Sunday, May 18, 2008

OMG! Sister Aimee Is STILL With Us!!

Oh, That's SAINT Aimee to you, Hagee, Parsley and Hinn. And All The Right-Wing Pentecostals, Assembly of God congregations,
matics, etc., etc.

Aimee's "Parsonage" attached to Angelus Temple

On May 18, 1926, Aimee Semple McPherson vanished at Los Angeles' Ocean Beach. It was believed that she drowned. The famous evangelist who founded the 5300-seat Angelus Temple was so well known that the Los Angeles Times (a Hearst paper) kept up the story for weeks, Sinclair Lewis wrote a poem in her memory and hundreds of people kept seaside vigils ("A futile search for the body resulted in one parishioner drowning and another diver dying from exposure" - Wikipedia)

Sister Aimee in 1920

At about the same time, Kenneth G. Ormiston, engineer for KFSG, also disappeared.

After 35 days (on June 23), McPherson stumbled out of the desert in Agua Prieta, Sonora, a Mexican town just across the border from Douglas, Arizona. She claimed that she had been kidnapped, drugged, tortured, and held for ransom in a shack in Mexico, then had escaped and walked through the desert for about 13 hours to freedom.

Several problems were found with McPherson's story. Her shoes showed no evidence of a 13-hour walk; indeed, they had grass stains on them after a supposed walk through the desert. The shack could not be found. McPherson showed up fully dressed while having disappeared wearing a bathing suit, and was wearing a watch given to her by her mother, which she had not taken on her swimming trip. A grand jury convened on July 8 to investigate the matter, but adjourned 12 days later citing lack of evidence to proceed. However, several witnesses then came forward stating that they had seen McPherson and Ormiston at various hotels over the 32-day period.

The bad press never ultimately hurt McPherson's reputation or her church: The Interntaional Church of the Foursquare Gospel's 5300 seats were always filled, three times a day, seven days a week! Over 100,000 repentant sinners per week! Parsley, Hagee, Osteen, Jakes, are you READING this? She also had a Foursquare Gospel radio show!

After McPherson died of an accidental drug overdose in 1944, the church passed into the hands of Aimee's son, Rolf K. McPherson.

On the right Aimee and her "Gospel" car
Forerunner of personal jets.

As of 2000, the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, commonly referred to as the Foursquare Church, had a worldwide membership of over 5 million in almost 30,000 churches in 123 countries. This includes 1,844 churches with 218,981 members in the United States.

Was Aimee a fraud? Her teachings were very much in line with Pentecostals and charismatics today: 1.The Bible as the inspired word of God, 2.The atoning death of Christ for sinners, 3.Salvation through the grace of God by Faith Alone in the Lord Jesus Christ, Baptism by immersion, Divine Healing, Return of Jesus Christ, Final Judgment, and, of course, Tithing and Offerings. She lived well (above is a picture of her "parsonage"), but not so extravagantly that there were grumblings of inappropriate expenditures.

She wasn't a "Word of Faith" preacher who extolled faith in God being rewarded with money. She wasn't a hell-fire preacher, but she put on a great show. She knew that she was what the times needed (especially after the Crash). She made herself famous (in addition to her radio show, she appeared at civic events and parades). She didn't spew hate or politics. Of course, if she had conquered television, she might have had her own broadcast network by now. She obviously had enough charisma to raise millions of dollars for her church and her causes. Her church endures even to this day (although, quite tellingly, most of the congregants are in foreign countries - the megachurch pastors have seen fit to ease the Foursquare Church out). In effect, she's still with us.

Will the Word of Faith mega-pastors be able to say the same in 70 years?

We hope not.

Angelus Temple then...and now.

One of HM King Farouk's Faberge eggs 1906 Swan Egg

Interesting little piece of history and jewelry. King Farouk was an avid collector and what better piece of beauty than a Feberge egg to acquire! The story about his rise to fame as a goldsmith and jeweler is that Czar Nicholas wanted to give out Easter presents, but small ones with captivating beauty (also less expensive). When the Czarina Alexandra opened the box and saw a plain white egg surrounded by a thin gold band - definitely not very impressive, but when she opened the egg she found that it had a golden yolk. When she opened the yolk, it revealed a golden hen with a ruby in its beak! She was so delighted that she asked to be given a "surprise" egg every Easter! Relatives were also given extravagant egg treasures, sometimes with surprises, sometimes with such beauty on the outside that the egg was exquisite!
Faberge Easter Egg for the Czar's mother.