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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Saturday, March 22, 2014

RICOEUR: AND THE WORK OF "FORGETTING"

click link:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/ayyw7mgh99348ik/ricoeur4b.mp3

VOLUME THREE:  “FORGETTING”
The over-arching intent of Ricoeur’s phenomenology is to outline the significance and demand for each individual to be involved in writing the “truth” of the intentionality of history.  Therefore he posits “forgetting” as the third moment in his triad because it designates the moment of “return” and the demand to revise our discriminations, in order to write a better posited model that specifically addresses the need to overcome human guilt; which Ricoeur perceives as the fundamental problem facing humanity.
Therefore, in this volume, Ricoeur first takes us through the moment of “reflexive-return”, which wants to correct a “LACUNA”, a “gap” in the collective of traces that has been grasped.  But before we return to re-evaluating “traces “and revising our model; we must first pass through the unconscious “body-state” that is undergoing its own “odyssey of development”. (Yes; we must continually tune our hearts). 
Within the “explored” or “active” unconsciousness, we can evaluate this motivational body-state, and its desire for reaching “FORGIVENESS”; which means our on-going “mournful-struggle” of the work of writing history in a way that will transform other selves into overcoming their guilt and loss-of-self against the uncertainties of living today. 
This “forgiveness” has content and an absolute referent:  Ricoeur is a Christian.  Therefore the absolute referent is the kerygma-of-Christ; but without the necessity of formal church or religion.  And is crystallized in the categorical imperative “to love”. 
When the self takes-up this motivational-base of “LOVE”, it is ready to enter the “reserve-of-forgetting”.  That’s right:  previous culling and filtering has been retained in memory.  Nothing has been permanently discarded.  We can still re-evaluate previous motivational-work.  We do so through three layers of traces:  the material, the structural, and the psychical trace. 
We end up with a new assortment of revised “images”, and can then re-engage ourselves with the semantic work of writing the trajectory of the truth of history.  The cycle continues; because history always interrogates us; and human-guilt always confronts us as the key existential problem. 
In a way, volume three was the most enjoyable for me.  Volume two probably gave the reader the most “content”, but volume three and its centeredness on “motivation” is a challenging treat. 

This book is a challenging venture for graduate-level or post-graduate level interest.  But, it should not be ignored.  Ricoeur died in 2005.  These were his dying-words and his legacy.    5 stars for certain.  Good luck on your reading.

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