©Arlene R. Taylor PhD

hemispheresA decision to attend or not to attend religious services, or the regularity with which one does attend, can be developed through expectation and exposure. In adulthood, however, personal preference can be impacted by brain bent, especially related to whether one’s biochemical energy advantage falls in the left hemisphere or the right hemisphere.

Generally most religious services can fit into one of two broad styles, although there are exceptions. Even those exceptions can often be identified in terms of appeal to individuals with a preference for left-hemisphere activities or right-hemisphere activities.

Following are examples of two common styles of religious services.

preacher

If they choose to attend religious services, individuals with a brain bent in one of the two left-hemisphere divisions tend to gravitate toward traditional-style services

  • They often select services that emphasize doing (instead of just being), obedience, following church dogma (e.g., the process of sanctification)
     
  • They tend to prefer anthems, hymns, and classical music with organ or piano and choir, and more traditional stringed instruments and brass
     
  • They may appreciate services that center the formal preaching of sermons on dogma or theology, or offer lecture-style readings and presentations

They may choose to attend this style of worship service in order to:

  • Have an opportunity to be in charge or lead
  • Achieve their religious or worship goals and think about how they need to behavior or what they need to do to “get it right”
  • Worship something or someone outside of themselves (e.g., a Higher Power as they perceive one)
  • Follow habitual schedules and what they have been taught is important within a structure of common beliefs and tenants
  • Have class time during which members can participate in discussions
  • Be part of a “team” that provides rules, regulations, structure, and clear expectations
  • Dress up in appropriate attire and/or wear special choir or other robes and participate in rituals

If they choose to attend religious services, individuals with a brain bent in one of the two right-hemisphere divisions tend to gravitate toward celebration-style services

  • They often select services that emphasize just being (instead of always doing), trust, love, accepting the free gift of grace(e.g., the process of justification)
     
  • They tend to prefer innovative music and the inclusion of nontraditional or more unusual instruments
     
  • They may appreciate services that include drama, stories, religious dance, multimedia presentations, and that sometimes occur out of doors and/or with the presence of “pets” permitted; and where sermons are kept to a minimum in favor of short homilies interspersed with a variety of other types of presentations and activities

They may choose to attend this style of service in order to:

  • Have an opportunity to build a support group and participate in making the service work for as many different brains as possible
  • Nurture a sense of comfort and collegiality (and avoid isolation) as they socialize with others at services, potlucks, and special programs
  • Experience unusual rituals or spontaneous activities that are less rigid and structured than those that appeal to the left hemisphere
  • Experience a period of meditation in silence or with soft music playing
  • Connect with something or someone outside of themselves (e.g., a Higher Power as they perceive one)
  • Associate with those who are less rigid and structured in terms of rules, regulations, and specific expectations
  • Come as “they are” in terms of wearing apparel 

 

Whole-Brained Services

Theoretically, it should be possible to craft a religious service style that contained components appealing to attendees—regardless of their innate preferences.

In actuality, this is difficult to do. Left-brainers wouldn’t be caught dead in a typical celebration-style service; right-brainers find it difficult to sustain attendance at a service that is typically traditional in style.

 

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