Support the Café

Search our Site

Round up of research papers on religion and culture

Round up of research papers on religion and culture

National Affairs is a blog that describes itself as a “journal of essays about domestic policy, political economy, society, culture, and political thought. It aims to help Americans think a little more clearly about our public life, and rise a little more ably to the challenge of self-government.”

Today they posted a roundup of abstracts for academic papers on religion which should provide hours of substantive reading for anyone interested in trying to understand matters of faith and culture.

This is my favorite; comprising elements of art history, theology and comparative religions:

Did Buddha turn the other cheek too? A comparison of posing biases between Jesus and Buddha

Kari Duerksen, Trista Friedrich & Lorin Elias
Laterality: Asymmetries of Body, Brain and Cognition, forthcoming

People tend to exhibit a leftward bias in posing. Various studies suggest that posing to the left portrays a stronger emotion, whereas posing to the right portrays a more neutral emotion. Religions such as Christianity emphasize the role of strong emotions in religious experience, whereas religions such as Buddhism emphasize the calming of emotions as being important. In the present study, we investigated if the emphasis on emotionality of a religion influences the depiction of their religious figures. Specifically, we coded 484 paintings of Jesus and Buddha from online art databases for whether the deity exhibited a left bias, right bias, or central face presentation. The posing biases were analysed to discover whether paintings of Jesus would more frequently depict a leftward bias than paintings of Buddha. Jesus is more commonly depicted with a leftward bias than Buddha, and Buddha is more commonly depicted with a central face presentation than Jesus. These findings support the idea that the amount of emotionality that is to be conveyed in artwork influences the whether the subject is posed with a leftward bias


Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Marshall Scott

Those interested might want to subscribe to IBCSR Research Review (IRR), published by the Institute for the Biocultural Study of Religion (IBCSR). ICBSR ( sends out a monthly digest, providing abstracts of articles published in professional journals. The list each month is long, but there have always been a number of articles of interest for my work as a chaplain.

Marshall Scott

I can also recommend CROSSROADS, a publication of Duke University’s Center for Spirituality, Theology & Health ( Duke’s monthly publication usually lists only a few articles, but offers critique and reflection on the research and what might be useful about it.

Jeremy Bonner

Episcopalians may also find interesting Chris Brittain’s new book on the Pittsburgh schism, A PLAGUE ON BOTH THEIR HOUSES: LIBERAL VS. CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIANS AND THE DIVORCE OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH ( Unfortunately it’s only in hardback at present, but there may be a paperback version next year.

Jean Lall

Fascinating abstract! I would like to read the whole list, but the link doesn’t work.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café