The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

I always enjoy good food-related humor. So when my mother forwarded me a link with the subject line, “Austrian Man Wins Right To Wear Pasta Strainer In License Photo,” I couldn’t resist taking a moment from my busy day and clicking through.

Niko Alm's driver's license photo

According to the story featured on the NPR website, a Viennese man named Niko Alm had been petitioning the Austrian government for three years for the right to wear a pasta strainer on his head in his driver’s license photo. Now I’ve spent a good deal of time in Vienna, and did meet some colorful characters. You need look no further than the 18th-century Austrian sculptor, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, to see what I mean. And certainly this seemed to fall in that same tradition.

So why, you may reasonably wonder, did Niko Alm want to wear a pasta strainer in his driver’s license photo? He claimed to belong to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and wearing the strainer was part of his religious observation. My kind of church. He was, he said, a “pastafarian.” More likely, I thought, he was probably just a guy with an irreverent sense of humor (my kind of guy). Of course, three years is an extraordinary commitment to a joke. So I clicked on. According to the BBC: “Mr Alm’s pastafarian-style application for a driving licence was a response to the Austrian government’s recognition of confessional headgear in official photographs.”

I began to wonder what kind of rituals might be involved in belonging to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. It would be reasonable to assume worship would take place in your nearest fine Italian restaurant, with votives flickering on each table. But would scriptural readings comprise passages from the writings of Epicurus? When the donation basket was passed, would there be garlic bread in it? And what would constitute a relic? A marinara-stained scrap of the collar from one of Dom DeLouise’s shirts?

Delving a little deeper into the story, I discovered that Mr. Alm owns an advertising agency and is an athiest who advocates for a clean separation of church and state, and views the recognition of religious headgear as a tacit endorsement. His next “mission” is to get the Austrian arm of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster officially recognized by the government.

Perhaps the best part of the hour or so I spent clicking around learning about all of this was the link to Google’s automated English translation of Niko Alm’s blog, where he explains himself in his own words. As impressive as the Google Translate technology is, something terrible happened to those words between the original German and the English translation, leading to sentences like:

“Too often I had wanted to make the public authorities to exercise my freedom of religion worm.” And:

“Nor will be encouraged Muslim women to wear a headscarf or a burka, or even forced, I’m partying my mind as an enlightened Westerners my religious freedom Sun.” And:

“But I’ve been patiently eat!”


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andy
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 00:08:09

    Remember Seth Myer Bruin when we were in Austria? Ha ha.


  2. g
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 01:54:23

    I’m actually a Frisbeeterian. We believe that when you die your soul gets stuck up on the roof.


  3. Lisa Gaskin
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 05:02:11

    Okay…who’s drinking wine NOW?? Since I happen to be a graduate student in clinical psychology, I’d like to suggest that Niko is nuts. Doesn’t make his strainer less hilarious however which is often the case with those that are nuts…they are often absolutely the most engaging and stimulating humans around in my opinion. I think the Flying Spaghetti Monster would fare well at Hogwarts…in the dining room…with Snape et al….I wonder if Niko is the pastor and if so, he is def a Slytherin 😉


  4. Toby
    Jul 25, 2022 @ 01:31:26

    Grreat reading your blog post


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