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 May 29, 2009



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Alcoholics Anonymous History
The James Club Group

By Dick B.

The James Club Group
A Suggested Featuring of Study Meetings

Good News for Study Groups

For most of the sixteen years I have been researching and writing on various aspects of the early A.A. fellowship, its Biblical origins, and its diverse and varying programs, people have kept writing and phoning about study groups.

They wanted to study the Big Book with the Bible; the 12 Steps with the Bible; the 12 Steps with the Oxford Group; the input of Sam Shoemaker and Anne Smith; religious literature such as Fox’s Sermon, Drummond’s study of 1 Corinthians 13, Allen’s As a Man Thinketh; quiet time and meditation materials such as the Upper Room, The Runner’s Bible, and My Utmost for His Highest.

Lots never got beyond hoping. And I think there was good reason for that. Some were spooked by fears that somebody from A.A. would object. Some were lacking in numbers. Some were lacking in leaders. Some were lacking in format. Some were being offered “easier softer ways” like beginner’s classes or back-to-basics approaches. Some were lacking in funds. And many just felt inadequate and quit before the game even began.

There’s good news!

If the Akron pioneers could sit in a meeting with a Bible open and read, so can you. If Joe and Charlie could conduct seminars with a Big Book open and read, so can you. If every A.A. meeting can open with a reading of “How It Works,” so can you. In other words, you can read; you can listen; you can learn; and then you can discuss. The first suggestion is: “You can read and listen; so give it a try.”

If we now have tapes and videos covering these subjects, you can look and listen, and then discuss. People in treatment programs have been watching “chalk talk,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” and “Lost Weekend” for years. In other words, you can watch and listen; you can learn; and then you can discuss. The second suggestion is: “Get some tapes and videos of Big Book studies, Bible studies, Step Studies, and history studies; watch and listen. Give it a try!:

The best news is that real resources are now ready and available for you, your leader, and your group. These are not simply canned, manufactured ideas for new programs or revised history. These are straight-forward reports of what the founders wrote, said, and did; and how you can do exactly the same thing.

The new resources—ready for use and reward—include the following:

Ø      As to the Akron pioneer program, The James Club and The Original Program’s Absolute Essentials. This lays out our early origins and history. And it contains exact quotes from the Book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13. These were read in early A.A. over and over. The James Club book lets you read or listen to the reading of the Bible verses and then the comments that point out how they fit the Big Book, 12 Steps, and early A.A. program and practices. This book is revised, presents a 4th edition, has been put in perfect bound, and is 6 x 9. It’s meant for study and study groups. http://aa-history.com/bookstore; http://www.dickb.com/JamesClub.shtml.

Ø      As to the New York Big Book program. We don’t need to tell you about the Joe and Charlie and other Big Book seminars. They are on tape and in book form and widely available from Hazelden, tape sellers, and bookstores. But we do need to tell you about two, new, simple tools that will enable you to see exactly where the 12 Steps—each of them—came from. The first is Twelve Steps for You. This book is also in a new edition, 6 x 9 and perfect bound. It takes each of the Steps and shows you the contributions to that Step from the Bible, Oxford Group, Shoemaker, and Anne Smith. And it shows you how to take the Twelve Steps with the Big Book, Bible, and history at your side. The second is a pamphlet New Light on Alcoholism. We now know that Shoemaker taught Bill Wilson almost every idea in the Steps. Both acknowledged this fact. And Bill called Sam a “co-founder of A.A.” This little pamphlet puts the spotlight on what Shoemaker actually taught and how the Steps assimilated that teaching. No more guessing. Look at the language of Bill and Sam!

Ø      As to the Cleveland program. For years, people dodged around Clarence Snyder’s immense contribution to the A.A. program and its recovery program. While several prominent A.A. leaders were calling Clarence “abrasive” and “controversial,” the fellowship never saw much of what Clarence was or did. There were four partial views: Going Through the Steps by Clarence; My Higher Power the Lightbulb by Clarence; How It Worked (by Mitch K.); and That Amazing Grace (by Dick B.). But three of Clarence’s sponsees who had worked closely with him, who had been guided through the Steps by him, and who had participated in retreats led by him, decided to produce a practical guide for the fellowship, for newcomers, and for the retreats themselves.  This guidebook is now available. Its title is: Our A.A. Legacy to the Faith Community: A Twelve-Step Guide for Those Who Want to Believe by Three Clarence Snyder Sponsee Old-timers and Their Wives (Compiled and Edited by Dick B.). It can be seen in full, and online, and downloaded from http://cametobelieve.org or http://www.dickb-blog.com or http://www.archivesinternational.org. It can be purchased virtually at cost plus shipping from Came to Believe Publications, 2211 Lee Road, Suite 100, Winter Park, FL 32789.

Ø      Additional resources: You can supplement each or all of the approaches by obtaining a complete set of my 21 reference titles at a discounted price of $250.00, plus shipping and handling, from http://aa-history.com/bookstore. And you can buy any of my titles or sets in bulk and at a substantial discount from this same source.

What’s Next

Ø     Several options:

(a)     Purchase the study books and decide for yourself.

(b)     Form a Study Group and use the resources.

(c)      Have a history panel, seminar, or conference, and teach the resources.

(d)     Attend or form a retreat group that will enable those who attend to go through the program—whether Akron, or New York, or Cleveland—and come away really knowing the historical A.A. and how to be cured.

Ø     Organize your group or committee or conference.

Ø     Elect a secretary and gather the volunteers for service.

Ø     Adopt a format (i.e. Open with moment of silence, prayer, pre-amble, call for newcomer identification, statement of meeting purpose and procedure – and go!)

Ø      Obtain, sell, and distribute the needed literature; or make it available free for use by those in attendance.

Ø      List your meeting if considered necessary to attraction and attendance.

Call for suggestions or help: Dick B., PO Box 837, Kihei, HI 96753-0837; 808 874 4876; dickb@dickb.com



Dick B.
P.O. Box 837
Kihei, Hawaii
Ph/fax: 808-874-4876


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