Religion

Move Over, Jesus, Eris, and Bob

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fsm

The Flying Spaghetti Monster has manifested itself at the American Academy of Religion's annual conference:

The presenters' titles seem almost a parody themselves of academic jargon. [Samuel] Snyder will speak about "Holy Pasta and Authentic Sauce: The Flying Spaghetti Monster's Messy Implications for Theorizing Religion," while Gavin Van Horn's presentation is titled "Noodling around with Religion: Carnival Play, Monstrous Humor, and the Noodly Master."…

But they also insist it's more than a joke.

Indeed, the tale of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and its followers cuts to the heart of the one of the thorniest questions in religious studies: What defines a religion? Does it require a genuine theological belief? Or simply a set of rituals and a community joining together as a way of signaling their cultural alliances to others?

In short, is an anti-religion like Flying Spaghetti Monsterism actually a religion?

Joining them on the panel will be David Chidester, a prominent and controversial academic at the University of Cape Town in South Africa who is interested in precisely such questions. He has urged scholars looking for insights into the place of religion in culture and psychology to explore a wider range of human activities. Examples include cheering for sports teams, joining Tupperware groups and the growing phenomenon of Internet-based religions. His 2005 book Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture prompted wide debate about how far into popular culture religious studies scholars should venture.

My own venture to the crossroads between religion and pop culture, including the tale of some occultists who tried to channel the Amazing Spider-Man, is here.

NEXT: Mommy, There's a Cop in My Room

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  1. You should tie this into the global warming discussion, because, you know, there’s a clear correlation with declining numbers of pirates and increasing global temperatures.

  2. How can you have an article about Syncretism without mention the name of it’s High Priestess, Oprah?

  3. In short, is an anti-religion like Flying Spaghetti Monsterism actually a religion?

    If it does, Flying Spaghetti Monsterism will have both won and lost its argument at the same time.

  4. A very interesting set of questions.

    Here are some really quick thoughts. My initial, very very broad definition of religion would be anything you accept on faith alone. So, christianity is a religion because you accept some things on faith alone, e.g., God. While “science” is not a religion, it is possible to have relgious beliefs in different scientific principles. For example, if you believe in the theory of combustion simply because your teacher told you so, that would qualify as a religious belief. I don’t religious belief is necessarily a bad thing – it can be useful sometimes to trust what others tell you without having to “reinvent the wheel.”
    This is my first thought – I plan on revising this idea based on feedback and seeing the opinions of others in the thread.

  5. What, no mention of Dudeism?

  6. I think the perfect religion is the one i belong to.

    http://www.subgenius.com/pam1/pamphlet_p1.html

    ARE WE CONTROLLED BY SECRET FORCES?
    ARE ALIEN SPACE MONSTERS BRINGING A STARTLING NEW WORLD?
    DO PEOPLE THINK YOU’RE STRANGE?
    DO YOU??
    …THEN YOU MAY BE ON THE RIGHT TRACK!
    “Unpredictables” are not alone and possess amazing hidden powers of their own!
    Are You Abnormal?
    THEN YOU ARE PROBABLY BETTER THAN MOST PEOPLE!
    YES! YOUR KIND SHALL TRIUMPH!

  7. If it does, Flying Spaghetti Monsterism will have both won and lost its argument at the same time.

    Actually, the proper term is “Pastafarianism”. (It scares me that I know such thing.)

  8. Insalad, you heretics will come to realize that there is but one divine food, and that is chocolate mousse.

  9. Pastafarians ignore at their own peril the coming of the the Antipasta.

  10. I’m afraid that chocolote is actually the work of the devil. Anything that good must be bad.

  11. What about my religion, wherein the only way to contact my god is by ingesting psychedelic substances? I very strongly believe in this faith, and feel I should get first amendment protection.

  12. If only they had joined a mainstream religion, like Oprahism, or Voodoo.

  13. Actually, the proper term is “Pastafarianism”.

    I always thought there was a sensimilla and semolina connection.

  14. SLACK!!!!!

  15. The population of Soulja Boy can only be explained as a religion. Superman that ho!

  16. I was discussing this over the weekend – so, how many pastafarians will show up on the US census in 2010? Any idea on the number of jedi from 2000?

  17. Bingo | November 19, 2007, 3:21pm | #

    The population of Soulja Boy can only be explained as a religion. Superman that ho!

    NOW YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!

    Yes brother, you are one of us now.

    (Haterz get mad cuz
    “i got me some bathin apes”)

    Reference to the uuuuuuber expensive japanese hiphop tshirt/hoodies that people wear to let others know they are superiorally fucking down

    http://www.bape.com

    Hodie yodie

  18. IN BAPES WE TRUST

  19. I was touched by His Noodly Appendage quite some time ago…

  20. Ah, I almost feel sorry for the FSMites – academia is trying to co-opt them.

  21. Over at Unqualified Offerings we’re busy trying to develop a recipe that would exceed the greatness of any pasta.

    We shall raise up a new culinary deity, and thereby undermine the pastafarians!

  22. The thread is here:

    http://highclearing.com/index.php/archives/2007/11/19/7428

    Our fried goat cheese wrapped in phyllo and pork, served with a sweet fig sauce, shall rival anything that the pastafarians can offer!

  23. Me I look forward to the surely upcoming conference on Haruhiism.

  24. I like the Blake’s 7 definition of faith: The capacity to believe what you know isn’t true.

  25. “H. Farnsworth | November 19, 2007, 3:07pm | #

    If only they had joined a mainstream religion, like Oprahism, or Voodoo.”

    Sweet Zombie Jesus!

  26. Flying Spaghetti Monster?!?!?

    Gimee a break! What kind of religion would worship an edible deity?

    Oh wait…Never mind.

    (And pass the Parmesan…)

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