Reviews of and Quotes From Dr. Schweitzer's Books

Here is my review of a book about Dr. Schweitzer. All the books I review are in English. Many of them are out of print, but generally can be found by a book search from a good used-book dealer. See The Albert Schweitzer Page for links to my reviews of books written by Dr. Schweitzer as well as other related information.

Postmark Lambarene - A Visit With Albert Schweitzer

Written By:  James Edward Doty
Edition:  John Woolman Press, 1965
Paperback, 99 pages

No ISBN Shown


Table of Contents

James Edward Doty was a Methodist minister who wrote a series of newspaper articles about Albert Schweitzer during 1955. At the end of the articles, he suggested that readers might want to donate in support of Schweitzer's leper village, and $1700 was raised, a considerable sum in 1955. Doty traveled to Lambarene to deliver the money, and spent two weeks there. This book is the story of those two weeks, as well as another short visit by Doty to Lambarene in 1964.

There is a limited amount that one can learn about a place, or a person, in two weeks. Doty's descriptions are consistent with other accounts of Schweitzer's later years at the hospital, and add some interesting anecdotes about Doty's interactions with Schweitzer, the hospital staff and patients. Doty was certainly impressed, as he went on to write a Ph.D. dissertation and give many public lectures on Reverence for Life. There is also a short but very interesting essay by Schweitzer (summarized in the foreword and presented in full in the main body of the text) on the Kingdom of God in individual Christian lives.

Inserted between accounts of Doty's two Lambarene visits is a 36-page account of Schweitzer's life, clearly taken in large part from Schweitzer's own autobiographical writings. This seems oddly placed, and one is suspicious that it is simply filler material. But perhaps a summary of Schweitzer's life is necessary for those who first encounter Schweitzer in this volume. The integration of Schweitzer's beliefs and life is central to Doty's (and Schweitzer's) message.

Quotes from Postmark Lambarene - A Visit With Albert Schweitzer

[From an essay written by Schweitzer and given to Doty. Prior to the following, Schweitzer discusses the necessity of the Kingdom of God being established before people destroy each other.] "The usual conclusion drawn from this premise is that something like the Kingdom of God can be established on earth by an understanding between the nations. That is not the right way to picture the Kingdom of God and its coming. In reality it can only happen thus, that first through the Spirit of Jesus the Kingdom of God enters into the hearts of men, and then through them into the world. Otherwise, it cannot come true. ...

Without realizing it, we allow the spirit of the world to make its home in our hearts, and grant the Spirit of Jesus only a modest little place in the corner. He must not interfere too much with our life, because it is too uncomfortable for us to comply with what He wishes us to do, if we are to yield ourselves up to Him completely. This is why there is no real peace, no real happiness, no real serenity in us.

Nothing else will do but that day by day we should weigh what we have granted to the spirit of the world against what we have denied to the Spirit of Jesus, in thought and especially in deed, be it small or great. In the quietness of our hearts we must be an incorruptible judge of ourselves. To this courage we must steel ourselves in order that we may keep it everytime we say in the Lord's Prayer 'Thy Kingdom come,' we must silently add that we really earnestly desire our hearts to become the Kingdom of God through the Spirit of Jesus."

"On the wall [in Schweitzer's study] was a drawing of his house in Gunsbach in Alsace, which he designed for visitors who come to see him and for members of his hospital staff on furlough. On that same wall were an autographed picture of Darwin sent by a friend in Holland, a plaque of Bach, and several water colors of Gunsback and Lambarene done by friends."

"I spent an entire afternoon with the famed doctor. After siesta the workers were called together at the clearing near his room and given assignments. He asked me to accompany him in the jeep, driven by a former Peace Corps youth who had completed his two years in Nigeria. I sat in the middle with the doctor on my right. During a brief ride, he pointed out new buildings in an area which had been formerly forest. New foundations were being poured and a new road was under construction. Here the doctor, for more than an hour supervised, drew lines for digging with his umbrella, told where the fresh dirt should be placed.

During this construction Miss Ali bemoaned that the doctor had to spend much time in construction, 'but then,' she added, 'it gives a variety to what he does.' Years ago, when the doctor first came to Lambarene, he lamented that he had come to Africa as a physician and not as a builder, but the builder role has been a real one since 1913."

Table of Contents of Postmark Lambarene - A Visit With Albert Schweitzer

There is no Table of Contents in the book, but the chapters are numbered and titled as shown below.

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