As a teenager, I never had the opportunity to discuss spirituality in a meaningful way. My day-to-day life consisted of shuffling between my stagnant, overly textbook-dependent classrooms and my relatively silent home (both my parents worked long hours). Discussions with peers usually ended with me feeling embarrassed for asking serious, “philosophical” questions or with my sternly indoctrinated friends talking at—instead of with—me. I never had a safe space to talk openly about life or ask questions about god without being told what to think.
SoulPancake, the brainchild of“The Office” actor Rainn Wilson, provides young adults with the space I’d always longed for—a place to discuss spirituality without fear or other limitations. The site’s mission statement speaks to this purpose: “SoulPancake is more of a mission than a Web site. It’s a MOVEMENT to wrestle with and chew on LIFE’S BIG QUESTIONS.”
In this increasingly commercialized age, I find it hard not to be skeptical when a celebrity co-creates and funds a website claiming it’s a movement, not an advertisement. Everything is an advertisement these days—from TVs to t-shirts to buttons, “Like” buttons to be exact. But SoulPancake feels like something different. After perusing SoulPancake, I discovered that the site focuses mainly on two pages: SP Exclusives and The Collective. SP Exclusives contains posts in which a member of the SP site writes briefly about a topic and asks people to respond to it. This discussion prompts range from: “Prove the (Non)Existence of God” to “When have you accidentally been racist?” The Collective, on the other hand, lets you pose your questions to the rest of the SP community, which allows for an equal exchange of ideas between the creators/editors of the site and its readers. No one side or person has a monopoly on the conversation.
In terms of advertising, there are no unwanted pop-up or side-bar ads on the site itself, save for one ad for SoulPancake’s newly published book, which poses 180 of “Life’s Big Questions” and contains a brief survey of Wilson’s spiritual background as well as supplementary articles written by various artists and writers.
I have yet to complete the book, but I was able to read enough to get a sense of the text’s intention as well as its art direction. Much like the website, the book is meant to get people thinking, instead of telling them what to think. Moreover, although Wilson does describe himself as a man of the Baha’i faith in the introduction, he does not foist his beliefs upon others and instead uses the book to encourage people to think, read, and write for their own growth as human beings. Thus, SoulPancake actually is what it says it is, an anomaly in this day and age. It’s a place to chew on life’s big questions.
If you’re interested in SoulPancake, please watch this interview with Rainn Wilson:
Keyvan Geula is a licensed Marriage, Family, and Child Therapist; LMFT. She received her Master of Science in Marriage, family, and Child Therapy from the University of La Verne, in La Verne, California. She employs the latest research in behavioral sciences, neuroscience, and the Baha’i principle of the oneness of all humanity to serve the well-being of her clients.
She offers her services as a clinician, lecturer, trainer, and supervisor to a global set of clients in person and online. In her clinical work, she incorporates the wisdom of the Baha’i Writings, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy research, Mindfulness meditation, and consultation skills, as well as knowledge of the spiritual self.
She is an adjunct professor of Behavioral Sciences at Citrus Community College, faculty of continued education at Claremont Graduate University. She teaches psychology online to students at Baha’i Institute of Higher Education.
She is the Founder and Executive Director of Center for Global Integrated Education (CGIE), a non-profit Baha’i-inspired educational organization, which explores oneness of all humanity, and teaches the integrated mind-body-spirit approach in education.
She has served for two years as the producer and host of a two-hour weekly live radio show for the Persian community in Sothern, California focusing on the role of the psychology of spirituality in personal and social transformation, creativity, emotional and social intelligence, and a greater sense of harmony in a global society. She also has been the host and producer of TV series called Transforming Human Consciousness for eight years. She regularly writes and blogs on www.cgie.org/blog on topics related to integrated education, the oneness of humanity, the powers of the human spirit in the betterment of global society, elimination of all prejudice, equality of women and men, and education reform. Some of her shows are posted on her; Keyvan Geula YouTube Channel.
Mrs. Geula has served in several Baha’i institutions since her youth in Iran and USA.