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Hill Country Institute Live: Exploring Christ and Culture
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Hill Country Institute Live: Exploring Christ and Culture

Author: Hill Country Institute

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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. For more information about the events and resources Hill Country Institute provides, such as messages from our conferences on Faith & Science, Faith & Art, and impact of the work of C.S. Lewis, visit
145 Episodes
Doug Lewin, President of Stoic Energy, is a nationally recognized energy expert, particularly in the electric grid, renewable energy, energy efficiency, demand response, utility regulation, and pollution reduction. He is regularly featured in local, state, and national broadcasts and publications on energy issues. In this interview, Larry and Doug talk about the electric grid in Texas - the issues we face, what happened during Winter Storm Uri in 2021 and the winter storm of December 2022; the actions, and inaction, of the Texas Legislature, the PUC-Texas, and ERCOT that impact the affordability and reliability of electricity in Texas, and how our choices on electricity generation impact air quality in Texas. 
Dr. Daniel Cohan, an atmospheric scientist and environmental engineer, is an Associate Professor of Environmental Engineering at Rice University, as well as a Rice Faculty Scholar at the Baker Institute for Public Policy. Clean air, water, and energy are important to the life and health of Texans and people around the world. Larry and Dr. Cohan discuss the health impacts of pollution, how Texas should address the issues we face with increasing numbers of ozone alert days in our major metropolitan areas as well as how we should develop and efficiently utilize clean energy to stop further pollution of our air and to build reliability for our electric grid. Dr. Cohan is the author or co-author of more than fifty peer-reviewed publications, a book on unlocking a clean energy future, and over seventy articles in popular publications such as The Hill, Houston Chronicle, and The Conversation.
Senator Perry represents District 28, which is the largest Senate District, geographically, in the State of Texas. We’ll be discussing water issues Texas is facing such as boil water notices, drought, flooding, and population growth. We'll also talk about  Senate Bill 28, which Senator Perry authored and has bipartisan support as it advances through the Texas Legislature. Due to the severity of the water crisis facing Texas, we encourage our listeners to learn about water policy in Texas and contact your elected officials to actively support a multi-billion allocation to state water resources during this session. The state has a hefty surplus this session, and it is important that lawmakers use a substantial portion of it to ensure safe and ample water supply throughout Texas.
Schuyler Wight is a fourth-generation rancher who has raised cattle near Fort Stockton for decades. Now he's fighting a battle he did not create. Scattered across his sprawling 20,000-acre ranch are more than 100 abandoned oil and gas wells left behind by oil and gas companies. Water is now bubbling up from these abandoned oil wells and is polluting Wight's pasture and killing his cows. Abandoned “dry hole” oil wells are polluting Texas farms, ranches and groundwater. The state and the oil and gas industry won’t fix them. Wildcatters drilled in random locations for decades looking for oil. Many were unsuccessful, but the drilling opened up layers of porous rock, which led to water and pollutants such as benzene and xylene, both carcinogens, flowing to the surface. Rather than cap the holes, the wildcatters and their oil companies — now long gone — often abandoned the wells or transferred ownership of unproductive wells to the previous owners of Wight’s ranch to be used as water wells. The pollution from the wells is killing cattle and ruining pastures, as well as harming the groundwater of West Texas. Texas faces many water issues including groundwater pollution, aging infrastructure, drought, flooding, and population growth. Larry discusses these and many other topics related to Texas water with Schuyler Wight.
Barry Smitherman is an attorney, consultant, private investor, author, and board member for not-for-profit and for-profit organizations. He is the only person to have served as Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT) and the Texas Railroad Commission. He probably has as much knowledge of the oil and gas and the electricity business as anyone in the U.S. He is now Chairman of the Texas Geothermal Energy Alliance. Barry authored the book,  If Jesus Were an Investment Banker (or Any Other Type of Modern Businessman): Leadership Principles from the Messiah and Personal Reflections of an Investment Banker Striving to Be a Christian.In this interview, we discuss the Texas market for electricity-the ERCOT market-and changes to that market which are under review, the issues we faced with Winter Storm Uri in 2021, the staggering potential of geothermal energy in Texas, and much more.
Join us as we consider the wisdom and experiences of a Godly man of faith, science, and scholarship. Walter Bradley has been a longtime friend to the Hill Country Institute and is a Fellow of the Institute. He partnered with us to bring Christian leaders together with differing views on faith and science in our Vibrant Dance of Faith and Science Initiative. His statesmanship made it comfortable for people to come together as fellow believers who want to study science, theology, and philosophy, but who disagree on many nuances. Listen as he shares treasured nuggets of wisdom about life in Christ and what it means to live fully for Him.
Seen in its proper light, the market order is as awe-inspiring as a sunset or a perfect eclipse. It might not be enough to convince a skeptic that God exists, but surely the believer should see in it God’s glory. At the very least, it should settle the question: Can a Christian support free enterprise? The answer is surely yes. — Jay Wesley Richards, Money, Greed, and God: The Christian Case for Free EnterpriseIn this interview, Larry and Jay consider whether free markets or socialism provide the optimum conditions for a moral society, human flourishing, and caring for the poor.
