Rich Dubiel Meets Glenn C.

Rich Dubiel

Editor’s Note: Today we present the second installation in our roundtable series celebrating the work of AA Historian Glenn C. Richard Dubiel, formerly Professor of Communications at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, was an early beneficiary of Glenn’s work with Hindsfoot Press, which published his insightful “Sober Sleuths: Lawrence Block and James Lee Burke” in 1999. Here he describes the journey– undertaken with Glenn’s help– towards his important history The Road to Fellowship: The Role of the Emmanuel Movement and the Jacoby Club in the Development of Alcoholics Anonymous (iUniverse, 2004).

To talk about my relationship with Glenn C. requires some exposition that will appear a bit egocentric. But, truth be told, it was my book, or rather a tattered manuscript back then, that brought me to the Hindsfoot Foundation and, of course, Glenn.

The book, , wasn’t really my idea either. At one time, like when I was nine or ten, I wanted to be a pal with Roy Rogers, maybe Gene Autry. I was torn. But I wound up being an associate professor of communication, pursuing the books and files of the Pittman Archives in Center City, Minnesota. That of course is Hazelden. I was honored as the first academic researcher to use the archives (July-August 1995) courtesy of a development grant from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

I was in search of a topic for a monograph, or at least a couple of academic articles. I knew about alcoholism and Hazelden. I’ll leave it at that. Moments of grace do happen.

The first just such moment occurred when I met Bill Pittman in the archives. We chatted informally. He asked me if I would be interested in working in an area that could surely lead to a book. A book? You betcha. I was soon back in my department in a meeting with my colleagues, hoping that my sabbatical could take place during the summer of 1997. In the meantime I began my research on the influences on the early AA thinkers. Bill sent me a couple of boxes of books to get me started. Guided by Ernie Kurtz’s Not-God, I read in and around the history of AA, discovering new names.

During the summer of 1996 I made a trip to Boston, funded by the Hazelden Foundation. Most of work was done in the Massachusetts Historical Society and the Episcopal Church Archives, Diocese of Boston. The experience, especially in the Mass Historical Society, was one of hushed silence, wearing white linen gloves when handling papers, and organizing material that was being photocopied. I mailed a complete manuscript to Bill Pittman on August 15, 1997. Now a different type of task unfolded, one that would require the encouragement, friendship, expertise and professional know-how of Glenn.

The manuscript sat until spring 1998 when Bill Pittman informed me that new material on Rowland Hazard III at the Rhode Island Historical Society would make a valuable and relevant addition to the book. I spent a week that summer gathering and organizing material, and in the fall mailed the new chapter on Rowland Hazard to Hazelden.

No word regarding the fate of the manuscript. A sense doom closes in. I expressed my concern to a few prominent AA scholars. None less than Ernest Kurtz advised me to develop some options. Hazelden’s support was instrumental in the eventual creation of the actual book; I am grateful to them and certainly to Bill Pittman. (Hazelden currently has my research notes and photocopied archival material in their archives. I am likewise grateful for this.) To this day I am not sure what happened their; perhaps a change in management philosophy?

This was a dark period. My manuscript was read by a university press, and received a positive evaluation but one that concluded with “sorry.” It was understandable given the then (and now) publishing environment. My book was certainly specialized and wasn’t going to generate the revenue that university presses needed. I figured I could simply post the manuscript in cyberspace and that would be that, perhaps as a link on my university webpage. I more or less lost interest.

During this period I began work on an AA-related paper: “Sober Sleuths…”, comparing the crime fiction detective heroes of Lawrence Block and James Lee Burke. Things looked bleak except that Bill White and Ernie Kurtz were in my corner and wanted to see my book published. They paved the way for me to seek a solution to the problem: The Hindsfoot Foundation, and, of course, Glenn C.

I got in touch with Glenn and during 2003 letters, papers, computer discs and the like flew back and forth. Glenn received my material and I thought it was all but done. Not so. There was all the permission business, an index, and the need for some
punching up here and there. Plus, I admit to being a person who needs a push now and then. Glenn’s sincere interest and drive kept me going. But, truthfully, it was he who did most of the driving and reading and rewriting, additions and deletions, that needed to be done.

dubiel cover

The Long & Winding “Road”

Even the earliest emails from Glenn, say March 2003, were filled with an interest in my work, not only this book, and my thoughts on AA. Over the distance, via the internet, I had made a colleague and true friend. Though we had never met, not spoken to each other, we developed a true scholarly camaraderie, dare I say a kinship. The production of The Road to Fellowship moved quickly. I was guided through all the legal and technical consideration by Glenn, who sensed my own fatigue and was a forgiving mentor. The publication date was 2004.

