Camille Dungy | Dandelions and Bindweed - BioLogos

With a poet’s close attention, Camille Dungy reflects on the interactions between humans and the greater-than-human world.

This caught my attention:

there’s a degree to which we expect prose to deliver us information like the newspaper does: the who, what, when, where, why, how.

I think that goes a long way to explaining why most young-Earth types regard the Creation stories the way they do: it feels like prose, so they expect accuracy like in a newspaper report. And without recognizing that it is ancient literature in an ancient language and ancient literary forms under an ancient worldview, they fail to grasp what it really is. Treating it as modern prose throws away most of the message, but they don’t get that because their expectation is objectivity and linearity.

Then there was this:

the first patented lawnmower was invented by a formerly enslaved person.

That’s not quite true; it was the first U.S. patent but an Englishman beat him to it by thirty years. I remember a story from grade school that the U.S. inventor had been a slave who kept the master’s lawn trimmed using scissors – though I suspect it was actually done with a scythe – and swore he’d make a better way. That fits this:

And that like a lot of these inventions that are labor saving devices, invented by people who would have been the labor.

which matches my version of an old adage: Laziness is the mother of invention; necessity is just a surrogate.

I loved the part about bindweed! It’s commonly confused with morning glory, and at least in western Oregon a good way to tell the difference is that if the plant you’re looking at climbs other plants so thickly it kills the plant, if it grows through your lawn no matter how short you cut it, it’s a good bet you’re dealing with bindweed because morning glory isn’t quite as what I’ll call “imperialistic”.
I pull it by the barrel full many years, and I have a use for it: I take it and spread it out on bare sand along the secondary new dune line; it catches blown sand (which kills it quite quickly) and helps move the dune line westward.

The references to milkweed and dandelions were interesting because those are two of the weeds I cut rather than mow, then mix the seeds in lawn trimmings to spread out on bare spots behind the foredune. I’ve ended up with some patches of almost nothing but dandelions and milkweed, a mix that helps turn sand into soil.

Good podcast, though I was more interested in details other than the book or poetry!

1 Like

Listening at the 34 minute mark, this and the discussion of implicit vs explicit caught my attention too. It definitely compatible with McGIlchrist’s writing in The Matter With Things as well. He makes a distinction between our maps and the terrain. Anything that helps you identify the truth is a map. God and our souls are the actual terrain in which we dwell. So poetry attempts to connect us to the terrain itself. It can’t be authoritative. It depends on the reader/listener to recognize the truth of poetry by the way it resonates in their soul, as with music.

What is real is not always tangible let alone testable in a laboratory. Poetry is conveyed in spoken language and in print but it doesn’t purport to render God or our souls in an explicit manner that can be verified in any other way. So it isn’t a map and it isn’t the terrain either but can serve as a call to recognize and affirm the truth from within in a way that can never be expressed explicitly. Nothing wrong with maps but they aren’t any kind of alternate reality in which we can actually live.

As a non Christian I assume theology is something like poetry, at least at the level of mythos. Doctrine I’m less sure of. But it does seem like a potential distraction in that it presents as an explicit alternative to finding the resonance from within. Propositional truth rather than the felt ring of truth.

On the farm, the common name for bindweed was possession vine. Aptly named. I have doom in my garden.


Oh, that is a very ancient near eastern statement! Gods and spirits were their “base reality”, the material world was secondary.

LOL – fitting.

Last two years I’ve ripped out two large trash cans worth of the stuff and used it for dune building. Both times there was rain after I spread it on the sand and it tried to grow – that lasted about three days.

This topic was automatically closed 6 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.