Pastor Dukes is a friend and classmate of Larry's from junior high school and high school. In this interview, Larry and Pastor Dukes discuss their experiences growing up in a small town in Texas and going through integration together. Pastor Phillip M Dukes is African American and Larry is European American, so their lives as young people were quite different. Black people were not allowed to eat in the dining rooms of restaurants, were not allowed to swim in the public pools, were not allowed to use “White Only” restrooms and water fountains, and had segregated, “separate but equal” schools. Pastor Dukes is now Senior Pastor at the church Larry attended, which was an all-white church at that time. 
Ed Brown is Director and CEO of Care of Creation, an organization which partners with the Lausanne Movement and the World Evangelical Alliance to encourage Christian stewardship of God’s good creation. Ed has recently completed a series of twelve consultations around the world with pastors and leaders in various geophysical areas to address how the Body of Christ might come to better understand the theology of creation care (God’s Word), the issues we face (God’s World), and how we should proceed (God’s Work). Larry and Ed discuss the history of the Lausanne Movement (founded in 1974 by Billy Graham and John Stott), the Cape Town Commitment of 2010 and how the work of creation care is considered a part of the gospel message. how a meeting of leaders from many countries in Jamaica in 2012 led to the series of consultations over the last ten years in locations around the world. Well also talk about how we can be involved in creation care personally, as the Body of Christ, and in our societies.
Living a Holy Life is an aspect of our calling as Christians. Have you ever considered how we treat our garbage as a part of being Holy? We’re called to take care of God’s good creation, but trash and waste encroach on the beauty of the earth and its capacity to support life. Caleb Haynes is the author of Garbage Theology: The Unseen World of Waste and What It Means to Every Person, Every Place, and Every Thing.  In this podcast, he shares his insights and experiences both theologically and as a trash hauler. We talk about how to consider goods from the time of purchase to recycle, repurpose, and reuse. How our culture of disposability is filling millions of acres of landfills, putting plastic in our water, in our land, and in us, as well as contributing to a warming planet. Is the idol of consumerism one we worship? Can we find ways to live simpler lives and take better care of God’s good creation?
Larry talks with Frank McCamant, independent consultant with over 35 years’ experience as a leader in the electric power market in Texas. He works with many participants in the market for electricity-evaluating investment opportunities, structuring joint ventures, advising on regulatory issues, and more. They discuss how he lives his Christian faith in the workplace, the complexity of the market for electricity, and what has been done, and remains to be done, to adapt the Texas Electric Energy market to severe weather-hot and cold, and the growth of demand for electricity in Texas. 
Larry chats with Emily Jansen, author of A Wilder Eden: How to Keep Dreaming in a World of Disappointment. Emily encourages us to acknowledge the dreams which have not worked out, to step into our own identity and uniqueness as a beloved child of God, and to step into a new place, a place of yieldedness to God, a place she refers to as "A Wilder Eden". In her book, Emily shares from her personal experience and heart for seeking God’s dream for each of us and bathes the story in scripture.  Even if we have lost the capacity to dream, Emily encourages us - “I dare you to dream His story for you. It will be a good one.”
Perspectives of an African American and a European American on growing up in a town with Jim Crow restrictions such as white only restrooms and closing the separate schools for black students when Greenville, TX, integrated.
Eric Bryant, Pastor of Gateway South in Austin and author of "Not Like Me: Learning to Love, Serve and Influence Our Divided World", interviews Larry on environmental stewardship. They discuss the biblical calling to care for God's good creation, the issues we face today, and how the Body of Christ can be involved in solutions to those problems. We consider caring for the poor as well as future generations. 
Larry speaks with Dr. Reyes about her new book and how we learn from people with diverse cultural backgrounds and develop relationships, and how Christmas traditions from other cultures can both help us to better understand aspects of the Advent and Christmas stories and how diverse cultures celebrate this special time.
Larry talks with Richard Battle, award-winning author of eight books,  advisor to for-profit and non-profit organizations, and an accomplished speaker, about vocational calling, service, and trusting Christ in difficult times. 
In both Austin and San Antonio, there have been recent outbreaks of anti-semitic acts including banners with anti-Semitic language hung by members of a hate group on overpasses in areas with large Jewish populations, a fire set at a local synagogue, hate speech painted on the parking lot of a local high school, and others. How is a Christian to respond to such heinous acts? Are all people of faith put at risk when any of us are threatened and subjected to violence? In this episode, Larry talks with Sandy Kress, a lifelong student of the scriptures and sacred writings of the Jewish and Christian traditions, about the scourge of anti-Semitism and our call to support and stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters. Sandy is devoting his life to building bridges between Christians and Jews, as well as assisting Christians by providing greater depth to their understanding of Jewish thought during the earthly life of Jesus and during the time the New Testament was written.
Larry talks with Father Matt about the life experiences and culture which have impacted those who are under forty. What influences this age cohort-Millennials and Gen Z-to hear, resist, or embrace the gospel message? And for Christians under forty, what are they seeking in the church? They discuss community, the impact of technology, seeking justice, and more. 
Larry talks with Liuan about how we can broaden our understanding of the life of Asian Americans. What is the history and current place of Asian Americans in the US, and in the church? What would Asian Americans want us to know about their lives and how they are treated? How has Covid contributed to increased prejudice and violence against Asian Americans? How might we come alongside our Asian American brothers and sisters and share their burdens? 
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