After that, I was reading in other areas of Christian theology and would occasionally have a question. One example was my puzzlement with various interpretations of atonement. A more prosaic person might have thrown a few references at me, perhaps a comment or two, and have sent me on my way. But not Glenn. I still have pages of his downloaded emails, explaining not only atonement but any other idea or thought that I was having. He knew of my dissertation on Paul Tillich and the graduate work I had done at Drew University as part of my Ph.D. program at Purdue. Perhaps those two factors linked us and provided the basis for our scholarly friendship. And it has continued. That continuation exists in that his The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program… and God and Spirituality: Philosophical Essays sit on my nightstand. My scholarly and spiritual journey continues as a gift of my Higher Power, but it has been in no small way guided by this truly magnanimous man. I am grateful to have had the help and friendship of Glenn.

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms
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AA History as Opposed to AA Myth

The first in our series of testimonials to the work of AA Historian Glenn C. comes from Art. S., who came into AA in the mid-1980s. A voracious reader of AA literature from his earliest days in the fellowship, he became an AA historian in 2001, when he took up the position of Archivist for his home group in North Texas.  In this role, his background in the tech industry and skill with data analysis were formative. Working in dialogue with Glenn C. as he began Hindsfoot Press and founded the AA History Lovers listserv, Art has made major empirical contributions to the national history of AA as represented on the Internet, helping to quash myths and rumors about the fellowship’s origins and growth. His magisterial “Narrative Timeline of AA History” is a sterling example of the ways in which digital publication has brought powerful tools for analysis and publication to people outside of the academy.– Trysh Travis

My testimonial to Glenn is primarily devoted to digital material he authored and the use of the web for the propagation of AA history as opposed to myth. He is a prolific author and quite skilled in digital archiving.

I was introduced to Glenn through “digital channels” around fifteen years ago. It occurred through the web-based AA history special interest group “AAHistoryBuffs” which later became “AAHistoryLovers.” Nancy Olson, an accomplished historian, and close friend of Glenn, started both special interest groups. Glenn was one of the premier historians who actively participated, along with Ernie Kurtz and William White. Glenn’s solid academic standards, and clarity in writing, provided a wonderful example to emulate.

I corresponded mainly through email with both Nancy and Glenn who inherited responsibility for managing AAHistoryLovers when Nancy became ill and passed away in 2005. Glenn has composed a wonderful history of AAHistoryLovers and a touching memorial to Nancy O. He recently has withdrawn from moderating AAHistoryLovers but over the years has provided a legacy example of academic discipline regarding the material posted and the type of commentary deemed appropriate.

Glenn  also administers a first rate digital repository at Hindsfoot.org. It is a rich collection of historical religious and spiritual writings together with biographical material on many historical names in AA history, such as Richmond Walker, Rev Ralph Pfau and Father Edward Dowling. Many of his published works are noted and explained on the website together with a rich assortment of AA history and memorabilia images and documents.

I enjoyed a wonderful research experience with Glenn collaborating, via email, with him in Indiana and Tom E. in New York. It resulted in an academically disciplined paper addressing AA recovery outcome rates and the myths and errors circulating at the time that AA has only achieved a 5% to 10% success rate. The latest version was released in 2008.

I first personally met Glenn at the 2010 AA International Convention in San Antonio. Subsequently, the opportunity to spend more personal time with him occurred over the course of three “long weekend” AA History Symposium events held at the Mago Retreat Center in Sedona AR in 2015, 2016 and 2017. A friendship flourished that I treasure highly today.

AA History Symposium, Sedona Mago 2016

As a prolific author of books and articles focused on religion, spirituality and AA History writings, Glenn is both diverse in subject matter and quite generous with the distribution of complimentary copies of many of his works in digital form. His latest contemporary works on Father Dowling, the history of black AA members and groups, plus an exposition on how the earliest AA meeting were conducted, provide a rich source of material that can be found nowhere else.

In my judgement Glenn is one of the top AA historians today.

 

 

Happy (AA Historical) New Year: Roundtable on the Work of Glenn C.

