XIII-XIV Forward to 1st edition (purpose of big book)

The book Alcoholics Anonymous, aka The Big Book, is the basic text for the AA program of sobriety. "Alcoholics Anonymous" Copyright 2012 AAWS, Inc. All Rights, Reserved. Short excerpts used by permission of AAWS

XIII-XIV Forward to 1st edition (purpose of big book)

Postby Karl R » Sun Aug 17, 2008 4:51 am

Good Morning all,

I hope all gathered here will be willing to share their extensive knowledge and experience for the benefit of others whether they be new to the BB or old friends with the BB.

I've posted the Foreward to the First Edition below.

The 'We' in this forward referred to only one hundred men and women. A very small group but who claimed to be recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body. I note that they use the word recovered with an 'ed' not the words 'in recovery'. This indicates a promise that we can be recovered-not just in recovery.

In this forward they state the main purpose of the BB-to show other alcoholics precisely how they (the 100) had recovered.

At the end of this first paragraph they use the words 'everyone' and 'all'

Someone want to comment on what it means when this foreward says 'We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic.'?

Also, what was meant by 'And besides, we are sure that our way of living has it's advantages for all."?

The second paragraph talks about the original concept of anonymity in this foreward. These few 100 men and women did not want to be overwhelmed by the demand for their services. This work was an avocation-not a vocation. They wanted to keep a low profile for the time being.

Anyone want to comment on how this concept of anonymity has changed over time?

This foreward affirms the concepts that the only requirement for membership in AA is an honest desire to stop drinking and that they were not allied with any paticular faith.

Anyone want to share a brief history of how AA arose from other groups and the religious controversies between the various groups if any?

Other comments, questions, observations, or history to share?

have a great day all,

in peace,
Karl

Foreward to the First Edition
This is the Foreword as it appeared in the first
printing of the first edition in 1939.
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.
It is important that we remain anonymous because we are too few, at present to handle the overwhelming number of personal appeals which may result from this publication. Being mostly business or professional folk, we could not well carry on our occupations in such an event. We would like it understood that our alcoholic work is an avocation.
When writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead as “a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Very earnestly we ask the press also, to observe this request, for otherwise we shall be greatly handicapped.
We are not an organization in the conventional sense of the word. There are no fees or dues whatsoever. The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking. We are not allied with any particular faith, sect or denomination, nor do we oppose anyone. We simply wish to be helpful to those who are afflicted.
We shall be interested to hear from those who are getting results from this book, particularly from those who have commenced work with other alcoholics. We should like to be helpful to such cases.
Inquiry by scientific, medical, and religious societies will be welcomed.
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
Last edited by Karl R on Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:17 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Postby Paul N » Sun Aug 17, 2008 5:44 am

First, thanks Karl for doing this. Appreciate the desire & willingness ... helps me too remain willing.

We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic


Tells me that the book isn't only for alcoholics.

And besides, we are sure that our way of living has it's advantages for all.


The belief that the program of AA can benefit anyone who may choose to follow the spiritual suggestions ... alcoholic or not.
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Postby jak » Sun Aug 17, 2008 8:55 am

Anyone want to share a brief history of how AA arose from other groups and the religious controversies between the various groups if any?


AA has produced books tracking the history of Alcoholics Anonymous.
AA Comes Of Age, Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers, Pass It On. Bill W's wife Lois also wrote Lois Remembers which is available from Al-Anon.

I went to Pass It On last night seeking info about the use of the words Disease and Illness. Did not find info about that. But I learned that Bill W did put together the 2nd edition Big Book with the help of Nell Wing (secretary) and one other AA member.

Anyone want to comment on how this concept of anonymity has changed over time?


Dr. Bob helped expand our understanding of AA's anonymity. His stance on the issue can be found in Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers

There are a lot of answers about AA history in these books. I haven't found the text of these publications online however. If your group does not supply them for sale, the catalog can be aquired online at aa.org. We can't order books online yet but we can order a free catalog of AA literature.

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Postby avaneesh912 » Sun Aug 17, 2008 9:18 am

Also the KEY message to consume is the statement:

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.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Postby Karl R » Wed Jan 21, 2009 8:37 am

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.
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Postby Joe H » Wed Jan 21, 2009 2:07 pm

Thank you, Karl and those who have shared, for a very thought provoking topic. I am very grateful that I happened upon this site and can now truly enjoy a break in the day that strengthens my spiritual condition.

I would also like to share on the topic. Prior to doing so, I believe I must preface my remarks with the following. The following are not the thoughts and expertise of a Big Book scholar or expert. They are only a reflection of this sober alcoholic's experience over the years in trying to apply the principles of the 12 Steps in my life.

The 'We' in this forward referred to only one hundred men and women. A very small group but who claimed to be recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body. I note that they use the word recovered with an 'ed' not the words 'in recovery'. This indicates a promise that we can be recovered-not just in recovery.

I read the "we" and it tells me that here is the group consensus of a program that has been proven to work for many an alcoholic and it is their collective message to the still suffering alcoholic. At this point I have to ask myself if I am carrying the message of Alcoholics Anonymous or am I carrying my message. The answer becomes a very valuable tool to my own sobriety and how I carry the message to the still suffering alcoholic.
I can truthfully go and tell the new person that having followed the program suggested in the Big Book to the best of my ability that I am recovered for this day from the symptoms that would label me an alcoholic. I did not come-to today with thoughts of how and when I would get my next drink. Neither did I have the terrible headache, there was no washing machine agitator in my stomach, nor were my muscles tired, cold and aching. This was achieved by not taking a drink yesterday or the day before. However I am not guaranteed that I will not have them back tomorrow if I do not do something today. The Big Book tells me that there is to be a central fact in my day. "The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is miraculous." The "today" could have been very well omitted and the sentence and thought would have meaning. However it was not omitted and therefore I must remind myself that I only have this day to not take a drink. The Big Book also cautions and reminds me on page 85 that I am not healed. "We are not cured of alcoholism."


what it means when this foreward says 'We think this account of our experiences will help everyone to better understand the alcoholic.'?

