Aimee Semple McPherson in the Brotherhood of Light Lessons

Starting with October, the blog will feature one individual per month whose natal chart is included with biographical information in the Brotherhood of Light Lessons. We know that Elbert and his collaborators studied some charts of famous people who were perceived as political heroes or villains, some were Church of Light leaders, while others were in the headlines in news events like the Lindberghs.

Aimee Semple McPherson was surely studied because she was in the news, but our October born example illustrates the wild proliferation of personality cults and religious profiteers described by our September born example in his The Profits of Religion first published in 1917. It opens with a fictional encounter with someone trying to attain human levitation through meditation techniques, which reminds me of such claims from Transcendental Meditation leaders in the 1980s.

In his chapter The Face of Caesar, Upton Sinclair wrote “The thesis of this book is the effect of fixed dogma in producing mental paralysis by Economic Exploitation.” In the introduction he creates a fictional dialogue with a cultist:

“I approach one and say to him, friend, what is this you are doing?

He answers, without pausing to glance at me, ‘I am performing spiritual exercises.  See how I rise?’

“But, I say, ‘you are not rising at all!’

Whereat he becomes instantly angry. ‘You are one of the scoffers!’

But, friend, I protest, ‘don’t you feel the earth under your feet?’

‘You are a materialist!’

‘But, friend, I can see…’

‘You are without spiritual vision!’

I have heard variations of this script from many different directions, directed at me and many others in recent years, so it was refreshing to see their actual dialogue was written long ago. Upton Sinclair writes about dozens of obscure cults but also at great length about mainstream churches as evidence for his thesis about the economics of religion. His comment about the two I’ve studied at length seems prescient of how I feel about them a hundred years later as historical research subjects: “Also there are the Christian Scientists and the Theosophists, so exasperating that one would like to throw them onto the rubbish-heap, who yet compel us to sift over their mountains of chaff for the grains of truth that will bear fruit in the future.” (from the chapter Black Magic.)

Here is a recent article about Sister Aimee’s disappearace: