Pentecostalism was born at the turn of the twentieth century in a "tumble-down shack" in a rundown semi-industrial area of Los Angeles composed of a tombstone shop, saloons, livery stables and railroad freight yards. One hundred years later Pentecostalism has not only proven to be the most dynamic representative of Christian faith in the past century, but a transnational religious phenomenon as well. In a global context Pentecostalism has attained a membership of 500 million growing at the rate of 20 million new members a year. Aimee Semple McPherson, born on a Canadian farm, was Pentecostalism's first celebrity, its "female Billy Sunday". Arriving in Southern California with her mother, two children and $100.00 in 1920, "Sister Aimee", as she was fondly known, quickly achieved the height of her fame. In 1926, by age 35, "Sister Aimee" would pastor "America's largest 'class A' church", perhaps becoming the country's first mega church pastor. In Los Angeles she quickly became a folk hero and civic institution. Hollywood discovered her when she brilliantly united the sacred with the profane. Anthony Quinn would play in the Temple band and Aimee would baptize Marilyn Monroe, council Jean Harlow and become friends with Charlie Chaplain, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. Based on the biographer's first time access to internal church documents and cooperation of Aimee's family and friends, this major biography offers a sympathetic appraisal of her rise to fame, revivals in major cities and influence on American religion and culture in the Jazz Age. The biographer takes the reader behind the scenes of Aimee's fame to the early days of her harsh apprenticeship in revival tents, failed marriages and poverty. Barfoot recreates the career of this "called" and driven woman through oral history, church documents and by a creative use of new source material. Written with warmth and often as dramatic as Aimee, herself, the author successfully captures not only what made Aimee famous but also what transformed Pentecostalism from its meager Azusa Street mission beginnings into a transnational, global religion.
Table of Contents
Preface Chapter 1 An Answered Prayer: Aimee Elizabeth Chapter 2 Romance and Religion: Mrs. Robert Semple Chapter 3 Going to Nineveh by Way of Tarshish: A Pentecostal Prophetess Chapter 4 Tents and Tabernacles: 'Camping in Canaan's Happy Land' Chapter 5 Mother and Daughter En Route to the Promised Land Chapter 6 Los Angeles Chapter 7 Azusa Street and Aimee of the Angels Chapter 8 The Beautiful Woman in White Chapter 9 Blurring Boundaries and Open Doors Chapter 10 'Spiritual Healing in American Protestantism: Popular Religious Culture and High Church Culture' Chapter 11 Barnstorming America and Building a House Unto the Lord Chapter 12 San Diego: 'The Great Jumping Off Place' Chapter 13 Denver: 'Awake Beyond Any City' Chapter 14 Northern California: Baptists and Congregationalists Chapter 15 Rochester: ' - The Most Antagonistic City' and 'The Burned-Over District Re-Visited' Chapter 16 Wichita: 'The Middle Road' Chapter 17 Oakland: 'The interdenominational Foursquare Gospel' Chapter 18 Angelus Temple: 'Multitudes and Miracles' Chapter 19 'New Protestant Boundaries: Salvaging Methodism and Saving the Mainline by Purging Pentecostalism and Pushing it to the Periphery' Chapter 20 May 18, 1926: 'An Evangelist Drowns' Epilogue: 'Resurrection in Arizona' Afterword: Testimony, People's Religion and the Search for Spirituality
Chas. H. Barfoot is a Lecturer in Religious Studies at Arizona State University.