Resistance and Appropriation of Modernism in 1920s Faith Healing

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My research this summer focused on how the faith healing ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson related to the social and cultural context of the 1920?s. Framing this highly specific topic is the greater question, how does religion, which itself is based in tradition, interact with changes in society? What happens when the competing forces of tradition and modernization converge in religion? Through archival research at the Foursquare Heritage Center, I examined testimonies of divine healing written by readers of McPherson?s Bridal Call magazine to determine the place of faith healing within the context of early 20th century American culture. I found that her faith healing ministry embraced aspects of both traditional Christianity and of the ?modern? culture surrounding it. This unique example of McPherson?s faith healing ministry shows that religion in the 1920?s represented a much more complicated relationship than the simple debate between the traditional and modern. Instead, religion consisted of a complex negotiation between a traditional faith and the contemporary culture surrounding it.


Lynn Dumenil




The Peter Bjorklund Family Fellowship

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