MY BRIEF TESTIMONY

BRIEF 5 min. PERSONAL TESTIMONY - BARRY BALLARD

On a warm summer day in Washington D.C., I sat in a small movie theater listening to a re-broadcast of a Billy graham crusade that had been previously given elsewhere. I was attending with a Christian group who ministered on the air force based where I was stationed, "Andrews Air Force Base". At the conclusion of the presentation, there was an invitation given to receive Christ and counselors were standing up front to pray with those who came forward. The house lights went up and I went forward and prayed to receive Jesus Christ into my life. This was not the moment of my true conversion, this was "preparation-of-heart", part one.

On a humid pitch-black night in 1969, my plane touched down on the Saigon airfield that was currently under rocket attack. Black-out conditions were in effect and we were rushed to trucks and then transported to our barracks and its inclusive bunker for protection. I was assigned an m16 rifle, two clips of ammo, and given a helmet and flack-vest. I spent my first night in Saigon standing in the bunker, wondering "why?" I was even here. I understood none of it, except that supposedly it had to do with communism and we were protecting democracy. But, I just felt abandoned to the most bizarre and remote assignment I could imagine. I worked "support", so I do not want to give the false impression that I was "combat"; but I did serve some time in the jungle. Only one man died in our group during the year I was there; and he told me beforehand that he wanted to die and never return home. He had received his divorce papers in the mail about a week before my arrival. He was shot down in a helicopter "one" day before he was to return home. My one year in Saigon was a lesson in the deterioration of the human spirit and soul. Eventually, I also learned to hate myself and "living" and could care less about what might lie ahead. I was returning to the states with a crushed human soul, devoid of all optimism. This was "preparation-of-heart", part two.

On a humid gray-dusk-like-evening, I found myself, in 1970, driving through the main gate of Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth, Texas. I soon settled into my tasks of working in the 7th bomb wing headquarters, in support roles again as usual. I also served on the honor guard for special occasions for fallen veterans funerals, or award ceremonies. Even though my personal psyche was "wasted“; I was considered an admirable employee and respected for my abilities. My inner life however was an absolute disaster that I did not "share" with anyone. Strangely enough; I was visited by representatives of the "Navigators"; the same Christian organization that had approached me in Washington D.C. I began attending bible studies two nights a week and felt a little better about life by receiving this follow-up. I'll call this "preparation-of-heart", part three.

During my term of service at Carswell, I met my wife to be, Beverly, who invited me to her church in River Oaks, "Trinity Baptist Church". They had a young pastor, John Hatch, who was just finishing his doctorate at Southwestern and the atmosphere attracted me. It was in 1973, “4” years after that initial "preparation-of-heart"; that I made an honest commitment to Jesus Christ and immediately followed that with baptism.

From there, the road did not get any smoother, but my “soul” began a healing process that eventually went from healing to true "Wonder and Discovery". The first thing that was revealed to me was my spiritual gift, which is "Teaching". While at Trinity, I ended up writing three commentaries: James, Colossians, and Philippians. All three helped me grow in my commitment to Jesus Christ.

True conversion was preceded by three moments of "preparation-of-the-heart" in my case. Over a four year stretch of time, God never gave up on me. I think the strength of my testimony must be given to the strength of God's loving patience; to lead me along the final path that would secure my faith. Thank You.

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

GRONDIN'S PHILOSOPHICAL HERMENEUTICS: entire project

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this book is used by Yale university as the primary text for philosophical hermeneutics. They have a high regard for its quality, as do I. Grondin is teaching here; so be prepared for a textbook type of presentation, although it reads fluidly. He takes the reader through the historical development of the concept of hermeneutics in eighteen stages. He ends with the detailed master of the post-modern age: Gadamer. This is how we get to Gadamer:

