Brad Highum, a pastor at Abiding Love Lutheran Church in Austin, has been a great supporter of Just a Little Bit More from its very inception.* Back in 2011, we lunched over gyro wraps at the Phoenicia Bakery on South Lamar in Austin. We sat on the picnic table outside in the hot fall wind (Phoenicia, abundantly stocked with Greek and Arab staples, doesn’t have indoor seating) and went back and forth about the 2007-08 economic swoon and the related topics of social immobility, rising inequality, and childhood poverty. Brad’s enthusiasm let me know that my thinking was on the right track.
JaLBM came out in May 2014. My own congregation, St. John’s/San Juan, and Brad’s were the first congregations to participate in a book study of JaLBM. We conducted the studies concurrently with the purpose of compiling feedback and notes that would contribute toward a study guide for other faith communities.
Halfway through the study, one of Brad’s congregants walked into the Sunday morning adult forum at Abiding Love and gave Brad a knowing look. “Pastor Brad,” he offered, “this book is not a light read.”
Brad responded with a wink and a smile: “It’s not a light topic.”
Checking in at 110,000 words and covering the aforementioned topics related to social inequality, JaLBM is not a light-hearted summer beach read. (My brother Mike, however, did read JaLBM in three days at a Bible camp on Minnesota’s Lake Carlos – he is the current JaLBM speed-reading champ).
JaLBM Summary Version and Study Guide Now Available
For those of you waiting for an easier to read version of JaLBM, wait no longer. Just fifty pages and boasting a larger font, the 10,000 word JaLBM Summary Version and Study Guide condenses the full-length book into a Reader’s Digest version, with discussion questions at the end of each of the eight chapters.
A study of JaLBM with others in a church, synagogue, temple, men’s group, women’s group, or book club setting affords rewarding discussion. JaLBM encourages interchange on the big topics related to social inequality without participants having to fall into well-worn political ruts. Readers of the full-length version and the summary version of JaLBM can be on the same page when it comes to discussion and analysis of the work, leading to activity on behalf of the common good.
The summary version is also intended for high school and college student groups. It’s available now at the Blue Ocotillo Publishing website and soon on Amazon. Thanks to the good folks at Abiding Love and St. John’s for their work in helping to prepare the study guide questions.
Greg Pierce, publisher at ACTA Publications in Chicago, advised me last summer to produce a summary version of JaLBM. ACTA produces community organizing and theology books, with a number of these in pamphlet or summary form. ACTA distributes JaLBM nationally. Greg has had over thirty years experience in the publishing field. He told me that he has consistently seen priests and pastors – when visiting the book table at a convention or conference – overlook whole length books in favor of summary version pamphlets. Greg says it has something to do with their workload!
No matter your work load, there’s a JaLBM version for you. I invite you to take a good look at it and enter into the ongoing discussion to combat social inequality and uplift the common good.
Click here to purchase Just a Little Bit More: The Culture of Excess and the Fate of the Common Good. Paperback, $14.95. You will be redirected to the Blue Ocotillo Publishing website.
Click here for Summary Version and Study Guide from the Blue Ocotillo Publishing website.
*Brad’s colleague pastor at Abiding Love, Lynnae Sorensen, has been a steady supporter of JaLBM as well.