+ Last updated:
May 29, 2009
By Dick B.
A.A. Conference Approved Myths
Good Start on and Old Subject
begin with the following much-needed article from “Pete’s Stuff.” It
incorporates the long-ignored Box 459 article that GSO has told at least
one seeker that it couldn't find the material. If you want to see an
excellent and much longer discussion of this subject, go to the
Hindsfoot Foundation site where Professor Glenn Chesnut lays all of this
“Conference Approved” problem in terms of its real importance.
I receive questions about this all the time; and people at conferences,
Central Offices, and meetings are confronted with the "conference
approved" nonsense with great frequency. Any AA can read anything any
time anywhere for any purpose inside or outside of A.A. And that
includes comic books and computer manuals. There is no Tradition that
says otherwise. There is no Tradition that can or should or will censor
or "censure" what is presented at a meeting, whether in discussion or by
reading or by literature on a table. And if someone thinks he’s found
the mythical tradition, tell him the fact and then tell him the
Traditions are not laws, are not binding on anyone, and were never
intended to prohibit free speech or freedom of religion by AAs or
others. That includes what we read, what we hear, what we say, what we
study, and what we pass along to others. Those who suggest otherwise
just don't know A.A. Nor do they seem to know that early Alcoholics
Anonymous was a Christian Fellowship, studied the King James Version of
the Bible, read all kinds of literature--Protestant, Roman Catholic, New
Thought, medical, and otherwise, and put out reams and reams of
pamphlets and guides as the years went by. The pamphlets included those
from many Central Offices and Intergroups--including the long-running
Cleveland Central Bulletin, the four Akron AA pamphlets, and the Four
Absolutes booklet available even today. You’ll find that many of these
materials, including a host of recovery materials from Hazelden and
elsewhere are sold by A.A. offices.
Then there were materials published by the following writers both
mentioned and not mentioned – Sister Ignatia, Marty Mann, Clarence
Snyder, Father Ralph Pfau [Father John Doe] widely distributed in the
Midwest today, Richmond Walker and his offshoot books like the
Twenty-Four Hour book, Ed Webster, the “Detroit Pamphlet,” and
on-and-on. Not to forget over 500 Oxford Group and Sam Shoemaker books
and pamphlets that were read and circulated by Dr. Bob himself. Nor
should we forget that the most ignored and suppressed writing of all -
Anne Smith's Journal - contained the heart of early A.A. and was
discussed almost every morning at the Smith home Quiet Times.
Were there others? Oh yes. On tables at T. Henry’s. In meetings at the
Smith Home. At Oxford Group meetings in New York. And then the host of
books of all varieties circulated by Dr. Bob – The Upper Room, My Utmost
for His Highest, Emmet Fox, James Allen, Glenn Clark, E. Stanley Jones,
The Runner’s Bible, The Greatest Thing in the World; Varieties of
Religious Experience; New Thought writers, and on and on and on.
Including, of course, the Bible—which they called the Good Book. See
Dick B., The Good Book and The Big Book, 2d ed. Early AAs weren’t afraid
of literature. They devoured it! And they achieved cures. See Dick B.,
Dr. Bob and His Library, 3rd. ed.; Anne Smith’s Journal, 3rd ed.; The
Books Early AAs Read for Spiritual Growth, 7th ed; The Oxford Group and
Alcoholics Anonymous, 2d ed; New Light on Alcoholism, 2d ed; That
Amazing Grace; Henrietta Seiberlng: Ohio’s Lady with a Cause; The Akron
Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous. And DR. BOB and the Good Oldtimers.
Take off the shackles, and use your mind! Better still, see what someone
else has had to say about nuclear physics, aviation, automatic weapons,
popular mechanics, horticulture, accounting, culinary art, computers,
the internet, American history, religious history, and comparative
religion. Particularly, see what the Creator had to say through what He
revealed in His Word. Our basic ideas came from there.
My recent title Making Known the Biblical History and Roots of
Alcoholics Anonymous specifically identifies hundreds and hundreds of
writings that have contributed to the origins, history, founding,
principles, and practices of A.A. in just the few years it has been in
existence: http://www.dickb.com/makingknown.shtml. The Griffith Library
at The Wilson House is filled with these books. So is the Annex next to
Dr. Bob’s Home. So is the library at Stepping Stones. So is the
traveling archives archivist Ray G. takes all over the United States to
conferences for public viewing. Conference Approved? Not that I know of!
Bless, Dick B.
now from the great piece found at Pete’s Stuff::
What “Conference Approved” Literature Means
literature that pertains to the principles of AA or is approved by a
Group Conscience - is perfectly acceptable to be read by any AA member
or in an AA meeting.
You hear it in meetings, “…we have AA Approved Literature available for
sale at cost…”
You hear it in group conscience meetings “…we should only allow readings
from AA Approved Literature…”
You hear non-group members crosstalking in a meeting when someone reads
from Richmond Walkers’ 24 Hours a Day, Emmet Fox’s Sermon On The Mount,
or one of Ralph Pfau’s Golden Books –“You can’t read that in an AA
meeting – it’s NOT AA Approved Literature…”
Factually, unlike Alanon, there is no such thing as AA Approved
Literature. The early AA’s read from the Bible, the Upper Room, Oswald
Chambers, Cecil Rose, Leslie Weatherhead, Sam Shoemaker, Emmet Fox,
Richmond Walker, Ralph Pfau and many others – a simple visit to
Dickb.com will bear this out. As Dick B. aptly points out “Whatever some
may think, A.A. has no index of forbidden books.”
In the 1950’s AA World Services took over WORKS publishing’s rights to
publish the Big Book and began publishing other books as well. In the
course of the next 40 years AAWS began to publish more books but
eventually lost the copyright on the first two editions of the Big Book.
Until 1993 books which were owned and printed by AAWS were identified by
the use of a Circle/Triangle Symbol bearing the three legacies.
On May 21, 1993 , an AA World Service Ad Hoc committee released an
unsigned document titled: "Follow-up Statement Regarding Use of the
Circle/ Triangle Symbol." In it, AAWS stated that "Alcoholics Anonymous
will phase out the 'official' use of the circle and triangle symbol in
and on its literature, letterheads and other material." That document
was issued without a conference action or a "group conscience".
The term “Conference Approved” literature now replaces the
Circle/Triangle Logo to merely “identify” (AAGV Vol. 50-7 1993) the
books solely owned and published by AAWS and not as a predetermined
list. The most definitive illustration of this is that the public domain
first edition of the Big Book is NOT “Conference Approved”. “Conference
Approved” in no way constitutes a list of any written documents of which
an AA body approves or disapproves. (Please see the ad hoc committee
Final Report of the 1993 General Service Conference)
A formal statement concerning the Conference, the G.S.O, and what AA
members read was issued by the General Services Office of AA in 1978.
“WHAT CONFERENCED-APPROVED MEANS”
(Volume 23, No 4)
Service Office said:
mean the Conference disapproves of any other
publications. Many local A.A.
central offices publish their own meeting
lists. A.A. as a whole does
oppose these, any more than A.A. disapproves
of the Bible or any other publications from
any source that A.A.’s find useful.
What any A.A. member reads is no business of
G.S.O., or of the Conference,
can obtain the Dick B. titles at the AA-bookstore: