The Culture Of Discontent (2) Thursday, Feb 14 2019 

Today we will take a look at the cause and effect of discontent.

Discontent can leak outside an individual and effect other people. If it is not stopped it will become a hemorrhage and ultimately become a culture.

Culture is the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place or time. It is a way of life for a society of people who interact. It is also a way of thinking, behaving or working. With this definition in mind I would like to look at Israel in the wilderness and present my thoughts that Israel developed a culture of discontent.

Israel came out of Egypt in a tremendous display of God’s favor and power. This aura lasted for a while, but slowly discontent began to pop up in various ways and places. The discontent began to spread and eventually produced a culture.

This seems to be a parallel in America today. America has such a rich history of glory and valor. So many points of victory to celebrate. A nation of emigrants melded into a powerful entity. America became the world’s best and most powerful country. Somewhere the discontent began to fracture the harmony of Americans.

The turn for both Israel and America seems to be rooted in selfish desires of individuals. It includes forgetting the past glory and victory and only, or primarily, sees the current discontent of the individual. The individual begins to disseminate this to a willing fellow discontented person and viola the discontentment finds fertile breeding ground. Discontentment is always spread by people. It is not a virus or disease of the human body. It is an attitude based in the selfish interest of a person or people. It is born and bred in selfish feelings about the person who is discontented.

This is important because the nature of a discontented person always, and I repeat, always places blame outside themself. It is always the leader or the government or someone or something that the discontented person attaches the blame to for their situation. This is the soil discontentment must have to survive.

My premise is; the cause of discontentment is obsessive preoccupation with self. Thinking about self. Keeping score how others treat you. Your self position becomes the precipice from which you view the world. This is contrary to the teachings of John the Baptist, the teachings of Jesus, and the teachings of Paul the apostle to the gentiles.

To put it succinctly the cause of discontent is self preoccupation.

The effect of discontent is multifarious and at times hard to pin down. It is most observable when it gains followers and evolves into a culture of a church, a society or a nation.

Tomorrow I will attempt to point a few of the moments this happened in the journey of the children of Israel in the wilderness. Their discontent became a culture that ultimately denied them the promised land.

Never underestimate the fallout of discontent.

The Culture Of Discontent Wednesday, Feb 13 2019 

Matthew 13.23 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 — He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

The parable of the tares is about confusion, poison, seeds of Satan. They are not harmless weeds or seeds. These seeds have the power to kill good wheat. Especially when they are removed. An example is Korah’s rebellion.

Perhaps no author is quoted more than William Shakespeare. Perhaps no Shakespeare quote is more popular than ‘Now is the winter of our discontent, the famous quote of King Richard III.

That is the famous opening line to the William Shakespeare play Richard III (1592). The first scene of the play is a soliloquy, or speech a character speaks to himself, by the future king of England, Richard III. Alone, the line is a bit confusing. Is Shakespeare saying that winter means the end of the year and spring is just around the corner? So, the quote means that we’ve been in the cold harsh winter but we are near the end of our unhappiness. Or is Shakespeare trying to say that our unhappiness is like winter: cold and gloomy? I believe the later is the meaning.

In my opinion the first two lines are self revealing. It is about discontent and so presents itself.

John Steinbeck’s final novel was titled the winter of our discontent.

The Winter of Our Discontent is the story of Ethan Allen Hawley, a member of a once great family turned broke.  Ethan, an honest man, spends his days reliving the old days of family glory, while working as a grocery clerk in a store his family once owned.  Yet on Good Friday, his way of living is questioned by some of the people closest to him.   These people, as well as his children and other members of the town, all encourage him to bring back the riches and glory of his family name.  He feels they reproach him for being so unsuccessful, when his name implies that he should be a great success. 

These temptations pressure Ethan to devise a plan to regain the riches that his family once knew.  The three part plan consists of robbing the bank; turning his illegal immigrant boss over to the authorities so that he can purchase the store; and taking a very important plot of land away from the town drunk, Danny Taylor, who also happens to be Ethan’s ex-best friend.  As Ethan enacts his plan he convinces himself that means of obtaining the wealth that he will gain are justified because immorality is the method used by the rich to obtain wealth.

Ethan’s plan is altered in that he does not rob the bank in the end.  He succeeds, however, in having his boss deported.  He is even further rewarded because his boss gives him the store because he was a good and “honest” worker for so many years.  Ethan also obtains the plot of land that his ex-best friend owned.  Danny wills him the land because Ethan makes it look like he was trying to get Danny sober by giving him $1000.  However, Danny uses the money to kill himself.  Unfortunately, Ethan knew that this is what his friend would do with the money, and, therefore, knew he was going to cause the Danny’s death.   

As Ethan’s family and friends celebrate the success of his new accomplishments, the family learns that Ethan’s son, Allen, won an essay contest.  Ethan finds that he cannot celebrate the families’ new success as his conscience begins to get the better of him.  The last blow hits when Ethan finds out that his son plagiarized the essay he submitted to the contest.  Ethan leaves the house and tries to kill himself.  But before he does, he notices that his daughter left the family talisman in his pocket.  He realizes that the only hope in the future rests in his daughter, Mary Ellen, now the only untainted member of the Hawley family.  He returns home to pass the talisman off to her, “Else another light might go out.” (Summary from Wikipedia).

I believe in America today, we have developed a culture of discontent. This is contrary to the message of John the Baptist and of Jesus and of Paul. Once this becomes a culture it is hard to eradicate it. Our country is there right now. The conflict of self verses good of the whole.

No era better represents this than Moses’ day. These things happened for our admonition (counsel, advice, caution). We are to learn from them.

Continued tomorrow……the cause and effects of discontent.