Old-Time Minneapolis A.A. Beginners Classes
Introduce the subject of tonight’s class with our fine prayer — “God grant us the serenity to accept those things we cannot change, the courage to change those things which must be changed and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Explain the meaning of the three parts of the prayer and particularly, bring out that we often deceive ourselves about what may be changed, using defense mechanism to say — “Well, that’s me, I cannot change that characteristic — that resentment or that selfishness.”
Point out that the general subject in tonight’s class will be the second part of this prayer — the making of changes which must be made to win a victory.
In other words, tonight, we will discuss the four steps of the A.A. program which deal with cleaning up or purging our lives so that we may have a fresh starting point.
Read the four steps involved, to wit: steps 4, 5, 8 and 9.
Explain that steps 4 and 9, the making of the fearless moral inventory and the making of a list of those we have harmed can logically be considered together and carried out at the same time.
Proceed to explain what this moral inventory consists in — it must be fearless.
We prefer to do it in written form and take adequate time to fearlessly and honestly list all those things, good and bad, which make up our personality, our life, our troubles and our wrongs when we entered A.A.
Then by actual illustration on a large poster or sheet of paper, making a list of some of the more important headings which may include, at the left-hand side of the sheet, the following:
(1) Resentments — against whom and why.
(2) Self pities — specify.
(3) Personality phases.
(4) Dishonesties, large and small, naming the persons involved and the actual natures.
(5) Selfish inclinations — specify.
(6) Sex situations.
(7) Wrongs to family and relatives.
(8) Wrongs and misunderstandings with close friends.
(9) Financial debts — specify.
(10) Procrastinations — emphasize the importance of this. It is the curse of all alcoholics. We must get into action. We must not put things off.
Point out the necessity of looking at ourselves in an absolutely fearless and honest manner as we are — in making this inventory and list of those whom we have wronged.
Explain that while this is to be kept strictly in our own possession, that we will benefit materially by going to our sponsor and others who are close to us to get their advice and opinions on certain of the evaluations and appraisals we have made.
Explain that this inventory will take a matter of some time but that action, above all, is what is required of the new member at this time, and that for assured success, it must be started now and continued until completed.
Now, explain the step 5 — admitting to God and to another human being the exact nature of your wrongs and the obtaining from that other human being, of advice and assistance — the purging effect this obtains for us — the clearing of all matters which we have confined to our own heart and soul.
Explain that one person in whom we place absolute confidence, should be selected — that person may be a clergyman, a close interested friend or relative outside of A.A. who has deep understanding of life, or it may be some thoroughly trusted member of A.A. The written inventory should be shown to that person and thoroughly discussed and on the right side of the inventory should be marked down — the changes which you, with the help of the person in whom you confide, decide to make.
Steps Three and Five — Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him and admitted to God and to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
1. We had lost power of choice as admitted in Step One.
2. God, as we understand Him, is now to guide our lives.
(a) Life run on self-will cannot be a success.
3. In admitting our wrongs to God, admit all negative faults — selfishness, arrogance, false pride, egotism, resentments, self-pity, etc.
(a) Alcohol breeds and nurtures these defects which lead to defeat, despair, inner-turbulence, external violence.
(b) Their elimination with God’s help brings equableness of life and spiritual serenity.
Admission that certain defects exist and reliance on a greater power to assist in removing them requires a state of mental and spiritual humility.
This is a copy of the mimeographed Instructor’s Outline from Minneapolis, Minnesota, written by Pat Cronin for teaching the beginners classes which he gave at 2218 First Avenue South, where the first A.A. group in that city began meeting in 1940.
There is still an Alano Society clubhouse there today. It comes from the collection of Jack H. (Scottsdale, Arizona), who also has all of Ed Webster’s papers.
This is the earliest known material for A.A. beginners lessons. It is the ancestor in a sense of The Little Red Book (An Interpretation of the Twelve Steps of the Alcoholics Anonymous Program) which Ed Webster wrote after he had begun giving A.A. beginners classes in Minneapolis in December 1943. Ed began rewriting the Instructor’s Outline as soon as he became involved in teaching the classes. The Little Red Book was published in 1946 with Dr. Bob’s help and support. — Glenn C., South Bend IN