A  not-for-profit organization founded in 1993 for the publication
of materials on the history and theory of alcoholism treatment and the
moral and spiritual dimensions of recovery

Bridge over the St. Joseph river in South Bend, Indiana, near the Hindsfoot Foundation office





Recovery and
self help

Click on

Recent books
and Index
HOME: Alcoholics Anonymous history at Hindsfoot

Table of
TABLE OF CONTENTS: alphabetical list by author and title of articles and essays

Part 1
HISTORICAL MATERIALS 1: Alcoholics Anonymous and history of alcoholism treatment at the Hindsfoot Foundation

Part 2
HISTORICAL MATERIALS 2: Alcoholics Anonymous and history of alcoholism treatment at the Hindsfoot Foundation

Part 3
HISTORICAL MATERIALS 3: Alcoholics Anonymous and history of alcoholism treatment at the Hindsfoot Foundation

ESSAYS: spirituality, psychology, philosophy, religion

SPIRITUALITY: A.A. spirituality, philosophy, and religion at hindsfoot.org

Books on
& theology
PHILOSOPHY: books on philosophy and theology published by the Hindsfoot Foundation

in progress
FUTURE PUBLICATIONS IN PROGRESS: A.A. history and spirituality, recovery from alcoholism and addiction

To order
TO ORDER BOOKS: Hindsfoot Foundation and iUniverse

To contact
TO CONTACT HINDSFOOT: books on Alcoholics Anonymous history, spirituality, alcoholism and addiction treatment

LINKS: other sources on A.A. history, spirituality, and alcoholism treatment



Photo by Steve Cox, farmland and woods near Fairmount in central Indiana
Sun coming out over the Indiana prairies

Essays on Spirituality by Glenn C.

The Names of God:  how to find a God of our understanding. In the search to find a God of our understanding, there are four traditional paths in western spirituality, going all the way back to ancient Christian and Jewish thought, all of which are firmly founded in the Bible itself. In A.A. terminology, we refer to these four paths as:
1. Learning God-consciousness:  that is, learning to become aware of God's presence (Bill W.ís conversion experience while talking with Ebby in his kitchen).

2. The spirit of the tables:  the spirit of divine love, linking one human heart to another.

3. G.O.D. = Good Orderly Direction, the moral law as the face of God unveiled.

4. The Truth Itself:  the sunlight of the spirit granting illumination and insight.
The Ground of Being:  God and the Big Bang. Our universe exploded into being in the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago. God (the ground of being) is the infinite and unknowable Mystery out of which the Big Bang occurred. Eighteenth and nineteenth century attacks on the infallibility of the Bible and the rise of modern atheism in the 1840's. Atheism as control neurosis and control fantasy. How twentieth century science destroyed the roots of modern atheism. The ground of being as the basis of real spirituality.

Andromeda galaxy

The Andromeda galaxy, 2.5 million light-years away, contains
one trillion stars; this is only one of the many galaxies produced
by the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.

Mount Sinai and the Burning Bush:  The Cloud of Unknowing, the Altar to the Unknown God, and the Dark Night of the Soul. In order to find a God of our understanding, we first have to let go of all our old misconceptions about God, the universe, and ourselves, and make the ascent up Mount Sinai, following Moses into the Cloud of Unknowing. As we continue to climb further and further into the doubt and anguish of the Dark Night of the Soul, we use the twelve steps to guide us into a radical reframing of all the presuppostions of our lives. Disoriented within the infinite and all-encompassing Mystery, we discover the God of the empty altar -- the Altar to the Unknown God, the Agnôstô Theô -- and hear the voice from the Burning Bush giving us only the bare words, "I am what I am" -- the divine Person whose grace is his love offered to ALL the needy and suffering, without condition.

Rudolf Otto, author of The Idea of the Holy

Rudolf Otto, author of The Idea of the Holy

The central emphasis in A.A. spirituality is on learning to develop our God-consciousness and our awareness of the presence of God. The most important spokesman for this concept in early twentieth-century thought was the German philosopher and theologian Rudolf Otto (1869-1937).
Learning to See the Sacred Dimension of Reality.  Rudolf Otto and the Idea of the Holy, Part 1:  The holy as one of the categories of the human understanding. The human experience of the holy and the sacred, the story of Bill Wilson, the sense of the divine presence, the holy as the experience of the ďnuminous,Ē the use of metaphors, analogies, and ideograms to talk about this experience.

