Book Review // The Greener Grass Conspiracy by Stephen Altrogge
First, some self disclosure. I work in a fast paced retail environment. I am consistently presented with new and amazing products that scream, "you need me, and you know it!" More often than not I find myself heartily agreeing, and then repenting of a lack of contentment. So when Crossway asked for bloggers to review a book about contentment I was fired up for 1) a free book by an amazing publisher and 2) a book that is directly relevant to an issue that I and millions of other Americans either struggle with or woefully submit to.
So what do you need to know about this book?
1) It's intensely personal. Altrogge writes as if he were sitting across from you at a Starbucks. As you read you'll find him being open and honest with his heart, and challenging regarding yours. The more you read through his book the more you'll feel personally connected. Reading The Greener Grass Conspiracy is more like having an extended conversation than a download of information. Altrogge accomplishes this by using colloquial language that's fitting, and doesn't distract, as well as including discussion questions at the end of the book to invite introspection.
2) It's very concise. If you get this book you won't receive a tome of exhaustive knowledge regarding contentment. You will receive a book packed with content, questions, and devoid of fluff. This should be good news to you, because if you're anything like most Americans you feel trapped by an insane schedule that doesn't allow for lengthy reading. You probably feel like you don't have time even for bible reading let alone another book. If that's you then be encouraged that Altrogge won't waste your time with fluff, over-extended examples, or pointless repetition. He'll give you exactly what you need: Truth, and a challenge to apply it.
3) It's funny. You will laugh when you read this book. If you think a book has to be serious in tone and voice to be effective The Greener Grass Conspiracy will definitely challenge that mindset. Relax, and enjoy the humor.
4) It's relevant. If you're an American you probably struggle with contentment and falling into the "conspiracy". The reality is that every day we breath in marketing, ads, promos, media and a million other things that exist to make you feel like you are inadequate without "x". Even if you don't feel like you struggle with contentment you can turn to this book as a quick refresher to zero in on christ-centered contentment.
5) It's NOT an academic or purely exegetical work. Altrogge doesn't write to ivory tower academics; rather, he writes to normal every day people like you and I. You will not find extended analysis of passages in classic theological fashion. Altrogge keeps his vocabulary simple, straightforward, and impact full. Now, if you are a fan of larger works that are written at a "higher level", first read Altrogge's book, and then go through the endnotes and read the larger more academic works he references.
6) It's gospel centered. I've saved the best and most important thing for last. Altrogge repeatedly points to the gospel and Jesus as our ultimate source of contentment. With such a practical topic like contentment it can be easy to be legalistic or hyper spiritual. To say something ridiculous like, "real Christians live on saltine crackers, peanut butter, and leaves while giving everything else away." Or something equally ridiculous like, "your a child of the king so get a Mercedes while swimming in diamonds because if you love Jesus you'll have everything you need." Altrogge points strictly to Jesus and the gospel as our supreme source of contentment. This blows past categories of monastic deprivation and prodigal spending. The gospel shatters these categories and calls us to live in light of the work of Christ. What will that look like? Pick up The Greener Grass Conspiracy and find out.
Check out the trailer below:
[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21402348 w=400&h=225] "Greener Grass Conspiracy" Trailer - Stephen Altrogge from Crossway on Vimeo.