I think the next line sums it up. Most people who are not alcoholic view this as a moral or a form of bad character. Over the ages people have come to know that the alcoholic is a threat both to himself and the community. A community's number one priority is to protect its members from threats both outside and inside the community. History's facts are on the side of the non-alcoholic. Therefore the burden of proof is on me to prove that I am no longer a threat to the community, that I am capable with a change in my life take on the responsibilities and action that make me a productive member of the community. Chapters 8, 9 & 10 help explain that I am no longer cursed by active alcoholism and what I am doing to stay that way. I am not responsible for having the disease but I am responsible for my recovery.

what was meant by 'And besides, we are sure that our way of living has it's advantages for all."?

I think this is a great reminder to spur me on in that quest for humility. There is nothing in the Big Book that is new or original. It is a collection of Truths, Beliefs and Morals that have been tested and accepted over the ages. I am reminded that not only is it unnatural for me today (as an alcoholic) to not take a drink, it is equally unnatural for me to practise the principles of the 12 Steps. And while the Founders took these ideas and formed them into a message that makes sense to me as an alcoholic, I am only doing what my brother does naturally through his Faith.

...how this concept of anonymity has changed over time?

I do not think it has been changed but rather expanded. Anonymity is two fold for me, it protects me from my ego inside and outside the rooms. I often explain to my pigeons to guard their anonymity and to not get a false sense of security from in the rooms. Yes, we all laugh and joke about past exploits but to those outside the rooms would be left aghast and appalled by the same stories. Inside the rooms anonymity reminds my ego that I leave all titles, degrees, social prominence and position at the door. In the rooms I am only Joe, an alcoholic. It also serves to remind me that not only am I not unique but that I am no better or no worse than anyone else in the room. I can not pontificate about knowing more because my bottom was much further below yours or say the same and crediting not going to your lower bottom. If you and I have not had a drink today then we are both members in good standing of Alcoholics Anonymous.

thanks for letting me share

joe, alcoholic
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Postby Jdpasino » Sat Aug 29, 2009 4:27 pm

Thank you Joe that was a lot of good information. I would like to talk to you if you are willing more about the debate of whether we can recover or not because i'm kind of confused about this whole thing.
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Postby avaneesh912 » Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:25 pm

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.

There was this person sitting running 12 and 12 this afternoon telling everyone he worked 1 step each year and made one of his amends 13th year into his sobriety. And he was addressing this one gentlemen who had 56 days in this program was sharing that he is on his 4th step, telling him to go slow on the steps....

This person and his wife sobered up somewhere in North East where they never seen a Big Book. And her wife shared she saw the 9th step promise being read in rooms of AA into his 8th year (after they moved down to GA) and she was inquiring where does one find this? And people pointed out that its in the Big Book. And that was the first time she ever saw the blue book....

That is the state of the fellowship today. The new comer who walks in gets mixed messages and no wonder our success rate is gone down the tube.

So people who sobered up using 12 and 12, 24 hour reading, living sober.....this for you:

There is a book called Alcoholics Anonymous that was written back in 1939 to show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered is the main purpose of this book.

And stories like Bills Story, He sold himself short.... illustrate that if you are desperate and want the obsession to be lifted, you probably can try what is suggested in the Big Book and live a cool life.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Postby samantha » Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:50 pm

I am a bit confused ... I thought a step study was starting at Step 1 and doing that, then going on to Step 2. What I am confused about is the difference between a Step Study and a Big Book Study. When I have been to BB meetings, the BB is read out and shared about. At Steps meetings, a Step is discussed each week.

Sorry for the confusion ...
Sam
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Postby avaneesh912 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 5:11 am

Big Book was geared to be 12 stepping in print. It gives the drunk an idea why we are powerless over alcohol by reading the forwards, doctors opinion, identifying with Bills Story and getting more about alcoholism and concluding that one is powerless over alcohol and to convince themselves that they need some power greater than themselves to overcome alcoholism.....

There is "A" solution talks about the solution.....

For agnostics and atheist we have the chapter We agnostics to get more clarification on step 2..

Then how it works.....3, 4

then into action (not thinking, not analyzing.....) steps 5,6 7,8 9 10 11

and then

working with others step 12.

People who sobered up using other literature will find it hard to adapt to facts found in the big book and will always take a stab at others.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
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Postby ann2 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 6:33 am

There's a really nice step study available online called "An Unofficial Guide to the Twelve Steps", written by A.A. Members in Texas, edited by Dr. Paul O., author of the "Acceptance Story" on page 449 of the third edition Big Book. It is a Big Book Study and it guides one through the 12 steps. That is what I have used as a basis for online sponsoring, as a way to get discussion going and to make sure we hit the vital areas of each chapter.

Ann
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Postby Jim 725 » Sat Sep 05, 2009 7:05 am

Just for informational purposes, Box 459 Holiday issue, 2005,2006, page 7, Reviewed a position paper on Big Book study guides. It can be found on the AA website.

http://www.aa.org/lang/en/en_pdfs/en_bo ... y05-06.pdf

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Postby Joe H » Sat Sep 05, 2009 7:33 am

Jdpasino wrote:Thank you Joe that was a lot of good information. I would like to talk to you if you are willing more about the debate of whether we can recover or not because i'm kind of confused about this whole thing.


I am sorry that I some how missed this post. By all means if I will try to help you if I can, just give me a PM with your question.
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Postby samantha » Sat Sep 05, 2009 8:26 am

Oh, I get it now :oops: :oops:
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