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Chapter 9
Alternate Alternatives

Where the Pasta Hits the Road

by SASKATCHEWAN KOLONOSCOGRAD, Alternate Reality News Service Existentialism Writer

The Tastered Bob looks upon his small congregation from behind a small wooden table in the plain room. “My sermon today,” he tells the 10 or 12 people sitting on folding chairs in front of him, “is taken from the cookbook of John, Chapter five, Recipe 12. ‘And the Spaghetti Monster, our Lord, Master of the 12 Pastas and 72 Sauces, sent down into the valley a shepherd, for who among us has not tasted of the lamb’s meatballs and said, “Man, this is some tasty shit?”’”

The Pastafarian congregation, though small, enthusiastically shouts, “Amen!”

Despite the joy he brings his followers, this is not a happy time for The Tastered Bob. Two days ago, he was informed by Revenue Canada that The First Canadian Church of the Spaghetti Monster Ascended would not be recognized by the government as a religious organization and would, therefore, be denied tax exempt status.

In a letter to The Tastered Bob, Revenue Canada said, “Get real!”

“But, we are real!” The Tastered Bob protested in an interview after the service. “I have a funny hat!” The Tastered Bob pointed to his head, which sported a cloth representation of a plate of spaghetti and meatballs featuring two very prominent human eyes. “It’s not a priest’s mitre,” The Tastered Bob, “but it does set me apart from the congregation, and keeps my ears warm in the winter.”

“Having a funny hat does not make you a religion,” the Revenue Canada letter argued.

“It doesn’t hurt,” The Tastered Bob countered. “But, there is so much more to Pastafarianism than the hat. For instance, we…we have rituals.” Indeed, at the end of the service, the congregation was invited to the Sottovoce Wine and Pasta Bar to partake of generous helpings of their lord.

Eating spaghetti is a way for Pastafarians to directly ingest the wisdom of their lord. “Sermons are okay, I guess,” Veronika Martens, who converted to Pastafarianism at the age of 12, stated, “but there is nothing like vermicelli noodles with a white wine sauce to fill you with the holy spirit!”

The Revenue Canada letter was not moved. “Having rituals doesn’t make you a religion!” it argumentatively insisted.

But, The Tastered Bob would not be deterred. “We have schisms,” he pointed out. In 2004, the Tomatoists definitively split from the Alfredists over a matter of sauce orthodoxy. The Tomatoists had long believed that tomato-based sauces were the one true path to enlightenment, and that, in any case, Alfredo sauces were unhealthy for true believers. The Alfredists believed that the increased risk of heart disease associated with creamy sauces only meant that true believers would be meeting the Great Pastamaker in the Sky that much sooner.

Obviously, these views could not be reconciled. And, this doesn’t even take into account the Great Pesto Heresy of 2006.

At mention of the Great Pesto Heresy, the Revenue Canada letter started showing signs of exasperation. “Having schisms doesn’t make you a religion!” it shouted, knocking its chair to the floor as it awkwardly stood up.

The Tastered Bob took this argument in and offered one of his own: “We wage religious wars. For example: right now, The First Canadian Church of the Spaghetti Monster Ascended is fighting with representatives of the Protestant faith.” When asked why Protestants, The Tastered Bob responded, “Because they won’t turn up the heat in the bloody church! Some days, my fingers are so cold that I can barely turn the pages of the Good Cookbook!”

When this was brought to the attention of The Reverend Jesse Seymour, pastor of the Protestant church The Tastered Bob rents the basement of every Tuesday and Thursday evenings to hold services in, he warmly responded, “Well, why didn’t they tell me about this? I’m sure we could have come to some accommodation on the matter.” Furrowing his brow for a moment in thought, The Reverend Seymour added: “Actually, this could explain why I sometimes find spaghetti all over my windows when I awaken in the morning.”

“We’re a new religion,” The Tastered Bob shrugged. “We haven’t really had time to develop serious enmity towards other religions. And, uhh, sure, our strategies may require some rethinking. But, we’re trying. Isn’t that enough?”

Not, apparently, for Revenue Canada. Its letter sputtered in rage, muttering about the “effrontery of upstarts” and stormed from the room.

The Tastered Bob has been in touch with his MP, and is considering asking Parliament to direct Revenue Canada to recognize his church.

After the service, I asked Veronika Martens what she found in Pastafarianism. “It’s a welcoming religion,” she thoughtfully commented. “Anybody can be touched by His sacred noodly appendages just by the act of eating spaghetti, whether its at the fanciest restaurant or Kraft Dinner out of the box. It’s an original belief system, not reheated, although reheating His offerings works well, too.

“Pastafarianism is where I live. It’s where the pasta hits the road. In a world that seems to have gone crazy, I find a lot of comfort in the knowledge that the eyes of His chefs are constantly upon me. Pass the pepper mill, please…”

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