RA offers hope, sanity, and recovery, especially to those who, despite their best efforts, have yet to find full recoveries, no matter what their problems or behaviors may be and their family and friends.
III Facts about the Big Book you might not know
xi) The design and purpose of the Big Book
The main purpose of the Big Book is to show others precisely how they can recover.

1. Welcome to R.A.'s Step Presentation.

2. During the course of this presentation, we will go through R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, page-by-page, sometimes sentence-by-sentence, so that we can understand and follow the pioneers' "clear-cut directions," and thus duplicate the recovery the pioneers found in our own lives.

3. Therefore, in R.A., we believe that it is important to understand who the pioneers are, why they wrote the Big Book, how they designed it, and what they say its main purpose is.

4. You may already know that Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith (the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous) met and recovered in a program that was open to anyone with any problem or behavior, combination of problems and behaviors, or even those without a problem who were just seeking a better life. That program's name was "The Oxford Group."

5. Bill and Dr. Bob took the program practiced by the Oxford Group, and through four years of experimentation, refined it to make it even more effective.

6. During their years of experimentation, they tried many things, some of which now seem silly. For example, Dr. Bob originally thought that each newcomer had to eat a mixture of Karo Syrup, tomatoes, and sauerkraut to get well.

7. However, this and other practices they later found were not essential to someone's recovery, were abandoned, and did not become part of what they did in common to produce their recovery. They describe this as their "common solution."

8. Starting in the fall of 1938, and finishing by the end of January 1939, the pioneers wrote a manuscript. It is now called the Multilith Copy of the Big Book.

9. However, the name they gave it was Alcoholic's Anonymous, with an incorrect apostrophe. The sub-title was "The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered from Alcoholism."

10. In other words, the pioneers describe themselves as the first hundred people who recovered.

11. They wrote the Multilith Copy of the Big Book to detail, discuss, and validate their "common solution."

12. To accomplish this, the pioneers designed the Multilith Copy of the Big Book to have three sections.

13. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 13 in the fifth paragraph, the pioneers describe the Big Book by saying that:

"There is a group of personal narratives. Then clear-cut directions are given showing how an alcoholic may recover. These are followed by more than a score of personal experiences."

14. While they changed the wording in the current Big Book, this quote lets us know that the three sections are the personal narratives, the clear-cut directions, and the personal experiences.

15. The first section, the personal narratives, consists of a group of personal stories. This includes "The Doctor's Opinion," "Bill's Story," and a number of smaller stories that are within the text of Chapters Two, Three, and Four. This section provides an overall view of the program.

16. The pioneers first used "Bill's Story," and "There is a Solution," as part of A.A.'s initial fund raising efforts. These chapters were used to give prospective contributors information about the program.

17. However, even though these chapters describe how Bill and others found the program, worked all Twelve Steps, and recovered, these chapters are not part of the pioneers' clear-cut directions for working the Twelve Steps.

18. It is in the second section, Chapters 3 through 11, that the pioneers give clear-cut directions showing how someone can recover.

19. These "clear-cut directions" for working the Twelve Steps begin with the discussion of Step One on page 14 in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book (page 30 in the Big Book). It continues through the discussion of Step Twelve, ending on page 76 in the Multilith (page 164 in the Big Book).

20. Finally, the third section in R.A.'s Multilith Big Book contains a group of stories that were originally designed to validate the pioneers’ clear-cut directions, and encourage newcomers to follow these directions.

21. They do this by relating how their problems and behaviors used to affect their lives, how they found and worked the program, and the results they received from working the program.

22. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 13 in the sixth paragraph, the pioneers describe the personal stories by saying:

"Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language and from his own point of view the way he found or rediscovered God. These give a fair cross section of our membership and a clear cut idea of what has actually happened in their lives."

23. In R.A., we believe that it is also important to understand the main purpose of the Big Book.

24. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, in the first paragraph of the Foreword, the pioneers say that:

"We, of Alcoholics Anonymous, are more than one hundred men and women who have recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW THEY CAN RECOVER is the main purpose of this book."

Please turn to Quick Quiz "A" in your Workbook, or print out the following section.

Please circle the correct answer to the questions below.

A. Who are the pioneers of the program?
  a) The engineers who discovered the "pion."
b) An organization like the Boy Scouts.
c) The men and women who settled the American west.
d) The first hundred people who recovered.sp
B. Why did the pioneers write the Big Book?
  a) They had nothing better to do.
b) Bill wanted to impress his English teacher.
c) Dr. Bob's wife nagged him.
d) To discuss, detail, and validate their "common solution."sp
C. How many sections did the pioneers design the Big Book to have?
  a) A group.
b) More than a score.
c) Four score and twenty.
d) Three.sp
D. What are these sections?
  a) The front, the middle, and the back.
b) The Doctors’ Opinion, Bill's Opinion, and Dr. Bob's Opinion.
c) The Forewords, the Mid-words, and the Back-words.
d) The personal narratives, the clear-cut directions, and the personal experiences.sp
E. What functions do the first two sections of the Big Book serve?
  a) To be ready source of paper cuts, and the paper to blot them.
b) To use as a paperweight, and to use as a bookend.
c) To carry around, and to read when nothing else is available.
d) To provide an overall view of the program, and to give the pioneers’ clear-cut directions showing how they recovered.sp
F. What was the original purpose of the pioneers' stories?
  a) To amuse us.
b) To entertain us.
c) To read about odd people, and the strange things they did.
d) To validate the pioneers' clear-cut directions, and encourage newcomers to follow these directions.sp
G. What is the main purpose of the Big Book?
  a) "To show us that THE BIG BOOK IS A STORYBOOK."
b) "To show us how to identify with the pioneers’ problems."
c) "To show other alcoholics precisely how [the pioneers] recovered."
d) "To show other alcoholics PRECISELY HOW THEY CAN RECOVER."

25. This last question is a trick question. The correct answer depends upon which Big Book you are reading. This is because of the changes made to the text of the Big Book. If you are reading A.A.'s Big Book, the correct answer is "c." If you are reading R.A.'s Big Book, the Multilith, the correct answer is "d," just as the correct answer to all the other questions is "d."


Please use R.A.'s Questions and Answers Forum to ask any questions or make any comments about any of this.

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