Big Book Q&A Update: Personal Stories
This update is on stories from the book Experience, Strength and Hope, a collection of stories not published in the current, 4th edition of the Big Book. Update includes “The Back Slider,” A Different Slant,” “A Businessman’s Recovery,” and “A Feminine Victory,” the Q&A’s for which are reproduced below.
A Feminine Victory
1. L1: Why “the rather doubtful distinction?” – There was a greater stigma attached to women alcoholics at the time
2. L2-3: The author of this story refers to herself as “the only lady in our particular section.” Who was she? – Florence Rankin
3. Why “the only lady” – There were hardly any women in AA when she wrote her story
4. How many women had been around AA at the time? – Four
5. Who were they? – A woman known as “Lil” in Akron, Florence Rankin, Mary Campbell, and Marty Mann
6. Who had the longest time sober? – Florence, who after a few slips managed to put together a year at the time of writing
7. Marty M. is credited with being the first woman to achieve long-term sobriety in AA. Why is this? – Florence committed suicide not long after her story was published, and Mary Campbell had a relapse in 1944, though she stopped drinking again and remained sober until her death in the 1990’s
8. Florence affected how the Big Book would eventually be named. How? – One of the most popular names was “One Hundred Men,” and it had to be discarded when she showed up
9. How does the stigma of being a female drunk affect Florence’s telling of her story? – She stresses her condition being “disgraceful,” and a “humiliation,” feeling “ashamed” and wanting “to hide.”
10. Cross-reference: “Women Suffer Too,” Marty M.’s story, above, P.200 #1[Also reference to 100 men]
1. L25: “I was in the alcoholic ward of a public hospital!” – What hospital was this? – Bellevue Hospital in NYC, not far from the Oxford Group Mission where Ebby T. and Bill W. got sober
2. L26: “It was there that L___
came to me.” Who was “L”? – Louise Wilson
3. LL30-31: “There her husband told me the secret of his rebirth.” – Who was this? – Bill W.
4. Why “rebirth”? – Bill saw the spiritual experience that led to his recovery as a spiritual rebirth.
5. Where in the Big Book does is this connection between spiritual experience or awakening and spiritual rebirth made explicit? – In How It Works, p. 63: “We were reborn,” mentioned as one of the promises of Step 3.
6. Why do some AAs object to this expression? – Because of its religious association with being “born again”
1. LL12-13: “So I forsook Spirit in favor of “spirits.” There’s an allusion here to a famous expression that is key to the history and the program of AA. What is it? – “Spiritus contra spiritum”
2. Who is it attributed to? – Dr. Carl Jung
3. Where do we read about it? –In Dr. Jung’s response to Bill’s letter, where Bill tells the doctor how his advice to Rowland H. to seek spiritual help has inspired the idea of a movement to help alcoholics
4. Where in the Big Book do we read about Rowland’s experience with Jung? – In the chapter “There’s a Solution,” pp. 26-27
5. What does the expression mean? – Literally, “Spirit against spirits”
6. What’s the connection to alcoholism? – Explains Jung: “You see, ‘alcohol’ in Latin is ‘spiritus’ and you use the same word for the highest religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison. The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum.”
7. LL33-34: “I got the Bible and “Victorious Living’.” – What is the second reference to? – A devotional book popular in Akron AA, read by Dr. Bob and his wife Anne. Its title may have inspired the title of Florence’s story
8. Cross-references for Jung: Correspondence with Bill: The Language of the Heart, pp. 276-281. Other: Foreword to Second Edition, The Doctor’s Opinion, P XXIX, LL7-9; Chapter 2: There Is a Solution, P26, L3; Personal Stories, “Me an Alcoholic?” P386, LL8-9. Bill-Jung correspondence may also be read at [link]
1. L23: “I was taken back to B’s home.” Who was B? – Bill W.
2. Where was his home? – At 182 Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights, NYC
The above are excerpts from Big Book Q&A update posted 09/29/16 at http://practicetheseprinciplesthebook.com/
. For full post, please click on link and see "Big Book Q&A,” where text of updated entries are in red. For photos of some authors, see album "Big Book Stories and Their Authors" on this Facebook page.