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Albert Schweitzer

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Albert Schweitzer was a prominent theologian, philosopher, doctor, and Nobel Prize winner who greatly impacted the 20th century. Schweitzer's life depicts a selfless man who not only had an idealistic faith, but strenuously lived it out. Going against conformity, Schweitzer refused to live his life counter to his convictions. His convictions stated that religion should not be a peripheral activity that is occasionally entertained. Instead, true religion permeates ones being. Religion becomes the epicentre of one's life and is reflected in living a life that replicates the Jesus of history. To Schweitzer true religion was being human as Jesus was and living a selfless humanitarian life.

Schweitzer's conviction to live a humanitarian life seeded from his study of the Jesus of history. To Schweitzer, Jesus was a hero who relentlessly tried to influence the Jewish people to turn from their life of evil and repent. Jesus has a heroic spirit due to his willingness to humble himself and accept crucifixion in order to motivate others to take on a similar heroic spirit. Schweitzer writes "But he rebukes them and explains why he must suffer: only through humiliation and by meekly sacrificing oneself in the service of others is one made be fit to reign in the kingdom of God" (35).The heroic spirit of Jesus is birthed through Christ's willingness to accept death and humiliation in order to bring about the Kingdom of God. Schweitzer believes that the modern age is stripping away the heroic nature of Jesus. Schweitzer states "The heroic is fading from our modern Weltanschauung, our Christianity, and our conception of the person of Jesus. For this reason men have humanized and humbled him" (39). Jesus, to Schweitzer, brought to the world not only atonement of sin but the spirit by which he was able to knowingly receive the affliction of the world and give his life for others. The historic Jesus illustrates a heroic Jesus who knowingly faced his death in order to lay the foundation for 'a moral world that bears his name'.

For Schweitzer, a heroic life in the spirit of Jesus consisted of serving humanity as a missionary physician. Schweitzer decided that at age thirty he would devote the rest of his life to some form of service to humanity. He writes "I settled with myself before I got up that that I would consider myself justified in living till I was thirty for science and art, in order to devote myself to the direct service of humanity "(83). Schweitzer came to this realization as a student when he discovered the injustice that many less fortunate were facing around the world. Schweitzer states "It struck me as incomprehensible that I should be allowed to lead such a happy life, while I saw so many people around me wrestling with care and suffering "(82). This sense of human compassion motivated Schweitzer to pursue missionary work. His decision was met with criticism as many felt that such a utilization of his academic training was wasteful. Schweitzer writes "My relatives and my friends all joined in expostulating with me on the folly of my enterprise. I was a man, they said, who was burying the talent entrusted to him and wanted to trade with false currency. Work among savages I ought to leave to those who would not thereby be compelled to leave gifts and acquirements in science and art unused" (84). This did not deter Schweitzer from pursuing such a radical life course. To him this was a simple and practical way of serving humanity and honouring the spirit of Jesus.

Schweitzer was quick to rebut those who argued against the need to go overseas to do missionary work. For Schweitzer, such work was not only a vital moral imperative it illustrated true religion. Schweitzer writes "To this I reply: for me, missionary work in itself is not primarily a religious matter. Far from it. It is first and foremost a duty of humanity never realized or acted upon by our states and nations. Only religious people, only simple souls, have under taken it in the name of Jesus" (76). Being human constitutes the need for humanitarian work. Compassion is not isolated to the religious but should be collectively shared by all humanity. Schweitzer explains the false paradigm by which western culture views aiding the less fortunate. Schweitzer states "Oh, this 'noble' culture of ours! It speaks so piously of human dignity and human rights and then disregards this dignity and these rights of countless millions and treads them underfoot, only because they live overseas or because their skins of a different color or

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