Albert Schweitzer has been revered as one of the few genuine saints of our time. He was already a distinguished theologian, organist, and Bach scholar when he embarked on the study of tropical medicine in Paris in 1912 in order to prepare for missionary work in Africa. Disillusioned with Western Civilization, he founded a hospital in Lambarene, in French Equatorial Africa. Schweitzer’s experiences here led to his famous book, ON THE EDGE OF THE PRIMEVAL FOREST.
Drawing upon his access to the Schweitzer archives in Gunsbach, James Bentley examines Schweitzer’s early theological training; his controversial best-seller, QUEST OF THE HISTORICAL JESUS; his interest in organ building and performance and in the life of J. S. Bach; his missionary service in Lambarene; his Nobel Peace Prize in 1953; and his outspoken opposition to the nuclear arms race and his devotion to world peace.
Central to Schweitzer’s philosophy was his intense belief in “reverence for life,” which he developed through his service at Lambarene. Here he found an outlet for his deep spirituality and his concern for human suffering. Schweitzer felt that the greatest enemy of morality is indifference. The more advanced countries of the world, according to Schweitzer, have a moral obligation to aid the underdeveloped nations. Through medicine, Schweitzer found that he could minister to the most immediate needs of others. Late in his life, however, he was attacked by some as a pseudoliberal and a colonialist. James Bentley’s ALBERT SCHWEITZER: THE ENIGMA deals with the controversial and enigmatic character of this great modern humanitarian.