American Experience - Sister Aimee
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Sister Aimee tells the life story Aimee McPherson, the controversial evangelist who was instrumental in bringing conservative Protestantism into mainstream culture. During her emotional revivals McPherson performed healings that drew bigger crowds than those of P.T. Barnum or Houdini. Through interviews with historians and scholars this program presents a revealing portrait of one of the most significant religious figures of the 20th century.
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No matter what your personal opinion might be concerning Aimee Semple McPherson I think there's something of interest for everyone in this 60 minute presentation. The film provides a veritable kaleidoscope of life as it was through the early and mid 20th century; the erosion of rural, spiritual values giving way to urbanize, scientific secularism, the ideological battle between evolution and creationism, the social and economical impact of two world wars separated by the Great Depression and the massive migration of the populace to the west coast.
However the most fascinating aspect of the documentary to me was to witness how Sister Aimee not only had a keen sense of the pulse of the nation but was always one step ahead of the times. Her theatrical approach to the gospel and her use of all forms of media to capture the attention of the public at large was amazing. She was truly a visionary of monumental proportions and unquestionably the prototype for the modern day televangelist. Whether that's a good thing or not is up for debate.
Sister Aimee was one of the most colorful characters of the twentieth century. She was Pentecostal at a time when Pentecostalism wasn't too popular within mainstream Christianity. Her Angelus Temple (located in Los Angeles) was one of the first mega-churches in the United States, and its success helped Sister Aimee bring her ministry into the mainstream, while she herself became more popular than many movie stars and athletes. She was one of the first celebrity preachers, and while I do agree that she possibly backslid (as do all Christians), there is no denying that she had a powerful ministry and that she undoubtedly led thousands (if not millions) to Jesus Christ.
The only thing I didn't really like about this biography/documentary (which-ever term you prefer) was that it wasn't as long as I would have liked for it to be. It's roughly 52 minutes from start-to-finish, and it does seem a bit "rushed" (for lack of a better term) in some spots. There isn't too much really learned about her childhood, and towards the end of the film, following Sister Aimee's 1926 spectacle, the other 18 years of her life are fitted into less than eight minutes of film. That's the biggest thing I didn't like. All of her 1930s work and controversy was sort of skidded over so this thing could fit into an hour. Now, I want it made it clear that this isn't a bad documentary by any means, but I wish there would be another one made, better detailed, and possibly longer. Highly Recommended nonetheless.
According to Aimee Miracles are still possible
I was born too late to meet her. However I grew up in the Foursquare Church with neighbors and friends. I never really thought of it as unique but was amazed when I moved from California to Texas and found one here.
Anyway this is part of all our cultural history and needs to be watched. For those interested in Los Angles politics there are interesting insights as to its working.
The presentation shows actual photos and movie dramatizations. We get to see this in a soundbite mode so as Aimee grows up each presented gets to say one line or two at each milestone.
The only drawback is that you can only say so much in this short period of time.