November 10, 2012 at 11:08 pm, a seismograph at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana recorded a tremor centered at 8349 Fieldfare Way on the south side of Indianapolis approximately 40 miles away. The people who lived at that address were at a casino near Cincinnati, Ohio. The owner had boarded her cat overnight at a kennel and had her daughter stay overnight with a friend outside the neighborhood. Neighbors claimed they saw two men rush into the house that afternoon. The neighbors claim they observed the same two men hurrying out of the house about half an hour later to leave in a white van. The house exploded that night allegedly when gas from an open gas line was ignited. It appears that whoever commited this crime gave no consideration to the damage such an explosion would cause to others. Today, trials remain months away and many questions remain unanswered. Many lives were interrupted or upended.
My 34 year old son, Dion, and his wife, Jennifer, 36, were killed by the blast and the resultant fire. They lived 13 feet from the center of the blast in the first home to the south of the home that exploded. In one self-centered act, four people had virtually wiped out everything about Dion and Jennifer.
I had planned to start blogging earlier than now, but like many other plans and ideas, blogging was set aside for awhile. This tragedy has caused me to review life and to more clearly set and follow priorities. Too often, I have tried to do more than I could handle. In the past, I have delayed activities and plans because I thought there was plenty of time to eventually get around to the things I wanted to do. Although some folks have assumed otherwise, I have not experienced anger with God and my faith in the teachings of Jesus have never wavered. My faith in human beings did drop to its lowest level of my life.
Why do things like this happen? Why do we let such things happen? Why does God let such things happen? Is God responsible and if so, how and why? I will write about questions and topics such as these. Topics may be from the news, from recent discussions with friends, or suggestions I receive. The topics may be considered spiritual, moral, or of a similar nature that affects human relationships. With this blog, I seek feedback and discussion on the topics. The feedback should be in the form of rational discussion and not the giving of commands, name-calling, threats, or disrespectful words and behaviors.
Broad categories for topics include evil, good, God, religion, people, religious groups and organizations, sin, love, relationships, and writings. I hope to arouse self-reflection and the true consideration of how a given topic fits into the lives of as many readers as possible. Are you living in the manner you say you are living? Is there something leading you off your intended path? Are you able to live and think beyond broad generalizations on such topics? Are you willing and able to recognize both the good and the evil in your thoughts and actions?
It is not my intention nor my desire in any way to antagonize people. If anything in the blog affects you so, I apologize. I want to encourage thinking and relationship building. I know that some people believe that their spiritual life derives much more from faith than from thinking. For these folks, a call to think about God or spiritual matters can seem to be a threat. Some religious leaders encourage people to avoid thinking much on their own. I ask that, through prayer and reflection, you ask for guidance in optimizing your spiritual relationship with God or whomever you consider to be the creator or master of all that exists.
For myself, the Bible and prayer provide a good portion of what I need for relationship development. I see the Bible as a book of relationships. Compared with the writings of other major religions, I believe the Bible is able to provide a more complete and logical path toward achieving healthy relationships. It begins with the very first pages that describe the basic relationships between God and creation, including humans, and proceeds through the teachings of Jesus, then on through explanations of the development of the early church.
Jesus brings all of the teachings about God, people, and the world together in a relatively simple and compact philosophy or way of life. Over the centuries, so much of religion and spiritualism has been developed into complex systems of rules, ceremonies and beliefs that do not necessarily add to the development of self and interpersonal relationships. Many times those systems seem to have more to do with maintaining the organization that has developed them than they have to do with the people who are members of the organization.
And how does Jesus simplify life for us? Some say the focus of the teachings of Jesus is to save us from Hell in the afterlife. Some say that declaring a belief in Jesus andor performing certain acts will bring favor with God, extra blessings, andor miracles. I believe the simplicity and clarity delivered for us by Jesus begins with His statement of the greatest commandment and in the teachings that expand upon that statement. Matthew 22:36-40 contains the most concise explanation of the greatest commandment. It is expressed in other places in both the Old and New Testaments.
Jesus tells us how and where to begin with life. In Matthew 22:36-40, note verse 40. It says “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (NIV). One can begin with this basic passage from Jesus since everything else is derived from the preceding verses. Verse 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Verses 37-39 Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Note that this includes three elements. Love God with everything you are. Love other people as you love yourself. If you are to love others as you love yourself, then you must know how to love yourself.
The three facets of the greatest commandment describe three relationships. First, we develop a relationship with God. We use that relationship to build a healthy attitude about self or relationship with self. Finally, those two relationships can be used to develop relationships with others. Perhaps the most difficult to learn aspect of the greatest commandment is how to love. What does love mean? That is when one must seek the help of the Holy Spirit and study the teachings of Jesus further. The meaning of love will likely be the topic of multiple blog posts.
One wonderful aspect of Jesus’s teachings and the greatest commandment is that it involves on the job training. It is learned over time by practicing it as one lives day to day. This, in addition to the other ideas expressed in this writing, will be discussed in more detail in future writings. The most important idea to understand is that Jesus provides a simplification of spiritual matters and He does that by being with us. Just as “Emmanuel” (another name for Jesus) proclaims, Jesus is “God with us”.
So, when somebody asks about November 10, 2012 and how I have been able to carry on since that day, the answer is simply, “The teachings of Jesus”. No magic. No anger with God. No complicated practices. It has just been the teachings about love from Jesus. I miss Dion and Jennifer very much and there are times when I am terribly upset by the tragedy and the loss. The normal feelings about the loss of Dion and Jennifer do not magically disappear. The teachings of Jesus help me to live through the tragedies of life just as they help me to handle all relationships from day to day. I have long believed that Jesus is more about life than about death.
I hope you and many others will join with me in studying and sharing the love from the teachings of Jesus with as much of the world as possible.