The Talon staff sat down with Cade Deister and Hannah Siebold, student speakers for the upcoming Q Union, to discuss the event and why they believe it is important. The Q Union event is set for Thursday, Oct. 24, from 7-9 p.m. in Judd Theater.
What is Q Union, and who had the idea to bring it to Oklahoma Christian?
Cade: Q Union is a conference of multiple universities and multiple churches that come together on the same day to hear speakers altogether and local speakers. It’s built by this organization called Q Ideas, which I like to call the TED of American Christianity. It’s an organization that’s built around providing platforms for speakers and for thinkers in our faith. Q Union is their way of bringing those speakers to college campuses and providing platforms for actual college students to talk about issues that are more reflective of what they perceive on their campus rather than globalized issues that the national speakers are going to talk about.
I think it was Jeff McMillon’s idea to bring Q to campus. He got in touch with them and brought Q here a few years back to do the first Q Union, and now we’re doing it again.
Can you give a quick preview of your Q Union talks and the topics you will address?
Hannah: I actually just changed my topic. I was going to talk about nonviolence, but now I’m going to talk about how the American Church caters and is groomed to a very specific type of person and how we have become a church culture that really welcomes one type of person. You have to look and act a certain way to fit in with the typical American church nowadays. I’m going to talk about how that’s not what Jesus considered church, and how he came to tell the Pharisees and the Sadducees that they were not doing it right. He came to befriend the tax collectors and the prostitutes. I think we put up fronts and pretend we are more like the Pharisees and the Sadducees, when we’re more like the tax collectors and prostitutes than we want to admit. I’m going to talk a little bit about how the American church doesn’t really align with Jesus’ church.
Cade: I’m going to be talking about our relationship with culture as college students, especially with subjects that we’re not necessarily majoring in. I’m going to be talking about how by not opening up to ideas and topics that we’re not familiar with, we’re closing ourselves off to specific groups of people and not being a true Christian and collegiate community.
Why do you feel passionate about these topics?
Cade: I’m really passionate about this because I really see that unless you’re a certain major, you’re not going to talk about topics that aren’t related to your major. I’m a psychology major, and I see a lot of psych students who don’t want to talk about things like math, art or history. They just want to talk about psychology. The same goes for engineering students. They aren’t interested in talking about those other topics because it’s not their focus. It’s not what’s going to make them money in the long run. I think we have this strange relationship with topics that aren’t going to be on our tests, topics that aren’t going to be sources of study for us. I really think that we have the potential as students of a liberal arts university to capitalize on a variety of classes and subjects, and we’re not taking that opportunity.
What makes you qualified to be the student speakers at this event?
Hannah: I would not say that we are any more qualified than anyone else on this campus. Jeff reached out to us. I think we all have relationships with Jeff and have had conversations with him that have made him aware that we are interested in a lot of things and very passionate. I’m sure everyone on this campus as their interests and passions, but we have relationships with him and conversations to where he thinks we can express some of our ideas.
Cade: I think Jeff saw in us an awareness of different issues on campus and a desire to create change.
What kind of impact are you hoping this event has on campus?
Cade: Hopefully, a positive one. Hopefully, it incites conversations. I don’t think our point is to change minds on a 100% level, because you can’t do that in a 9-minute talk. I think and hope that the impact this creates is us getting people on campus to notice the things around them that are issues and notice things that could be better and make us better Christians and college students. I hope they continue to talk about those things beyond our 9-minute talks.
Hannah: I hope it’s a little unsettling. I think that we can get really comfortable and really complacent, especially at a Church of Christ university. A lot of us go to Church of Christ churches, and we become extremely comfortable with one-dimensional teachings. I hope it stirs some people and makes some people uncomfortable, but I hope through that we can have good conversations and talk through that uncomfortability and unfamiliarity.
Which national speaker are you most excited to hear?
Cade: Malcolm Gladwell. He’s super interesting. He’s a journalist for The New Yorker. He has a podcast called “Revisionist History” which is very fascinating. He’s a really engaging speaker to listen to, and he’s going to be talking a lot about his new book called “Talking to Strangers,” talking about how we have trouble communicating in 2019 and ways we can communicate better in order to build up our communities.
Hannah: I’m excited to hear from Francis Chan, just because he’s the one that I’m most familiar with and the one that I know the most about.
Will Q Union be a recurring or one-time event?
Cade: They have done Q Union in the past. They did it two years ago. I think Jeff wants it to be an annual thing. Q Union is an annual conference anyways, so I’m hopeful that next year, other students can give their talks.
Why should students make plans to come to this event?
Hannah: I think in my time here at OC, there have been a lot of really cool events and opportunities to push people and students especially in their thinking. Whenever you enter into college, it’s the first time that a lot of students are on their own and outside of their family structures. For a lot of people, that’s the first time they get to think independently. I think OC does a really good job of hosting events and having conversations where they challenge students and people to think past what they’ve just been told their entire lives and to develop independent thoughts and know what they believe and why they believe it. I think Q is a really good opportunity for that. Its entire idea is about having challenging conversations through a Christian lens. Overall, I would say people in Q are on the same page that there is a God, he is good and how do we bring that into these tough topics and these challenging conversations.
Cade: It’s also Ethos approved.