»Albert Schweitzer Exhibit

Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Lee Ellerbrock Display Funded by The Fashionables

Albert Schweitzer
(1875-1965)

By Professor Alice Bergel, Ph.D.

Albert Schweitzer and reverance for lifeWho is this man – Albert Schweitzer? Why does the world stand in awe of him, and why have we, at Chapman, acquired a collection of Schweitzer memorabilia, a part of which we display permanently on our campus?

Albert Schweitzer was a theologian, philosopher, musicologist, organist, organ-builder and physician, and he achieved greatness in all these fields. He was truly a "Renaissance man." But he was more: he was a thinker who lived his philosophy. He found a definition of "good" and "evil" which everyone can understand and live by:

"Good is maintaining, furthering, heightening life; evil is destroying, harming, hindering life."

This is the core of his "Reverence for Life." At this time when there seems to be a danger of losing all respect for life, Schweitzer's message is compelling for us all.

The story of Schweitzer's life is the story of the development of his thought and its translation into action. Therefore, the Chapman exhibit follows Schweitzer's life story step by step, starting in an Alsatian village with his experience of the suffering of human beings and animals; leading through his education, his varied activities, studies, and scholarly, pastoral, and musical achievements to the establishment, in 1913, of his hospital in Lambarene in what was then French Equatorial Africa and is now the Republic of Gabon; and ending with the help he brought to untold Africans, who, had it not been for him, would have died in agony.

Why did Schweitzer decide to give up his successful career at the age of 30 in order to study medicine and become a jungle doctor? The statue of the African man, in the town of Colmar, the picture of which occupies a prominent place in the exhibit, told the young Schweitzer of the plight of the African natives. These people were helpless victims of pain that could be taken from them if a physician were available; yet no physician would go to that hot, humid, and dangerous place. So Schweitzer decided to go – and in order to bring the needed help, he first took up the study of medicine.

As you walk through this exhibit, you will see Schweitzer's struggle against nature in the jungle; the setback he experienced when he had to abandon his hospital and was interned as an enemy alien during the First World War; the enormous effort he had to put forth to rebuild the hospital after the war; his opposition to nuclear weapons and involvement in peace work, for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize; and the recognition that finally came to him when people all over the world realized that his humble work in the jungle could become a model for the moral regeneration of human beings everywhere.

Click here for more on the Exhibit and Collection!

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    Exhibit and Collection

    An exhibit and extensive collection of Albert Schweitzer memorabilia held by Chapman University
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