The Bread of the Strong: Lacouturisme and the Folly of the Cross, 1910-1985

By Jack Lee Downey | Go to book overview

Acknowledgments

Whenever I think about questions of method and scholarship—which, honestly, is not incredibly often—I am reminded of a paraphrase of the great American Catholic historian John Tracy Ellis that Tom Shelley, another great American Catholic historian, recounted during a graduate seminar some years back: “You can’t be a good historian unless you like reading dead people’s mail.” I have been very lucky to have a constellation of resources and support align to allow me the space to do the archival research and analysis that formed the backbone of this project, and which has brought me great joy, along with no small amount of anxiety, during the past few years. And I am happy to have the opportunity to (briefly) express my gratitude.

Pride of place easily goes to my parents, whom I love very dearly. Of all the undeserved privileges I have experienced by virtue of having been born their child, I think the greatest has been a kind of presumption of ge ne tic moral integrity by those who know them—that I would be good because they are good. And although I have done my best to obliterate this preconception over the years, I have received the benefit of the doubt many more times than I have earned.

I have been very lucky to have basked in the glow of some brilliant and kind souls. To all my teachers, thank you. I am most profoundly grateful to Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo for caring for me and personifying compassionate wisdom. My mentor James T. Fisher has been a wonderful guide and friend—along with the rest of his clan, Kristina Chew and Charlie. I am very grateful to Robert Orsi for having played matchmaker between me and Jim and for being another great teacher. Along with Jim, Mark Massa, SJ, and the incomparable Maria Terzulli gave me a welcoming home at Fordham University’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. There is a litany of people who made my experience at Fordham remarkable, but in a particular way Reg Kim, Mara Brecht, Catherine

-ix-

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