I am currently reading Nell Wing’s book ‘Grateful to Have Been There; My 42 Years with Bill and Lois and the Evolution of Alcoholics Anonymous’. This is a revealing personality insight into Bill W.
In a recent article I related what Nell said about Bill W. on Humility.
Another passage that caught my attention is;
‘I think Bill was essentially nonreligious – which may seem paradoxical, because he was deeply spiritual. His whole life was changed by a profound religious experience. The Oxford Group, which was responsible for his early sobriety, was regarded as a religious movement, though their concept of a Higher Power left a lot of latitude for personal interpretation. I have already mentioned Bill’s affection for and reliance on his ‘spiritual sponsor,’ Father Ed Dowling. About the time I came to the [AA] office, he was taking instruction in the Roman Catholic faith regularly …. (He never did convert to Catholicism: Lois told me he really hadn’t intended to.) And he was pleased when disillusioned and disbelieving alcoholics, as a result of recovering in AA, returned to active church affiliation. Yet for all this deep interest in varieties of spiritual beliefs, Bill was not a churchgoer and all his life avoided joining any particular denomination. I well remember, during our reviewing a draft of AA Comes of Age, he suddenly decided to add the following explanation as a foot-note to page 232 to clarify his feeling that AA need not and should not endorse any particular religious faith or denomination. He wrote:
Dr. Bob held certain religious convictions, and so do I … Nothing, however, could be so unfortunate for AA’s future as an attempt to incorporate any of our personal theological views into AA teaching, practice or tradition.
That was probably part of his motive, but from lots of our talks, I believe it was deeper than that. He was open to all spiritual thinking and did not want to confine himself to one interpretation or one creed. His outlook was probably affected by reading This Believing World, by Lewis Browne, which was popular with many AA’s …. As Bill expressed it once to me , he “shopped the pie counter” of religion and philosophy.’