(1) The spirit
besides sharing all they had with us, Bob and Mag were expansively cheerful (12)
I recall with deep gratitude how often her wise advice and her good humor and patience helped to settle the endless squabbles about the book’s content.
Brand new AAs, sober only a month or even a week, had to sponsor alcoholics still drying up in the hospitals.
In AA, we see an unusual number of social and psychological forces working together on the alcoholic problem. Yet fully allowing for this new advantage, we still cannot explain the speed of the results. AA does in weeks or months what should take years. Not only does drinking stop abruptly, but great changes in the alcoholic’s motivation follow in a few weeks or months.
(3) Effective recovery
The Cleveland pioneers had proved three essential things: the value of personal sponsorship; the worth of the AA book in indoctrinating newcomers, and finally the tremendous fact that AA, when the word really got around, could now soundly grow to great size.
(4) The organisation of public information work
It was the opinion of the meeting that oversimplification, which might lead us to muff our Twelve Step work, area-wide and world-wide, could not be called either really simple or really spiritual.
When they saw the Convention’s pressroom, many visitors realised for the first time that good communications, within and without, were the actual arteries in which AA’s life-giving blood circulates among us and thence out to brother and sister sufferers everywhere. Something more than slow word-of-mouth message-carrying obviously has been required. ... Years ago we found that accurate and effective publicity about AA simply does not manufacture itself. Our overall public relations couldn’t be left entirely to chance encounters between reporters and AA members who might or might not be well informed about our fellowship as a whole.
(5) The role of religion
It was from [the Episcopal clergyman Sam Shoemaker] that Dr Bob and I in the beginning had absorbed most of the principles that were afterward embodied in the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, Steps that express the heart of AA’s way of life. Dr Silkworth gave us the needed knowledge of our illness, but Sam Shoemaker had given us the concrete knowledge of what we could do about it. ... The basic principles which the Oxford Groupers had taught were ancient and universal ones, the common property of mankind. ... the important thing is this: the early AA got its ideas of self-examination, acknowledgement of character defects, restitution for harm done, and working with others straight from the Oxford Groups and directly from Sam Shoemaker, their former leader in America, and from nowhere else. [My emphasis]
... most of AA’s spiritual principles had come to us through clergyman. Without clergymen, AA could never have started in the first place. While I had been nursing my grudges against religion, Father Ed and Dr Sam [who both spoke at St Louis before the assembled alcoholics] had been going all out for us. This was a brand-new revelation. Suddenly I realised that it was high time I began to love them, even as they had loved me and the rest of my kind.
(6) Who is in charge?
[Bill W.] No more would I act for, decide for, or protect Alcoholics Anonymous. I saw that well-meaning parents who cling to their authority and overstay their time can do much damage. We old-timers must never do this to the AA family. When in the future they might ask us, we would gladly help them in the pinches. But that would be all. This new relationship was indeed the central meaning of what had just taken place. ... Clearly my job henceforth was to let go and let God. Alcoholics Anonymous was at last safe—even from me.