Right now, Rainn Wilson is best known as the scene-stealing Dwight Schrute on The Office — but in the future will we know him as a a spiritual guru? Unlike his socially defective on-screen persona, the real-life Wilson is a husband, father, and a practitioner of the Baha’i faith, a world religion that, according to Wikipedia, “emphasizes the spiritual unity of all humankind.” One of the teachings of Baha’i, according to Wilson in this interview with Oprah Winfrey, is that in this day and age, “the making of art is no different than prayer,” and that idea is at the root of Wilson’s new site Soul Pancake.
Soul Pancake purports to be a fun place to discuss life’s big questions with the rest of the Internet, encouraging people to be creative in their use of images and video to communicate their thoughts on faith, spirituality, and so on. The site features a fun, poppy Vimeo-esque design, and is loaded up with neat features, such as the Questions Map, where all the questions submitted by readers are plotted according to geographic location.
The original video content so far includes a video introduction from Wilson (which, in 40 seconds, is a concise and highly visual explanation of the site’s mission), and a short asking London residents what they would do if they had one hour left on Earth. It’s the official content that will help keep the site on message, so hopefully there’s more to come.
Because Soul Pancake’s biggest advantage is its distinct and unique voice; it’s infused into every chunk of text on the site and works well to keep the tone of the discussion light and friendly. And surprisingly for a very new site, the discussions are already pretty good. One post, which simply links to the recent viral hit Kittens Inspired By Kittens under the header “Do the imaginations of adults need a serious kick in the balls?”, already has 69 responses, with people commenting on how their own imaginations have been affected by their upbringing, education and interactions with children. The video comments are a little slower in coming, but by not requiring users to use a specific hosting site for their contributions the site has a major advantage over communities like Current.com. (Users are instead encouraged to simply paste the URL to their video as a reply.)
To the best of my abilities, I couldn’t find a discussion thread that had gotten truly contentious, though if the site is going to push debates around large-scale issues, it seems inevitable that things will get heated. And that’s what will ultimately make or break Soul Pancake, because it seems poised to fill a need for people to share their thoughts on hot topics — but it’ll last only as long as the site remains a safe space, and the haters don’t take it over.