SEPTEMBER 4TH - ALBERT SCHWEITZER

SEPTEMBER 4TH MARKS THE 35TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF ONE OF
THE GREATEST AND PERHAPS THE MOST MORAL MAN OF HISTORY. SELDOM, IF
EVER, HAS ANYONE APPLIED AS MUCH SWEAT AND INTELLIGENCE TO THEIR LIFE AS
ALBERT SCHWEITZER. HEREIN FOLLOWS A BRIEF CHRONOLOGY OF A MAGNIFICENT
MAN.


BORN IN KAYSERSBERG, ALSCACE (THEN IN GERMANY, NOW IN FRANCE) IN
1875. SCHWEITZER GREW UP IN GUNSBACH. THE SON OF A LUTHERAN MINISTER, HE
GOT A REAL DOSE OF RELIGION AT AN EARLY AGE. IT INFLUENCED HIM GREATLY,
SO MUCH SO THAT HE EARLY ON DISSUADED SOME OF HIS FRIENDS FROM GOING
FISHING, THIS CAME FROM HIS INTERPRETATION OF THE MOSIAC LAW "THOU
SHALT NOT KILL". WHICH HE INTERPRETED TO MEAN ALL LIVING THINGS. THUS, HE
TOLD THOSE YOUNG TENDER KIDS "YOU KNOW THE WORM DOESN'T WANT TO DIE,
AND NEITHER DOES THE FISH, WHY DO YOU THINK THEY STRUGGLE SO?" NO ONE
COULD EVER ACCUSE SCHWEITZER OF BEING ANTHROPOCENTRlC.

ALBERT'S FATHER HELPED MENTOR HIM SO THAT BY AGE FIVE HE COULD READ
AND WRITE LATIN AND HAD TWO NATIVE LANGUAGES TO THINK IN, GERMAN AND
FRENCH. IN HIS TWENTIES, HE ALSO MASTERED ENGLISH, BUT PREFERRED GERMAN
AND FRENCH, APPARENTLY BECAUSE THEY BEST EXPRESSED HIS PASSION AND
INTELLECTUAL BREADTH. THERE WERE ALSO OTHER SIGNS OF HIS PRODIGY,
EARLY ON HE WOULD GET A BOOK. AND IF IT SUITED HIM INTELLECTUALLY, HE
WOULD DEVOUR IT THREE OR FOUR TIMES OVER IN A WEEK. AFTER HIS STINT IN
THE REALGYMNASIUM, IT WAS TlME FOR COLLEGE. HERE AGAIN, OBVIOUS SIGNS
OF HIS PRODIGY ABOUNDED BECAUSE WHILE STUDYING FOR HIS DOCTORATES IN
RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY. HE ANNOUNCES AT AGE 21 THAT HE WOULD DEVOTE
THE FIRST 30 YEARS OF HIS LIFE TO THE SCIENCES, MINISTERING AND MUSIC, WHILE
THE BALANCE OF HIS LIFE WOULD BE SPENT DOING HUMANITARIAN WORK. IT
WOULD SEEM THIS POWERFUL AND HUMBLE MAN WOULD USE THESE SAME VIRTUES
TO EXTOL THE ETHIC Of LOVE THAT JESUS TAUGHT. THIS HE DID IN A

MAGNIFICENT WAY. HOWEVER, HIS BRILLIANCE ALSO PRODUCED SOME
STUMBLlNG BLOCKS. IN 1901 HE WROTE VON REIMARUS ZU WREDE WHICH WAS
TRANSLATBD INTO ENGLlSH IN 1910 AS QUEST OF THE HISTORICAL JESUS. THIS
SAME BOOK WAS REISSUED IN 1913 AS GESCHICHTE DER LEBEN-JESU FORSCHUNG.
THIS BOOK IS STILL THE STANDARD BY WHICH MODERN BIBLICAL EXEGESIS IS
JUDGED AND EMULATED.

AFTER HAVING TWO EARNED DOCTORATES IN PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION
UNDER HIS BELT, SCHWEITZER FINDS THE CLUE TO HIS FUTURE. HE READS OF A
DEFUNCT MISSIONARY HOSPITAL IN LAMBARENE. FRENCH WEST EQUATORIAL .
AFRICA WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY SPONSORED BY THE PARIS MISSIONARY SOCIETY
IN 1876. SCHWEITZER ENROLLS IN MEDICAL SCHOOL WITH THE IDEA OF BECOMING
A MEDICAL MISSIONARY AND LATER APPLIES TO THE PARIS MISSIONARY SOCIETY
TO SPONSOR HIM AS A MEDICAL MISSIONARY IN LAMBRENE. HOWEVER, HE WAS·
TURNED DOWN APPARENTLY BECAUSE HE WAS TOO MUCH OF A FREE THINKER IN
HIS BOOK THE QUEST OF THE HISTORICAL JESUS. SCHWEITZER ONCE SAID THAT HE '
NEVER APPROACHED ANY SUBJECT WITH ANY ILLUSIONS, SO HIS NATURAL
APPROACH TO THE LIFE OF JESUS WAS NOT APPRECIATED BY PMS (PUN INTENDED).

