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Soul Boom Insights

Soul Boom by Rainn Wilson

Hello, HPPR listeners, my name is Andrea Elise and I live in Amarillo, TX. I recently read Rainn Wilson’s Soul Boom for the Summer Radio Readers Book Club.

Have you ever had a concept that is not original or new, but one you would like to express in a fresh manner?

Unitarian Bahai Star with symbols of religions
https://twitter.com/UnitarianBahai, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Unitarian Bahai Star with symbols of religions

I had such an experience recently when I read Soul Boom. Wilson is of the Baha’i faith which teaches, among other things, “the oneness of God, the unity of humanity, and the essential harmony of religion.”

Wilson maintains that we humans are on a collision course as we navigate human connection and our place in the world. We consider ourselves rugged individualists, a designation that could stunt our growth spiritually.

He fully understands that an underpinning of our culture is commerce and has no problem with that foundation, but he explains that it does not have to rip us apart and bring the anxiety and malaise that affect people of all ages today.

We are all looking for meaning in the world. That search is and has always been clear. However, loneliness, depression, suicidal thoughts and other painful conditions continue to increase. The pandemic also hurt us since we had to maintain distance just to stay healthy physically.

In addition to Wilson’s trust in a higher power, life after death, a moral compass and the need for purpose in life, he would also add diversity, a connection to the natural world and a life of service in order to increase the chances of a spiritual revolution.

A visual came to mind when I read Soul Boom. I realized that I normally view the world and my place in it as mostly a static linear formation. We all have a place on that line and, while we can move back and forth (or stay put), we can find ourselves traveling further or nearer to an ideal position we have formulated for ourselves as years go by.

Thus, we can feel “more than” or “less than” as time progresses.

But a different perception arose as I continued the memoir. I thought of a continually moving circle where we are not behind or in front of anyone or anything. We move as the circle does, and we continually reframe our alliances to each other and to the world at large.

The good news is that, once again, we are in a dialogue about what it means to have transformation, both personally and one that affects the globe.

Wilson cites a clear example. He writes about climate change, …”it doesn’t matter if you think…[it is] a liberal hoax or the greatest possible threat to our future, everyone wants clean air for their children…”

He reminds us that we learn fundamentals of reading, writing, math and other skills in school, but we don’t often learn about spiritual virtues, which he defines as “attributes of the divine that we seek to cultivate in our hearts and through our actions.”

Of all the virtues, compassion may be the most transformative. This occurs not only when you understand and feel a person’s pain, but also when you take action to help. In that sense, it is an enormous step up from empathy.

When we take action to help one another, we bring unity to diversity and cooperation to competition. We also take a dualistic global culture and re-make it into collectivism.

Despite different oceans and continents, we are all linked. Wilson quotes the poet Rumi: “Love is the whole thing; we are only pieces.”

This is Andrea Elise for the HPPR Radio Readers Book Club.

Andrea Elise
Andrea Elise

Andrea Elise was born in Sopron, Hungary and immigrated to the United States with her parents in 1956. She grew up in Amarillo, and attended Amarillo College before transferring to Duke University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature. She spent two years in the Peace Corps in South Korea, then obtained a master’s degree in counseling from West Texas A&M University.

Her interests include writing essays and poetry (she published a book of poems and haikus in 2023), partner dancing (if anyone is interested in East Coast swing or jitterbug dancing, please get in touch), playing mandolin, hiking, working out and reading. She lives in Amarillo with her very understanding husband, their two high-maintenance cats and several foster cats who somehow made her husband’s tool shed a resting place complete with room service.

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