“Teaching Sister Aimee,” by Art Remillard
Aimee Semple McPherson was the subject of this past week’s NPR program, “Speaking of Faith.” [Editor's Note: The host of the show, Krista Tippett, keeps an online journal about the shows, well worth reading]. Along with original audio and film archives from the revivalist, the program highlights interviews with Anthea Butler (University of Rochester) and Arlene Sanchez Walsh (Azusa Pacific University). For a fifty minute program, this is an excellent introduction to Sister Aimee, a charismatic, charming, and controversial figure in American religious history. As such, I will probably assign it the next time I teach Religion in the U.S. I have used “Speaking of Faith” shows in other classes, such as World Religions and Bioethics. Most programs come with full transcripts, from which I pilfer provocative statements, and include them in a discussion guide along with some open ended questions. While I generally like the programs, student reactions have been mixed. Some find the content compelling. Others appreciate not having to read. And there are those who find the shows downright boring. Ah the imperfect science of teaching! In spite of the protestations, I will continue using the programs. Overall, I have found them a welcome addition to my teaching arsenal.