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Actor Rainn Wilson Explores Baha'i Faith at Pepperdine

Film and television actor Rainn Wilson visited Pepperdine University’s Malibu campus on February 7 to offer insights into the Baha'i faith, one of the world’s fastest growing yet vastly unexamined religions.

Following a screening of Light to the World, a new documentary about Bahá'u'lláh, the 19th century founder of the Baha'i faith, Wilson engaged in a question-and-answer session moderated by John Barton, Seaver College religion professor and director of the Center for Faith and Learning.

The actor challenged students to explore their spirituality from an open-minded and inclusive perspective, urging them to examine their purpose in life.

“You’re on a lot of journeys,” Wilson said to the undergraduates in the audience. “You’re on an educational journey, then you’re going to be on your economic journey, is your career path journey. And you have a material journey, too, because you have to make a living and pay rent…but you’re also on a spiritual journey. Even atheists in the room have to decide ‘what is the meaning of all of this?’”

Wilson, who explained that the Baha'i faith views the arts as an act of service, discussed the similarities between his spiritual beliefs and Christianity, noting that both Jesus and Bahá'u'lláh taught their followers about the importance of love and service. In highlighting commonalities between the religions, Wilson expressed that the two main aspects of the Baha'i faith are an intentional and continual effort toward self-improvement, as well as an active role in making the world a better place.

“You have to ask yourselves the big questions that have been asked by the great philosophers since the shamans in the caves of ancient days, and from the poets and the bohemians in coffee shops in the Renaissance,” he shared. “You have to dig into these big questions—that’s part of your journey as well.”