Via Telegraph, UK:
“After a three-year battle with Austrian authorities, a man has won the right to wear a pasta colander (strainer) on his head for his driver’s license picture photo (photo here). When he had discovered that headgear was only allowed for religious ‘confessional’ reasons, the man chose to be included in the designation.
Niko Alm belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or as they like to call themselves, “Pastafarians”, whose only dogma seems to be the rejection of all dogma. The ‘stunt’ earned him a forced trip to a psychiatrist to check his sanity, but he apparently passed.
Alm reports that his next move will be to get Pastafarianism recognized as an official faith in Austria. Key to the beliefs of Pastafarians is that the world was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but, owing to the monster being inebriated at the time of creation, it has a flawed design.
The church’s website says:
“The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, while having existed in secrecy for hundreds of years, only recently came into the mainstream when this letter was published in May 2005. (The letter being one sent by ‘Billy Henderson’ to the Kansas School Board which was considering including the pseudo-science of Intelligent Design to be taught in its schools; portrait of SM included.)
With millions, if not thousands, of devout worshippers, the Church of the FSM is widely considered a legitimate religion, even by its opponents – mostly fundamentalist Christians, who have accepted that our God has larger balls than theirs. [snip]
That is, there are no strict rules and regulations, there are no rote rituals and prayers and other nonsense. Every member has a say in what this church is and what it becomes.
To outsiders it makes us hard to define, but here are some general things that can be said about our beliefs:
- We believe pirates, the original Pastafarians, were peaceful explorers and it was due to Christian misinformation that they have an image of outcast criminals today
- We are fond of beer
- Every Friday is a Religious Holiday
- We do not take ourselves too seriously
- We embrace contradictions (though in that we are hardly unique)”
Alm’s win for Driver License Photo Rights and his stated intentions to force Austria to recognize FSM as an official religion seem to have sparked contentions within the church.
I was sent by the Kansas City Star to cover the recent Pastafarian ConVocation (pun likely intended) in Topeka, Kans-Ass (typo on the announcement/invitation to the event). The announced program for the day was enigmatic; most of the speeches and panels mirrored the casual humor of the churches loose beliefs; it seemed beer and pirates would figure prominently during the day. I was looking forward to it, puff piece assignment though it was. The first part of the day seemed more about guzzling copious amounts of beer than anything; the costumes were clever: many were dressed as, or were decorated with, various forms of pasta, including the tubular kind. And of course, Pirates.
A panel discussion entitled Are Our Balls Bigger Than Their Balls? It began straight enough: a constant skewer of Intelligent Design, and how that subject was playing out in the US schools to date.
But during an extended wee break (all that beer, you know), various squabbles broke out among the non-devotees. It seemed that some Dogma may have been trying to sneaks its way into the church. You be the judge, reader. Among the heated comments I heard, and some related later to me anonymously were:
“Look”, Stardust warned; “not all pasta is Spagetti! Why are some of you giving any shrift to crap like orzo and campanelle, anyway? The Founders had those Medusa-tentacle thingies bobbing and weaving, zapping things into being…holding Hizz/her balls, juggling them when Hizz/her work was at a fever pitch! Look at the damned painting, will ya? Long pasta! Spaghetti! We must stay true to the FSM!” she yelled.
The Small Pasta People gravitated to one corner, mumbling among themselves and glaring accusingly at Stardust’s supporters.
Suddenly Czech-ered Des (an obvious ConVocation Concern Troll) rose from his seat and spewed: “Don’t you idiots know the environmental damage done by pasta? The emissions? The leakage? And it’s completely insensitive to non-European cultures – like Vietnamese and Indonesians are going to upend their whole rice culture just to please the messianic ravings of a few colander heads? Instead these jerks say, “no way” to one half the world’s population, dismissing them with a wave of their tongs!
“You can’t even avoid a schism within your own small sect, much less embrace cassava as a sustainable alternative for depleted soils. I imagine if you gain more status, you’ll be telling the Irish to balance potatoes on their heads, and Mexicans to create a tortilla wrap. But the head’s only one part of the body – spirituality embraces the whole. Even in Italy they used to squish grapes with toes, and now they’ve cut off all respect for the physical and focused only on the cerebral.
“Well I hope your spaceships come soon, and at least take their whirly colander heads off to the land of high thinkers. Down here, we’ll still be playing with our meatballs and wondering what happened to all the pasta-brains.”
In the stunned and possibly shamed silence, the erudite scholar O.B. from Sweezerland rose from his chair on the stage, and he raised his hand. “Peace, Brothers and Sisters,” he said, “the Asians invented noodles 4-7000 years ago. A clay pot of preserved noodles was unearthed in Northern China recently. Our traders swapped them to the Thais and Vietnamese for precious gems; and really; who gives a rat’s ass about the Indonesians anyway?”
From there on out people leapt to their feet, and factions developed claiming the Arabs really invented portable, dried pasta, far more useful than that stuff that was prepared fresh and cooked on hot rocks. Quinn of the North championed Italian-invention: “And for your information, the Genovese did knead their dough with their feet, buddy! I’ve read papers on the subject!”
Shouts about pasta grains rang out: Rice! Millet! Durum Wheat! Spelt! And cooking: Hot Rocks! Boiled! Ovens! The Pasta Historians (who knew?) felt the first Power ever of their avocations; different factions coalesced around them…attendees began pulling out their favorite noodles, or off their costumes, and shouting: Vermicelli! Itriyah! Laganon! Macaroni! Yankee Doodle-noodle! Ramen! Spiralini! And of course the various er…pastas… soon became airborne missiles, much of it striking other devotees, then falling to the floor where the shapes were crushed and crunched underfoot.
The melee was in full bloom when a booming voice filled the hall:
“WHY CAN’T YOU ALL GET ALONG, MY CHILDREN? ARE YOU ALL FUCKING NUTS?”
Just then a group of Code Yellow Corn demonstrators charged into the hall dressed as giant ears of corn; niblets fell off their costumes as they entered the fray shouting, “Don’t you nitwits know spaghetti’s contribution to obesity and other health problems? Your God is killing people all over the world, and making children obese! We’re here to stop you!” And, “Those meatballs! Don’t you know they contribute to heart disease??” They joined the pushing and shoving; soon most were on the floor, writhing and squirming and venting at one another…and then came…The Voice again:
“I GAVE MY ONLY BEGOTTEN SON TO YOU SO HE COULD BRING MY MESSAGE TO YOU; THE ONE AND ONLY RULE YOU NEED TO LIVE BY: LOVE AND CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER; IT’S JUST THAT SIMPLE. YOU ARE BREAKING MY HEART! MY SON IS OUT BACK IN THE ALLEY RIGHT NOW; NO ONE WOULD EVEN LET HIM INTO THE BUILDING. I WILL LEAVE YOU NOW; YOU HAVE TRIED MY PATIENCE. HIS VOICE WILL BE MY VOICE ON THIS PLANET FROM HERE ON OUT!”
The people slowly unwound from the massive pile of disheveled and sweaty bodies; they helped one another to their feet, and tried to make themselves more…presentable. A few headed calmly toward the door; the rest soon followed. The Slow Parade made its way to the alley; night had fallen by now…and found the Son of Flying Spaghetti Monster; he was cooking his squabbish dinner and singing this song in the alley:
(with an able assist from my friend Desidero; thanks.)