Big Book Step - Varieties of Religious Experiences

By: Big Book Step Study  09-12-2011

In its chapter, “We Agnostics,” the Big Book outlines its attitude toward spiritual and religious matters. In doing so, the Big Book also presents a method by which readers can investigate theological questions for themselves. By exploring this method, we should be able to answer some questions about the nature of the Big Book’s ideas about God. Some help can be provided by William James, whose philosophical method is remarkably similar to the theological method of Alcoholics Anonymous.

When Bill Wilson made his last visit to to Towns Hospital for the treatment of Alcoholism, either Ebby T. or Rowland H. brought him a copy of The Varieties of Religious Experiences by William James. Bill immediately identified his own Spiritual Experience with a James description. James and Varieties are mentioned twice in The Big Book, In the chapter titled There is a Solution on page 28, and in the appendix describing "Spiritual Experience" as AA understood it. Wilson frequently mentioned the book in his speeches, and it was on the recommended reading list of many early AA groups.

This is a condensed version of the book, its 16,200 words and can be read in about an hour and a half. The entire James book is 190,000 words.

The Varieties of Religious Experience - A Study in Human Nature

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