In his biography of William James, Robert Richardson says, “William James book, The Varieties of Religious Experience, so dominates the study of religion and theology that when one hears references to King James—they mean William and not the Bible.”
In AA’s history too William James is the unacknowledged King. “Varieties” was an inspiration in the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was James understanding of conversion that the early AA’s found so helpful.
It was in fact William James who pointed at the urban mission work of Samuel Hadley from whom comes the idea that a cure for drunkenness requires the “absolute need of a higher helper”.
We remember that Bill Wilson in his correspondence with Carl Jung acknowledges his “absolute indebtedness to James’s Varieties of Religious Experience.