In the beginning, He created a mountain, a tree and a midget. Thus sayeth the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the world's newest and fastest-growing religion (at least in this newsroom). And if you're looking to save your soul – or you see something supernatural in a really good mushroom ravioli – Flying Spaghetti Monsterism is right up your alley. It's a simple faith, really: The universe was created by a celestial clump of pasta, and the decline in the world's pirate population is directly responsible for global warming. Post hoc, ergo proctor hoc. Think about it.

On the serious tip, Flying Spaghetti Monsterism is a political statement, a reaction to the fundamentalists' war on science. Bobby Henderson, creator of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, instigated a letter-writing campaign to the school boards that were hell-bent on forcing intelligent design into science classrooms, insisting that if they're going to shove that pseudo-science down students' throats, they give equal time to his "alternate theory" as well. His website, www.venganza.org, posts not only his letters but also some of the responses he's received from school-board members – Kansas school board member Kathy Martin warned him, "It is a serious offense to mock God" – not to mention hate mail from those fun-loving evangelicals, who always take satire in stride.

One example (of many): "Brian (sic), I would like to tell you that I was very offended by your letter, and would like to join the 5 percent that believes you are going to hell. I did not appreciate the way you dipict (sic) those who beleive (sic) something other than you. Jackass. P.S.: I hope your genitals fall off and are eaten by a three-legged mice with squirrel tails. P.S.S.: Ninjas are way cooler than pirates. Jackass. You're an idiot. I'll pray for you."

The church has become so popular that on Feb. 14, Villard Books will publish its scripture, The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. All proceeds go toward the construction of a pirate ship (the schematics for which are posted on the website), a seminal element of FSM's philosophy. Purchasing the book not only promotes religious tolerance, it helps stop global warming too (more pirates, less cataclysmic climate change – duh). Ramen.

Orlando Weekly: When did Flying Spaghetti Monster appear to you?

Bobby Henderson: It was the middle of the night, months ago. Details are sketchy but I vaguely remember being touched by His noodly appendage.

OW: In what other incarnations has the FSM appeared?

BH: We have hundreds of sightings now – a large number of them scientific.

OW: You have a book coming out in February. Tell us about it.

BH: The book will put to rest the question of whether this is a legitimate religion. It's full of evidence supporting His existence. Also there's a fair amount about the role of pirates in world events. Without being cocky, I can realistically predict that the other religions will give up after the FSM book comes out.

OW: Do you think it will it outsell the Bible? Will it outsell the Necronomicon?

BH: I don't know. I'll be happy if it makes enough to purchase a pirate ship. All proceeds from the book are going toward the pirate-ship fund. Seriously.

OW: Describe the fundamental beliefs of Flying Spaghetti Monsterism.

BH: The universe was created by the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He alters events to fool us into believing in non-true things, like science. He has a fondness for pirates, and so we endeavor to be like pirates.

OW: The faithful call themselves "Pastafarians." What resemblance, if any, do they bear to Rastafarians? Are they hippies and potheads? And for the love of the almighty FSM, please tell me they have better taste in music.

BH: Pastafarians are normal people. We tend to be secretive for fear of religious discrimination, so it's very possible you know some already. And our taste in music rules.

OW: Like most people, I look to religion to tell me who to hate, discriminate against and vote for. If I convert to Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, whom will I hate, discriminate against and vote for?

BH: You will be disappointed. Pastafarians reject dogma, and we are an open-minded, peaceful religion.

OW: How do Pastafarians celebrate the holidays? Is there a special day to give gifts?

BH: Every Friday is a religious holiday. It is highly disrespectful to Him to do any work at all on this holy day of sloth. Work and school are not acceptable. Anything constructive is out. Additionally, the entire month of December and much of January is our holiday, named "Holiday." As evidence of how much we've grown over the past few years, look how many schools and businesses refer not to the "Christmas season," but instead to the "Holiday" season – a subtle nod to FSM believers. We appreciate the support.

OW: Why has the world abandoned piracy as an occupation? Is it those damn hooks?

BH: The hooks probably had something to do with it, but mostly it's due to the shrinking amount of natural pirate habitat worldwide. Concerned Pastafarians can set up pirate reserves in their own backyards. I suggest placing grog and/or mead, as well as copious amounts of wenches – hot ones – outside. Pirates will come en masse.

OW: How can we convince the youth that piracy is a profitable, rewarding and honest way to make a living? Are pirates underrepresented at Career Day?

BH: The problem is technology. Modern-day "pirates" have speedboats and guns, making them not pirates (and thusly not affecting global weather patterns). … Real pirates use swords.

OW: What about the Pittsburgh Pirates? Can they help? By my analysis, global warming seems to have increased exponentially since the Pirates traded third baseman Bill "Mad Dog" Madlock to the Dodgers in 1985. Would putting Mad Dog and his famous beard back on the hot corner reverse the effects of global warming?

BH: See above.

OW: I make an amazing pomodoro sauce. I typically serve it with angel hair pasta. Is there some other pasta I should be using? What pasta would Flying Spaghetti Monster recommend for a heavy cream sauce? Or fra diavolo?

BH: I really don't know. I'm not a huge fan of pasta.

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