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Pancakes for the soul

Actor's website, book focus on 'Life's Big Questions,' and create dialogue along religious spectrum.

November 17, 2010|By Michael Miller, michael.miller@latimes.com

On NBC's "The Office," Rainn Wilson comes off as the ultimate corporate schemer — a man seldom inclined to question his own judgment, let alone the spiritual side of life.

But Wilson is quick to point out that Dwight Schrute, the former assistant to the regional manager at the Dunder Mifflin Paper Co., is just a role. And it's not the role he'll be playing when he visits Barnes & Noble in Huntington Beach on Thursday.

Earlier this year, Wilson oversaw the production of "SoulPancake: Chew on Life's Big Questions," a book of essays, famous quotes and illustrations that deal with God, death, love, creativity and other subjects. (Wilson's main contribution, text-wise, was writing the lengthy foreword; much of the book invites the reader to pencil in his or her own observations.) He also runs http://www.soulpancake.com, in which people from around the world can discuss and debate the same issues.

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Wilson, who visited Surf City on family vacations as a kid, spoke with the Independent about "SoulPancake" and how his life — yes, even when playing Dwight — is a spiritual mission.

Is this your first attempt at writing a book?

Oh, yes. To say that I wrote a book is a little misleading. I wrote an essay, and then we came up with these challenges and fun ways of organizing the material about life's big questions. We kind of put it together, but there wasn't a lot of actual writing that went into it. But yes, I have not written anything before.

Was it your idea to make the book interactive — having people fill in their own answers?

Yeah. One of the books that we referenced in making it was "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron. It's a work book. You carry it around with you and do different exercises in the morning. We knew we wanted something fun and irreverent that had the feel our website does, and we wanted to challenge people to go deeper and look deeper. It wasn't going to be a book filled with text. It needed to be a book filled with art and things that would inspire you and touch you on a different level.

When you talk about the book to audiences, are there any questions you often get?

You know, the most common one is, why is the comic actor from "The Office" doing a book about philosophy, spirituality and life's big questions? That the No. 1 question.

What do you tell them?

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