I came across this terrific word in the latest - and sadly, last - of Colin Dexter's detective fiction novels starring Chief Inspector Morse, "The Remorseful Day," which was made into a television movie that aired in February on PBS.
His sidekick, Sgt. Lewis, is mulling over Morse's various sterling qualities. Lewis "[t]hought of the wonderful memory," Dexter writes, "of that sensitivity to music and literature, above all of that capacity for thinking laterally, vertically, diagonally - whateverwhich-way ..."
I knew about lateral thinking, as an alternative to standard vertical thinking, from Edward De Bono's book, "Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step-By-Step," and from the lateral thinking puzzles in the books by Paul Sloane that my daughter and I have enjoyed tackling together. But diagonal thinking? Whateverwhichway thinking?
Suddenly I had a new image. If lateral thinking is like going around to a side door to enter a house when you find the front door locked, maybe diagonal thinking is like climbing a tree and going in through a second-floor window. And maybe whateverwhichway thinking includes considering that you don't need to go into the house at all - what you're looking for might be found around back in the garden.
Well, all of this has heightened my appreciation for the nimble, dexterous nature of intelligence and of the many different forms of creativity that problem solving and invention can take.
And quite naturally, it has made me think more about God as the infinite Mind. "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!" exclaimed the Apostle Paul, "how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!" (Rom. 11:33)
To me, the divine Mind is the resource for so many different ways to find solutions that you can't name them all. God's intelligence is infinite. Front, back, lateral, vertical, diagonal, spiral, centrifugal ... you name it. Whateverwhichway is the optimal way to wisely and correctly address a situation, Mind knows.
The founder of the Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, expressed it succinctly: "God is intelligence" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 2). The inverse is equally true: Intelligence is God. In other words, intelligence is the all-powerful, life-giving, undying, and loving Supreme Being. Intelligence has nothing to do with - and far exceeds the capacity of - a fleshly brain. Intelligence is divine, infinite.
I'm learning that this dynamic, crea-tive spiritual intelligence is right here, right now, always. God is ever present in your life and mine, supplying everyone with just the right ideas needed to be fruitful, useful, and successful. You can turn in prayer to Mind to hear the guidance you need.
Here's an example. Some years ago, I was working on an article for a scholarly journal. It involved a number of mathematical complexities. One last problem remained. I sensed that I was close, but over a period of several months I had been unable to solve it.
During this time, rather than think-ing of myself as a mortal being with a limited intelligence, I thought of myself as God's immortal idea with access to unlimited knowledge. I trusted that God was the source of all illumination and creative problem-solving ability. Intuitively, I knew that an answer existed - that it was therefore always really present - and that it was my right as Mind's expression to discern it. This helped me to fend off frustration and despair and to stay hopeful.
One day, the idea hit me to look at the problem from a completely new angle. Almost in a flash of light, I saw the answer. It turned out to give coherence in unexpected ways to the entire mathematical structure. I put the finishing touches on the article and saw it through to publication.
To me, turning to brainpower and will power for help is like fishing in a pond when the vast ocean of divine intelligence is right at hand. No matter what kind of dilemma you face - business, relationship, financial, physical - you can turn to God for relief. Mind has an answer for you. A good and perfect answer that will bring resolution to your situation. God can lead you whateverwhichway is required to crack the case.
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor