Today, we have an announcement.
At long last, I am pleased to announce publication details for my two upcoming books: The Gentle Traditionalist and Cor Jesu Sacratissimum.
For I have just exchanged contracts with Angelico Press in America who will be publishing the first this autumn, with plans to publish my much bigger book Cor Jesu Sacratissimum in the spring of 2016.
Two books? Some readers may not realise there is a second small book (which I announced here), nor that my second book will actually be the first to be published.
Confused? Let me explain by telling you a tale of two books …
Long-time readers of this site will know of the endlessly-promised, endlessly-delayed big book which I started writing in France in 2008 and which I genuinely thought would be ready for publication by 2010.
That book snowballed, accumulating layers and becoming increasingly complex, as I tried to more deeply fathom the themes I was writing about.
Broadly speaking, those themes reflect three worlds I have encountered during my life.
First, there is the modern world of secular liberal capitalism, which we all know so well.
Second, there is the New Age movement, which I devoted nearly twenty years of my youth to, including a spell at Findhorn in Scotland (perhaps the world’s leading New Age community).
Finally, there is the world of the Catholic Mystery which I came to know after my 1997 conversion experience, shortly before my thirty-fourth birthday.
It was only then, after thirty four years, that I realised how the first two worlds – secular modernity and the New Age – had conspired to render me completely blind to the third world: the Holy Church.
I also realised that, of course, I am not alone. Millions of other Westerners – particularly in the formerly Protestant Anglosphere – are blinded exactly like I was.
Much of my big snowball of a book, then, is concerned with precisely that: how the Catholic Mystery is utterly obscured by secular and New Age ideology. It is also about the role this ‘formerly Protestant Anglosphere’ plays in that obscuration.
Let me underscore that by noting that I was born in America, but my parents were from England. I grew up in both countries. One might even say, then, that I am quintessentially Anglo-American. Certainly, the Protestant heritage of those countries stamped me powerfully.
Yet it was only after converting to Catholicism that I even became conscious of that fact!
But then something happened that made me still more conscious: I moved to countries that did not share my Protestant heritage. First Ireland, then Spain, then France. (By the mercy of God, I am back in Ireland again.)
The effect of living in these Catholic cultures has been profound. Gaining distance from England and America, I realised that the still-Catholic ethos of those countries (even hyper-secular France) has served to protect them from the worst excesses of secular liberal capitalism.
At least, that is true historically. How much longer it will remain true is another matter. For Catholic culture, I have come to see, is being destroyed by an Anglo-Americanism, which often masks itself under the more neutral sounding word globalisation.
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That last contentious statement is another major theme, then, of my big snowball book. I also argue that the New Age movement – which regards itself ‘timeless’ and ‘universal’ – is far more steeped in Anglo-American bias than it usually realises.
And the book contains more. As Cor Jesu Sacratissimum, the title of the book (and of course this website) suggests, my big snowball also features a meditation on the Mystery of the Sacred Heart.
For in France, again by the grace of God, I was enabled to visit Paray-le-Monial more than twenty times and Paray-le-Monial is where Our Lord revealed his Heart to the world.
And in the profound silence to be found in Paray-le-Monial, I continued to change. In the silence, I felt myself pushed ever more to divest myself of my secular-liberal baggage and embrace what this website and my upcoming books are all about.
The Sacred Heart of Jesus! How important it has been for Catholic culture in both France and Ireland!
Thus, as the book kept snowballing, it acquired chapters about both French and Irish history. I would also like to acknowledge the book owes a great deal to the deceased Russian Catholic convert Valentin Tomberg, who helped liberate me from twenty years of New Age ideology …
Herewith, then, many of the themes of the big book (and, of course, this website).
Now, originally I intended to self-publish the book (for all kinds of idiosyncratic and probably neurotic reasons which need not detain us here.)
But, years after Kim, my wife and I started this website, I was taken aback when Angelico Press wrote to me, enquiring about the manuscript. Apparently, they had discovered our website and liked what they saw.
To make a long story short, the last years have seen a process whereby the editors at Angelico have challenged me to shed some of my aforementioned idiosyncrasies and neuroses as well as whittle the giant manuscript down somewhat. (Although it will still be big: 500 pages perhaps.)
I am very, very grateful to them. The book is now far better than it would be, had I published it myself. Thus, I want to publicly thank what seems to me a very unusual publishing company.
However, I am not sure the term ‘publishing company’ – whilst accurate – is the best of all descriptors. Perhaps ‘inspired, self-sacrificing, mission from God’ would be more apropos. Here is a link to Angelico’s website, if you care to look.
But what about my other, much smaller, book? Personally, it is a strange thing. Or better, it is a miracle … my own personal miracle.
Because after six years of blood, sweat and tears on the giant snowball, the very last thing I expected to write was another book!
I badly needed a break – or so I thought. Instead, The Gentle Traditionalist erupted out of me – in just ten weeks this spring.
I said a bit about this personal miracle recently at this weblog, where I wrote:
It’s a small Catholic Counter-Revolutionary work – with a particular emphasis on Ireland as a microcosm of the changes in the wider world.
Yet, surprisingly – to me at least! – the new book is, in large measure, fiction. (It is surprising because I never imagined myself writing fiction!)
Still, the fiction is really about ideas. Indeed, it is quite simplistic fiction.
I find myself thinking of The Da Vinci Code, which is poor fiction. Subtle as a brick with cardboard characters, The Da Vinci Code simply functions as a device to propagate Dan Brown’s masonic revolutionary ideology.
Readers may think my new manuscript is the same in reverse. Likewise subtle as a brick – but with a Catholic Counter-Revolutionary agenda instead.
(I should add that the book is not a thriller like Brown’s, but a dialogue of ideas framed in a whimsical romance involving Catholic, liberal and New Age characters.)
What can I add now?
Perhaps just this, for the moment. My novella is very much about Catholic Ireland. Not only is The Gentle Traditionalist set in a small Irish town, but – again – it employs ‘Ireland as a microcosm of the changes in the wider world.’
My prayer is that both the Catholic faithful in Ireland and the faithful everywhere will be able to relate to it, as it very much concerns the secular and New Age ideologies eating away at Catholic culture across the planet. (You can find a very small extract from the book here.)
I say it is very strange that my second book erupted out of me in just ten weeks. But perhaps it is not so odd in light of the following fact.
These last years I have been gravely concerned for the fate of Catholic Ireland, overwhelmed as it is by the two cultures, which I, myself, stem from: England and America.
Daily, I ask how the culture of Ireland can be preserved, so that Ireland does not simply become a second-rate clone of the once Protestant, now secular-liberal Anglo-American world.
The personal miracle of my second book is, I think, a response to my prayers.
Although, as I say, I pray the book has appeal to faithful Catholics everywhere, Ireland assumes a particular role in the book.
Indeed, my upcoming little book is a bit like like a love letter to Catholic Ireland, testifying to the enormous Christian tradition I have received on this very special island. If this book can repay in tribute even the tiniest fragment of that treasure, I shall be forever grateful.
So look for The Gentle Traditionalist by the end of the year – it should be out around November – and Cor Jesu Sacratissimum next spring.
UPDATE February 2017: As it happened, my first bigger book was delayed until Christmas 2016. But both are available now and can be found by clicking on the relevant ads below.