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!).
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.
At long last, a truly substantive update on the Thebaid Photo Book!
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!
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.
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”→
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 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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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 approachesto 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.)
The last few days have been a whirlwind of emails and phone calls as I’ve reached out to numerous Orthodox monasteries in California and beyond, and I am very happy to report that I’ve got a full schedule for the remainder of July, covering eight monasteries.
Due to travel considerations, and the facilities of some of the monasteries, a few of these will be “day trips,” but that is the nature of a true pilgrimage, which this has become since I set out in early June. At that time, I only had one monastery scheduled, but worked on contacting other monasteries from the road, which worked very well.
There have been some blessed surprises along the way. I had been unable to get an answer on the phone at St Anthony’s in Florence AZ, and had not seen a reply to my email s either, but as I left New Mexico I decided I could at least make a day trip to St Anthony’s, the crown of the Greek Orthodox monasteries planted by Elder Ephraim, the Athonite disciple of Elder Joseph the Hesychast and former Abbot of Philotheou Monastery on the Holy Mountain.
Imagine my surprise when, on my arrival shortly before Vespers, I was warmly welcomed by the monks. So much so that I asked if I could stay for a few days. Happily, they had plenty of room, and an important door opened up. The next day, I was able to meet with Abbot Paisios and receive his blessing to make some photographs during the divine services.
Watch for a new gallery of images from St Anthony’s coming soon, and further updates as the pilgrimage continues…
I hope you can join me for the St Symeon Food & Culture Fair for a special day of events, presentations, beautiful chorale music, food, exhibits, church tours, and much more.
I will be giving an introductory presentation on Orthodox Christian Monasticism throughout the day, featuring photographs from over a dozen monasteries in North America from my book project, The North American Thebaid.
Continued growth and progress as we pass the midpoint of the Thebaid Project, but we need contributions to keep gas in the tank!
This was originally posted to our GoFundMe and Indiegogo crowdfunding sites last week.
Thebaid Project Update, January 2018
Dear Friends, Supporters, and Fellow Thebaid Pilgrims,
I hope you all had a blessed Christmas, New Year and Theophany season!
No, you didn’t miss an update in December, I did! But this one is well worth the wait, covering recent travel, upcoming schedule, and two special announcements.
Announcement #1 — We are officially at the midpoint of the photography, with fifteen monasteries photographed to date, and dozens of images already selected for the book. WE’re on track to finish the photography by June (or July), and for the book to be sent to the printer soon after that, to be in distribution by Autumn 2018.
Announcement #2 — I have been in communication with a leading Orthodox publisher since just before the new year. No agreement in writing yet so we cannot share any details, but their interest in publishing the Thebaid book is yet a further affirmation of the Thebaid Project.
MONASTERY PHOTOGRAPHY —
NOVEMBER 14-19, 2017 — Monks and Nuns of New Skete (OCA), Cambridge NY. Having just celebrated their 50th Anniversary, New Skete is perhaps best known outside the Orthodox Church for their breeding and training of German Shepherd dogs. You can view my extensive gallery of images at thebaid.org. My heartfelt thanks to Br. Christopher, Sr. Cecilia, and the communities of New Skete for their invitation and hospitality.
NOVEMBER 20, 2017 — Skete of St. John the Theologian (ROCOR), Hiram OH. This was a brief, “get acquainted” visit, to a small but historic monastic community in northern Ohio. I hope to return soon to do some serious photography, but on my blog you can get a good sense of the beauty of the chapel and grounds from the few photos made with my iPhone.