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¡§When the Okies left Oklahoma and moved to California, it raised the I

Woman of many miracles                                Cristina Jones


David Mark Epstein teaches biology at Cerro Coso Community College, Eastern Sierra College Center. From 1982 to 2000, he and his wife shared the unit ranger position at the Mono Lake Tufa State Reserve, actively trying to protect the Eastern Sierra inland sea from diversions into Los Angeles. Today, he remains a freelance writer and is author of Water and the California Dream (2000) and Mono Lake Viewpoint (1992).



Daniel Mark Epstein recounted the life of Aimee Semple McPherson in his biography Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson. Aimee Semple McPherson, preacher who spent her life performing selfless acts to help others. Sister Aimee was sent into the Salvation Army at birth, cured peoples sickness, and in Kansas, Aimee held up her hands and stopped the rain. All theses miraculous things are described in detail by Daniel Mark Epstein, who spent two years alone researching the information for this biography. There are five sections describing her early years, rise to fame, miracles, scandals, and final years.

            Aimee Elizabeth Kennedy was born on October 9 1890, to James Morgan Kennedy and Mildred ¡§Minnie¡¨ Pearce. Minnie had spent her life wanting to work for the Salvation Army but then her dreams were pushed when she married James Kennedy. She locked herself in her room and recited this prayer all night: ¡§If you will hear my prayer, and give me a little baby girl, I will give her unreservedly into your service, that she may preach the word I should have preached, and live the life I should have lived in thy service. O Lord, hear and answer me¡§. [1] Aimee had learned to recite Bible stories and was so proud that she would tell them to anyone who would listen. Her first love was Robert James Semple, a preacher, who influenced her belief in God. On August 12 1908, Aimee married Robert and went to China in June of 1910. After they left Hong Kong, both fell ill with dysentery. On August 19 1910, Robert Semple died, but Aimee survived. That September, Aimee gave birth to her daughter, Roberta Star Semple, and shortly returned to the states after.

            For a second time around, Aimee remarried to Harold Stewart McPherson in New York in 1912. On March 23 the following year, Rolf Potter Kennedy McPherson was born. Aimee performed her first miracle on Louise Messnick in 1916. Louise Messnick had advanced stages of rheumatoid arthritis, when Aimee ¡§lifted her hands and praised the lord¡¨; Louise was able to lift her hands as well. [2] Aimee had spent a great deal of her time during the war persuading woman to help sell liberty. In Philadelphia, 1918, she prepared for her debut on the national stage. She had a large Gospel tent, and what transpired under it could ¡§be seen as a turning point in Aimee¡¦s career¡¨. [2] In Baltimore, 1919, Aimee had given a deaf woman her hearing and a blind woman her sight. Her fame was rising and word of her ¡§healing touch¡¨ was spreading like wildfire. [3]

            In 1920, Aimee spent 14 hours and praying for 1,000 crippled people in Washington D.C. She then went to Los Angeles in 1921 with her mother to find land to build her own church. Near Echo Park there was a spot of land that had seemed to be saved for them. They spent 11.5 million dollars building their church and named it Angelus Temple. In 1923 on New Years Eve, Aimee performed another miracle. A man trapped in a fire who was too scared to jump into a fireman trampoline jumped after Aimee prayed to God to give him the strength to save his life. On May 18, 1926, Aimee disappeared while swimming near Venice Beach. Almost 5 weeks later she reappeared, claiming that she had been kidnapped and tortured in Mexico. Finally able to escape because the kidnappers were careless, Aimee claimed to have stumbled out of the desert near Douglas, Arizona, walking 13 hours back to civilization but her shoes showed no sign of walking for that long. The court charged her with perjury, but after her trial, all charges were dropped and the Angelus Temple people were there for her.

            In 1933, Aimee and David split up and avoided going to court. Shortly after, Aimee had a breakdown and ten months later she then wrote ¡§Attar of Roses¡¨ which was her first sermon in Angelus Temple. All throughout the 1930s, Aimee had a split between ¡§her intellectual life and church dogma¡¨. [5] Aimee remarried to a baritone named David Hutton Jr. in her opera The Iron Furnace.  In March of 1932, Aimee had yet another breakdown. While she was in the hospital, David got vindicated and Aimee fainted, fracturing her skull. After she healed, Aimee told her church that because of her health, she could no longer be their pastor. In 1935, after the divorce was official, Aimee planned to set sail around the world. While she was in Bombay, Aimee had a conversation with Gandhi and he influenced the ¡§practical curiosity evident¡¨ throughout Give Me My Own God. [6] September 27 1944, Aimee accidentally overdosed on Barbital and died at 11:45 A.M at the age of fifty-three. Only three years later, Aimee¡¦s mother Minnie died of natural causes. Roberta was left two thousand dollars while Rolf was left with eight thousands. After Aimee¡¦s death, about 410 churches in North American were left with assets totaling almost three million dollars. Out of 74 countries, there were over twenty five thousand International Foursquare churches worldwide.