1. Allegory of the stoics in 1st cent AD.
2. Late stoicism & logos-universality
3. Typology: Christ as logos.
4. Augustine: clarify through parallel.
5. Aquinas: literal plus spiritual.
6. Facius: linguistic-based "key".
7.  Dannhauer:  logical analysis.
8. Chladenios: 4 kinds of obscurity.
9. Meier: assign places in sign-model.
10. Franke: affect dwells in every word.
11. Ast: single self-identical spirit.
12. Schlegel: transform intuition of antiquity.
13. Schliermacher: psychological expression of inwardness
14. Boekh: meaning within historical relationships.
15. Droysen: reclaim inwardness of historical.
16. Dlthey: structure presented signs in history
17. Heidegger: hermeneutic-circle.
18. Gadamer: 4-steps of "conversation"

Friday, May 17, 2013

POST-MODERN CONTEXT

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ZABALA PROVIDES A POST-MODERN "COMPASS" FOR THE NEWLY INAUGURATED. If you are planning a venture into post-modern research then the first thing you need to know is that the center of discussion will be hermeneutics, not doctrine. Initially, you could find yourself quite lost. But Zabala provides the reader with a first-look of the overall development of hermeneutics in post-modern thinking that will allow the new researcher a chance to get their bearings. In-depth analysis is not provided here. This is an overview. But, I will say that , even as one experienced in post-modern work; I found the book valuable and interesting. Zabala wants the reader to see how Heidegger has been appropriated by six key thinkers since post-modern thought started taking hold. These six are: Schurmann; Derrida; Nancy; Gadamer; Tugendat; and Vattimo. Each thinker is "summarized with regard to their estimations of Heidegger. In the beginning of the book, Zabala does give you an analysis of deconstruction and principles of reconstruction. But, the mediating context of these "6" thinkers is central to understanding where we are in regard to the understanding of "being". This book is very accessible and could even work for under- grads with a little familiarity with philosophical language. When finished, you'll have an idea how things work in this new emerging area of philosophy. I certainly recommend this book to those just getting their feet wet in post-modern research. But, like I say; the experienced researcher will still appreciate the inter-related picture the author draws. 5 stars for a great compass.

Monday, May 13, 2013

GADAMER : POST-MODERN HERMENEUTICS DEFINED

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There is a reason Hans Gadamer lived to be 102 years of age. God knew we needed him. Gadamer's history-making consummate work was "Truth and Method", published in 1960 when Gadamer was 60 years old. This collection of essays is in response to that consummate position. It is a refinement of the previously refined conclusions. Therefore, to be an effective book, you would need to have an all-inclusive understanding of Gadamer ahead of time. If not from "truth and method", then from some other source. These essays cover a 12 year period of writing from 1960 - 1972. He offers true new clarifications that are powerful. After completing this work I felt I had the best representation of a thinker that I could ever have imagined.  a valuable thinker to study for all.

Friday, May 3, 2013

POST-MODERN HERMENEUTICS: VATTIMO

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Chances are, if you've ever taken a course in hermeneutics; it was taken at a private institution that provided a textbook that "conserved" the ideology of the institution and its religious affiliation. In other words, you didn't get much of an objective presentation. Vattimo's book is about teaching hermeneutics; teaching it in a non-slanted format that will illustrate for the first time what a hermeneutics seminar should be all about. The first half of the book is about the necessity of de-construction and extremely "negative". But, do not be discouraged, because in the second half you will begin your self-taught seminar on hermeneutics. Too bad this comes many years late for me. I took hermeneutics in the 70's. This is a super presentation of the principles of interpretation. By the way, the role of philosophy is equal to "hermeneutics" according to Vattimo. The de-construction, in the beginning, is also enlightening however. And the "international monetary fund" gets kicked in the teeth a few times. Post-modern hermeneutics is about the "thrown-project", of having been cast into a "post-metaphysics context" that demands conversation rather than over-arching mythologies. Vattimo does draw it all to its ethical conclusions , so don't worry. The practical aspects will be discussed under the concept of "weak-thought". "Weak thought" just means that absolutes have been involved in a historical process of weakening that we should not disregard. This is a powerful course in hermeneutics that I appreciated. 5 stars, without question. Get this please.