The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Booby Henderson, the founder of the Church of the FSM, has produced a book, The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He has decided to use the profits towards buying a missionary pirate ship to spread the word. There’s a petition you can sign to try and persudade the US government that the Church of the FSM is a real religion and deserving of tax-free status.

I actually think that the whole FSM thing is a bit annoying. It’s somewhat amusing, and the phrase ‘noodly appendage’ is a fine addition to the language, but the more it goes on, the more it becomes a satire on religion, rather than a focussed argument against the teaching of ID in schools. I have no objection to people satirising religion, but given the high percentage of church-goers in the US, the anti-ID movement needs to win over moderate Christians. Trying to be the calm voice of reason seems a better way of doing that than mocking people’s sincere beliefs.

Even more annoying, for me, is that the FSM idea doesn’t even stand up in the first place. In Henderson’s original letter, he basically said that he had an alternative explanation for life, and if they were going to teach non-scientific theories in school, his theory was just as good as ID. But the whole point of ID is that it is creationism stripped of the scriptural references as a way of getting around the consitutional separation of church and state. Once you strip away the scriptural details of FSMism – the noodliness, the heavenly beer volcano, the pirates – what you’re left with is the assertion that life was created by an intelligent designer. It’s not an alternative to ID – it *is* ID. What the satire really needs is an alternative explanation for how life came to be – however ridiculous – not just a different version of the same thing.

And yes, I do know that I’m too literal-minded for my own good.

Mask of the Week

Another one from the BM, this from the Chewa people:

What they have to say:

This mask depicts a royal escort who accompanied Queen Elizabeth on an official visit to Malawi in 1979. He was described as ‘tall, heavy, a big man with a moustache and quite handsome’. His image was recreated two weeks later by a mask-maker who had watched the Queen’s arrival at the airport. The mask is made of wood painted pale pink. It has striking eyebrows and a moustache of synthetic fur. It would have been worn with a full length costume made of composite materials.

Simoni masks represent the youngest son of the chief and are often associated with foreigners, especially from the colonial period. They have either red or flesh-coloured painted faces and their dances suggest power and authority. Simoni is seen as intelligent and successful, but also shrewd and dangerous.