Today’s idea: The original text of the founding document of Alcoholics Anonymous was edited to downplay or cut references to God and Christianity and make the organization more inclusive.
Religion | In The Washington Post, Michelle Boorstein writes that the original manuscript of the so-called Big Book, by Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, is becoming public for the first time this week, in book form. While undoubtedly spiritual, the manuscript includes edits that reveal a profound debate 75 years ago about how overtly to talk about God:
The group’s decision to use “higher power” and “God of your understanding” instead of “God” or “Jesus Christ” and to adopt a more inclusive tone was enormously important in making the deeply spiritual text accessible to the non-religious and non-Christian, A.A. historians and treatment experts say.
The editors softened Step 7 of A.A.’s renowned 12 Steps for example, by deleting a phrase that evoked church worship. “Humbly, on our knees, asked Him to remove our shortcomings – holding nothing back,” became “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
In the first chapter, a sentence that read “God has to work twenty-four hours a day in and through us, or we perish,” was edited to replace “God” with “faith,” and a question was added: “Who are we to say what God has to do?”
“If it had been a Christian-based book, a religious book, it wouldn’t have succeeded as it has,” says an executive of the publisher of the new manuscript edition. [The Washington Post]