All summer I have been editing and laying out a biography of the American Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson (1890-1944). I just sent the galleys to the writer, a professor in Arizona, and am working on my own corrections as well.
There have been the usual hassles—missing “essential” photos, notes that did not match the text, etc.—but we are working through all of that.
I mentioned the project on Facebook once, and got a response from a former student who was raised in the Assemblies of God, one of the larger Pentecostal denominations (the largest, says Wikipedia).
She had heard about Aimee when she was younger, but thought of her as a “scary” person.
Having lived with Aimee’s biography for six months, there is much that I could say about her, but “scary” is not a word that I would use. (I sent the student a PDF of the chapter about Aimee’s revival tour through Denver in the early 1920s.)
Do Pentecostal Christians send their elders down the memory hole as effectively as Pagans do?
Or does that process happen in all religions that do not have formal processes of canonizing saints or the equivalent—something that fixes them in memory?
I am still waiting for a serious academic biography of Gerald Gardner, who is after all the founder of a world religion, now that Wicca is in India, Brazil, Germany, and other places.
No doubt many young Wiccans have either (a) not heard of him or (b) think that he was some “scary” old guy.
Philip Heselton (interviewed here), the author of two earlier books about Gardner, is supposed to have a new biography coming out from Thoth, although as of today I cannot find it on their fancy-but-unsearchable website.
I judged the earlier books as being strong on research and legwork, but weak on analysis and contextualizing. Credulous, even. There is probably still room for a biography written by someone with a background in discussing new religious movements.
Meanwhile, Oberon Zell is at work on some new encylopediac work about “wizards of the world.” He has been trying to convince me to a write an entry about Gleb Botkin. Now there is someone who should be kept from sliding down the memory hole of Pagan history as well.