Discrete Degrees in Successive and Simultaneous Order
July 29, 2008, 3:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Here’s a curiosity in the history of the 12 steps. Lois Wilson’s grandfather, the Rev. N.C. Burnham was a Swedenborgian Christian and wrote a book about the stages in the processes of “Regeneration” and “Glorification.” It’s worth a browse (complete with many illustrations), and gives a sense of the spiritual environment of New England at that time.

Much has been written (and speculated) about the involvement of early AAs with various elements of Spiritualism and New Thought. This book at least provides some sense of the religious thinking in Lois’s family.

For those new to Swedenborgianism, a quick trip to wikipedia might be productive. You can find out about Emanuel Swedenborg here (link) and read about his influence on Spiritualism here (link). For further information, check in with the Swedenborg Foundation (link).

Lois’s Grandfather’s book can be downloaded as a pdf or read online courtesy of (link).

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Important note on your site about Lois Burnham Wilson and Swedenborg. From Susan Cheever’s book and other research, I noted: 1) The information you supplied about the Burnham family’s deep involvement in Swedenborgianism. 2)That Bill and Lois were married in a Swedenborgian church. 3) That Bill had stayed with the Burnhams over a substantial period of time and been briefed on their religious beliefs. 4) That Professor William James had a connection with Swedenborg’s ideas. 5) That all these facts might have a bearing on Bill Wilson’s extensive and continued interest in spiritualism. I personally have no inclination to join those who think Bill wrote the 12 Steps under such influences because the facts about the 12 Steps go back to what I wrote in Turning Point ( my research at Stepping Stones: Ebby had laid out the precepts of the 12 Steps in detail in 1934; and the Big Book hints at the situation on pages 12 and 13 of later editions. But it all belongs in the pot of examination–true or false. I appreciate your laying out the conflicting views whether oranges, Bobgans, Oxford Group, Anne Smith, or the Bible. God Bless, Dick B.

Comment by Richard G. Burns, J.D.

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