            Daniel Mark Epstein¡¦s thesis was to share the life of Aimee Semple McPherson with everyone because she played a major role in California¡¦s development by influencing its citizen¡¦s religion. Aimee Semple McPherson is famous for all that she has done and Epstein seemed to be intrigued by her story. An inspiring quote that Aimee said is, ¡§Lift up your heads, ye people, lift up your faces, too, open your mouths to sing His praise, and the rain will fall on you¡¨. [8] Epstein¡¦s thesis shares insight on how Aimee was brought up and how she got so famous. Epstein gives a thorough look into how Aimee lived, her family, friends, and her marriages. Epstein told Aimee¡¦s story and got his thesis across without letting his own personal opinions get in the way of telling her story.

            Kirkus Reviews showed a great liking for the biography in that they believed the author was half in love with her. They believe that Epstein covered every detail about McPherson¡¦s life. Epstein talked about McPherson¡¦s miracles and downfalls without leaving out any part of her horrible marriages, or breakdowns. Kirkus Reviews believes that Epstein¡¦s ¡§admiration and his subject¡¦s breathtaking story give the narrative abundant energy¡¨. [9] On the other hand, Marc Goldblatt believes that Epstein took his beliefs of Aimee and answers the main question if God truly did speak to her or not. Goldblatt believes that Aimee¡¦s miracles are described without detail, for example; disappearing skin lesions that Aimee had healed. In the end Goldblatt decides the book is a ¡§lively read¡¨ and that Epstein makes Aimee out to be a heroine. [10] It¡¦s surprising that both literary criticisms use the word glossolalia, the phenomenon of speaking in a different language or speaking in tongues. Since glossolalia still exists in certain religions today, the topic is very interesting to bring up from Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson. Over all, both literary criticisms agree that Daniel Mark Epstein wrote Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson with detail and his opinion in mind.

           Epstein¡¦s point of view is written as far as what he thinks of Aimee Semple McPherson. Epstein does this to keep it as a historical novel and biography of her life without his emotions included since it is not an opinion piece of literature. Historiography is the writing of history with certain types of methods: style, authorship, bias, sourcing, and interpretation. The historiography shown in "Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson" because of Epstein's bibliography shows where all of his information is from. It ranges from books on Sister Aimee, articles written about her, interviews Epstein conducted with family members and friend, even from the bible itself. Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson is chalk full of historical references and especially in Epstein¡¦s writing style.

            Aimee Semple McPherson influenced California because she brought a movement to Los Angeles with the building of the Angelus Temple. The temple itself is as big as big as an opera house. It changed the roaring 20¡¦s and gave it even more life. People were more religious than ever and worshipped in all of Aimee¡¦s churches. War bonds selling in California increased with the help of Aimee¡¦s War Bond metaphor in her sermons.

            California is the state that everyone from the East came to get rich because of the gold and is now a place to live to become famous. Most celebrities live in California and the weather is most excellent and events that happen in California are put on Television because the rest of the United States cares what happens to people in California. For example, the Television the Laguna Beach, The O.C, The Hills, So you think you can dance? And many other shows and movies are recorded in the sunny state. The author views California as the place to be. Since it was a big part of Aimee¡¦s life since it ended up being her home as an adult.

          Mark Daniel Epstein is truly a magnificent writer, whose ability to tell stories are inspiring. He told the story of Sister Aimee bringing in his personality but also always sticking to what the history and facts tell. Epstein¡¦s included notes on where he got his information, bibliography, index of biblical passages and references all helped me understand what Epstein¡¦s thesis truly was. Epstein even included a chronology of Aimee¡¦s life, which makes the events and dates less confusing since Aimee¡¦s life was always filled with activity. ¡§Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson¡¨ is considered to be a well-written biography and is true because Epstein wrote about a very influential woman in California in the nineteen twenties.



1. Epstein, Daniel Mark. ¡§Sister Aimee: The Life of Aimee Semple McPherson¡¨10.

2. Epstein, Daniel Mark, 135.

3. Epstein, Daniel Mark,

4. <http://www.usc.edu/libraries/archives/la/scandals/aimee.html>

5. Epstein, Daniel Mark, 362

6. Epstein, Daniel Mark, 394

7. < http://womenshistory.about.com/library/qu/blqumcph.htm>

8. Barnes and Noble; < http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Sister-Aimee/Daniel-Mark-Epstein/e/9780156000932>

9. <http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1282/is_n10_v45/ai_13794162>