With religious extremism and intra-movement dissent taking all the fun out of fundamentalism, isn’t it about time we had a parody religion, maybe focusing on a benevolent deity made of complex carbohydrates?
Enter Bobby Henderson, a 25-year-old with a physics degree from Oregon State University. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Henderson claims that he was visited in a dream by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, an airborne tangle of spaghetti and meatballs with two eyes. Prayers to the FSM, obviously, end not in “amen,” but in “ramen.”
[Cue Dr. Atkins spinning in his grave.]
But Henderson’s not just poking fun at religion in general. He’s reacting to a recent decision by the Kansas School Board’–and an approach endorsed by Our Valiant Leader George Bush and Senator Bill “I Heart God” Frist– to allow teachers to teach theories of Intelligent Design in schools.
Not being intelligent nor a designer nor in school myself, I had to go to the internet to figure out what that means, exactly:
According to Wikipedia, Intelligent Design (or ID, as it’s known) “is the controversial assertion that certain features of the universe and of living things exhibit the characteristics of a product resulting from an intelligent cause or agent, not an undirected process such as natural selection. Though publicly most ID advocates state that their focus is on detecting evidence of design in nature, without regard to who or what the designer might be, in statements to their constituents and supporters nearly all state explicitly that they believe the designer to be the Christian God.” Furthermore, “is not recognized as a scientific theory and has been categorized by the mainstream scientific community as creationist pseudoscience. ” (Ah. Pseudoscience. Just like Tom Cruise predicted about psychiatry…)
Anyway, Henderson is trying to make a point: that it’s absurd to teach intelligent design as science. On Henderson’s site, he posts some of the tenets and beliefs of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, including the fact that “it is disrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing His chosen outfit, which of course is full pirate regalia.” (See site for a hilarious graph that points out the decrease in number of pirates over the years…)
Now, Mr. Henderson says on his Web site, “over 10 million people have been touched by His Noodly Appendage.” The article also refers to the resultant FSM religion as–wait for it–Pastafarianism.
Ninety-five percent of those who wrote to him, he said on his Web site, were “in favor of teaching Flying Spaghetti Monsterism in schools.” Five percent suggested that he would be going to hell.
[Which is, of course, a sure sign that you’ve tapped into something important.]
The Church has garnered quite a following, the article reports: two dozen academics have endorsed the pasta god and three members of the Kansas board who already opposed teaching intelligent design “wrote kind letters to Mr. Henderson.”
But don’t worry…even fake, intelligently constructed and randomly detailed parodies of religions have rival factions and dissent among the ranks:
A rival faction, based on SPAM (Spaghetti & Pulsar Activating Meatballs), has formed. And there’s bickering, Mr. Henderson said in an e-mail message, about whether the god is made of spaghetti or linguini. Those people, he noted, “give me a headache.”
UPDATE, NOVEMBER 7: He’s got a book deal!