How’s Your Discontent?

Is Discontent the “Mother of Progress”?

Is Discontent the “Mother of Progress”?

Recently I read that Discontent was the name of the newspaper of Home, a utopian anarchist community founded in the 1890s in the Puget Sound area of Washington. Under the newspaper name Discontent was the inscription, “The Mother of Invention.”

That phrase comes from Charles Dudley Warner an American essayist who wrote in 1874, “For, as skepticism is in one sense the handmaid of truth, discontent is the mother of progress. The man is comparatively of little use in the world who is contented.”

Discontent or Content? The church usually focuses on Paul’s writing from Philippians 4, “For I have learned to be content with whatever I have.” There is only one time the word discontent is found in the Bible, an interesting text in 1 Samuel 22. As David was becoming King of Israel the text records, “Everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them.” David built his monarchy with the discontent, those in debt and distress.

In the 1890s in America, when several utopian communities were founded in the Puget Sound area, 1 percent of families owned 51 percent of the wealth and property of the nation, and 44 percent of families owned only 1.2 percent. Today, the richest 1 percent in the United States now owns more wealth than 90 percent of our population. It is not surprising that our current presidential primary race is full of candidates of all parties building campaigns on discontent. Whether we agree with all of the candidates or not, it is a year for politics of discontent.

Vital, missional churches live in the dynamic tension between being content and discontent. How do we faithfully address, channel and act upon on our own personal discontent and the very real societal discontent concerning the state of the world, of our nation, of racial inequity, of the global environment, and of the church?

Is a contented church comparatively of little use in the world … and to God?

Sparking Ministry Discussion
How are you and your church faithfully expressing and addressing discontent?

About the Author
David Schoen

Categories: Congregations Weekly

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