The Greener Grass Conspiracy by Stephen Altrooge Wheaton: Crossway, 2001 143 pgs.
If most Christians were transparent, they would admit that they struggle with contentment more often than they want to admit. This particular book seems to address the issue in a very unique manner. The author starts out in the introduction by reminding us that this problem of being discontent or lacking real contentment is an age-old even centuries old problem. We could trace this back to the Garden of Eden and Satan’s exchange with Eve. We can hear those words of Satan ringing in our ears as the doubts begin to arise “Yea, hath God said” (Genesis 3:1, KJV) The doubts persist even to this day as we find ourselves seeking fulfillment in everything and everyone but God Himself.
The author is wanting the reader to see that “the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence” but rather we can find true contentment in Jesus Christ.
He starts each chapter with either a personal illustration or an story relating to the chapter title before he launches into the truth or principle that he is attempting to communicate in the chapter. The truths or principles are reinforced with a set of questions under a heading: STOP-THINK-DO. How many times do we read a book and absorb the content but do not allow time for those truths to penetrate our lives and to see the connections within the Scriptures. We need time to think and meditate and process what we have read and this section allows us to do just that.
One of the unique things about this book is that even though it addresses a sensitive subject regarding contentment in our lives, it is not a self-help book that says, “Do these ten things and you will be content” Rather, this book drives the reader back to the Gospel as the solution to discontentment. When I was reading this book and I came to Chapter 6 – Bloody Contentment and the author was relating that the Gospel was the complete and total solution, I stopped and was weeping because I was under a great deal of conviction regarding the discontent in my own life. One statement in this chapter that really took hold was “When we complain, we’re saying loudly that the blessings of the gospel aren’t enough.” This was a great reminder to me! When I finished this chapter, I had to stop reading the book and really meditate on what I had read in those six chapters! Even though this is a relatively short book at 143 pages, it took me at least three different settings to complete the reading of the book in its entirety. I have read many books in my lifetime, but I do not remember one that ever drove me back to the Gospel to deal with my lack of contentment! I was also thankful for the author’s treatment of several different passages of Scripture within the book and he sought to interpret them and apply them to the reader in a faithful manner.
I also appreciated the author’s transparency in the book. At the time of writing, the author was in the process of buying a home and as we all know that can be a transaction that is complicated and expensive at the same time. We can allow our discontentment to rise up in the midst of this. The author was very honest in talking about his experiences and some of his frustrations in the process.
However, there are a couple of things that I noticed in the book that I did not particularly care for:
On page 47-48, there is an exchange with a character named Sol and reading this would lead you to believe that this was a real-life encounter with an individual but then the reader finds out that this is not a true-life encounter, but rather hyperbole.
Also, throughout the book, the author relies a great deal on cultural references in an attempt to reinforce what he is saying. The author runs the risk of losing some readers (both inside and outside of the USA) because the cultural reference is lost or does not have the same impact as he intended and could possibly be misunderstood.
My other disagreement is of a theological nature where the author states on page 123: “God has gone incredible lengths to make us his children. He killed his Son so that we could be forgiven.” This may be an issue of semantics, but I took issue with it because of passages like John 10:15-18 and Acts 2:23.
My minor disagreements aside, I would recommend this book. Be prepared to be driven back to the Gospel. Be prepared to weep and be convicted about your own discontent. Do not try to read this book in one sitting, but rather allow time to process each chapter.
Even though the book is short, the discussion does not end with the end of the book. The author has a website where you can read more of his writings and continue in the discussion.
Thank you Stephen for writing a great book which gets to the core of our discontent!
Disclosure : I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. The views and opinions are strictly mine.