Big Book Discussion
Bill W. wrote in AACA (Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age)
page 160: quote: I was exhausted. On many a day I felt like
throwing the book out the window. end quote.
While you have the book (AACA) open, study page 13 where Doctor Silkworth admonishes Bill for preaching to prospects. He tells Bill to stop preaching to them.
Bill W and his friends wrote the Big Book, from their
own experiences with alcohol.
Bill's release from the obsession/compulsion to drink
was a gift from God. That is where God was "involved". The
rest was provided by the WISDOM of Dr. Silkworth and our
other pioneers. ANONYMOUS
Jim, give me a hand here. I am still looking for the
passage where Bill wrote that many times he was so
frustrated that he was tempted to throw the book
out the window and forget the whole thing. I remember
reading it but now can't find it. I think Bill wrote
that many times he thought of throwing the whole thing out the window. I remember reading it. I believe he wrote
it only once. Maybe in Pass It ON. Anonymous.
Of course Bill's suggestion comment is on page 164. The entire
book is to be offered in a suggestive manner. It helped me.
You are welcome to try it if you want. If you have arrived
at the doorstep of AA, chances are you will find it
helpful, I would advise you to avoid Chapter Five "How
It works", until you have absorbed the first four
chapters. First Things First. In AA we have no musts. When
you get to chapter Five, don't let it frighten you away.
The steps are also suggestions. and are offered in a
The entire program is suggested. Personally I needed the
fellowship, a place where I felt I belonged. ANONYMOUS
I find it interesting that "this book is suggested" comes on page 164 after the directions for the AA recovery program. Would you agree that if it was truly only suggested, maybe the suggestion should be on page 1 instead of 164? If the authors where so concerned about scaring you off, I certainly would expect the suggestion to be upfront instead of on the end. I feel they knew if you were really and truly a desparate alcoholic, you would take the directions.
Try to understand the urgency to get the message out to
the world, that a solution to alcoholism had been found
by this man from New York and some of his friends. Bill
knew that alcoholics were suffering and dying from the
curse of alcoholism, while he had a remedy which
could save them. The chapters had already been written.
At the last minute, needed changes became obvious. But
the work done so far could not be changed. Changes like
the words "you must" to "we ought". Directions was
changed to following a path. Bill covered it all in
making the book suggestive in nature. The history of
AA is explained in AACA and LOTH. A lot of the confusion
is due to the apparent lack of understanding of suggestion.
I doubt that many alcoholics realize how desperate they
are. How do they know how desperate they are. Drinking
was the only friend I had left.
The Book was an offer to anyone who wanted to get better. I found a new wonderful life. How could anyone
refuse such an offer? But we have to offer it to them
without a trace of arrogance or an ounce of pride.
I hate to say this, but including myself, I have yet to meet anyone without a trace of arrogance, or an ounce of pride, much less an alcoholic. Dr. Harry T. described alcoholics as having a narcissistic core dominated by feelings of omnipotence ( not verbatim, but close). Read from the second to last paragraph from Dr. Bob’s Nightmare, A man noted for his great humility. A man who had 12 stepped over 5,000 alcoholics in 15 years. If you do the math, that’s almost 1 alcoholic a day for 15 years!
“If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic , or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you. If you still think you are strong enough to beat the game alone, that is your affair. But if you really and truly want to quit drinking liquor for good and all, and sincerely feel that you must have some help, we know that we have an answer for you. It never fails, if you go about it with one half the zeal you have been in the habit of showing when you were getting another drink”
Even I can see a little pride and arrogance in Dr. Bob. Everyone has some. The day we think we don’t, we are back to our old delusional selves. The day we actually don’t, lay real still, because we are dead.
In the end, we are offering this program to those that think they need some help. like Bob said, if you think you can do it on your own, that's your affair.
