Dancing Around The Truth

We have a purple tree in our yard. I would love to know what sort of tree it is. But I do know I find it beautiful. Is one sort of knowledge not lacking something without the other to complement it? Which is more important, if either? Or are both not important?

On a comment to a recent post of mine, someone said that theologians “dance around the truth”. I liked the phrase, and asked whether dance, and art, and music, and beauty of various sorts may not contain “truth”. The commenter answered in the negative.

I found this sad. I want to analyse and understand the “truth”, but I also want to perform it, and sing it, and dance it, and live it. It seems to me that “truth” encompasses much more than scientific analysis. Knowing what sort of tree this is (if you know, please do tell me) is important truth. But so is appreciation of its beauty.

Without the aesthetic to complement the scientific, it is like understanding all the words but not getting the joke, or seeing the amusing image of Ben Stein and Darwin but not understanding why it is funny.

Interestingly, the discussion also touched on people who claim to commune with trees…

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11957506289805625578 liberal pastor

    Jim,It appears to be a redbud. A beautiful tree that invites communion.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16698562143972216357 Jim

    Yup- it’s a red bud. They are everywhere around here, along with Dogwood. They are quite pretty for a little while and then they turn dull. Enjoy while you can.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01759655568104782267 Divers and Sundry

    I’ve always loved redbuds. I grew up with them in my back yard and enjoy them even after the flowers are gone. They have big heart-shaped leaves and are often great climbing trees.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11957506289805625578 liberal pastor

    Who’d have thunk that a post about a tree would prompt a dissent. Dull? I heartily disagree. I grew up in PA hiking, backpacking, camping, and one of my favorite understory trees in the eastern forest was Eastern Redbud, cercis canadensis. Interesting shape summer and winter, beautiful large heart-shaped leaves, and a spring flower display unlike any other tree.We moved to MN 15 years ago where the climate is too cold for redbuds. However, a northern strain has recently been developed and we have one in our yard. It is my favorite tree.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00276860017599044287 Cobalt

    I commune with trees. >_>Also, I’ve been wondering what the heck those are! I see these lovely trees all along my walk to campus, and I didn’t know what kind they were.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17336244849636477317 John Pieret

    I want to analyse and understand the “truth”, but I also want to perform it, and sing it, and dance it, and live it.The evolutionary psychologist Steve Pinker said something to the effect that he studies how the human mind works all day and concludes that it is reducible to chemistry … but he still goes home at night and believes he loves his wife and children. Quite apart from the fact that most “scientific” explanations of the human experience are nothing more than explanations of what they someday hope will explain it, there is a real question of whether it can be reduced to its constituent parts by the same entity that is experiencing it without some major circularity. And if that commentator really believes there is neither truth nor knowlege in art and beauty, I pity him/her.

  • Anna K.

    Yup. It’s a redbud.I think it was Yeats who said that we cannot know the truth, but we can embody it. (Maybe he cribbed that from Jesus.)


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