“Around the time of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, Pastafarians celebrate a vaguely defined holiday named “Holiday.””
This is my Holiday post, but I’m referring to the Pastafarian holiday known helpfully as “Holiday.” ‘Pastafarians’ for those who don’t know the term are followers of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (or FSM), the spoof religion invented by American physics graduate student Bobby Henderson who launched his own ‘church’ as a challenge to the Kansas School Board’s attempt to teach creationism in schools. Henderson was having a laugh, but his satirical religion is also a dead serious attack on Intelligent Design, a sort of Creationism Lite that makes pseudoscientific claims in support of the Christian creation myth. His entertaining original letter to the school board includes a mock scientific inverse correlation between pirates and global warming (pirates in fact play an important role in the religion). More on this to follow.
Henderson probably could not have predicted that the FSM would become an internet phenomenon with a worldwide following, but FSM appeals on many levels. It’s sweet and tolerant as well as being absurdly and even caustically funny. The FSM creation myth, which is charmingly idiotic but also strangely moving, presents a picture of an accidental but benign and fun-loving universe. According to Wikipedia “the central belief is that an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe “after drinking heavily”… the Monster’s intoxication was the cause for a flawed Earth.”
But never mind its belief structure. Its ethics are exemplary (if you can ignore its sort of frat-boy interest in stripper factories). The best thing about the FSM idea is its rampant inclusivity and general friendliness. You don’t even have to believe in any of it to be considered a member! In fact, you’re probably a member just by virtue of reading this. Maybe even a pirate! No offense to any other religion here (not that it’s illegal or even unethical to offend religions, and they often offend me—refusal to ordain women/marry gay people?!), but at this time of year I think of The Flying Spaghetti Monster because to me its ‘Holiday’ far better embodies the purported spirit of Christmas/Hanukkah/Thingamajig than all those traditions combined. FSM is far more welcoming and tolerant than any other religion (or club), it has the advantage of being irreverent and positive and hilarious, and it inspires community involvement without treacly sentimentality. And is it really that much more bizarre or ridiculous than any other religion? I mean take a close look at any or all of them. And humour is often as salutary as prayer, is it not? So what if it’s wearing an eye patch! Spirituality lacking irony always seems a little sinister to me. It ought to walk the plank! I was going to say something negative about the piously humourless and the spiritually proud, and people who talk about yoga or cleanses at parties, but that is so not in the spirit of FSM. Let’s have some noodles and a beer. Carbo diem!
If all of these virtues weren’t enough, FSM engages in specific humanitarian efforts, and I would strongly recommend getting into the Holiday spirit by taking part in its Kiva micro-loans project. FSM is taking on other religions—such as the Mormons—by trying to raise more money for charity than they do. Members have raised US$444,000 already but want to reach half a million by New Year’s. Ask yourself this: What would the Flying Spaghetti Monster do? He would help out!
FSM is also the religion of crafters and hobbyists and noodlers (no pun intended) who have produced a cornucopia of DIY doodles, video, photography, and craft projects all over the world. Above is a Christmas tree topper. Below, an FSM float at a Solstice Parade in the Seattle neighbourhood of Fremont, accompanied by its pirate attendants. Need further proof of this devotional productivity? Look at this search on Etsy.
Among my favourite Pastafarianism items of belief is the connection between pirates and global warming. Via Wikipedia:
According to Pastafarian beliefs, pirates are “absolute divine beings” and the original Pastafarians. Furthermore, Pastafarians believe that pirates’ image as “thieves and outcasts” is misinformation spread by Christian theologians in the Middle Ages and by Hare Krishnas. Instead, Pastafarians believe that they were “peace-loving explorers and spreaders of good will” who distributed candy to small children, adding that modern pirates are in no way similar to “the fun-loving buccaneers from history.” In addition, Pastafarians believe that ghost pirates are responsible for all of the mysterious lost ships and planes of the Bermuda Triangle. Pastafarians celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19.
The inclusion of pirates in Pastafarianism was part of Henderson’s original letter to the Kansas State Board of Education, in an effort to illustrate that correlation does not imply causation. Henderson presented the argument that “global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of pirates since the 1800s.” A chart accompanying the letter (with numbers humorously disordered on the x-axis) shows that as the number of pirates decreased, global temperatures increased. This parodies the suggestion from some religious groups that the high numbers of disasters, famines and wars in the world is due to the lack of respect and worship towards their deity. In 2008, Henderson interpreted the growing pirate activities at the Gulf of Aden as additional support, pointing out that Somalia has “the highest number of Pirates AND the lowest Carbon emissions of any country.”
Etching of “Noodle Beard”:
For five years I have had the FSM emblem on my car (below). My American brother-in-law bought it for me as a ‘Holiday’ present after introducing me to the FSM (thank you, Tom). This thing has been an excellent conversation starter out on the street, up here in Canada. It either leads to surprise introductions to other FSM appreciators or it leads to explaining pastafarianism to the uninitiated.
See more pastafariana below. It’s only a tiny sample of FSM arts and crafts to be found on the FSM website (apologies to the original creators who are not always named but who have donated their work to the glorification of his (or her) holy noodliness).
Below, from Flickr: drawing from the Netherlands; ‘Holiday’ lights in Texas, by Beth; cloud sighting at bottom by Misty.