IT HAS TAKEN a good long while to write this book, and that means there are plenty of people to thank for their efforts along the way. That the book is the culmination of several different studies only expands the number of thank-yous owed.
First, I’m deeply grateful to my wife, Jovi, and my children, Zion and Liel. Without their patience when I was hiding in the bedroom to write and using my dresser as a bookshelf the book couldn’t have been written. Without the fun and joy they give me when I crawl out of the bedroom, there wouldn’t have been much point to writing it.
While their influence upon me began long ago, I continue to look for support and inspiration from The Congress, my former classmates during my graduate school years at the University of California. They were a brilliant bunch to study with, and they remain a brilliant group of colleagues, even if we are scattered around the country now.
I’m grateful for my current colleagues, especially those in the Department of Religious Studies at Manhattan College, who have given me wide latitude in deciding what kinds of projects to pursue. In addition, the college and its provost, Weldon Jackson, deserve recognition for financially supporting the trip to Pittsburgh that was necessary for chapter two. None of the chapters could have been written without the wonderful library staff at Manhattan College, who cheerfully tracked down books and articles through Interlibrary Loan and generally made my trips to the library pleasant through their gracious assistance and even more gracious friendship. Likewise, I appreciate the secretarial assistance and good cheer of Syrita Newman and MaryEllen Lamonica in the School of Arts, who make all manner of tasks simpler through their help.
Many people sat down for the interviews that form the ethnographic basis of two chapters in the book. Matt Mason, director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie