HCI News and Updates

Who is My Neighbor? How Can I Build a Friendship With Someone Who Has a Totally Different Worldview From Mine?

Hill County Institute is running a series of dinner parties called "Conversational Sundays".  The first one, "Looking Through Christ's Eyes" was held Sunday, March 30, at SWOOP House in Austin, Texas.  The second one was "How Should We Consider the Extraordinary People Around Us", the third was "Truth...Imagination...and Meaning", and the fourth one was "Restoring the Lost Art of Conversation".

Continuing our series of six "dinners with a purpose" based on John Burke's book, "Mud and the Masterpiece: Seeing Yourself and Others Through the Eyes of Jesus", our fifth dinner will be about building friendships with people who have different worldviews from your own.

As we think about how to actively and intentionally engage the people around us with the love and mind of Christ, certainly there are times when we find some people challenging to love. People who are very different from us.  People we don't understand.  People we disagree with.

As Eric Bryant points out in "Not Like Me", for far too long, the world has been made aware of what we as Christians hate rather than whom we love. People are far more aware of what Christians are against than of what we support.  Rather than coming across as judgemental, homogenous, isolated, conflict-filled, and irrelevant communities, we need to show the world what Christ truly intended us to be—reflections of Him.  The top two things we're commanded to do often are obeyed only if we like the person, agree with the person, feel comfortable around the person. But Jesus' commands didn't come with any exclusion clauses.

Come join us in an intimate setting around the picnic table to explore what it means to love as Jesus loved, to treat the people in our lives as the extraordinary masterpieces they are.  Our guest speaker will be Kirby Holmes from Gateway Church in Austin.

 

THE VENUE

Zhi Tea Gallery (4607 Bolm Road; Austin, TX) is a charming, cozy tea house built as a place where people can "Pause. Reflect. Connect." Serving only the highest grade, certified organic, fair trade tea, Zhi Tea artisans create specialty blends which are shipped to wholesale and retail customers in Austin and all over the nation. They have been written about in numerous publications, blogs and shows such as UT's "Taste of Austin" segment on Good Morning Texas!  Dinner will be a fun and imaginative menu accompanied by a selection of unique beverages crafted from organic, fair trade tea by Zhi Tea Gallery artisans

Click here for more info and to register.

See photos from past Conversational Sundays here.

 

Dates for the remaining Conversational Sundays:

August 17:  Seeing With New Eyes, Listening With New Ears; led by Walter Bradley, Hill Country Institute Fellow

Tickets on Sale Now for Conversational Sundays #4: Restoring the Lost Art of Conversation

Hill County Institute is running a series of dinner parties called "Conversational Sundays".  The first one, "Looking Through Christ's Eyes" was held Sunday, March 30, at SWOOP House in Austin, Texas.  The second one was "How Should We Consider the Extraordinary People Around Us", and the third was "Truth...Imagination...and Meaning".

Continuing our series of six "dinners with a purpose" based on John Burke's book, "Mud and the Masterpiece: Seeing Yourself and Others Through the Eyes of Jesus", our fourth dinner will be about restoring the lost art of conversation.

Much can be gained from understanding the purpose and tools of conversation. We use conversation to communicate our ideas and understand other people’s ideas. Whether leisure, business or any other interaction, the tools of communicating include how you use your voice, your face, and your body.

Come join us in an intimate setting around the picnic table to explore what it means to love as Jesus loved, to treat the people in our lives as the extraordinary masterpieces they are.  Our guest speaker will be Dr. Susan Quiring, owner and director of Class Act Etiquette, Dance & Social Skills and Susan’s Ballroom Dance.  Susan brings a unique mix of experience and education to the art of communicating.  She’ll give practical understanding and application of the tools necessary to achieve meaningful and valuable conversation.  Specific topics will include:  how to start a conversation, what makes a successful conversation, wow to make small talk, how to make yourself known and remembered, and how to make a good first impression.  You’ll leave with actual tools to start down a path of great and meaningful conversations.

 

THE VENUE

Zhi Tea Gallery (4607 Bolm Road; Austin, TX) is a charming, cozy tea house built as a place where people can "Pause. Reflect. Connect." Serving only the highest grade, certified organic, fair trade tea, Zhi Tea artisans create specialty blends which are shipped to wholesale and retail customers in Austin and all over the nation. They have been written about in numerous publications, blogs and shows such as UT's "Taste of Austin" segment on Good Morning Texas!  Dinner will be a fun and imaginative menu accompanied by a selection of unique beverages crafted from organic, fair trade tea by Zhi Tea Gallery artisans

 

THE SPEAKER

Through her businesses, Class Act Etiquette, Dance & Social Skills and Susan’s Ballroom Dance, Dr. Susan Quiring offers classes which equip both youth and adults with the understanding and skills to present themselves in a variety of settings. She offers customized workshops and seminars on etiquette & social skills through Texas A&M University, as well as for businesses, sororities, & churches. With over 20 years experience as a ballroom dance instructor, Susan offers ongoing classes and private instruction for teens, adults, and wedding couples. Susan earned her doctorate from Kansas State University. Her broad-based career includes an associate professorship at Texas A&M University, 12 years as a 4-H agent and Home Economist in Kansas, guest appearances on live TV & radio, and facilitation of study-abroad programs. Dr. Quiring’s customized workshops and seminars are both meaningful and memorable. We’re delighted to have the opportunity to have her as a guest speaker at our fourth Conversational Sunday!


