07/23/2011 04:19 pm ET | Updated Sep 22, 2011

HuffPost Religion Round-Up: July 17-24

It's been a busy week on HuffPost Religion. Our political leaders seem unable to reach any agreement on the budget and debt ceiling, but we hope it wasn't because the President was praying not to cut services to the poor. Maybe our leaders can learn something from the latest survey out of Baylor that says more Bible reading leads to more caring for the poor. Send Bibles to Congress!

For more Biblical wisdom we can turn to Shane Claiborne, who tells us what his favorite Bible verse is (hint, it's not John:3:16) and Ruth Messinger who explained, in Two Minutes of Wisdom, the core of what it means to be a justice seeking Jew.

Speaking of the Bible (kind of), sometimes it is more interesting to think about what was left out rather than what is in. Although when looking at the stories about Mary Magdalene and the strictures around celibacy, the Bible already seems compelling enough.

Several of our bloggers showed how serious they are by sharing their summer reading. Ok, ok, I'll put down the Harry Potter and pick up Bonhoeffer (James Martin), Gandhi (Varun Soni) or Guns, Germs and Steel (Jon Gandomi). It's hard to work with such smarty pants bloggers. Or maybe I will just turn to the great wise man Lebowski and repeat his mantra: 'Just take it easy, man'. When in doubt we can always turn to our hard hitting, Pulitzer prize deserving competition. My Personal favorite opinion piece: 'I'm not one of those love-your-neighbor type of Christians.' Send Bibles to Congress!

July 25th marks the legal beginning of the Holy Sacrament of gay marriage in New York, which caused one of our Minister/Bloggers (what a title) to whine bitterly that she didn't have a gay line out her office door asking her to officiate. An encouraging sign was a major evangelical group cut ties with the 'pray away the gay' crowd leaving poor Westboro Baptist 'church' more isolated, pathetic and destined to spend their lives pissed off. Not much of God's love visible there.

Speaking of no love, this week a poll came out from Pew reminding us of the deep divisions between what is known as the 'West' and the 'Muslim world,' which included the depressing statistic that the majorities in several Muslim nations believe that Arabs did not cause the attack on 9/11 -- despite the fact that Bin Laden claimed responsibility. Also baffling is that the anti-Muslim sentiment in this country has RISEN since the killing of Bin Laden, and the logic of that is ... ?

For once and for all -- it is the extremists on all sides who wish to destroy peace. Each of us must resist extremism and fundamentalism in our own religious and political communities, and within our own hearts. Our thoughts and prayers are with the good people of Norway as they begin the painful healing process. Take a moment and wish them well in whatever way you know how.

Peace! Peace! Peace!