Glenn C., 2016

With a nod to everyone who’s decided to abstain from alcohol in the new year, Points is kicking off 2018 with a tribute to one of Alcoholics Anonymous’s most talented historians, Glenn C., founder of the Hindsfoot Press (1993) and long-time moderator of the AA History Lovers listserv (fd. 2002). I first “met” Glenn through the listserv while working on my book about the history of 12-step recovery in the early 2000s.  In what was at that time a veritable wild west of self-published print and online AA discourse, it was invaluable to have someone like Glenn as a guide: a professor of History with a PhD from Oxford as well as a Divinity degree, with a long history of publishing about AA (and moderating AA history disputes!). His mentoring was unfailingly graceful and insightful.

Nearly twenty years later, I had the honor of presenting with him at the Sedona Mago AA History Symposium in the spring of 2017. Nearly every speaker at Sedona noted their personal debt to Glenn as well as to the intellectual community of the History Lovers listserv and to the invaluable resources made available by Hindsfoot. The moment seemed right to make that sense of gratitude public. Over the next few Thursdays, Points will present commentaries on Glenn’s work and influence from AA Historians Art S., Richard Dubiel, Bill White, and Jackie B. Glenn will then comment on their comments, and after that, who knows what will happen.

In Memoriam: Ernie Kurtz, 1935-2015

All serious historians of alcohol and drugs will be saddened to hear of the passing, last week, of Ernest (“Ernie”) Kurtz, the first and foremost historian of Alcoholics Anonymous. Kurtz’s commanding Not-God: a History of Alcoholics Anonymous was published in 1979 by Hazelden.  Though Ernie often talked about how AA history in the decades since Not-God appeared had outstripped its claims, and in fact called from the pages of Points for a revised and updated history of AA, his book remains the definitive word on the fellowship’s founding and early growth.

Hazelden, 1979

Hazelden, 1979

Kurtz wrote Not-God as his dissertation; he earned a Phd in the American Civilization program at Harvard University (a fact that I don’t hold against him, even though I attended a different and really much better American Studies program down the road). The volume’s power arises from his ability to situate its founders and their fledgling organization within the context of American religious and cultural history.  Like two other compelling historians of AA,  Damien McElrath and Glenn Chesnutt, Kurtz was positioned well to inquire into the program’s spiritual foundations: after earning a BA in philosophy from St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester, New York, he entered the priesthood and served as a parish priest from 1961 to 1966.  I’ll leave it to better Catholics than myself to sort out whether it was Ernie’s seminary training or his departure from the church in the late 1970s that gave him such penetrating insight into the ways AA manifested what he came to call “the spirituality of imperfection.” Continue reading →

Being Outed

Editor’s Note:   Readers will recognized “Matthew J. Raphael” as the pen name of well-known literary scholar who authored the outstanding biography Bill W. and Mr. Wilson; he recently reviewed the documentary Bill W. for Points.  Here he muses on the poor fit between academic values, Amazon.com, and AA’s 11th Tradition.

U. Mass Press, 2000

When Bill W. and Mr. Wilson appeared in 2000, it was featured by the Chronicle of Higher Education, largely because of its pseudonymous authorship – so rare an anomaly for this journal that it begged explanation. It seemed eccentric, if not vegetarian, for me to be renouncing explicit recognition for anything within academe’s carnivorous realm, where clawing for visibility names the game. The Chronicle reporter wondered earnestly whether or not the book would appear on my updated CV. If not, would I forfeit a salary bump for meritorious work?

I explained the AA tradition of anonymity at the level of press, radio, and film (later expanded to other public media). I added that the tradition did not preclude revealing my identity, if I pleased, under less public circumstances, such as submitting my CV.

In 2000, there was no great mystery, below the public level, about who had written Bill W. and Mr. Wilson, particularly among those in the incipient field of Alcohol and Addiction Studies. I think my authorship has since become more or less common knowledge, although “Matthew J. Raphael” remains the author when the book appears in the bibliographies of related studies; and it is not placed among my other publications at, say, Amazon.com. More on that presently.

I had originally regarded Bill Wilson skeptically:  as a braggart and egoist, quick on the draw in promoting himself. My first impression was confirmed to a degree. Continue reading →

Call for Proposals: The Drugs, Security and Democracy (DSD) Program

The Drugs, Security and Democracy (DSD) Program provides support for research across a variety of disciplines—anthropology, sociology, criminology, history, political science, economics, journalism, public policy, legal studies, public health, and other related fields—to create a network of scholars interested in developing alternative approaches to drug policy and fostering strategies that address the growth of transnational organized crime.