The Seven Faces of the Experience of the Divine Reality.  Rudolf Otto and the Idea of the Holy, Part 2:  The experience of the sacred as the source of true serenity and the healing of the spirit. (1) Tremendum: the feeling of awe and dread, (2) Majestas: the call to total surrender, (3) Energeia: power, energy, love and Eros, (4) Alienum: the divine abyss lying behind the surface illusion of understandability, (5) Fascinans: salvation itself as living in the continual presence of the sacred, (6) Augustus: the power which condemns us but then washes us clean, (7) Illuminatio: inspiring us to see and be gripped by the true goal of the spiritual life.
In the 1930's, Rudolf Otto and Karl Barth were considered to be the two greatest theologians in the western world. In Otto's formative work, The Idea of the Holy, he said that the heart of all of the world's religions lay in the experience of what he called the holy or the sacred, which played a central role even in religions which had no concept of God (like nontheistic Buddhism and the Native American spirituality of tribes like the Navajos and Potawatomis).

When Bill was talking with Ebby in his kitchen, he suddenly remembered his encounter with the experience of the sacred (as Otto's book called it) at Winchester Cathedral, and he remembered how his grandfather had talked about experiencing the same mysterium tremendum while gazing at the starry heavens in the middle of the night. Shortly afterwards , Bill Wilson checked himself into Towns Hospital on Central Park West in New York City and had a second spiritual experience while in the hospital, a vision of light (an Illuminatio as we have called it in this discussion of Otto's work), where God gave Bill W. his mission.
Twelve-Step Meditation in the A.A. Big Book and the 12 & 12. The way Bill W. recommends that we meditate in Alcoholics Anonymous and in the Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions. A Microsoft Word document, requires MS Word to read.
In the eleventh step, "meditation" does not mean the same thing as the Hindu technique called Transcendental Meditation. But it is recommended that part of our period of morning prayer and meditation be a brief quiet time. Various methods of quieting the mind, including using mental imagery (suggested by Bill W.), Jacobson's method of progressive relaxation, and so on. Richmond Walker's Twenty-Four Hours a Day and Emmet Fox's Golden Key.
Practicing the Presence of God: the path to soul-balance and inner calm. Richmond Walker's Twenty-Four Hours a Day on learning how to quiet our minds and practice the Prayer Without Words. Learning how to enter into what the ancient gnostics called Sigê (the Divine Silence) and what the Hesychastic monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church called Hêsychia (the Divine Quiet). It is the same kind of inner peace and bliss which are taught as the goal of the spiritual life in Hinduism, Buddhism, the Jewish Kabbalah, and Islamic Sufi mysticism.

The God-Shaped Hole in the Human Soul. The idea of a "God-shaped hole" in the human heart is a famous modern metaphor for the yearning in the human soul which drives us on our spiritual quest. This image of a terrifying bottomless abyss opening up inside us -- a void of nothingness which only an infinite God could fill -- is derived from ideas found in Pascal (1623-1662) and St. Augustine (354-430), where we see the answer to this problem linked to the mysterious depths of subconscious memory and the fundamental quest for truth.

spark of the divine within the human soul

The spark of the divine within the human soul

Cosmic Consciousness:   A set of articles on Richard Maurice Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind (1901), a book which influenced Bill Wilson very deeply, and other allied topics, including Emmet Fox and New Thought, Albert Einstein on "cosmic religious feeling," and the debate between him and theologian Paul Tillich (who taught with Reinhold Niebuhr and Harry Emerson Fosdick at Union Theological Seminary in New York City). Rudolf Otto and the idea of the holy in the study of comparative religions.

Visions, Heavenly Voices, Near Death Experiences, and the Afterlife:   A set of articles on issues raised by Dr. Eben Alexander's recent book, Heaven Is Real: A Doctor's Experience with the Afterlife, in which he describes his near death experience. Also articles and blogs on visions and heavenly voices, and other kinds of contact with the divine world.

The Higher Power of the Twelve-Step Program:  For Believers & Non-believers. Originally given as a lecture to the Northern Indiana Counselors Association on October 21, 1999 at Quiet Care in South Bend, Indiana. All of the forty or so counselors and psychotherapists there agreed that this material correctly and accurately stated what actually went on when they were working with alcoholics, and the issues that these men and women had to learn how to deal with in order to get sober and stay sober. It was originally published as a pamphlet, and large numbers of good oldtime A.A. sponsors found that it was ideal for giving to the people whom they sponsored, to use as a basis for discussing the areas where these newcomers were having difficulties with the spiritual aspects of the program.