SCHWEITZER SPENT HIS LAST TWO YEARS IN MEDICAL SCHOOL COLLECTING
MONEY FOR HIS MISSIONARY EFFORTS IN AFRICA SO HE WOULDN'T NEED THE HELP
OF PMS (INTENDED USAGE).

IN 1912 ALBERT MARRIES A FINE JEWISH-GERMAN GIRL NAMED HELENE
BRESSLAU WHO IS IMPRESSED WITH SCHWEITZER'S HEAD AND HEART AND
BECOMES A NURSE SO SHE CAN HELP HIM IN LAMBARENE. A YEAR LATER THEY
HEAD TO AFRICA, NOT FOR A HUMANITARIAN OR BENEVOLENT WORK; BUT, AS
ALBERT PUT IT, TO SERVE AS AN ACT OF ATONEMENT FOR THE PAST THREE
CENTURIES OF SLAVE TRADE BY THE CHRISTIAN EUROPEANS.
SCHWEITZERS FIRST DAY AS A DOCTOR IN LAMBARENE WAS SPENT IN A
CHICKEN COUPE, BUT HIS TENACITY AND GOODNESS SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE

REGION AND FAMILIES WOULD CARRY THEIR AILING MEMBER OVER 200 MILES ON
FOOT TO BE TREATED BY THE "GRAND DOCTOR".
THE PRIMARY AILMENTS SCHWEITZER DEALT WITH WERE SLEEPING SICKNESS
(TRYPANOSOMIASIS) AND LEPROSY. THERE WAS AN INCREDIBLE MOVING TRIBUTE
TO THE "GRAND DOCTOR" BY EPHE, ONE OF HIS LEPROSY PATIENTS THAT WAS
CURED BY A NEW DRUG DEVELOPED IN AMERICA. ERICA ANDERSON RECORDED
THIS TRIBUTE AND IF YOU ARE AT ALL GIVEN TO EMOTION, IT WILL TUG AT YOUR
HEART STRINGS IN AN INCREDlBLY POWERFUL WAY. THIS TRIBUTE WAS UTTERED
AT THE BREAKFAST BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION  ON JANUARY 14, 1953 FOR THE "GRAND
DOCTOR".

IT SHOULD ALSO BE NOTED THAT THE LAST 12 YEARS OF SCHWElTZERS LIFE
INCLUDED A FOCUSED CAMPAIGN AGAINST NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION. HE WAS ONE
OF THE 9,235 SCIENTISTS WHO SIGNED THE PETITION REQUESTING THE U.N. TO STOP
ALL NUCLEAR TESTING IN 1958. THIS WAS SUPPORTED AND PARTIALLY INSTIGATED
BY HIS FRIEND ALBERT EINSTEIN.

IT SHOULD ALSO BE NOTED THAT A JEWEL BEDAZZLING SCHWEITZER'S
MAGNIFICENT VALUE SYSTEM CAN BE FOUND IN 1953 WHEN HE RECEIVED THE
MONEY FOR THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE. THIS MONEY PURCHASED A SHIP LOAD OF
CORRUGATED TIN (SCHWEITZER SAID STEEL) FOR THE ROOFS OF HIS LEPER
COLONY AND THE LEFTOVER TIN WAS USED FOR HIS HOSPITAL BUILDINGS.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST IS THE INTELLECTUAL LEGACY ALBERT SCHWEITZER
HAS LEFT US. FIRST, LET ME STATE THAT SCHWEITZER, THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE,
CONSIDERED HIMSELF A DISCIPLE Of CHRIST AND APPARENTLY SAW RELIGION AS A
NATURAL OUTCROPPING OF HUMAN EXISTENCE. "SUFFERING NO ILLUSIONS" AS
SCHWEITZER SAID, IT APPEARS THAT THEOLOGICALLY HE WAS DEISTIC AND THAT
THE MANIFESTATION OF THIS CREATOR DEITY WAS FOUND IN THAT WHICH IS
CREATED, THEREFORE TO SEE SCHWEITZER AS PANTHEISTIC SEEMS ONLY
NATURAL. SUBSEQUENTLY, AT AGE 40, IN 1915 THE "GRAND DOCTOR" CAME UP
WITH WHAT HE SAW AS THE ULTIMATE LINK BETWEEN THE CREATOR Of LIFE, THE
RECIPIENT OF LIFE AND THE ETHIC OF JESUS. REVERENCE FOR LIFE  WAS HIS
CAPSTONE. IF YOU WANT TO BE SPIRITUALLY IN TUNE WITH THE GIVER OF LIFE,
YOU WILL HAVE REVERENCE FOR LIFE. IT WOULD SEEM TO ME THAT JESUS WOULD
HAVE COMMENTED 'WELL SAID AND DONE THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT.'

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