(And Maybe a Little History, Too)

The competition is open to PhD candidates and recent PhD recipients worldwide. The program strives to create a stronger, more systematized knowledge base on drugs, security and democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean; to build capacity—both institutional and individual—by supporting relevant research; and to encourage policy-relevant, evidence-based research that could lead to the development of alternatives to present-day security and drug policies. To watch a video about the program featuring DSD fellows, click here.)  For information on proposal development for this competition, please view our recent webinar [in Spanish] here.

The online application is now available at http://www.ssrc.org/fellowships/dsd-fellowship/. Next deadline is January 20, 2013.

FELLOWSHIP RESEARCH AGENDA, DSD funded research must address the theme of drugs and at least one of the other two themes of security and democracy in Latin America or the Caribbean. These topics may include, but should not be limited to, the following issues and areas of study: political economy, anti-democratic strategies used by communities or states, legal frameworks and analyses, the impact on vulnerable groups, and the role of elites. The program encourages interdisciplinary and comparative projects and those that address transnational and trans-regional issues. We encourage research in or about countries or themes that have been underrepresented in the program’s previously funded projects. Please click here for a list of funded projects from 2011 and 2012.

Applications are welcome from graduate students and postdoctoral researchers conducting research that addresses the theme of drugs and at least one of the other two themes of security and democracy in Latin America or the Caribbean. Eligible applicants will fall into one of the following two categories:

  • Dissertation Fellowship: This competition is open to PhD and JSD candidates worldwide who have an approved dissertation prospectus by July 1, 2013, but have not completed writing for final submission.
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship: The competition is open to PhD and JSD recipients worldwide who have completed their degree within 7 years of the application deadline.

If you are proposing to conduct research in a non-native language, you should provide evidence of the necessary proficiency to carry out the project. The program strongly encourages citizens and residents of Latin America and the Caribbean to apply.

Fellowship Terms: The DSD Program provides support for a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 12 months of research. Candidates based outside of Latin America or the Caribbean must spend at least three months conducting research in the region. Fellowship amounts vary depending on the research plan; however, support will be provided for travel and living expenses as well as associated research costs based on a budget reviewed by the SSRC. The fellowship is intended to support an individual researcher, regardless of whether that individual is working alone or in collaboration with others. Recipients of the DSD Fellowship are expected to devote themselves full-time to their DSD research during the tenure of the fellowship. The fellowship includes mandatory participation in two interdisciplinary workshops, one preceding fellowship research and one upon completion of the fellowship tenure. Workshops will be organized by the SSRC and held in Latin America in late July or early August. Travel and accommodations will be provided.

DSD is funded by the Open Society Foundations and the International Development Research Centre. The program is a partnership between OSF, IDRC, the SSRC, Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia, and Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas in Mexico. For more information please visit our program webpage http://www.ssrc.org/programs/dsd and contact dsd [at ssrc [dot] org with any questions.

Call for Participants: BackStory Radio Seeks Questions on Drugs History

Editor’s Note: Okay, Points readers– show that analogue crew over at NPR what you’ve got.

Thrilling Sounds of Yesteryear

Always wanted to be on the radio?  Here’s your chance!  BackStory, a history-focused public radio show, is tackling drugs.  They’re looking for input from historians and non-historians alike.  Here’s the scoop: BackStory is a weekly, hour-long show hosted by three historians:  Brian Balogh and Peter Onuf of the University of Virginia, and Ed Ayers of the University of Richmond.  We air on various NPR stations around the country.

Each week, we put together a handful of stories and ideas to illuminate some broad historical topic:  body image, say, or US-Cuban relations, or epidemic disease.  Points was kind enough to feature our show on alcohol over the summer.  And now we’re tackling a show on drugs, so we turn to you all again.

Specifically, we’re looking for folks to call in to the show for a little conversation with our hosts.  Some of our favorite callers have brought up personal stories or anecdotes from the present day; the discussion with our hosts helps historicize what’s going on now.  But if you just have a burning question about the history of drugs, or an idea you want to bounce off three historians, that’s great too.  It’ll only take about ten minutes, and should be fun, low-key, and illuminating — and you get to be on the radio!  We’re not a live show, so calls will be recorded ahead of time.  The show will be released Jan 11th.

We’re looking to record calls right after New Year’s, so if you’re interested, let us know asap.  Drop us an email at backstory [at] virginia [dot] edu, or leave a note on our webpage. We’ll get in touch with you to tell you a little more about how this works.  Thanks!  Jess, Associate Producer