Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sister Aimee

Thursday's class will involve extensive discussion and analysis of one of the most important female evangelists in American religious history, Aimee Semple McPherson.

Of the books written about her, one of the most important and most recent is Matthew Avery Sutton's Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America. The book uses the life of Sister Aimee to better understand the politics of early twentieth century America, which it does masterfully. In it we see a complicated and complex woman of deep religious conviction, and a curious preacher concerned with communicating her message in relevant ways.
The PBS documentary on Sister Aimee we viewed clips of in class drew extensively from Dr. Sutton's book, and you can find a link to that here. Read the eyewitness accounts from Sister Aimee's church, Angelus Temple. I've actually taken a tour there with a religious history seminar I took 4 years ago, and it is an amazing building and apparently still a vibrant church.

You can Listen to Sister Aimee's sermons to hear how she presented her message, and you can view some photos here and here. Here's another interesting on-line photo exhibit. And there's even a movie about Sister Aimee, and she has also been the subject of plays and cast as movie characters. Two other sites worth checking out are here and here. You might also listen to this interesting interview with Matthew Avery Sutton.

Your assignment: Watch clips from the documentary posted below. View the first 20 minutes (it focuses closely on her time in California), and then from about 50:00 to 55:00 (you will her actual audio from Sister Aimee's teaching). Click here to view the documentary clips if the video doesn't work below.

Using information about Sister Aimee from our class discussion, as well as what you gleaned from the PBS documentary and Dr. Sutton's article, answer the following questions. Leave your answer in the comments: In what ways was Sister Aimee a woman of her times in early 20th century America? How does her work, preaching, and style of presentation compare to that of George Whitefield, or other ministers or religious celebrities we've discussed in class? Why?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Documenting American Religion

In order to facilitate more class discussion about primary source evidence, I've added two new links under "Documenting American Religion." The first link "Document Analysis Form," takes you to a pdf form to complete, and the second, "Document Analysis Worksheets," brings you to the National Archives website with multiple document forms for various types of documentary evidence.

You may choose either form to fill out for class. I will be collecting document analysis forms tomorrow 9/1.