Polishing the Prologue (and Epilogue!)

Revisiting the early stages of the Thebaid Project has been the key to its successful fulfillment in the near future.

Over the last few weeks I have been revising my text contributions to the North American Thebaid photo book, at the direction of Fr Mikel Hill, manager of St Tikhon’s Monastery Press and Bookstore, and editor of the Thebaid book. Specifically, Fr Mikel gave me the task of combining two separate articles of mine into one, and provided a word count limit, which has been a welcomed but grand challenge (as those who know me can imagine!).

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Fr Steven Kostoff blesses my photo gear at the beginning of my travels, September 2016.

Part of my wordsmithing process has included revisiting other earlier blog posts here on the Thebaid website, which has been nothing short of a revelation. Looking back three and four years to my earliest expressions of the nature of the Thebaid Project, my writings on photography and monasticism, and the many articles and features which I have reposted from an array of excellent Orthodox Christian sites, monastic writers, and respected photographers, has been a joyous journey indeed, one which I think you all might enjoy as well.

Continue reading “Polishing the Prologue (and Epilogue!)”

The Book Proofing Process Begins!

At long last, a truly substantive update on the Thebaid Photo Book!

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One of the prototype cover designs. (Photos from St Michael Skete, Spruce Island, Alaska)

I recently had some wonderful news from St Tikhon’s Monastery Press, that they had set an internal deadline of the end of February for the first full virtual proof of the Thebaid photo book. Practically speaking, with Great Lent beginning on March 2, this means we are looking at the second week of March for serious work on editing based off that first digital proof.

This is the first major marker on the final stretch toward publication of the finished book, and is a thrilling accomplishment in its own right.

Who can describe the enormous amount of quiet, diligent behind the scenes labors by the design team at St Tikhon’s Press to get us to this point? They have been at it for months, and I am eager to see — and share with you! — the results!

There is so much that goes into creating a book like this. First of all the final selection of the images — the very best of the very best — from the approximately 300 images which I provided to the Press last Autumn, those culled from over 26,000 images which I made during my pilgrimage. Then the sequencing, sizing and formatting of the images, with interspersed text, to carry the viewer of the book on a visual pilgrimage across the Orthodox Monasteries of North America.

Then too there are the special articles being submitted for the book by Orthodox monastic writers in America. The whole look and feel of the book is now taking shape. Graphics and design elements, titles, headings, fonts and block quotes; it will all be there in this first proof for us to scrutinize and perfect.

There is a saying many of us use to enable us to get things done in an efficient manner: “Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.” This was my motto for much of the two years of planning and three years of travel, when scheduling was done on the fly, and photos were made in ideal, and often far less than ideal, conditions. Everything seemed to move so quickly back then, and as it seemed easy to wrap up my travels, so I also felt (wrongly) that the publication would be an equally easy process.

Not at all, as I have learned. Now the motto is reversed, and we can more accurately say, “Don’t let the good be the enemy of the perfect,” or at least of the sublime. We only get one opportunity with the book to make it the landmark edition we have long hoped for it to be.

I cannot adequately express my appreciation for all of you, our supporters. You have made this 3 year pilgrimage possible through pre-ordering the book — whether Standard Hardcover Edition or Deluxe Limited Edition in Bonded Leather — and through your prayers and patience, especially during these long months when the progress has been hidden behind the scenes.

As we approach the beginning of Great Lent, I also ask your forgiveness for not providing more updates. There were so few substantive updates to provide, and rather than artificially try to “gin up” excitement over the still indefinite publishing date, I chose to be patient with the process. Some of you have kindly reached out through messages and email, and I have been only too happy to communicate with you what I did know. But now — now at last — we are entering into the final stages of the book prep, and there is cause and need for regular posts and updates as the proofing process begins in earnest.

So, with all that said, here’s what you can look forward to in the weeks ahead:

  • New galleries of images I have held back especially for this final pre-press stage. These are from the last several monasteries of my Western Pilgrimage, from Alaska to Arizona, and from Washington State to Texas, five or more monastery photo galleries in all, plus additions to some of the others;
  • Real-time updates during the proofing process, including whatever I can provide in the way of screen shots, “galley proofs” and page layouts;
  • Advance notice of the publishing timeline, with shipping dates for Thebaid Supporter Pre-Orders, online availability through St Tikhon’s Monastery Press Online Bookstore and other Orthodox online resellers, as well as Amazon and broader availability through brick & mortar bookstores in select markets;
  • Advance notice of special Thebaid presentations, exhibits and book signings at select churches, bookstores and venues;
  • And, hopefully, a few surprises I have in mind which are sure to be appreciated by many of you.