Click here for more info and to register.

See photos from past Conversational Sundays here.

Dates for the remaining Conversational Sundays:

July 13:  Engaging the World Around Us - How? led by Kirby Holmes (Gateway Church, Austin)

August 17:  Seeing With New Eyes, Listening With New Ears; led by special guest speaker TBD

Next Conversational Sunday is June 8 at Zhi Tea Gallery

The next Conversational Sunday will be held June 8 at Zhi Tea Gallery. Building on the last three Sundays, we're carrying on our theme of "Seeing others through the eyes of Jesus", and the focus June 8 is "Restoring the Lost Art of Conversation".  You won't want to miss this one!  Save the date.  More details coming soon.  Tickets go on sale May 27

 

Check out the Photos from past Conversational Sundays 

Tickets on Sale Now for Conversational Sundays #3: Truth, Imagination, and Meaning

Hill County Institute is running a series of dinner parties called "Conversational Sundays".  The first one, "Looking Through Christ's Eyes" was held Sunday, March 30, at SWOOP House in Austin, Texas.  The second one, "How Should We Consider the Extraordinary People Around Us", was held Sunday, April 27, at Zhi Tea Gallery in East Austin.

"Truth . . . Imagination . . . Meaning" is the theme for the third dinner.  Whether in the classroom, the boardroom, the church, the marketplace, or wherever humans connect, the use of story to convey truth is an ancient yet powerful means of communication.  Why is this?  How does it work?  What difference does this make in our own lives?

THE VENUE

Zhi Tea Gallery (4607 Bolm Road; Austin, TX) is a charming, cozy tea house built as a place where people can "Pause. Reflect. Connect." Serving only the highest grade, certified organic, fair trade tea, Zhi Tea artisans create specialty blends which are shipped to wholesale and retail customers in Austin and all over the nation. They have been written about in numerous publications, blogs and shows such as UT's "Taste of Austin" segment on Good Morning Texas!  Dinner will be a fun and imaginative menu accompanied by a selection of unique beverages crafted from organic, fair trade tea by Zhi Tea Gallery artisans

 

THE SPEAKER

Our guest speaker for the May 18 Conversational Sunday is Dr. Darci Hill, Professor of English at Sam Houston State University. Dr. Hill teaches upper-division and graduate courses on medieval and renaissance literature as well as classical rhetoric. She has written, spoken at conferences and gatherings, and taught extensively on the works of Lewis, Tolkein, and Herbert. She has planned and led groups on tours through England and Ireland to explore the homeland of C.S. Lewis and to Italy to study Dante. At her university, Darci has also been a finalist for the University-wide Teaching Award for ten years.

Just last April, Darci coordinated and directed Texas' first International Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Thought. Along with her teaching duties this past year, Darci edited a book on the conference, entitled News from the Raven . . ., which will be released on June 1. Darci is married to husband, Skip, and lives in Huntsville, Texas. They have three sons and three grandchildren. Darci is often seen wearing fun hats; she helps students think outside the box; and she loves to travel and watch classic movies.

THE MUSIC

Click here for more info and to register.

See photos from past Conversational Sundays here.

Dates for the remaining Conversational Sundays:

June 8:  Restoring the Lost Art of Conversation; led by Dr. Susan Quiring (Class Act Etiquette, Bryan College Station)

July 13:  Engaging the World Around Us - How? led by Kirby Holmes (Gateway Church, Austin)

August 17:  Seeing With New Eyes, Listening With New Ears; led by special guest speaker TBD

New Podcast Episode - Interview With John Burke, Pastor of Gateway Church, Austin

Perfect apologetics and eloquently convincing arguments are not what will bring people into God's Kingdom, especially not in today's Post-Christian culture. It's not about the message we present or the reasons we give; it's about our attitude towards people that woos them. "People can intuitively sense how we feel about them; and that actually  makes the biggest difference of all."  John Burke, lead pastor of Gateway Church in Austin, Texas, and author of "Mud and the Masterpiece: Seeing Yourself and Others Through the Eyes of Jesus" helps us see how Jesus interacted with people, the way he treated them, was what drew them to Him.

Why do we struggle to treat people like the immensely valuable, one-of-a-kind Masterpiece God created with his own hand? Jesus could see something worth dying for in all the people He encountered. He could see past the mud to the Masterpiece God wanted to restore.

The Church should be growing with new life, not just "reshuffling the deck between buildings." "If the Church is not seeing people go from lost to leading, ... then the reality is the Church is dying. It may take seventy years, but it's going to die."

In addition to "Mud and the Masterpiece", John has also written "No Perfect People Allowed" and "Soul Revolution" as well as numerous resources for spiritual growth and development. Along with his wife, Kathy, he founded Gateway Church in 1998. Since then, Gateway has grown to over 4500 members, made up largely of unchurched people who began actively following Christ there.

Listen to Larry's interview with John on our latest podcast episode here.

HCI Live Podcast: Interview With Dr. Joel Heck on Hobbits, J.R.R. Tolkien, Middle Earth and the Battle Between Good and Evil

Dr. Heck is Professor of Theology at Concordia University at Austin and teaches courses on Lewis and his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien. Joel is a "go-to person" for all things C.S. Lewis. He is the author and editor of thirteen books, most recently a reprint of the Socratic Digest, a little known record of most of the meetings of the Oxford Socratic Club (1942-1954) during the years that C.S. Lewis was its president. Dr. Heck spent the fall of 2004 on sabbatical in Oxford, working with Walter Hooper on Vol. III of Lewis's Collected Letters, and in 2012 he spent his sabbatical in Cambridge, working on Lewis's Cambridge connection.

Larry interviewed Dr. Heck on Hill Country Institute Live.  They spoke about Hobbits, J.R.R. Tolkien, Middle Earth, and the battle between good and evil.

Warning:  This interview is very entertaining.

Listen to the podcast here.

HCI Live Podcast: Christians and Business with Jeff Van Duzer of Seattle Pacific University

What is God's view of business in our world today? How should Christians conduct themselves in the world of business? Does the Bible give us ideas on which business to be in? Larry and Jeff Van Duzer, Dean of the Business School at Seattle Pacific University talk about these questions and more in this episode of Hill Country Institute Live.

Jeff is an attorney who left a successful practice to become Dean of the Business School at Seattle Pacific University and is now Provost.

Listen to the podcast here.

HCI Live Podcast with Nate Risdon and Barry Taylor: Seeking to Understand Rather Than to Criticize

Fuller Theological Seminary has a track called the "Brehm Center Emphasis" in which students engage expert faculty, world-class artists and visiting scholars to investigate the theory and practice of making art in ministry.  Hoping to "inspire a new generation of culture-changers for Jesus' name, the Brehm Center and its initiatives sponsor research, community outreach, and integrated education in worship, theology and the arts.

In March 2014, Barry Taylor and Nate Risdon brought a group of students from the Brehm Center to Austin, Texas, to participate in the South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival, a week-long event which has become known as the largest music festival in the country and draws crowds of over 50,000, with close to half of those being from outside of Austin and many from overseas.

Nate Risdon is the Associate Director of the Brehm Center, and Barry Taylor is Artist in residence there.  Barry is also Associate Rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills and the author of "A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture (Engaging Culture)" and "Entertainment Theology (Cultural Exegesis): New-Edge Spirituality in a Digital Democracy".

The Brehm students came to participate, to listen, to observe, and, if invited, to share their own stories.  But their main goal was to seek understanding.  To engage with music as it happened.  Pop music and the world it creates remains this vibrant, potent connecting point for all kinds of people through all kinds of music.  Realizing music is a vehicle for meaning making and thinking about that from a theological perspective, what challenges does that raise, and what possibilities does it offer from a theological perspective, from a church perspective, and from a faith perspective.

Nate and Barry reflected on these ideas and shared their thoughts and more with Larry Linenschmidt on the Hill Country Institute Live radio program.  You can listen to the podcast here.

Conversational Sundays

Hill County Institute is opening a series of dinner parties called "Conversational Sundays".  The first one, "Looking Through Christ's Eyes" will be held Sunday, March 30, at SWOOP House in Austin, Texas.  This is a new format for Hill Country Institute events, and we're excited about the intimate setting to gather and discuss how we can be more like Christ in our daily lives.  One of the common critiques leveled at present-day Christianity is that it's a religion full of hypocritical people.  The results from a recent study conducted by the Barna Group concluded Christians aren't doing such a great job of representing Jesus.  How can we change this?

Come join us in an intimate setting around the dinner table to talk about how we can be more like Jesus and less like the Pharisees.  We'll have dinner, enjoy an artistic performance such as music, dance, painting, etc., hear a brief talk from a guest speaker and participate in an open discussion about the topic.  We'll explore.  We'll ponder.  We'll consider.  And, hopefully, we'll come away better at looking at others and ourselves through the eyes of Jesus.  A primary resource for the series is a book called "Mud and the Masterpiece:  Seeing Yourself and Others Through the Eyes of Jesus" by John Burke, Pastor of Gateway Church in Austin.

Click here for more info and to register.

Hill Country Institute Launches New Podcast

We're delighted to announce we have launched the first ever Hill Country Institute podcast called Hill Country Institute Live: Exploring Christ and Culture.  New episodes are uploaded on a weekly basis, so you can listen to them at your convenience on your computer or any mobile device.  Hosted by Larry Linenschmidt, Hill Country Institute Live is an ongoing conversation about issues of concern and interest to the Church today. We visit the life and works of giants of another day, such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and also spend time with people and ministries doing creative work to fight human trafficking, feed the poor, create quality art, be good stewards of the environment, and much more, all with the heart and mind of Christ.  You can search for Hill Country Institute Live in iTunes or access it here.