Bill Wilson turned from alcohol after a dramatic encounter with God in 1934. As David Brooks tells us, Wilson “went on to help found Alcoholics Anonymous, which, 75 years later, has 11,000 professional treatment centers, 55,000 meeting groups and some 1.2 million members.”
In his NY Times column, Brooks writes: “Because the soul is so complicated, much of what we do fails.”
In worthwhile review of the beginnings of AA, Brooks continues:
“Alcoholics have a specific problem: they drink too much. But instead of addressing that problem with the psychic equivalent of a precision-guidance missile, Wilson set out to change people’s whole identities. He studied William James’s “The Varieties of Religious Experience.” He sought to arouse people’s spiritual aspirations rather than just appealing to rational cost-benefit analysis. His group would help people achieve broad spiritual awakenings, and abstinence from alcohol would be a byproduct of that larger salvation.
In the business of changing lives, the straight path is rarely the best one. A.A. illustrates that even in an age of scientific advance, it is still ancient insights into human nature that work best. Wilson built a remarkable organization on a nighttime spiritual epiphany.”