As a reminder, you can still pre-order the Thebaid Photo Book through our Online Store:

Our Online Store has all the specifications for the finished book (size, fine-art paper stock, etc.), plus beautifully rendered mockups of different prototype cover designs.

The Standard Edition will be available through all retail outlets, but the only way you can purchase the Deluxe Limited Edition is through pre-ordering it from our Thebaid Online Store. I’ll post a notice here when we are preparing to send the book to the printer, and the final deadline for pre-orders. If you’re interested in the Deluxe Limited Edition, best to pre-order right away to reserve your copy.

Thank you all again for your prayers, patience and support. I can’t wait to get the finished Thebaid Photo Book into your hands!

Watch for more updates soon and on a regular basis going forward!

Ralph Zosimas Sidway

At Long Last! – A Thebaid Book Update

Greetings for the Dormition Season!

The Platina Pilgrimage
The hand operated printing press at St Herman of Alaska Monastery in Platina CA, where Fr Seraphim Rose and Abbot Herman produced The Orthodox Word and numerous important books.

First of all, my sincere apologies for not posting any news on the Thebaid book for quite some time. We simply haven’t had any news to share, but have been in somewhat of a holding pattern. But all that is changing rapidly, thanks be to God!

Some of you have reached out to ask about the book’s progress, and I am very grateful for your contact, and happy to have some solid news to report.

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St Tikhon’s Press had asked me last December to be patient, as they had new books which had been scheduled for publication in 2019 well ahead of mine. The first of these was published in conjunction with St Tikhon’s annual Memorial Day Pilgrimage Weekend (a beautiful new book on Metropolitan Leonty of blessed memory), and the other titles have been proceeding apace, meaning the Thebaid Book is next up.

This is most invigorating for me, I can assure you, and I am looking forward to making an extended working visit to St Tikhon’s in mid-September, which will enable us to make much progress. But even in advance of that, we have been fleshing out the specifics of the book sections, and image use and sequencing remotely through correspondence. Continue reading “At Long Last! – A Thebaid Book Update”

‘Jordanville Conference’ available in both Audio and Video, from Ancient Faith Radio

High quality recordings in both audio and video from the landmark ‘Jordanville Conference’ which took place just last weekend (March 7-9) are now available for online listening and download from Ancient Faith Radio.

img_1262Titled ‘Chastity, Purity, Integrity: Orthodox Anthropology and Secular Culture in the 21st Century’, this is shaping up to be the most significant Orthodox Christian conference yet of the new century. The fifteen presentations — more than five hours, not including the 48 minute long keynote address by Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option — present a wide variety of traditional, authentic, Orthodox perspectives on the anthropological heresy of our age. AFR’s special page for the conference recordings states:

Held at Holy Trinity Seminary (Russian Orthodox Church Abroad) March 7 – 9 2019, scholarly and pastoral perspectives were shared with the goal of articulating the application of Orthodox Tradition and apologetics to current needs, in the face of current social trends regarding sex, body, and human nature.

Someone might ask, “You are doing a photo book on Orthodox monasticism. Why are you blogging about such a hot button topic completely tangential to your work?”

Fair question.

I am blogging about this conference precisely because it reveals something quite dynamic and critical to the health of Orthodoxy in America, namely the massive contribution Orthodox Christian Monasticism has to make to the very life and witness of the Orthodox Church, in America and around the world. It is precisely the Orthodox monastic ethos and phronema that undergirds this Conference which gives it its legitimacy, its authenticity, and its prophetic tone and urgency. I made that very point in my earlier post, in which I wrote:

This visionary conference, perhaps the first of its kind in North America, features speakers and a planning committee who hail primarily from Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (ROCOR, Jordanville NY) and St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (OCA, South Canaan PA), both of which are unique in North America among Orthodox seminaries for being linked to and deriving their traditional Orthodox ethos from the monasteries out of which they grew.

Clearly, there is a large amount of material to cover here. So far, I have watched four of the presentations (quite out of their chronological order), those by Dr. Mark Cherry, Fr. Peter Heers, Fr. John Parker, and Fr. Alexander Webster. These are each so weighty and intense, that I look forward to the rest, and am determined to make the viewing of these presentations an important part of my Lenten effort for 2019. Indeed, that may have been the aim of the conference planning committee, who timed the conference for the threshold of the beginning of Great Lent, and who obviously coordinated tightly with Ancient Faith Radio to make the presentations available less than a week after the conclusion of the conference.

(I should add that the videos are not raw, unedited uploads, but benefit from three or four camera angles, nicely varied, with the brief introduction of each speaker, and the speaker’s name and position/title recurrently displayed at bottom. This professional presentation adds to the significance of the entire effort.)

