Book Review and Afterthoughts
The Greener Grass Conspiracy: Finding Contentment on Your Side of the Fence
Author: Stephen Altrogge
If I say there are better books about this concept, am I guilty of contributing to the greener grass conspiracy? Maybe.
In a one line, quick review, The Greener Grass Conspiracy is: A good primer to think about how to be content with what you are doing, what you have, and what you can do in your community.
With that thought out of the way, here are a few introductory considerations.
First, I agree wholeheartedly with the greener grass conspiracy. We have been conditioned through commercials, easy-to-get loans, the “American” dream of always outdoing the people next door or ourselves. The conspiracy, I believe, is being satisfied means never being satisfied.
Second, my expectations for this book were straightforward. I wanted to be challenged to think and act differently. It would be a “call to arms” to think outside-the-box, change our behaviors, and dig deep into our souls to find the true meaning of living a fruitful life.
With this precursor, The Greener Grass Conspiracy was medium – not bad, not great, in the middle. It is a primer for those who may not be sure about what the conspiracy is all about and want to scope it out, especially in terms of faith. In this sense, the book is successful. It outlines how falsely-filled contentment can drive people to do unsatisfying things while basing the arguments in a biblical context.
All of this is good; it just needed to be turned up a notch, in my opinion. The content became pedestrian. I do believe the questions at the end of each chapter setup the opportunity for either individual introspection or group conversations, especially the latter would make the content come to life more.
What the author, Stephen Altrogge, delivers is his humor and easy-to-grasp writing style. I have followed him on Twitter, and his voice comes through in the book very well. In the opening chapter, here is a sample which gets your attention:
“Do you ever wonder how it’s possible to be so blessed and so unhappy at the same time? To live like kings and behave like ungrateful pigs? To have more than any generation in history and yet still crave more? What’s wrong with us? Is it the water? Is it cell-phone waves? Did we receive an experimental vaccination in our infancy? Nope. It’s the conspiracy.”
Next, take this statement:
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”
And, then this:
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”
Here’s the point of these three selections:
- We are ungrateful at times. We have more than most, yet we continue to collect, compare, and conquer through purchases. Yet, we are unhappy, unsatisfied.
- What is the cause of this? We want. We get. We want again. We need to control our passions. We need to direct our energies in other, more positive ways.
- We need to learn to be content in whatever situation we are in – abundant and lean. This is challenging, but focusing on what is really important and what we really have will get us there.
All of the above passages are from The Greener Grass Conspiracy, but here is the head-fake maybe. The last two are from the Bible, the books of James and Philippians to be precise. Being aligned with a higher calling and an inner Spirit has always been a challenge, to a certain degree. It is much more intense today given the increased number of commercialized and easily-available temptations.
The essential nature of this book is clear. As Stephen points out, we need to understand the conspiracy. We also need to re-focus. Through understanding and leveraging our faith or other spiritual or meditative processes, we need to dig deeper and question where we are and what we should really focus on to lead a more spirit-filled, meaningful life.
Again, The Greener Grass Conspiracy provides a faith-based primer, but don’t stop here. Go further. Go deeper. If you already have the foundation, then take this book and get together with a group and use the questions to facilitate a discussion and gain a higher understanding and learning. Through this, we will all find a truly satisfying contentment through our worthwhile actions and thoughts.
Note: For full disclosure, I received a free copy of The Greener Grass Conspiracy through a promotion at Crossway.org.
Join the Conversation
The Greener Grass Conspiracy
I do understand your disappointment that the book, in the end, seemed a bit pedestrian to you. But perhaps the author (or publisher) made that choice on purpose. A reader like you is already firmly in the consciousness that the author is trying to provoke people to think about. It’s the people (or sheeple, as my brother calls them, though I find that a harsh term) who have 100% bought into the “conspiracy” that need the most help waking up. So it’s useful to have a book that doesn’t peg the conversation too high and drive those people away.
On the other hand, you sound like a writer who could write the “deeper” version of a book like this. Thank you for your review and for making me think.
I agree. This book does serve a purpose, and it is a good one to get started with or to read as part of a book club or study group. Glad I made you think. You made my day! Have a great one!