“ We would like it understood that our alcoholic work is an avocation” to me, this suggests I have other interests besides AA. Our alcoholic work is not all we do. We have jobs, homes, hobbies, husbands and wives. If I go to AA meetings everyday, I won’t have time for the wife or kids. Eventually I won’t even have a wife, because she will leave from neglect. Even while going to all these meetings, I won’t have time for actual one on one 12 step work because I am too busy going to meetings. Of course I have to put my sobriety first, or else I will have nothing else, I just think there needs to be balance for an ordinary drunk like myself.
“We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book. For them, we hope these pages will prove so convincing that no further authentication will be necessary. We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic. Many do not comprehend that the alcoholic is a very sick person. And besides, we are sure that our way of living has its advantages for all.”
Notice the word “recovered” is used twice in this paragraph. Rarely do I hear recovered anymore. I hear a lot of recovering. Much can be said pro and con, personally, I would rather be recovered than recovering. Many will say there is no cure for alcoholism. There is also no cure for the common cold. We all know the difference between recovery from a cold and being recovered. When we recover from alcoholism, we are symptom free. When we are recovering, to me, we still have many of the symptoms, but we are getting better.
“to show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered”- I was taught to use the book as a text book, not a novel. When it said we did this or do that, we did it and it works.
“we hope…….no further authentication will be necessary.” I’ve always felt they meant they wouldn’t have to write any more books.
If you have time, read the forward to the first edition along with the preamble written by the grapevine. The preamble was written by the grapevine editor at the time. Mostly from what was written in the forward. Check it out.
"Forward, " and, "Foreword," are two very different words.
'Bill W. firmly advocated the use of recovered... Recovered meant, "I'm well today" recovering meant "I'm still sick".' (from Mrs Marty Mann: the first lady of Alcoholics Anonymous, by Sally and David Brown, page 194).
However, the Big Book is NOT a textbook giving instructions; it is AA's basic text: 'The story of how many thousands of men and women have recovered frlom alcoholism' (title page). So the Big Book is a story book, not a text book.
And by the way it is foreword not forward.
Thanks for the correction and for the message. I often
wish for a better knowledge of the English language. Although I consider myself a recovered alcoholic (the
obsession/compulsion was lifted on a Saturday long ago),
I do not use the words recovered or recovering at
meetings. I only state my name and that I am an alcoholic
which, by the way is part of the first step. This stating
my name and that I am an alcoholic was never meant to be
a greeting or salutation. ANONYMOUS
Thank you for your quote.
I came into AA with a spiritual thirst, but I didn't want to quit drinking. The Big Book and meetings showed me how to let God into my life. I was so thrilled with the new way of life I put the plug in the jug after six weeks.
I recently suggested the site administrator add a big book discussion topic to the “what’s on your mind forum”. My feeling is to take a page or so and discuss it with other members of AA. I felt having this as a topic would give AA members a forum to discuss our basic text without giving other members the impression we were shoving the book down their throats. This way, if you don’t want to read or hear about the big book, don’t click on the big book topic.
With no further ado, let’s look at the first few pages of the big book, the page with the heading “other books”. This page gives a list of “conference approved” literature. What that mean so me, is simply the literature committee has reviewed and confers that this material aligns with AA principles. It does not suggest that other material is not approved, the conference only approves AA produced material.
I have made it a practice to reread the 12x12,AA comes of age, pass it on, dr bob and the good oldtimers, on an annual basis. I keep copies of the pamphlets the “group” and “problems other than alcohol” in my big book for reference at meetings. I feel there is a wealth of useful information in this literature. After studying these books, I have found many comments that are taken as facts in AA meetings wind up as fiction. For example, did you know Bill W gave Dr. Bob his last beer or that Dr. Bob didn’t work the 12 steps, because there wasn’t 12 at the time, he worked the 6 step word of mouth program.
Thank you Grapevine for providing a digital forum for us to discuss the book that gave me directions for recovery from alcoholism!
"Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to
find a power by which we could live, and it had to be
a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where
and how were we to find this Power?
Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its
main object is to enable you to find a Power greater
than yourself which will solve your problem."