The talks by Dr Mark Cherry (Professor of Philosophy at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas) and Fr Alexander F.C. Webster (Dean and Professor of Moral Theology at Holy Trinity Seminary (ROCOR) in Jordanville, New York) serve to frame the conference as a prophetic moment in the life of the Orthodox Church in North America and the West in general.

Continue reading “‘Jordanville Conference’ available in both Audio and Video, from Ancient Faith Radio”

Jordanville Conference features speakers from the only two American Orthodox seminaries joined to monasteries

Titled Chastity, Purity, Integrity: – Orthodox Anthropology and Secular Culture in the 21st Century, this visionary conference, perhaps the first of its kind in North America, features speakers and a planning committee who hail primarily from Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary (ROCOR, Jordanville NY) and St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (OCA, South Canaan PA), both of which are unique in North America among Orthodox seminaries for being linked to and deriving their traditional Orthodox ethos from the monasteries out of which they grew.

Confronting in a firm and direct manner the raging cultural heresies of the day, yet with love and compassion befitting a truly Christian endeavor, the conference features presentations with such traditional Orthodox titles and teachings as these:

  • Orthodox Anthropology: Encountering the “new gnosticism” of transgenderism, pansexuality, and post-humanism
  • Nurturing Christian Purity and Chastity among Young People Today
  • The Mystery of Male and Female
  • The Relevance and Application of Orthodox teachings of Purity and Chastity to 21st-Century America: Culture, Families, Parishes
  • Leavening American Society with the Moral Teachings of the Church

This conference clearly is intended to present in a living and engaging manner the divine-human Orthodox phronema, the Mind of Christ and His Church on the nature, calling, and destiny of mankind.

Unlike certain academic platforms, cut off as they are from the living Orthodox tradition, and which therefore spread heresy and error and seek to overthrow the divine teachings and commandments of Christ and the Scriptures regarding man and woman, marriage and sexuality, and to reimagine and subvert the living tradition of the Orthodox Church, this Jordanville Conference, deriving as it does from two of the oldest and most stalwart Orthodox Christian monasteries in the entire Western Hemisphere, offers not just Orthodox teaching on the nature of Mankind, but presents the Way of Life, as distinguished from the way which leads to death (see the Didache, esp. ch. 1 & 2).

Rather than reproduce the lovely aerial photo of Holy Trinity Monastery and Seminary featured with the conference announcement, I think it more appropriate to use one of my favorite images from The North American Thebaid, my photograph of the entrance to Jordanville, its domes faithfully shining beneath dark and threatening skies, a metaphor for the Orthodox Christian presence shining in the midst of the dark age we have entered into here in America.

More info and links on the Jordanville Conference are below the photograph:

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Chastity, Purity, Integrity:

Orthodox Anthropology and Secular Culture in the 21st Century

Holy Trinity Seminary Jordanville, New York

March 7 – 9, 2019 | Conference announcement and info

This three-day conference focuses on the application of Orthodox teachings on anthropology and morality to contemporary challenges posed by secular American culture (even within the Church).

It will include both scholarly and pastoral perspectives, with the goal of articulating the application of Orthodox Tradition and apologetics to current needs, in the face of current social trends regarding sex, body, and human nature.

It seeks to do so in a prayerful and traditional framework, out of compassion for both struggling Orthodox Christians and families, and those of our neighbors facing spiritual shipwreck in our culture today.

Speakers include::

  • Bishop Irenei (Steenberg)
  • Bishop/Abbot Luke Murianka
  • Dr. Alfred Kentigern Siewers
  • Dr. David Ford
  • Dr. Mary Ford
  • Dr. Edith Humphrey
  • Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green
  • Fr. Chad Hatfield
  • Fr. Peter Heers
  • Dr. David Bradshaw
  • Fr. Hans Jacobse
  • Fr. John Parker
  • Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon
  • Fr. Alexander Webster
  • Dr. John Mark Reynolds

Full information is available on the Holy Trinity Monastery website.

January 2019 Thebaid Update

On to publication of the Thebaid Book in Spring 2019!

This update serves as a special ‘Thank you’ to our dozens of dear supporters, for propelling the North American Thebaid Project to the threshold of its goal, the publication of the large-format, photographic coffee table book, due in Spring 2019 from St Tikhon’s Monastery Press, South Canaan PA.

In the coming weeks and months I’ll be deeply engaged in photo editing and book design, sending files back and forth with the design team at St. Tikhon’s Press, and working closely with our pre-press partners at Four Colour Print Group in Louisville and FCI Digital in Dayton, as we work to fulfill our goal of creating an inspiring, museum-quality photo book. We can’t wait to get it into your hands!

St Tikhon’s Press announces the Thebaid Book to over 20,000 readers

St Tikhon’s 2019 Liturgical Calendar, featuring photographs from the North American Thebaid.

