Palmer reflects on the difficulties studying NRMs (New Religious Movements)—not just how to get inside, but how to not be forced into taking sides or having one’s credibility questioned:

“As a mature researcher, somewhat scarred from my forays into that embattled terrain known as the cult wars, I am now ready to make a confession. I do see myself as a connoisseur. For me, NRMs are beautiful life forms, mysterious and pulsating with charisma. Each ‘cult’ is a mini-culture, a protocivilization. Prophets and heretics generate fantasy worlds that rival those of Philip K. Dick or L. Frank Baum. When I venture into the thickets of wild home-grown spirituality, and explore the rich undergrowth of what society rejects as its ‘weed’ religions, I sometimes think of Dorothy’s adventures in The Emerald City of Oz. Dorothy follows the yellow brick road that leads her through Utensia, a city whose inhabitants are kitchen utensils. Managing to escape King Kleaver (who threatens to chop her), she wanders into Bunbury where houses are made of crackers with bread-stick porches and wafer-shingles and are inhabited by living buns with currant eyes. She ventures on to meet the evil headless Scoodles, then continues on down the yellow brick road.”