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Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson

af Daniel Mark Epstein

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingSamtaler
1163179,296 (3.27)Ingen
Sister Aimee was a scamp in school, a young widow in China, and a neurotic housewife in Rhode Island, but when the Lord spoke to her, she accepted her ministry and began preaching. This book “fills a significant gap in the history of revivalism” (New York Times Book Review). Photographs.

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Update 10/21/08: I still say Ugh. I was disappointed in this book. Nothing really new to say here; it was just the same stuff, over and over again: revival meetings, Sister Aimee running herself ragged, getting sick, losing sleep, marrying again and putting her family last, financial and romantic scandals,.. And then she died fairly young. Although the author states in the book that her death was not ruled a suicide, it seems to me that it was a suicidal type of gesture, her taking too many pills. Self destruction over a long period of time for certain. Not inspiring AT ALL.

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Update 9/24/08.. Ugh. I am still trying to get through this book. It's been about a month and I'm only half way through. The writer , I think, is totally infatuated with Aimee, and every other page is filled w/descriptions of her 'voluptous body' and 'bosomy chest'. Enough already. The other drag about this book is that Epstein describes countless revival meetings, all much the same. His editor should have cut about 50-75 pages out, and nothing would have been lost. I think I'll finish this book, nonetheless, but so far I'm disappointed, and I'd give it one star. I'll see when I finish it if I still feel the same.
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On Sunday night we were all sitting around the dinner table discussing how the nearby Four Square Church had purchased a new building. So then we got to talking about the Four Square Church. How did it start? What do the 'four squares' mean anyway? So I looked it up and found a very intriguing article about the late Aimee Semple McPherson, the founder of the Four Square Church. I was a bit surprised, to think that a bonafide protestant denomination was founded by this woman. From a cursory reading of her life, it seems she was more of a cult leader, a celebrity of sorts. I'm going to check out this biography and find out more!
( )
  homeschoolmimzi | Nov 28, 2016 |
Aimee Semple McPherson was a popular American evangelist and faith healer.
  PendleHillLibrary | Jul 8, 2015 |
Nice girls in 1908 did not smoke cigarettes or go to cockfights or seek baptism in the Holy Spirit. As a stimulant it might lead to conduct unbecoming a lady." Like speaking in tongues. Or falling madly in love with the latest Pentecostal.

That's what happened to Aimee Kennedy, later to become famous as Sister Aimee, the renowned evangelist. Until the moment when, on a whim, she and her father attended the revival meeting conducted by handsome Robert Semple, Aimee had been a confirmed atheist and typical teenager, confounding her parents by reading novels and dancing, and scandalizing her minister by humiliating him in a debate on evolution. She was also a beautiful seventeen-year-old, a mighty temptation for even the most pious of male souls. And she set her heart on Robert Semple. Unfortunately, Robert felt call ed to minister in China in 1910, not a propitious time for Westerners.

The Boxer Rebellion had led China to the verge of revolution and missionaries were great targets, which did not discourage them in the slightest, none of them being of particularly sound mind to begin with; "the populous shores ... seemed sweetened with the fresh blood of Christian martyrs." Following his death from malaria and dysentery shortly after their second wedding anniversary, Aimee moved back to the States where she was courted and married by a Providence, Rhode Island businessman. The marriage was not a success, and she left him, taking her children, following what she believed to be a direct conversation with the Holy Spirit.

She was truly a charismatic preacher who drew her first crowds by standing on the street corner in what appeared to be a catatonic state or trance. Epstein suggests her direct link with God was related to the" power" that I think Julian Jaynes described in [b:The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind|22478|The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind|Julian Jaynes|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1167349761s/22478.jpg|1311139]. In primitive cultures men and women did not appeal to conscience to make moral choices but relied on inner voice they labeled as divine. Gradually, this ability, and the need for it, declined, remaining only in the minds of "saints and schizophrenics."

Her Pentecostal preaching came at a time when the United States was ready. The twentieth century had caused massive upheaval with large numbers of dispossessed: immigrants, women, and a dwindling farm population. "Aimee's revival would catch fire like a box of dry tinder."

At the time, women evangelists were anathema, a horror. "To Episcopalians, Aimee's meetings appeared like orgies scripted by the Witch of Endor." Her message reflected the power of Manichean theological duality: good versus evil, God versus Satan. The battle was essential to the power she exercised over crowds. "This is the theology of power, the rhetoric of crowd control and it has been thus from the dawn of civilization. There may be wiser beliefs, but none so dynamic. A crowd is not moved by noble ideals, purity of purpose, or by the everlasting truth. The crowd of humankind is moved by raw passion, which catches fire instantly upon identification of a villain. The statesman or preacher who can describe to his audience a simple conflict between themselves and some enemy will have started the engine to drive a crowd where he pleases." The lesson has not been lost on Pat Buchanan.

An unusual element of her ministry was her unique ability to cross racial and social lines. She was equally at home preaching to a rich white neighborhood, then move across town and create an equivalent sensation in the impoverished black community. In 1919, this was most scandalous. Soon the white folk were attending Sister Aimee's black revivals. Often these were the first integrated meetings in the South.
Her audiences began to reach crushing proportions. In one city people climbed on the roof and peered through skylights almost. causing a panic among those underneath who feared the roof would collapse; in another town those who couldn't fit in tore the walls off the building·so they could see Sister Aimee. In Denver she was kidnapped by the Ku Klux Klan who insisted she preach directly to them and demanding that she separate the races. Aimee was not persuaded and to preach the contrary.

She built an enormous Temple in Los Angeles, raising huge amounts of money and decided to leave the peripatetic Pentecostal tent revival life for good and remain there. This would create problems. There is no question that she was a good person, who also did much good, aside from the healing. Unfortunately, as she became more famous, she created a story for the media; and with fame comes power which attracted many less scrupulous adherents. Because of this power, she could have no special friends for to do so would have created jealousies; "power isolates a person from normal human relations." She also created lots of enemies, many of them fellow churchmen who resented her siphoning away many of their members. They also resented her inclusionary theology: "Reconciliation and Love" that excluded neither Jew nor black nor heathen, while theirs represented "Fear, Hellfire, and Damnation" and excluded damn near everybody except thee and me and we're not so sure about thee.
( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
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It happened not in the misty, nebulous long ago, to white-robed men and women in a time we cannot quite visualize as ever having had reality, but to children and men and women who had street addresses and telephone numbers, who came in automobiles and not on camel-back by caravan, as it was said they did long ago.  The blind saw again; the deaf heard.  Cripples left their crutches and hung them on the rafters. -Louise Weick, The San Francisco Chronicle, 1921
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Sister Aimee was a scamp in school, a young widow in China, and a neurotic housewife in Rhode Island, but when the Lord spoke to her, she accepted her ministry and began preaching. This book “fills a significant gap in the history of revivalism” (New York Times Book Review). Photographs.

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