Aimee Semple McPherson was a woman that is a cultural touch point to the future by reflecting her time and place in the world. Looking through the lens of Women’s History Month Sister Aimee provides an interesting way to look at survival during the Great Depression and what a determined woman can do if she is called to her purpose and follows it full steam.
18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – Prohibition and Depression Don’t Mix
Prohibition was the law of the land. The intent of the amendment was honorable. The execution of the law was unenforceable.
I can safely speak for a relative or two in my family, mainly because they are dead. The Revenue man on the job has also been permanently retired. I can almost hear the conversation on the back porch; “What? Leave cash money in ground when we can set up a (Moonshine) Still for next to nothing?” Sister Aimee knew what she was up against. This is a brief video of her feelings and beliefs about prohibition before she leaves on a trip:
Making liquor was risky, dangerous and, depending on the recipe, it could kill you if you got the wrong batch of hooch. But there was money to be made selling, sneaking and delivering liquor to Americans during the depression. By land, sea and basement Moonshine Still Americans were trying to take the sting out of being busted broke.
In 2009 parallels can be seen in the growth of hydroponic marijuana farms in upscale neighborhoods, state parks and federal land. I am not condoning this type of activity but I’d be a fool not to acknowledge that for some people who are financially desperate marijuana distribution is a dangerous means of acquiring money.
Of course people can talk about the affect marijuana will have on the country. Will it become a zombie state like reefer madness? A nation of Beevis and Buttheads? While I have seen several of my marijuana smoking colleagues become doctors lawyers, stock brokers and politicians, it is true that several people I know turned to burnt out weed head couch potatoes. If marijuana was legalized people could have open and honest discussions about marijuana with counselors and doctors.
Mountain Girl hipped me to a Time magazine article about the possibility of California considering legalizing marijuana as a tax base and cash crop and She read a statement before a judge as to why marijuana should be legalized. One of her reasons is:
I contend that the risk of marijuana use is equal to the risk of alcohol use and should be treated in the same manner.
Personally, I really don’t want to ride a Metro bus with an overly relaxed driver. Some of the drivers are crusty and non-customer service orientated. However they are the most skillfully alert drivers in some of the most challenging motoring on this side of the Pacific.
Now if we could get our heads out of the sand about Hemp, I think we’d have safer and more interesting product choices. I think on a personal and industrial scale this could be a viable growth industry. For example, Bryanna Clark Brogan writes about making Multi-Grain Hemp Pancakes” for her vegan blog Notes from the Vegan Fest Kitchen. Clara at Earth Day gives her pitch as to why growing Hemp is environmentally the right thing to do.
Women Entrepreneurship from the Ground Up
In the Great Depression as now crime does pay; if you are rich enough, don’t get caught or shot dead first. Not everyone was on the take but people did what they had to do.
Women like my paternal grandmother provided “Fish Fry” sandwiches and dinners. For example, if juiced party goers got the munchies after attending a dance or Speakeasy they needed someplace to go for good cheap food. My grandmother provided that meal for a price.
Yes, she indirectly benefited from illegal activities but committed no crime. She also put food on the table and a home for her family. Other folks in need of income had sliding scales of ethics on what they would and would not do to survive.
So what do women do now? Certainly we write, blog and create a variety of products, good and services. Many women such are doing what Green is the New Black is doing, selling her unwanted/unused items on eBay in order to build up her emergency fund. Budgets Are Sexy is thinking about selling T-shirts that promo her blog? I think the point of her post is that from a creative activity like silk screening she was inspired to start thinking about how she could apply it to generate interest to her blog and possible money flow.
Crafters and the people that love buying one of a kind crafts are hanging out at Etsy or marketing their goods and services on websites and blogs.
Using Technology to Enhance Communication and Networking
Sister Aimee was one of the first women to implement a mega-church concept. She built & created the Angelus Temple church in Los Angeles. Aimee understood that she was selling salvation and for that you needed a 5,000 seat church designed as a theater.
Sister Aimee was also one of the first women to apply for an FCC radio license. Sister Aimee was one of the first televangelists to broadcast her program. McPherson also marketed publications for sale and made use of every available media to reach the un-holy, downtrodden and any sinner that drew a breath.
Sister Aimee was an early pioneer of women creating and self publishing their own work. Aimee McPherson had her own distribution network and could also tap into her network of worshippers and volunteers. For more information about Aimee Semple McPherson visit her page on the California Trails site at the California Museum. The University of Virginia also has a great deal of information about the 1930 on their American Studies page.
What We Can Learn From Aimee Semple McPherson?
- Believe in yourself and your crazy ideas.
- Stay true to your beliefs. For Sister Aimee it was spreading the Word and not being swayed by popular opinions. She followed her internal compass. Sometimes her compass was faulty and got her into trouble. Sister Aimee usually found her way back to her center point.
- Take advantage of the resources that you have before you. For Aimee it started with her using voice. Later it expanded into revival meetings, radio, interviews and creating and distributing her publications.
- Technology rock! Learn as much or a little as you need but be willing to try something different. It can literally transform your life. And by technology I don’t necessarily mean all things electronic. There may be an old technology that might suit you just fine or can be adapted to the 21st century.
- Network with other people and ladies, please fill out your BlogHer profiles! Some of you have blogs we’d love to visit but we can’t find you.
Gena Haskett is a Contributing Editor at BlogHer where this post originally appeared.