Posted by: Jennie Z | April 3, 2009

Pastafarians and Spagnostics

800px-touched_by_his_noodly_appendage

The other day I was looking something up on Wikipedia, as I am wont to do from time to time (I love it and I don’t care, so don’t you judge me!), and after clicking on a series of interest-piquing links (those links get me every time) I came across an article for the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Dawkins talks about it a lot, and we’ve mentioned it a few times in class, but I never bothered to actually look it up because I didn’t think that anyone actually took the idea of an ontologically complex (carbohydrate) deity seriously. Wow. I could not have been more wrong. And so, I decided that I had to share with the class, just in case some of you had never experienced the touch of his noodly appendage.

Evidently there are over 58,000 devoted Pastafarians (lol), and they have formed the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, complete with its own gospel (and t-shirts. and Facebook page. Although I can’t really fault them on that one, because I suspect that if Jesus was corporeal today, he’d have a Facebook page, too. Everyone does.). Included in this sage text are the Eight “I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts” (there were ten, but two of the tablets were dropped). Please, join me in a moment of reflection on these age-old truths:

  1. I’d really rather you didn’t act like a sanctimonious holier-than-thou ass when describing my noodly goodness. If some people don’t believe in me, that’s okay. Really, I’m not that vain. Besides, this isn’t about them so don’t change the subject.
  2. I’d really rather you didn’t use my existence as a means to oppress, subjugate, punish, eviscerate, and/or, you know, be mean to others. I don’t require sacrifices, and purity is for drinking water, not people.
  3. I’d really rather you didn’t judge people for the way they look, or how they dress, or the way they talk, or, well, just play nice, okay? Oh, and get this into your thick heads: woman = person. man = person. Samey = Samey. One is not better than the other, unless we’re talking about fashion and I’m sorry, but I gave that to women and some guys who know the difference between teal and fuchsia.
  4. I’d really rather you didn’t indulge in conduct that offends yourself, or your willing, consenting partner of legal age AND mental maturity. As for anyone who might object, I think the expression is “go fuck yourself,” unless they find that offensive in which case they can turn off the TV for once and go for a walk for a change.
  5. I’d really rather you didn’t challenge the bigoted, misogynistic, hateful ideas of others on an empty stomach. Eat, then go after the bitches.
  6. I’d really rather you didn’t build multi million-dollar synagogues / churches / temples / mosques / shrines to my noodly goodness when the money could be better spent (take your pick):
    1. Ending poverty
    2. Curing diseases
    3. Living in peace, loving with passion, and lowering the cost of cable

    I might be a complex-carbohydrate omniscient being, but I enjoy the simple things in life. I ought to know. I AM the creator.

  7. I’d really rather you didn’t go around telling people I talk to you. You’re not that interesting. Get over yourself. And I told you to love your fellow man, can’t you take a hint?
  8. I’d really rather you didn’t do unto others as you would have them do unto you if you are into, um, stuff that uses a lot of leather/lubricant/Vaseline. If the other person is into it, however (pursuant to #4), then have at it, take pictures, and for the love of Mike, wear a CONDOM! Honestly, it’s a piece of rubber. If I didn’t want it to feel good when you did it I would have added spikes, or something.

RAmen.

Alright, time to be serious. I realize that the Flying Spaghetti Monster was created as a parody to make a point to the Intelligent Design folks, but this seems to have gotten a little out of hand. As I was conducting my research (and by this I mean I continued to read the Wikipedia article) I discovered this factoid:

In November 2007, three talks involving the Flying Spaghetti Monster were scheduled to be delivered at the American Academy of Religion’s annual meeting in San Diego. The talks included titles such as, “Holy Pasta and Authentic Sauce: The Flying Spaghetti Monster’s Messy Implications for Theorizing Religion” Academics say while its inclusion in the program may get laughs, it is a serious debate on the essence of religion exploring questions such as “does religion require a genuine theological belief or simply a set of rituals and a community joining together as a way of signaling their cultural alliances to others?” or in short, “is an anti-religion like Flying Spaghetti Monsterism actually a religion?”

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_spagetti_monster)

Is this something that we should really take seriously? Sure, it’s funny, but it’s also borderline ridiculous. Is it worth our time to attempt to find value and profound questions in something so silly? Should we bother with refuting the arguments put forth by devotees of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Are people like Richard Dawkins and Bobby Henderson (who “created” the FSM) making a valid observation about some of the more absurd traditions and beliefs of conventional religion, or are they just making a mockery of them? Am I playing into their hands by even posting this to begin with?

In Ward’s book, he spends some time in the introduction contemplating the definition of religion, and finally concludes that there is no good way to define it. Should we consider Flying Spaghetti Monsterism a valid religion, or is that pushing pluralism and religious tolerance too far? Where do we draw the line?

Just for funsies:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4Q1zKDqngE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtIyYEPVgTk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_rmVCNUB0w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGhj4253HPg

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Responses

  1. This is a very entertaining post. Who knew that the flying spaghetti monster would become so popular. LOL On a more serious note however, I think this whole FSM craze still comes back around to the same subject that we have been discussing all semester long. What can we take from the New Atheists criticisms of Christianity and how can we use these to improve and reniform Christian teaching? I think that the take home message we can derive from the FSM is that we need to rethink our portrayal of God and his action in creation. I see the FSM as a challenge to theologians to stir things up a bit and really think long and hard about the language they use when describing God in literature and to the laity. It is a challenge to see and describe God as more intimately involved with creation in such a way that allows for the existence of novelty and creativity on the part of creation.

  2. I think Jennie and Brooke present some excellent ideas and insightful questions in their blog posts. After reading their thoughts, I was initially struck by Brooke’s call for Christians to remain open to rethinking, redesigning, and recreating their ideas of God and Christianity. Yes, this Flying Spaghetti Monster Craze does seem a bit over the top and ridiculous, yet it reminds Christians of essential concepts. Christians must remember that Christianity may seem as ridiculous to others, like Richard Dawkins, as the Flying Spaghetti Monster appears to us. Granted, I understand that if someone views Christianity as outlandish or unreasonable as the FSM then no amount of sound theology will probably change his or her ideas. Yet, Christians are still called to be in a constant process of evaluating their belief systems and creeds. Therefore, Christianity can be in a continual practice of self-evaluation and self-improvement.

  3. Amazing, isn’t it. I think we need to differentiate between the comical FSM website and the conference at the American Academy of Religion. FSM is the popular humor and intelligent sarcasm of our culture. Fun, interesting, etc.

    I think the conference is touching on something, and the quote says it. It’s not about the FSM. The FSM represents something much bigger and deeper about a question that many see as legitimate within religion: (from post) Does religion require a genuine theological belief or simply a set of rituals and a community joining together as a way of signaling their cultural alliances to others.

    Also, is religion just as absurdly and irrationally founded as would be a religion of the FSM? There are many more questions like this. The FSM is the poster-child of these deeper questions.


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