Giving Alms or Straining Reality: Pastafarianism?

Posted on Jul 15 2011 - 1:00am by Harrison

Pastafarian headgear?

Niko Alm is Austrian and recently got his driver’s license photo taken wearing a pasta strainer on his head.  After jumping through some hoops, he successfully showed the authorities that he should be allowed to wear a pasta strainer because it was “religious headgear.”

His religion?  Pastafarian.

Mr. Alm is an Atheist and says he is a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (a U.S. based sect) whose only dogma is “the rejection of dogma.”

Back in April, we wrote about the Flying Spaghetti Monster in an article titled To Be an Unbeliever? and how Theists often take a dim view of Atheists.

Previously, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster had petitioned for Pastafarianism to be taught in Kansas schools alongside Evolution and Intelligent Design (aka Creationalism).

Mr. Alm is now trying to get Austrian authorities to recognize Pastafarianism as an official faith.

We wish him good luck with that.

Many religious will take offense at Mr. Alm’s endeavours while many non-believers will chuckle.

For those who do believe in God, they should thank Mr. Alm for, in effect, he is making it easier for the religious to celebrate their faith, whatever it is.

How much satire or comedy have places like Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or North Korea produced?  Sure, the Soviet Union produced Yakov Smirnoff but he emigrated to the United States in 1977 where he became a famous comedian with immortal jokes like:

In America, you watch television.
In Soviet Russia, television watch you!

In places with no religious freedom were you to try and claim your religion as Pastafarianism you’d have your head cut off.  Thus, where satire is common, so, usually, is freedom.  And the more satire you find in a country, the more freedom you find and the more it will grow in future generations.

Satire tells people not to take themselves too seriously and the highly religious (the Taliban, hardcore Christians, etc…) tend to take themselves very seriously and when that happens you can usually expect things like books being banned (Nazi Germany), people being beaten up or murdered for their beliefs (Egypt), and the general sense of fun being greatly reduced in society.

Of course, there are some Atheists out there who are so extreme that they may be trying to take away peoples’ right to religious (or not) expression such as the lawsuit filed to prevent Texas Governor Rick Perry from holding his prayer and fasting rally that we wrote about in April but, overall, there seems to be an uneasy equilibrium in places where satire thrives.

Such is the price we pay for being freer than most.

18 Comments so far. Feel free to join this conversation.

  1. Don E. Chute July 15, 2011 at 3:39 AM -

    As a Christian, I say God Bless Pastafarianism. It doesn’t sound like he’s mocking any religion, and who can find fault in “the rejection of dogma.”?

    At least you can make out his ID with his pasta strainer on his head. Unlike the resistance of a religion to remove the veil.

    I would imagine he would be a fun dude to have at a dinner party as well:{0


  2. Jack Camwell July 15, 2011 at 5:28 AM -

    Satire is a gift that I wish I could possess. I learned a long time ago that although the world pretty much sucks, and there is very little in it that is funny, it’s up to each individual to realize that some things aren’t as serious as people want them to be.

    There’s only two possible responses to the world, and that is to laugh or to cry. Crying sucks.

    • Harrison July 15, 2011 at 10:16 AM -

      Sounds Camusesque. What about Defiance?

      I always liked this one:

      Nietzsche: God is dead.
      God: Nietzsche is dead.

      • Jack Camwell July 15, 2011 at 10:22 AM -

        Haha, that genuinely made me laugh.

        And yes, that point of view is very Camusesque, although I don’t think he laughed much.

        • Harrison July 15, 2011 at 10:31 AM -

          Well Camus certainly didn’t spend his time taking driving lessons.

  3. jd July 15, 2011 at 7:04 AM -

    the flying spaghetti monster came to be when a school was teaching intelligent design as science alongside evolution. the point was that the theory of intelligent design has as much science in it as the theory of a flying spaghetti monster.

    i don’t beleive the guy who thought it up isn’t even an atheist, he was just doing it to prove a point; and a good point at that.

    the atheists that have since taken this up have kind of perverted the message; they interpret the FSM as anti-religeon, when it is was meant to just show the lunacy of trying to pass off faith as science.

    of course, i stopped following the movement back around 2006, so who knows what it has become.

    • jd July 15, 2011 at 7:06 AM -

      ugh…correct statement should read

      “i don’t beleive the guy who thought it up was even an atheist, he was just doing it to prove a point; and a good point at that.”

  4. dean July 15, 2011 at 11:30 AM -

    Why is the state granting a religious exemption for this guy?

    If I wanted to wear a baseball cap for the photo but did not claim a religious exemption, the state would deny me that and in the process be guilty of discrimination because of my (non)religion.

    • Harrison July 15, 2011 at 12:10 PM -

      I would suggest wearing a Chicago Cubs baseball cap and claim you were a Nihilist. Maybe the DMV would let you wear it for your photo.

      • Jack Camwell July 15, 2011 at 12:14 PM -

        “These men are Nihilists, Donnie. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

        -The Big Lebowski

        • Harrison July 15, 2011 at 12:30 PM -

          Watch out for the marmaset.

          Good quote man! Love that film.

      • dean July 15, 2011 at 12:23 PM -

        Harrison, +1.

        OK, OK, I get it. It’s Friday. Only 3 more hours until I can wrap my taste buds around a Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.

  5. Matt July 15, 2011 at 6:37 PM -

    I have no problem with this, as I am convinced that God has a sense of humor. It probably only goes so far, but a sense of humor none the less.

    • Harrison July 16, 2011 at 12:07 AM -

      Who will be laughing last?

  6. eots July 15, 2011 at 10:36 PM -

    I’m not a theologian, so I probably shouldn’t offer my opinion, but I can’t help it. In my Jewish heritage we have a tradition of doubt without which there can be no faith.

    • Harrison July 16, 2011 at 12:09 AM -

      Søren Kierkegaard remarked on the same issue of doubt and its role in faith in his book Fear and Trembling. His first book, after all, was titled “Everything Must Be Doubted.”