Saturday, as I made my "To Do" list for the day, I noticed a strange irony. The top two tasks on my list for the day were 1) mow my lawn/do yard work and 2) finish reading and reviewing The Greener Grass Conspiracy by Stephen Altrogge. Funny how the first task sort of had the effect of diminishing my tendency toward desiring "Greener Grass" at least from a literal standpoint. Afterall, the people with the nicest yards also put in the most effort trying to achieve some standard of lawn perfection and as a result are then required to spend a lot more time tending it to keep it that way. The rest of us who only wish we could have such manicured lawns. When it comes to grass, I don't think anyone is truly content.
Well, Mr. Altrogge doesn't even mention mowing the grass in his book, but he has presented us with the truth about his so-called Greener Grass Conspiracy. He describes it this way: "This grand conspiracy of the world, Satan, and my heart is called the Greener Grass Conspiracy." The conspiracy leaves us "always believing that the grass is greener somewhere else, always wishing that things were different, always dreaming of a brighter tomorrow without ever enjoying where God has me today."
This is a great little book that reads quickly and is packed with really great material.
I like to think of it as John Calvin and Jeremiah Burroughs meet Tim Keller and Donald Miller.
The flow of the book moves from a convicting view of our lack of contentment, our inclination toward idolatry and the vanity of King Solomon's life to the true contentment found through the blood of Christ and the Gospel. From there, Altrogge moves to the secret of learning contentment in every situation. Each chapter throughout the book ends with thoughful discussion questions, making it ideal for a group study or individual reflection.
The first four to five chapters will sound really familiar to most readers of contemporary reformed authors such as John Piper, Jerry Bridges, and Tim Keller. Altrogge's conversational style is funny at times and helps the book move along at a refreshing pace.
I'm grateful that he ushers the reader quickly into the second half of the book, because for me this is where I found the real "jewel of contentment," so to speak. Where some books tend to lose steam midway through, The Greener Grass Conspiracy actually hits its stride in the middle.
My favorite chapter was 7: "Some People Have to Learn the Hard Way." At first, I was sure this chapter was about hard-headed, stiff-necked folks just like me. Instead the chapter was really for all of us. It focuses on the example of Paul in scripture learning to be content in all situations. Contentment is just not our natural disposition since the Fall.
Even though Altrogge quotes Puritans Thomas Watson and Jeremiah Burroughs fairly extensively in the second half, his engaging and approachable style make re-reading these timeless truths enjoyable and rewarding. I would even recomend this one to teens and young adults, feeling sure that they would not be bored, disappointed or alienated by the tone or prose. Overall, I would give the book a full 9 out of 10 stars.
Thanks to Crossway Books for providing a free review copy! If you would like me to send my finished copy to you, reply in the comments thread. (it looks slightly used now, but no marks or dog ears).