I used to write a blog, presumptively called The Gospel Truth for about five years. In thumbing through some old notes, I stumbled over an essay I wrote about 14 years ago. It still speaks to me and I hope my readers on this venue will find some interest in it. A respondent to one of my posts really caught my attention. He signed it Pastafarian. I couldn’t find it in my dictionary so I had to go on-line. A Pastafarian is someone who belongs to a parody religion.
Personally, I don’t find religion very funny though religious people can be a hoot. Some things are just too sacred to be parodied. A parody religion sounds like an anti-religion. These people actually exist and they usually are agnostics or even atheists. I think atheists are usually as good at making jokes as are the Germans.
The idea of a German Comedy is one of the world’s great oxymorons. The closest I ever heard of to a German joke was from an Irish cohort of mine at St. Simon and Jude Elementary School in 1966-67 in the Gravesend section of Brooklyn. Tim and I had lunch together every day at an Italian diner, just blocks from the school. He had a hilarious repertoire of ethnic jokes in the era before the Nazi-esque political correctness movement declared all such humor verboten. He asked me to name two good German jokes. It was impossible for me to name even one. His answer was World War I and World War II. This underscores the plain reality that there are no good German jokes, nor German comedians. Their history and life experiences are too militant and depressing to be funny.
But I digress. According to Wikipedia, this funny religion was invented as a whim by Bobby Henderson in 2005. I don’t know much about Henderson and he even knows less about religion. I found the history of his new religion to be unworthy of even a skit for Saturday Night Live. Pastafarianism grew out of his satirical protest to the Kansas School Board decision that required intelligent design as an alternate to biological evolution in their public schools.
According to Henderson, Kansas never defined their Intelligent Designer. This left its description open to someone with Henderson’s debatable creativity. For the name of his new cult Henderson chose Pastafarian, which is a portmanteau, which means the blending of the sounds from two different words, such as spoon and fork to create an entirely new word, such as spork. The result was his deity—a grotesque Flying Spaghetti Machine that closely resembles something one might send back to the chef on pasta night at the local Italian ristorante. His FSM has bulging eyes, thin pasta curls, wrapped around two very large meatballs—probably a sophomoric attempt at anatomical humor. His god looked more like a video game with an identity complex than a religious deity.
With his tongue stuffed deeply within his cheeks, Henderson proclaimed the canonical beliefs of Flying Spaghetti Monsterism presumably on two giant menus, in what he called his Open Letter. On his website Henderson is described as a prophet. I hope he realizes that prophets are never respected in their own times. Their central belief is that there is an invisible and undetectable and presumably unlovable Flying Spaghetti Monster, which created the entire universe after drinking heavily. The Pastafarian belief of heaven stresses that it contains beer, volcanoes and a stripper factory. This sounds more like an Ivy League college. To them Hell is similar, except that the beer is stale, and the strippers have VD. Maybe this is their idea of a Catholic college.
The Pastafarian religious tome is called the Loose Canon. In place of the 10 Commandments, it contains the eight I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts. Years ago, ABC’s Ted Koppel commented that some religions have 10 Suggestions instead of commandments. Too bad Henderson could not have found two more to maintain the theological symmetry. They also believe that pirates have gotten a bum rap because of the medieval monks who distorted their religious significance. Dan Brown, the author of several defamatory novels on the Catholic Church, sounds as if he could find a true spiritual home as a Pastafarian.
Of greater concern to Henderson must be the fact that with so many different kinds of pasta—linguini, ziti, ruoti, lasagna, even rigatoni, his religion is immediately threatened with denominational fracture, such as took place in the Protestant world after Martin Luther. I mean, can one not envision someday a neon sign advertising for the Third Church of the Holy Ravioli?
While some may find his satire amusing and even innocuous, Henderson has not added anything substantial to the eternal debate between belief and unbelief. His is just an alternate form of religious belief that his followers naively trust offers the best answer to the mysteries of life. I just wonder what the FSM would say about the meaning of life with its attendant pleasures and pains. Eat more spaghetti? The Pastafarian religion is a perfect validation of G. K. Chesterton’s idea that those who do not believe in God will believe in anything.
In fact, I think Henderson’s religious imagination is puerile and pales in contrast to that of the Greeks, Romans or even the Aztecs, who had much more sophisticated gods and goddesses. His religious mythology sounds as if it came out of the bottom of a bottle of cheap wine. I doubt that FSM’s patriarch and prophet has a scintilla of theological truth behind his jokes and parodies. In the final analysis it merely makes his religion serve as the self-parody of a seeker who had nothing better to do on a Saturday night.
There is, however, a delicious irony about Henderson’s parody religion. Their kind of anti-religious sentiment could not be possible without evolution, which believes that it effectively killed off God. Darwinian evolution is a theory that cannot be proven. By nature God cannot be put under a microscope. Evolution is founded on the notion of randomness which is contradictory to legitimate science and discovery, thus undermining Evolution’s claim to scientific certainty. Just like its twin fallacy, human-derived Global Warming or the catch-all human-made Climate Change, the progressive canon has declared both issues settled. In the history of science, no other issues have ever been declared ex cathedra for all to believe…or else. To do so would be, not only unscientific but anti-intellectual. This would not serve the general welfare but the power elites who made such an authoritarian dictate.
Christianity is founded on reason—that an Intelligent Being created an orderly universe that elevates human beings. Is not Christ the Logos, the incarnation of divine reason? Both religion and evolution can be reasoned, but not proven. They both have to be accepted on a reasonable and a believable basis. Which is more reasonable, the one founded on luck or chance or the one founded on divine reason? So the real joke is on the intellectual elite, like Henderson, who live in a Woody Allen cosmos where mistakenly, they think they can laugh God out of existence. I hate to pop the bubble of their German Comedy but the joke is really on them.