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Posted April 29, 2008
So many in A.A. and elsewhere lambaste Bill Wilson for his spiritualism, womanizing, drug use, and other diversions. But this book goes back to Bill's youth, his grandfather's conversion and cure, Bill's own conversion to Christ at Calvary Mission, and shows how and why Bill Wilson truly came to believe that the solution for the alcoholic was conversion to Christ. This no matter what he later wrote. A documented story of his experiences.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 13, 2006
Through the years that I have been reading Dick B.'s A.A. history books, I have come to know the Akron A.A. founding crowd as friends and inspirations. I've also seen the importance that the Bible played in the whole A.A. picture--particularly the Book of James, the Sermon on the Mount, and 1 Corinthians 13. I was able to see the teachings of Rev. Sam Shoemaker and the life-changing program of the Oxford Group as the major sources for Bill Wilson's Big Book and Twelve Step language despite the Oxford Group disclaimers by so many AAs. But having gotten acquainted with the Akron Christians and the New York Christian clergy who played such a heavy role in A.A., I felt I knew the beliefs of Dr. Bob, his wife Anne, Henrietta Seiberling, T. Henry and Clarace Williams, Sam Shoemaker, Frank Buchman, Carl Jung, and William James. But I saw a whirlpool of confusion about what Bill Wilson really believed. Was he a Christian? Did he ever look at a Bible before he came to Akron? Did he embrace the things that Rev.Sam Shoemaker taught him? Did he even believe in God or in the acceptance of Jesus Christ as the way to a relationship with God? If you read most historians and biographies, you'd be apt to chime in with the idea that Bill was an atheist or an agnostic or 'spiritual but not religious' or wedded to some wierd 'higher power' that came from the New Thought Movement. And evidently historian Dick B. had waited even longer than I for an in depth look at the facts. Because the facts have been ignored or distorted. This new title--The Conversion of Bill W.--is a gem among gems. It leaves no stone unturned in the quest for Bill's real background and beliefs. It leaves the reader astonished at the news that Bill's grandfather Willie had a conversion much like that of Bill's in Towns Hospital, except that it happened years earlier and spelled salvation and freedom from drink for Willie. The door is opened to the little village of East Dorset, Vermont--to the founding membership in its East Congregational Church by the Wilsons and the sustaining membersip by Wilson's grandfather Fayette Griffith and Bill's mother. Was there Bible study? Yes. Was there church attendance? Yes. Did Bill attend Sunday school there? Yes. Did Bill himself study the Bible? Yes. Did Bill ever attend temperance and revival meetings such as those grandpa Willie had frequented? Yes. Did Bill then attend daily chapel at Burr and Burton Seminary in his years there? Yes. Were his first girl friend and later his wife the daughters of ministers? Yes. Did Bill have at least FIVE of what he called spiritual experiences in his life? Yes. Did Dr. William Silkworth tell Bill that he could be healed by Jesus Christ? Yes. Did Ebby Thacher tell Bill that he had been healed at the altar of Sam Shoemaker's Rescue Mission? Yes. Did Bill then go to the Mission and make a decision for Christ there? Yes. Did Bill soon proclaim that he had been born again? Yes. Did Bill call on the Great Physician for help at Towns Hospital? Yes. Did Bill state that after his hot flash experience there he never again doubted the existence of God? Yes. Did Bill's wife Lois and his doctor Silkworth conclude with Bill that he had been converted and had a conversion experience? Yes. And yet all these points involve the Bill Wilson whose beliefs and actions were unknown for years and which occurred before A.A. was a twinkle in Bill's eye. I like the thorough work in this book. I like the fact that it will shake many people into doing their own research and fact-finding instead of repeating undocumented statements about what A.A.'s founders were, what they believed, and what the early program was really like. This new biography is a treat you will enjoy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.