AA is a Cult, part 7

Dr. Bob (left) and Bill W. in Akron, 1949, via Orange Papers

Oxford Group member Bill Wilson met with fellow member Henrietta Seiblering and her friend Dr. Robert Smith in Akron, Ohio in 1935. Bill had been sober and part of the cult for five months. He’d not yet converted a single person to Buchmanism, nor helped anyone achieve sobriety, but that did not sway his confidence that he could. 

In his usual style of faux humble self-aggrandizing, Bill later described his decision not to spend the weekend binge drinking as a noble sacrifice for all the people (at that time zero people) who were counting on him for their own salvation. The only person Bill had responsibilities to was his wife Lois, but he was all too glad to shirk them. Yet, in third person perspective, he wrote:

“But what about his responsibilities – his family and the men who would die because they would not know how to get well, ah – yes, those other alcoholics?”

Big Book of AA, 3rd edition, William B. Wilson

In this mindset of inexplicable confidence, Bill W. met Dr. Bob. They chatted for a few hours in Henrietta’s home, and the disgraced town physician did not drink as they talked. This pleased Henrietta who invited Bill to stay through the summer as her guest, to keep the doctor distracted from drinking. The two of them worked on Dr. Bob for months (while Lois paid all the bills back home by working in a department store). 

By the end of summer 1935, Dr. Bob was sober and a Buchmanite. Henrietta was delighted. Bill W. and Dr. Bob were fervent members of the Oxford Group, attending meetings hosted by the same Rev. Tunks Bill had called from the lobby payphone at the Mayflower Hotel. It was one big Oxford Group and the two alcoholics were convinced, the Group was the only cure for alcoholism. 

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