St Tikhon’s Monastery Press chose to announce their role as publisher of the Thebaid book through a statement in their 2019 Liturgical Calendar, which features fourteen full-color images from the Thebaid Project.

Covering over a dozen Orthodox monasteries across America, from several of the canonical Orthodox jurisdictions and archdioceses here, this beautiful calendar has now been distributed to hundreds of parish churches, reaching an audience of over 20,000, who began using this unique liturgical calendar on January 1 of the New Year.

We are deeply grateful for St. Tikhon’s Press and their public endorsement of the Thebaid Project. You can order the St Tikhon’s 2019 Liturgical Calendar direct from STM Press…

Continue reading “January 2019 Thebaid Update”

Thebaid Store returns online! – Now accepting pre-orders for the Thebaid Photo Book

After a period of technical difficulties following the launch of our new Thebaid Online Store, we are officially back up and running, and accepting pre-orders.

Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville NY, one of several prototype cover designs you can view at the Thebaid Store.

 

This large-format, fine-art “coffee table” book represents the culmination of a unique multi-year project, which has combined crowdfunding, social media, and an unprecedented photographic pilgrimage to over thirty Orthodox monasteries across the American continent, to help raise awareness of and interest in the Orthodox Church and its ancient monastic traditions, and thus contribute to the “churching” of America.

Full specifications are provided for all products. Signed copies are offered, with signed & matted fine art prints. Quantity discounts for signed bundles are also available. At a glance:

  • Quantity discounts available for signed book & print bundles.
  • Additional info and answers to frequently asked questions are provided.

Proceed to the Thebaid Store…

 

Thebaid Images featured on covers of STM Press 2019 Liturgical Rubrics Book, Pocket Planner

The close relationship between the North American Thebaid Project and St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press continues to bear fruit, with the publication of the STM Press 2019 Liturgical Rubrics & Calendar, and their 2019 Pocket Planner, each of which feature a stunning photograph from The North American Thebaid on the cover.

These are in addition to the publication of the 2019 St Tikhon’s Monastery Press Liturgical Calendar, which features fourteen photographs from the Thebaid Project. More info, with images from this large-format wall-calendar and links to order from STM Press are provided here.

I continue to feel deeply thankful and honored that St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press has so embraced the North American Thebaid Project, and is using more of the images for their outstanding line of liturgical calendars, books and resources, which will go out to many hundreds of Orthodox parishes and thousands of believers across the United States and Canada.

Specifications for the STM Press 2019 Liturgical Rubrics & Calendar, and 2019 Pocket Planner follow:

Continue reading “Thebaid Images featured on covers of STM Press 2019 Liturgical Rubrics Book, Pocket Planner”

Thebaid Project awarded 2018 Ganister Foundation Grant

The Ganister Foundation recognizes the North American Thebaid for its “innovative approach to advancing the mission of Orthodoxy in the United States.”

The Ganister Orthodox Foundation recently announced its grant recipients for 2018, which included the North American Thebaid Project, a two-year photographic pilgrimage covering over thirty Orthodox Christian monasteries across the continent from several jurisdictions, including over a dozen monasteries of the Orthodox Church in America.

Founded in 2001, the Ganister Orthodox Foundation:

Provides financial assistance for organizations and parishes with innovative approaches to advancing the mission of Orthodoxy in the United States…

Favor is given to proposals that address priority needs of the Orthodox Church in America, especially those that do so in catalytic ways.

The selection process also weighs leadership experience, clarity of goals, the presence of a stable funding base, and faithfulness to the teachings and ministry of the OCA. (Emphasis added.)

Continue reading “Thebaid Project awarded 2018 Ganister Foundation Grant”

New Thebaid Store launches, featuring easy pre-order for the Thebaid Book

Pre-Order the North American Thebaid book,

a large-format, fine-art photography book to be published in Spring 2019 by St. Tikhon’s Monastery Press.

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One of several early designs for the Thebaid Book Cover. See more at the Thebaid Store.

The Thebaid Book will be published in both the Standard Edition with scuff-resistant, French-fold dust jacket, and a Deluxe Limited Edition in Bonded Leather with ribbon marker. Pre-order now on the new Thebaid Store.

Signed copies with Signed/Matted Fine Art Prints from the Thebaid Project are also available to pre-order in special bundles.

The Deluxe Limited Edition and the Signed/Matted Fine Art Prints are only available for a limited time, until we reach the printer’s deadline for the book.

Proceed to our new Thebaid Store for full details and to pre-order. 

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Prototype design for the Deluxe Limited Edition in Bonded Leather of the Thebaid Book. See more cover designs and pre-order on the new Thebaid Store.