On Saturday I received my first copy of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism.
I am thrilled. Even though it’s nine months late (it originally was meant to be published in the fall of 2009), and even though it has to be the world’s smallest “big book” (!), I am just so happy. It has been a dream of mine to write an introductory book on Christian mysticism since, well, before my first book was published. So today I am pleased to stand up for daring to believe that dreams do come true. Because sometimes they do.
Now, about the book’s title. People have been teasing me about it for months now (one of the monks at the monastery where I work has taken great delight in saying, “Oh, yes, Carl wrote the book on Christian mysticism!”). I suspect that the teasing (good natured and otherwise) will only increase once people get the book in their hands. And this is for a very simple reason: my “big book” just isn’t that big.
I keep thinking about the model of Stonehenge in This is Spinal Tap.
There’s a story here. Originally my editor and I had envisioned a much bigger book than what the final product turned out to be. Indeed, my contract called for a 500 page manuscript. But as time went on — and the economy tanked — not to mention my own reservations about writing such a lengthy tome, we decided to aim for a more modest (and, therefore, less expensive) work. The final page count clocks in at just over 300 pages. So the “big book” morphed into a much more “normal sized” book.
However, we never bothered to change the title that originally was attached to the 500 page concept. The supersized title remained even after we decided to make this a book of mere mortal proportions.
So think of The Big Book of Christian Mysticism as having gone through the dryer and shrunk a little. It may be smaller than you expected. But no matter how average the book’s dimensions may be, the topic itself remains, well, magnificent.
Even if I do say so myself.