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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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

LEVINAS: JUDAIC FAITH AS POST-MODERN:

click link:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/r0bsl6f4u6929f9/judaicpm.mp3

FOR LEVINAS: the Judaic intellectual: “freedom” passes through these “8” steps:

1. “Masculine” individualistic violence of the unconscious of forming ecstatic intuitive units of meaning.
2. “Feminine” conjugal bond of being for “psyche”, through figuration based on uniting Epekeina-horizon with units of meaning in a pre-cognitive thought-picture.
3. Reaching “Understanding” through dialogue and interpretation, relying on prophetic-traces of promised messianic-era; and finding the “Epekeina-other” defined as the irreducible identity of “being” or “I AM”.
4. Articulated notion of “Investiture” (his version of “incarnation”); through a negation of the numinous concept of the sacred as revealed in the theatro-logical presentation of Moses on Sinai.
5. Then a taking-up of the name “ISRAEL”, as the exiled-self, relating to “humanity” before any “landscape” or geographical place.
6. Then taking up the modality and designation of “PHARISEE”; as the “writer-of-praxis”; who couples epistemology with speech and differentiation; in dialectical relationship.
7. Finally, the act of writing as “breathing-through-literature”. Similar to Derrida here. Writing can change history. Get literary and poetic work out there in the world where it can create alterity.
8. Lest we forget; now we inscribe our psyche-tablet in the “return” from “free-act”.

For Levinas the “Talmud” itself is an expression of Judaic-philosophy. Synthesizing Jewish Revelation with Greek thought. (p. 15). Therefore the “self” begins with the “traces-of-meaning” within this historical text and returns to it, after working through the “8” moments of “freedom” for new “inscribing”. He is doing that with this treatise. 60 pages are dedicated to structure, then he gives us 40 pages of commentary.

The Talmud has two parts: “Mishnah”- oral instruction & “Gemara”- elucidation and commentary. The “Gemara” includes “Aggadic-statements that address “interpretation”. This interpretive work is reawakened for Levinas. Thus the evolution of this treatise. The Pharisees favored the Talmud, but the Sadducees rejected it. That is why Levinas states that “Pharisee” is the name to be taken-up by the “writer-of-praxis”.

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