One of the most influential and dynamic evangelists of the twentieth century, Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944)was a complex, lively, and controversial figure with a flair for the dramatic. This absorbing biography offers unique insights into McPherson's Canadian and Salvation Army roots and her relationship with Pentecostalism. EdithBlumhoger utilizes selected minutes of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel-a resource not available to previous biographers-and her conversations withMcPherson's children, Roberta Semple and Rolf McPherson, to engagingly depict this colorful and inspiring evenagelist.
``Sister'' was one of the best-known North American religious figures and media
celebrities between the world wars. At long last, an objective and scholarly
biography has been written about this controversial old-time religion revival
evangelist. In this sensitive and engaging biography, Blumhofer, a historian
(Wheaton Coll.) and editor ( The Christian Century ), depicts not only the
woman who mixed piety and pageantry while crossing denominational lines but
also the complex social scene of 1930s America. This volume outshines all other
McPherson biographies, including Robert Bahr's Least of All Saints ( LJ
5/1/79), which is a speculative and dramatic re-creation, and the poet Mark
Epstein's appreciative and noncritical Sister Aimee ( LJ 12/92). An excellent
bibliographic essay is included. Appropriate for general readers as well as
scholars, this is recommended to public and academic libraries of all sizes.--
Gary P. Gillum, Brigham Young Univ., Provo, Ut.
In this vibrant biography of controversial, charismatic ``Sister'' McPherson
(1890-1944), Blumhofer ( Restoring the Faith ) traces the influence of the
celebrity preacher on 20th-century American protestantism. Seeking to separate
the facts from the cloak of myth surrounding McPherson, the author chronicles
the Ontario farm girl's religious formation by her mother, by the ``flamboyant
style'' of the Canadian Salvation Army and by her Pentecostal first husband,
Robert Semple, who died when Aimee was 19 and pregnant. As the center of her
International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, Sister, who married Harold
McPherson in 1912, built the Angelus Temple in Los Angeles, drew overflow
crowds to her assemblies and broadcast from her own radio station. Blumhofer
explores the inner loneliness of this divorced mother of a daughter and son
(who served as sources for the study). While marital scandals and the shifting
economic and societal tides of the 1930s dimmed McPherson's star, today a
purported 1.5 million members worldwide follow her vision. Balanced and
engrossing, this portrait also examines Sister's early application of modern
promotional techniques to a religious endeavor. Photos not seen by PW. (Dec.)
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