Question: What’s the difference between a cat and a comma?
Answer: A cat has its claws at the end of its paws and a comma is the pause at the end of a clause.
This unique wordplay is part of a creative thinking exercise led by Roger von Oech, author of A Whack on the Side of the Head. The “Whack” book as I refer to it is an annual read that prompts me to think and plan in ways that aren’t familiar, routine or comfortable. It, also, prompts, me, to, rethink, my, fondness, for, the, comma.
Edward De Bono wrote a similar book titled Lateral Thinking. In it he encourages people to take a step beyond the conventional way things tend to be viewed and embrace insights gained through unique approaches. De Bono believes discontinuity of thought trumps the very sequential continuity habits we tend to practice. What? Yes, the Dude is deep. He holds three doctorates and was a Rhodes Scholar so it’s obvious he thinks on a different plain than the rest of us. So let’s reduce his theory to a concept:
Continuity/Vertical Thinking Answer: My family has always been Baptist.
Discontinuity/Lateral Thinking/”Whacked on the Side of the Head” Answer: Baptists are free to interpret scripture as they choose and enjoy local church autonomy.
In Lateral Thinking, and in von Oech’s “Whacked” approach, there are no just because answers. Answers and insights are gained through a process of focused attention and old fashioned effort. Imagine if we all chose to embrace scripture and theological study as lateral thinkers? If we do (and I hope we will) we would be embarking upon a path toward understanding the Bible in ways that will allow it to come alive. We will become involved in approaching scripture in contextual ways. We will want to know who wrote a specific letter, when it was written, to whom was it written and what the world was like when it was penned. Proper context cannot be overstated in the pursuit of honest scripture study.
If you think this is a “whacked” way to approach our next level of discipleship and Biblical study you’d be correct. To step “out of the box” and go as far as getting rid of the box entirely is very much “whacked.” That admitted, in the inverse, counter-intuitive world of lateral thinking…whacked is good, lateral leads up and our spiritual progress might hinge on a new way of thinking.
I have but one vote, but I vote for “whacked.”
Johns Creek Baptist Church