Being at Home:  Agapê Love and the Goal of Twelve-Step Spirituality. The twelve step program is one of the most powerful spiritual tools ever developed. We know how the goal of the spiritual life was described in a number of earlier great spiritual movements:  Zen Buddhism, American frontier revivalism, philosophical Hinduism, the Hasidic Judaism of the Baal Shem Tov, the life of the early followers of St. Francis of Assisi, the Carmelite spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross, the ancient Stoic philosophy, the Native American spirituality of tribes like the Navajo and the Potawatomi, the hesychastic spirituality of the Eastern Orthodox monks of Mt. Athos, and so on.
So what is the "flavor" of twelve step spirituality, and what are the people like who truly live it, and attain the great heights of serenity and peace? When you are trying to work the twelve steps, this is where you are trying to go.
The Philosophy of Courage by Philip Leon, with a new foreword by Glenn F. Chesnut. "Philip Leon, philosopher and Oxford Group member, published this work in 1939, when the AA Big Book was first printed. Leonís take on Oxford Group ideas is helpful in understanding both what AA took from the Oxford Group, and what we left behind. Because it is a philosophical and theological work, The Philosophy of Courage is not always an easy book to read, and so Glenn F. Chesnutís introduction provides a chapter-by-chapter overview of Leonís ideas, making this important book much more accessible." -- from James Ryan's introduction at stepstudy.org

Material on Dante from two of Glenn Chesnutís books. Dante's vision of God at the end of his Divine Comedy, where God appears as a three-fold circle of light, together with his vision of himself and Beatrice both being filled with the divine light. Through this, Dante was enabled to enter the full presence of God by passing through Mary the Divine Mother as the Gate or Bridge which leads from this realm to the next.

Dante's vision of the Divine Light at the end of the Paradiso

The vision of the divine Light at the end of Dante's Divine Comedy:
all the universe turned by love and centered on the three primal hypostases

THE SERENITY PRAYER and its ancient Greek and Roman philosophical background:
The Serenity Prayer and the Philosophers of the Painted Porch: Serenity and Courage in Ancient Greco-Roman Stoic Philosophy, by Glenn F. Chesnut (March 2015). "If we translated the Serenity Prayer into classical Greek and used a time machine to travel back two thousand years and carve it on the wall of a building in ancient Athens, the people who passed by would glance at it and assume it had been carved there by an ancient Stoic philosopher, one of that small band of extraordinarily courageous people called the Philosophers of the Stoa, that is, the Philosophers of the Painted Porch: 'Zeus, grant me the apatheia to accept ta ouk eph' hêmin, the andreia to change ta eph' hêmin, and the sophia to know the difference.'"

Epictetus: the Diatribai or Discourses, by Glenn F. Chesnut, handout for his Roman history students, March 1998, with detailed notes on their reading selections in Epictetus' Discourses.
Bible passages quoted in the major early AA literature  Sermon on the Mount, James, 1 Corinthians 13, Psalms 23 and 91, Deuteronomy 33:27, Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 22:42, 1 John 4:20, 1 John 4:7-19, Matthew 25:31-46 (the grounds on which we will actually be judged at the Last Judgment), Luke 10:30-35 (the Good Samaritan), Luke 15:11-32 (the Prodigal Son), Luke 15:4-7 (the Lost Sheep).

Also Matthew 6:10, Luke 11:2, Luke 22:42, Matthew 26:42, Matthew 19:17-19, Matthew 22:35-40, Mark 12:28-33, Luke 10:25-28, Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8, Matthew 9:6, Mark 2:9, Luke 5:24, John 5:8-12, Revelation 6:2-8, Luke 10:1-7, and 1 Timothy 5:18.
Important passages from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7)
Important passages from the Letter of James
Glenn C's translation of 1 Corinthians 13  (giving more detail on the meaning of the key words)

Photo by Steve Cox, sun shining through the dark clouds at Fairmount in central Indiana

The golden sunlight of the spirit over the Indiana prairies

A Twelve-Step Funeral
or Memorial Service

Prayers and readings for an A.A. funeral, arranged and adapted by Glenn C., as used for memorial services conducted by the A.A. fellowship in northern Indiana.

The eternal God is our dwelling place,
and underneath are the everlasting arms.
You have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless
until they find their rest in you.

Lady Wisdom

Sophia, the feminine aspect of God

In this ancient Byzantine Greek icon, we
see Sophia, the feminine aspect of God, with
her three daughters, Faith, Hope, and Love

Does not Wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?

At the first, before the beginning of the earth,
       when there were no depths I was brought forth,
       when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
       before the hills, I was brought forth.

Wisdom has built her house,
       she has hewn her seven pillars ....
She has sent out her servant-girls, she calls
       from the highest places in town,
"You that are ignorant, turn in here ....
       Lay aside ignorance and live,
       and walk in the way of insight."

              Proverbs 8:1, 23-25; 9:1-6

The feminine within the Trinity: Logos, Sophia (Pneuma Hagion, the World Soul), and Father (the One as the ultimate unknowable reality underlying all else)

Sophia as the third
member of the Trinity

In this old medieval painting, Sophia (the Holy Spirit
or World Soul) is in the middle, with the Word of God on
the left, and a figure representing the Unknowable
Depths of the godhead on the right

The Merton Prayer

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

        Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, Part Two, Chapter II.

"Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
the crippled will leap up like a deer,
and those whose tongues could not speak
will sing for joy."

Isaiah 35:5-6