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The Mural of All Religions is proudly displayed by the New Madison Universalist Church on its walls in an alcove of its recreation room. The Mural is a painting by Wells E. Behee, member of the church for the past 48 years and one of its former ministers. His granddaughter Amanda, daughter of Emerson and Bonnie Behee of Ithaca assisted.
The Mural has thirteen medallions. Each is a ten inch symbol representing a major religion of the world: the sacred wheel of our Native Americans, the ying-yang of Chinese Tao, The moon and star of Islam, Star of David of Judaism, the AUM of Hindu, the full and crescent moons of Earth-Centered religions, the Cross of Christianity, the wheel of Buddha, the gateway to heaven of Shinto. Also are the religions of the Jains, Humanists, Sikhs, and Confucius.
These medallions are placed on a double curve like the wings of a bird to illustrate the spiritual uplift that each religion enriches and inspires in its members.
Central to the mural is a four by four foot painting of our Mother Earth showing the Asian continent. All of our religions stemmed from Asia except the faith of our Native Americans. The earth is a living, throbbing planet of life which is central to every human's life and existence.
In place of honor and to the right is the Chalice, the symbol of the Unitarian Universalist denomination. To the left is the Flame of Wisdom, the symbol of the local Universalist Church. They are artfully placed in the great curve of the wings to emphasize one of its statements of beliefs; "Our traditions come from the wisdom of the world's religions that inspire us in our ethical and spiritual life."
The Flame of Wisdom of our local church is seen on the home page of this site. It is an ancient Greek lamp representing the wisdom of the ages. The fluctuating flame is to one side leaving space in the circle to encompass the advancement of knowledge for "Truth known or to be known." The flame brings light to knowledge and wisdom. The circle is representative of the poem by Edwin Markham:
He drew a circle that shut me out;
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win.
We drew a circle that took him in."
Of such is the message of Universalism, to bring the flame of Love, of Truth, of Wisdom to the world.
The intent of the mural is to give people a feeling of the holy in life, the presence of something Divine that rises above all individual religions but to which each religion may contribute.
Upon viewing this mural, tears came to one lady's eyes. A Cincinnati artist stated. "I shiver from the feeling of the display and beauty of its design, and realizing the all-encompassing power of the meaning of the mural." He exclaimed, "I realize how everyone is included in the religious life. I sense the purpose of this church." Another man spoke, "I feel a transcending mystery and wonder." Upon departing, "I dislike leaving this Feeling of The Presence."
Wells Behee reported that six months were spent in collecting the symbols, sizing them to fit a decorative design, sketching them in place on the wall, and finally painting the medallions.
Everyone is invited to visit the Mural of All Religions. The church is at 331 East Washington Street in New Madison, 5 buildings east of the funeral home. The Adult Church School Class is at 9 AM and the Service of Worship and Children's Church school is at 10 AM each Sunday. Appointments to view the mural may be made by phoning 996-6841 or e-mail.
An adult class to study these major religions of the world is on Wednesday evening at 7:30. Everyone is invited to just drop in for any class session.
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Essays, Poetry, Art, Life Questions, with Insight to World Religions