Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America

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9780674032538: Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America
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From the Pilgrims who settled at Plymouth Rock to Christian Coalition canvassers working for George W. Bush, Americans have long sought to integrate faith with politics. Few have been as successful as Hollywood evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson.

During the years between the two world wars, McPherson was the most flamboyant and controversial minister in the United States. She built an enormously successful and innovative megachurch, established a mass media empire, and produced spellbinding theatrical sermons that rivaled Tinseltown's spectacular shows. As McPherson's power grew, she moved beyond religion into the realm of politics, launching a national crusade to fight the teaching of evolution in the schools, defend Prohibition, and resurrect what she believed was the United States' Christian heritage. Convinced that the antichrist was working to destroy the nation's Protestant foundations, she and her allies saw themselves as a besieged minority called by God to join the "old time religion" to American patriotism.

Matthew Sutton's definitive study of Aimee Semple McPherson reveals the woman, most often remembered as the hypocritical vamp in Sinclair Lewis's Elmer Gantry, as a trail-blazing pioneer. Her life marked the beginning of Pentecostalism's advance from the margins of Protestantism to the mainstream of American culture. Indeed, from her location in Hollywood, McPherson's integration of politics with faith set precedents for the religious right, while her celebrity status, use of spectacle, and mass media savvy came to define modern evangelicalism.

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About the Author:

Matthew Avery Sutton is Associate Professor of History at Washington State University.

Review:

Matthew Sutton's Aimee Semple McPherson may be the best single book yet published on this icon of early twentieth-century American religion and culture. Beautifully paced and superbly researched, the book weaves McPherson's inherently fascinating and ultimately tragic career into larger stories about California, pentecostalism, and emerging popular culture. Empathetic, critical, and insightful simultaneously, Sutton has produced a compellingly narrated book about one of modern America's most magnetic women. (Jon Butler, author of Becoming America: The Revolution before 1776)

At long last, a biographical exploration of Aimee Semple McPherson that steers clear of stereotype, caricature, and condescension. Matthew Sutton deftly addresses Sister Aimee's fame and her legacy in his fine biography, but he does so with care and attention to her humanity as well. (William Deverell, University of Southern California)

Aimee Semple McPherson passionately embraced her role as a religious celebrity in an increasingly mass media-oriented age and steadfastly refused to be constrained by traditional notions of gender or sexuality. Americans of the 1920s and 1930s were fascinated by her, and readers today will feel the same way, thanks to Matthew Avery Sutton's timely and absorbing biography. (Susan Ware, editor of Notable American Women: Completing the Twentieth Century)

Not content to see Aimee Semple McPherson--"Sister"--simply as a woman evangelist, or even as a religious icon, Matthew Sutton places her career in a wide range of contexts, including gender, media, Southern California popular culture, and the muscular expansion of American evangelicalism. This is terrific history, reflecting meticulous research, persuasive argumentation, and a writing style as vibrant as the story it tells. (Grant Wacker, author of Heaven Below: Early Pentecostals and American Culture)

In the page-turning book, Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America, Matthew Avery Sutton makes a persuasive case that the Canadian evangelist was responsible for rescuing conservative Protestantism from obscurity while creating the political model for today's powerful Religious Right. She promoted the now-widely held conviction that Jesus Christ and the 'American way of life' are synonymous. Other books have been written about McPherson, but Sutton's goes furthest in making the important argument that the Canadian evangelist was the most influential model for the merging of conservative Christian identity and American patriotism...At the time of the 1925 Scopes 'monkey trial' over the teaching of evolution, McPherson organized a giant parade and theatrical stage play at her baroque Angelus Temple that portrayed what she called the 'hanging and burial of monkey teachers.' Eighty years later, McPherson's brand of evangelical sensationalism is again spiking up the issue of whether to teach evolution in U.S. public schools, while in most other industrialized countries the dispute barely registers...Sutton's book deserves special praise for its socio-political analysis--for outlining Sister Aimee's pivotal role in giving birth to today's politicized evangelical Christianity. (Douglas Todd Vancouver Sun 2007-02-17)

Sutton helps readers see in McPherson more than one paradoxical woman: her Foursquare Gospel helped catalyze a fundamental cultural realignment that brought Pentecostals and Evangelicals into the American mainstream, transforming American politics in ways that continue to write today's headlines. A nuanced portrait of an entire movement. (Bryce Christensen Booklist 2007-04-01)

[Sutton] reminds us that Aimee Semple McPherson 'exemplified evangelicalism's appeal to millions of Americans' and suggests that it is time to re-examine her life and legacy. (Bryan F. LeBeau Kansas City Star 2007-04-22)

In a clear and frightening way [Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America] both locates her origins in what could be called America's mainstream fringe and her influence on today's Christian right, with its political manipulating and media empires. (George Fetherling Seven Oaks 2007-04-09)

Decades before televangelists like Billy Graham, Pat Robertson or Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker started mixing show business and conservative Christianity, there was Aimee Semple McPherson...An impressive new biography. (Don Lattin San Francisco Chronicle 2007-05-13)

Matthew Avery Sutton has done such a thorough and engaging job with Aimee Semple McPherson and the Resurrection of Christian America. (John M. and Priscilla S. Taylor Washington Times 2007-06-17)

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Book Description HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS, United States, 2009. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the Pilgrims who settled at Plymouth Rock to Christian Coalition canvassers working for George W. Bush, Americans have long sought to integrate faith with politics. Few have been as successful as Hollywood evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson. During the years between the two world wars, McPherson was the most flamboyant and controversial minister in the United States. She built an enormously successful and innovative megachurch, established a mass media empire, and produced spellbinding theatrical sermons that rivaled Tinseltown s spectacular shows. As McPherson s power grew, she moved beyond religion into the realm of politics, launching a national crusade to fight the teaching of evolution in the schools, defend Prohibition, and resurrect what she believed was the United States Christian heritage. Convinced that the antichrist was working to destroy the nation s Protestant foundations, she and her allies saw themselves as a besieged minority called by God to join the old time religion to American patriotism. Matthew Sutton s definitive study of Aimee Semple McPherson reveals the woman, most often remembered as the hypocritical vamp in Sinclair Lewis s Elmer Gantry, as a trail-blazing pioneer. Her life marked the beginning of Pentecostalism s advance from the margins of Protestantism to the mainstream of American culture. Indeed, from her location in Hollywood, McPherson s integration of politics with faith set precedents for the religious right, while her celebrity status, use of spectacle, and mass media savvy came to define modern evangelicalism. Seller Inventory # AAH9780674032538

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