Presumably, this is what Henry Stanley said to Dr. David Livingstone, a missionary who had gone into the “wilds of Africa,” and Stanley was paid to find him which took about six months, a difficult and tortuous expedition.
So when I read …
Late on the third day, at the very moment when, at sunset, we were making our way through a herd of hippopotamuses, there flashed upon my mind, unforeseen and unsought, the phrase, “Reverence for Life” – Albert Schweitzer
I said to myself,
Dr Schweitzer, I Presume.
So it was with Dr. Albert Schweitzer and I, meeting for the first time. Although my Viking journey was less physically strenuous than Stanley’s, but probably more mentally hard, because I am a devout Atheist and Schweitzer was a faded celebrity and a Christian. Completely different world views, and different times. Our meeting in the pages of a book, was no less a difficult journey.
I was vaguely familiar with him, he was a huge celebrity (and Nobel Prize winner) when I was young, and even though we had decided to use him as our Compassionate Leader (Healer Idealist), one of sixteen Leaders as primary illustrations in our forthcoming book, Please Understand Me for Different Leaders:
I had difficulty before in reading his biography.
Frankly, at the time it was boring as I began to read it. Being busy with many other things, I didn’t finish much of that biography, and returned the book to the library. All this mushy Idealism, and Christian stuff that I can’t relate to: it made me sleepy. I had other leaders I could work on. I let my colleague take Albert Schweitzer as his assignment — since he is a Christian and could write, and be interested in all that stuff.
Then, I had gone to the 30th anniversary of Saddleback Church, Saturday’s — Easter service in Anaheim Stadium (with probably 10,000-20,000 people, Sunday apparently another 40,000 would be attending), with my co-author and his family to watch Rick Warren, our Fieldmarshal Rational, leader example for our leadership book. Rick Warren has written the most popular modern book in the world today. His book is even more popular than my father’s book. 50 Million copies sold, Purpose Driven Life. I listened to his sermon (rather long — it was Easter and “special”) and observed the spectacle. Being really the second sermon in my life I actually had to sit through and listened to, I got a better feeling for the jargon that Christians (and my Great Grandfathers) used. I was able to read some of Warren’s book, without falling asleep.
We are trying to finish up the last few Leaders in our book, Albert Schweitzer being one of the last, not done. So we reassigned Schweitzer to me to start the process of finding lessons of leadership.
So armed with my Kindle and physical copies of several biographies of Albert Schweitzer, I finally was able to explore, without my veil of boredom and non-understanding, and actually find Dr. Schweitzer as I met him at the Sorbonne in Paris, where he was a student — a place and time so foreign to me, but conceptually very familiar to me, the University of the Mind.
I don’t believe in many things that Schweitzer had believed, but think I better understand him now. I have walked with Albert Schweitzer, in my mind with my books, so I could see him in that boat on the Oguwe river.
A Reverence for Life