Practice These Principles
Living the Spiritual Disciplines and Virtues in 12-Step Recovery

Big Book Audios

                            Personal Stories: "The Vicious Cycle"

“How it broke a Southerner’s obstinacy and destined this salesman to start A.A. in Philadelphia.” This is the story of Jim B., the first atheist to join AA. In the 12&12 (pp. 143-145) he’s known as “Ed.” We read there how he was so vociferous and belligerent that the other AAs threatened to expel him. However, Jim pulled out a draft of the foreword to the Big Book, which was then under preparation, and read: “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” Do you really mean that or not? he asked point blank. That line would eventually become Tradition Three, where the story appears in the 12&12. Together with Hank P., Jim became a leader of the pro-psychology faction within AA in NY, pitting himself against his old school buddy from the South, Fitz M., who led the pro-religion group. Jim claims credit for the phrase “God as we understood Him” being added to Steps 3 and 11. For questions and answers about Jim’s story, please see on this site Big Book Q&A," Personal Stories: 4th Edition, “The Vicious Cycle,” p.219. For a photo of Jim, please click on his name's link.


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