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Aimee Semple McPherson: An Astronomical Stage Built by Devilish Tools

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This thesis seeks to discuss the inclusion of space and technology in Aimee Semple McPherson’s illustrated sermons and work. Throughout the 1930s, McPherson was able to blur the lines between religion, science, pop-culture, and performance to create a spectacle for those in attendance at the Angelus Temple in Echo Park. Her theatrical and pop-cultural elements not only gave her preaching more credibility, but also made them more relatable to a wider audience across Los Angeles County, and even the world. After receiving permission to access the Heritage Center Archives, I cross-referenced my research with materials from the Pentecostal Archives. I investigated different newspaper articles to gather more information on both the illustrated sermons and the church’s interest in outer space and the great beyond. I then explored other online records of newspapers from the period to discover the intrigue in space outside of the church. Through my comparison of the articles by McPherson, the Foursquare Crusader, and other California-based publications, I gathered a better picture of technological and astronomical appreciation. Alongside the images from the Heritage Center Archives, I was able to discover where McPherson drew her inspiration from in order to create such entertaining and thought-provoking sermons rooted in science, technology, and religion.

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This item is under embargo until June 27, 2024.