The Christian Science Monitor has a fascinating three-part series this week examining the differences in religious faith and practice between Europe and the U.S. ? and how these differences shape the political and economic tensions between the two regions.

The entire package is worth reading, but I?d pick out two pieces of reporting as particularly interesting. First, the middle piece in the series suggests that the ?religion gap? across the Atlantic, never exactly stable, may be changing again ? shrinking a bit, that is:

But in the shadow of such shocking events are signs of a quieter and less divisive return of religion and spirituality to European lives. “God is back among intellectuals,” says Aleksander Smolar, a leading European thinker who heads the Stefan Batory Foundation in Warsaw and teaches at the Sorbonne in Paris. “You can feel there is a problem of soul in Europe; people are con- scious of a void and there is a certain crisis of secularism.”

Second, a sidebar summarizes the innovative research that Robert Barro, Harvard economist and Business Week columnist, and his colleagues have been doing on the relationship between religious faith and economic performance. I first learned about Barro?s work in this area from his BW columns.