Alcoholics Anonymous History
The James Club
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
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.
new resources—ready for use and reward—include the following:
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.
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!
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://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.
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,
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.
Purchase the study books and decide for yourself.
Form a Study Group and use the resources.
Have a history panel, seminar, or conference, and teach the
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.
Organize your group or
committee or conference.
Elect a secretary and
gather the volunteers for service.
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!)
Obtain, sell, and
distribute the needed literature; or make it available free for use by
those in attendance.
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;