In the past several issues of Waynedale News, “Here’s To Your Health,” has tracked the beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous, back to the study of Doctor Carl G. Jung in Zurich Switzerland where he diagnosed Rolland Hazard (American alcoholic) as having a “spiritual disease.” Although CGJ told Rolland that his alcoholism was, but a symptom of a greater malady (spiritual disease) and the solution was a complete psychic change (spiritual awakening), he (CGJ) did not know how to affect such an awakening. Rolland returned to New York City, and after learning the New York Oxford Group had discovered six principles practiced by first century Christians that could affect a spiritual awakening, he began attending their meetings. Rolland, took some Oxford Group members to his father’s farm in Vermont, practiced their six concepts, and had a “complete psychic change.” Soon after Rolland’s awakening he “passed it on,” to another chronic alcoholic named Ebby who was about to be sentenced to the Vermont State hospital for alcoholic insanity. After Ebby practiced the N.Y. Oxford Group’s principles with Roland, he too experienced an awakening and the two newly recovered alcoholics returned to the soup kitchen in Brooklyn NY to carry their message and newfound hope to other alcoholics.

Ebby “passed it on,” to Bill Wilson who was being treated for alcoholism at the Towne’s Hospital in Brooklyn NY and a very “bright light,” accompanied Bill’s awakening. After six months of failing to “pass it on,” Bill finally “passed it on,” to a Surgeon named Robert Holbrook Smith in Akron Ohio on June the 10th 1935, and the not yet named Alcoholics Anonymous fellowship was born. Bill and Bob “passed it on,” at the Akron Psychiatric ward to an alcoholic lawyer named Bill Dobson and by the end of 1935 the new fellowship had a total of five members. By the end of 1936, their membership grew to 15; 1937 about 40 members; 1938-approximately 100 members, and then after an article “Design For Living,” appeared in the Saturday Evening Post and other popular publications of that year their membership grew to about 400.

As the fellowship grew, the message was getting garbled so the fellowship appointed Bill Wilson to write his most famous book, “Alcoholic Anonymous.” Bill said, “After much prayer and meditation, I wrote chapter five in about thirty minutes and it seemed as though my pencil had acquired a mind of it’s own.” It was in chapter five that Bill re-wrote the Oxford Group’s six steps and changed them to twelve shorter ones and afterwards when he counted them, it occurred to him there was now 12 steps just as there had been 12 disciples, and to this date those 12 steps have remained unchanged.

The groups needed a name for their new book, and after much discussion they ended up with two possibilities, “The Way Out,” and “Alcoholics Anonymous,” but after searching the library of congress they discovered fourteen other books titled, “The Way Out,” and finally decided on “Alcoholics Anonymous,” with a big red dot behind it. The big red dot was dropped from later editions of “Alcoholics Anonymous,” and the groups also began calling themselves “Alcoholics Anonymous.” The first edition of Alcoholics Anonymous appeared in April 1939 with 300,000 copies. The second edition was published in 1955 and another 1,150,500 copies went into circulation. The third edition came off press in 1976 with 11,698,000 copies and its’ fourth edition went into circulation in 2001 and its’ circulation and sales are still rapidly growing. To be continued in the Waynedale News.

The Waynedale News Staff
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John Barleycorn

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