We are all familiar with the need to convert our hearts and minds to become more fully Orthodox, and this most useful book, Blueprints for the Little Church: Creating an Orthodox Home, by Elissa Bjeletich and Caleb Shoemaker, helps us to also convert our homes and family life into living more fully as Orthodox Christians as well. Blueprints does an excellent job in helping the reader understand not only what the “Little Church” is all about, but also how to transform and convert our homes and daily lives into becoming more Orthodox.
The authors are also mindful about creating realistic expectations and caution us to go slowly, and to be patient with small steps. They continually remind the reader that each home is unique and that no two homes will do things exactly the same way—just as there are no two home prayer areas that are identical. This book helps to encourage readers rather than make us feel as if we’ve missed the mark, if we do not have the perfect Orthodox home and family life.
In addition to the many practical suggestions that are offered throughout this book in how to apply our faith into our daily lives and establish an Orthodox presence in our homes, the authors offer readers suggestions for creating a harmonious Orthodox “Little Church.” Wisdom, for example, is offered through admonitions to move away from ingrained practices, such as compartmentalizing God and faith as something that is only recognized and practiced on Sundays, to incorporating them into every aspect of our lives. Examples might include talking with our priests and to be open to learning why certain things are done the way they are; in other words: to move from inherited ways of doing things toward more purposeful and meaningful Orthodox practices, which help us center our loves on the Church.
For parents, the authors offer tremendously helpful counsel to move away from the idea of raising just good kids to the mindset of raising saints.
There is much richness in this book. It encourages the reader to pause and think about the greater objectives and the higher calling given to us as members of the Body of Christ. Blueprints reminds us to instill this lofty calling into our daily lives, from Sunday to Sunday, and from one Divine Liturgy to the next—living in such a way that we are intentional and thoughtful about how we spend our time away from Church. We are to live as if we dwell in Church at all times, so that our homes reflect church-like attributes—hence, a home which looks, feels and sounds as if it were a “Little Church.”