20 August 2007

Home, sweet home

I love my home group. We had our monthly business or group conscience meeting tonight. I saw something I've never seen in any meeting before. There was a motion and a second to adjorn, but it was voted down. Instead, we spent some extra time reviewing one of the results of our last group inventory and, as a result, made some changes to our format.

Earlier we read from "There Is a Solution" in the Big Book, pp. 25 to the end of the chapter. Some thoughts on three short sections of what we read. First:
[I]f we had passed into the region from which there is no return through human aid, we had but two alternatives: One was to go on to the bitter end, blotting out the consciousness of our intolerable situation as best we could; and the other, to accept spiritual help (. 25).
Some alcoholics believe they were born so. Others believe they were alcoholics from their first drink. Early in my drinking, I believe I could have quit without much trouble, had I decided to. That would have been through human aid, namely, my own. By the end of my drinking, I believe I could not have quit without the intervention of my Higher Power. I had tried it on my own, without success. Therefore, at some point I must have crossed the line into the region referred to out of some other region.

Second:

Further on, clear-cut direction are given showing how we recovered. These are followed by forty-two personal experiences.

Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language and from his own point of view the way he established his relationship with God (p. 29).
If you had asked me in the beginning what the purpose of the personal stories in the back of the Big Book was, I'd have said, "To show how people have recovered." This is not incorrect. It's consistent with the purpose of the Big Book as stated in the foreword to the first edition (p. xiii in the fourth edition): "to show other alcoholics precisely how we have recovered " [emphasis in original]. But notice what is implied here on p. 29: that the purpose is to show how people have found God. And this is consistent with the explicitly stated as stated on p. 45: "to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem." I was many years sober before I really saw this statement.

Third:
A certain American business man had ability, good sense, and high character. For years he had floundered from one sanitarium to another. He had consulted with the best known American psychiatrists. Then he had gone to Europe, placing himself in the care of a celebrated physician (the psychiatrist, Dr. Jung) who prescribed for him....

Carl Gustaf Jung
This was Frederick Roland Hazard, president of the Solvay Process Company, known to A.A. historians as Roland Hazard (this link is where I derived much of the narrative that follows the next quotation).
Members of the Hazard family were among the first settlers of the State of Rhode Island. The family fortune derived largely from its textile manufacturing business at Peace Dale, but also from mining and railroad as well has chemical interests. Hazards have been known through generations for many contributions. Caroline Hazard, sister of Frederick R. Hazard, was a prolific author, artist, and president of Wellesley College, 1899-1910. Their grandfather, Rowland Gibson Hazard (1819-1888), was not merely a successful business man, but a philosophical writer who corresponded with John Stuart Mill and was a friend of William Ellery Channing, founder of Unitarianism. The family in Central New York was long active in May Memorial Unitarian Church, Syracuse, which linked many social activists. The family has been known especially for social concerns such as abolition of slavery, treatment of the insane and of alcoholics [!!! —Ed], as well for innovative employee programs.
After the incidents described in the Big Book, Rowland set out to find a spiritual solution. What he found was the Oxford Group. In 1934, Rowland was living in Vermont with two other members of the Oxford Group named Cebra Graves and Shep Cornell. Cebra's father was a judge who at the time had decided to sentence an alcoholic named Ebby Thacher to six months in a mental institution.

Bill Wilson and Ebby Thacher
Ebby, who also came from a prominent family, had been painting the family house. Having become excessively irritated by a flock of birds coming by to torment him, Ebby had gotten out his shotgun and started shooting at the birds. This had bothered the neighbors sufficiently that they had called the police, who had arrested him.

Rowland went to court and convinced the judge to release Ebby into his custody instead. As a direct result of Rowland's intervention, Ebby was living later that year in New York City at the Calvary Mission, run by Rev. Sam Shoemaker instead of being an involuntary guest of a mental institution in Vermont. He was thus able to carry the message of recovery to Bill W. and become Bill's sponsor. I guess this makes Rowland Bill's grand-sponsor. As I understand, Rowland remained in the Oxford Group and never joined A.A.

7 comments:

Recovering Wino said...

It is interesting about the connection between recovering and finding a Higher Power. I tried AA a few times before I got sober, but I could never "get it" until I made the HP connection.

johno said...

Hi thanks for stopping by my blog, and your wishes, am going to bed now, but i'll be back! hi and bye for now :)

Inmatez Wife said...

Hello, thanks for stopping by. I really enjoyed reading your blog. Many many great posts, too many to list. I will be coming back, definately

Pam said...

oh I always love a history buff!!!
great post.

JJ said...

OMG...you are blogging again...how cool is that.
oxoxo
JJ

Namenlosen Trinker said...

For Pam and any other history buffs, check out the A.A. History Lovers group on Yahoo.

Anonymous said...

While reading about the history of AA I found information that Cebra Graves of the Oxford Group and often referred to as the Son of Judge Collins Graves and/or the Nephew of same was actually the Daughter of Judge Collins Graves and that she sobered up in Paris some years later. Thanks, 10/09/80