Sunday, October 2, 2011

Blog 4: xPlore provides discussion forum

The Episcopal Student Association at the University of Oklahoma started a new discussion program this semester.

xPlore is a student-led discussion forum. Each week, one member of the group presents an article or short video and facilitates an hourlong conversation. xPlore has met five times and has discussed things such as 9/11 and hell houses, co-president Kaitlin Warta said.

The group allows students from many faiths to react to religious issues in an inclusive environment, co-president Michael Bibens said.

“From a religious standpoint, we’re a lot more open-minded than other places [on campus],” Warta said.

“Even though we’re a Christian organization, even if someone’s not Christian, we invite them to come in and talk about a topic with us.”

The group is not a Bible study, junior John Putnam said.

“I feel like most Bible studies, you go in, and there’s variation in what people might get out of a verse or how they interpret it, but there’s not major variations in ideas,” Putnam said.

“[xPlore] is similar to a Bible study in that we are talking about religious topics, and we will reference the Bible, but it’s just completely open. You don’t have to be scared of having an opinion or having a thought and presenting it.”

xPlore was created to allow various viewpoints, Bibens said.

“The goal of xPlore wasn’t to lead people to an end,” he said.

“It was to let people say, ‘This is what I believe and how does this topic affect what I believe? Do I believe it? Do I not?’ And then, once you understand that [about yourself], then whatever your result is, that’s great. That was our whole point, to have a forum for people to explore themselves.”

xPlore is similar to a book club because of the high quality of the discussions, junior Andrew Bentley said. 

“I started coming to xPlore because I really enjoy talking about my religion and my faith and my spirituality,” Bentley said.

The Episcopal Student Association sees xPlore as a growing opportunity for their ministry, Warta said.

“I hope that it will bring us closer together as a community,” she said.

“I also hope it will get some more people interested in our organization, that people will think xPlore is cool and maybe bring their friends next time.”

xPlore meets every Tuesday at 8 p.m. at St. Anselm of Canterbury in Norman.

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