the inner-penetration of nature

and spirit, of our natural world here and the universal spiritual

world. In addition, an expanding awareness of spiritual reality is

encouraged by the exploration of dreams and by prayer and meditation

practices. And perhaps the most popular of Swedenborg's spiritual

growth practices is his Zen-like discussions on "being useful."

Teilhard de Chardin once said, "Do not forget that the value and

interest of life is not so much to do conspicuous (although we have

this ambition) as to do ordinary things with the perception of their

enormous value." For Swedenborg, such a focus provides the ground for

future spiritual growth. As Paul Zacharias, a Swedenborgian minister,

observes in his pamphlet This We Believe, "Everyone who lives up to

the best he knows, whether Christian, Jew, Moslem, or Pagan, is truly

a member of the church Invisible."


Now if you have had the patience to get this far...

the idea of service...giving of yourself...It's all there.
Yahoo! Groups Links
++++Message 3391. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Was Bill a Swedenborgian?

From: Hugh D. Hyatt . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/24/2006 12:50:00 PM

As a lifelong 4th-generation practicing Swedenborgian with 13+ years of

sobriety and and almost as many in active service to A.A., I agree that

many aspects of A.A.'s program are remarkably similar to some of the

primary tenets of Swedenborgianism. On the other hand, much as I would

like to conclude otherwise, it seems clear to me that Bill W. was

little affected by Swedenborg's teachings, despite being married in a

Swedenborgian church in New York City into an established Swedenborgian

family. He struggled with issues whose resolution would be obvious --

at least intellectually -- to almost any serious Swedenborgian.
I must also note that other Swedenborgian alcoholics disagree with me,

but I conclude it's due to well-meaning but wishful thinking on their part.

Gene is alleged to have written, on or about 22-Apr-06 14:26:


> Having done some reading on Swedenborg's beliefs and understanding of

> spitituality, I wonder how much Bill W. was in contact with the

> Swedenborgians?


> The higher power as we understand him sounds very close to their

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