Edited By: A.A. Roback Edition: Sci-Art Publishers, Cambridge Hardcover, 441 pages
No ISBN Shown
Table of Contents
This book is a festschrift, or tribute, to Albert Schweitzer. It contains many, mostly short, essays written by famous men (and one woman). Some describe their meetings with or inspiration by Schweitzer, while others are ruminations on topics related to one of Schweitzer's many interests. As always with such volumes, the quality of the contributions varies. Among the best essays are those by Homer Jack, Paul Tillich, George Seaver and Amos Wilder. There are also a number of interesting photographs and drawings of Schweitzer.
This book was self-published, after a publisher backed out of a promise to publish. Roback indicates that they required too many changes and edits. Frankly, more editorial changes would have improved the volume. For instance, I fail to see the value in including letters from Adlai Stevenson and Jawaharlal Nehru which just politely decline to submit an essay for the volume. And Roback's own "playlet" Scenes in a Great Life is irritating and needless. Most egregiously, Roback felt the need to alter and to provide a detailed reply to W.E.B. Du Bois's fiery essay, in which Du Bois slightly criticizes Schweitzer for not doing more to promote African education but dramatically condemns white and capitalist oppression in Africa. I suppose Roback gets some credit for inviting Du Bois's essay, but his detailed response (the only one in the volume) in which he critiques Du Bois's argument point-for-point is uncalled for.
The production values are good, and as noted some of the essays are interesting. The book will, nevertheless, only appeal to the most die-hard of Schweitzer fans.
[from The Popularity of Albert Schweitzer by Homer A. Jack] "Schweitzer's greatness lies in other directions. It grows out of his being the sum of everything we want to be, but are not. It grows out of his doing the sum of everything we want to do, but dare not. He is to us, unconciously perhaps, our ideal of what twentieth-century man could become--what we ourselves could become--if temptations of power and self did not hopelessly compromise our youthful ideals. ... The living example of his triumph of idealism over realism and of will over habit moves us as few men in our time have done."
[from The Amazon Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Pucallpa, Peru] "You confessed clearly to mysticism. However, it is for you neither starting-point nor postulate, but the logical result of your intrepid reflection. It is the honest admission of a rationalist, that we come closest to the 'last' questions only in the reverence for the mystical 'from-where and where-to' of that voice in us, that challenges us to be 'others-than-the-world,' others than the extra- and pre-spiritual life that surrounds us and of which we also are a part, without, however, being absorbed into it. Ethical questions are for you not 'last,' but the first and most important questions. ... Knowledge engenders sorrow, especially when it reaches the impassable limits which defy our intellectual powers."
[from The Natural and the Spiritual by George Seaver] "The eschatological perspective is the temporally conditioned world view in which the Life was manifested and the Truth that is eternal was incarnate among men. If historically it has proved illusory, nevertheless to the spiritually awakened it speaks as no other world-view can. For to a deeper view, that Kingdom, which as a cosmological event has never dawned, is notwithstanding, an ever-present inward reality, a spiritual crisis which is always at hand."
[from Can Religion Survive? by Paul Tillich] "In the occidental world, theological apologists have tried in vain to recommend religion as a probable and useful hypothesis to explain the world and to foster moral activities. A God who has become a probable or possible hypothesis is not God at all. It is blasphemous to give the name of God to such a hypothetical being, and certainly it will not help religion to survive. The same is true of His moral usefulness. A God who is used for any purpose except Himself is not God but a dangerous fiction, even if that purpose is morality."
[from 'When Saw I Thee Sick?' by George T. Keating] "When [Schweitzer was] asked his secret for happiness, he replied, 'Good health and the ability to forget.'"
[from Schweitzer's Outlook on History by W. E. Hocking] "There is no conflict of science and religion when each knows its role. Advance leads to atheism only when the god denied is a Lie; and much current atheism--like that of Camus--is the denial of a false god."
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