Two of my favorite faith-related places in nearby New York are the Grafton Peace pagoda and New Skete Monastery.

On Friday, Aug. 8, the annual commemoration ceremony of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima-Nagasaki and the fourth commemoration of the Fukushima nuclear disaster will be held at the Grafton Peace Pagoda.

At 6:45 p.m., there will be a walk from the Grafton Town Square to Peace Pagoda (4.3 miles). And at 8:30 p.m. a program of peace will be held. This will include a ceremonial lighting of lanterns and interfaith peace prayers. Event will be held rain or shine. Wear weather-appropriate clothes and bring a flashlight and insect repellant. You may also want a blanket

For information on the ceremony prior to the event, call Heidi at 518-588-7122.

The Monastery of New Skete in Cambridge, N.Y, is another of my favorite places. We have a release on this page about their annual pilgrimage on Saturday, Aug. 9. This event will include a talk by Sister Vassa Larin, who is the host of "Coffee with Sister Vassa," a YouTube broadcast.

Born in Nyack, N.Y., Sister Vassa is a nun of the Russian Orthodox Church, author of many articles and a monograph on Byzantine liturgy and theology, and an outspoken public intellectual. She is an independent researcher at the Department of Historical Theology, University of Vienna in Austria. Her presentation at New Skete is titled "Mystery and History: Two Pillars of Tradition."

I watched her latest video on YouTube.


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She had a humorous introduction and then started speaking about St. Macrina, c. 320s AD. She should be interesting. See release elsewhere on this page about event and about the monks and sisters of New Skete. The monks are famous for their dog training and the nuns for their cheesecake, both lines of work chosen as a way to make a living.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future." ~ Oscar Wilde

LUTHERAN DIFFERENCE: Word has gotten around that I am a religion editor, so I get a lot of emails from around the country -- and sometimes overseas -- regarding faith and spirituality topics and media. Much of this is not particularly worth passing along, but some things are. One such was one on the book "The Lutheran Difference?"

Here is part of the release:

"For Lutherans who find themselves struggling to explain their beliefs and practices to other Christians, there is a comprehensive resource that can help. Concordia Publishing House announces the release of "The Lutheran Difference: An Explanation and Comparison of Christian Beliefs."

"This book, which is a special Reformation anniversary edition, gathers together the popular 18-book Bible study series known as The Lutheran Difference and is structured around the Nicene Creed. It offers answers and explanations to questions about Lutheranism in one handy volume, so readers can easily find the information they need in one place.

Special features of the book include: 500-year anniversary cover art reflecting the likenesses of the great Lutheran reformers: Martin Chemnitz, Jacob Andreae, Philip Melanchthon, and, of course, Martin Luther; A new preface essay on how American churches are changing or staying the same in the 21st century, based on research from the Alban Institute, the Barna Group, and on-site visits to congregations of the eight major denominational families," and more.

To pre-order the book, visit cph.org.

Mark E. Rondeau is the Banner's religion editor. Email mrondeau@benningtonbanner.com. Twitter: @banner_religion