Think Before You Pink 2011

I was at Wal-Mart recently and was immediately struck by a big ol’ display filled with pink and pink ribbon embossed merchandise. I turned to my husband and said, “It’s almost October.” Since it is now October and we’re in the thick of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is time once again that I ask you all to “Think Before You Pink”.

This will be my fourth year trying to bring awareness to the work of Breast Cancer Action and their “Think Before You Pink” campaign. In 2008 I did a brief summary of the campaign and shared critical questions you should ask yourself before buying a big cart full of pink merchandise. In 2009 I shared their campaign to tell Eli Lilly to “Stop Milking Cancer”. And last year I shared why I support Breast Cancer Action. So this year I find myself wondering what to say….

On September 14, 2011 Marie Clair published a thorough and eye opening article by Lea Goldman that I would encourage you to read before you buy one piece of pink merchandise online or make one charitable donation over the phone. I encourage you to give it a read.

The Big Business of Breast Cancer
Some $6 billion a year is committed to breast cancer research and awareness campaigns. Is it any wonder that the disease has become a gold mine for pink profiteers and old-fashioned hucksters?

And as always, I also encourage you to visit the “Think Before You Pink” website and the website for Breast Cancer Action.

What to do next year. Should I just start all over again and recycle the 2008 article? Check back in a year to find out!

How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization

On a whim Career Press contacted me to see if I had any interest in receiving a review copy of “How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization: The Essential Guide to Improving Your Church, Synagogue, Mosque, or Temple” by Michael A. Sand. Now I don’t manage a religious organization, heck, I don’t even belong to a religious organization, but I jumped at the chance to check out the book. Why? Because I’m nosy. I wanted to see how effective religious organizations might be run, and since the author also wrote “How to Manage an Effective Nonprofit Organization” I figured he probably had a lot of insights since many religious organizations are nonprofits.

To say the book was eye opening is an understatement. I’ve attended events at assorted churches and temples throughout my life, but never in a zillion years would I have suspected the amount of effort that went on behind the scenes. Even if these organizations weren’t as effectively managed as they could be, if they were even halfway to effectively managed the amount of work involved is staggering.

It seems so simple on the outside looking in. You have a religious leader and they prepare sermons or rituals, perform weddings and funerals, and then you have some volunteers that I don’t know, keep the place clean and help out when needed. It’s not like I thought it was easy, it just seemed pretty straightforward. I would like to state now, for the record, that I am a dumb ass. Yes you have the stuff I mentioned previous, but what about by-laws? What about actually finding and keeping volunteers? What about budget, or fundraising for that matter? What about membership? The list goes on!

Fortunately Sand’s book is there to lay it all out for you. To me it was overwhelming, but it’s a book, the guidance is still there waiting for you after you catch your breath. “How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization” is not an exciting read, but it is incredibly thorough and detailed despite it’s compact size of 221 pages. Sand does his best to navigate the diverse religious landscape of America without stepping on any toes. Readers of The Buffet will be interested to know that along with the usual Judeo Christian suspects he also briefly touches on the Baha’i faith, the Quakers, and Wicca when discussing how different religious groups find leaders. However, if you’ve been looking for that truly common denominator between assorted faiths, how they can be effectively managed may be the link you’ve been waiting for. It’s an oddly comforting notion.

I honestly don’t know how many of you guys need to know how to effectively manage a religious organization, but if you’re like me and curious, you will definitely find “How to Manage an Effective Religious Organization” an interesting read.

NNYPRS Tech Council: TOD

By Brian Leighton

This past October I attended the 2nd Annual Northern New York Paranormal Expo put together by the City of Plattsburgh and the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society. While there I fell in love with TOD, the adorable Terrestrial Optical Droid new to the NNYPRS. After reading my article about the event, Brian Leighton who has been writing about paranormal research technology for The Magical Buffet, jumped to the obvious conclusion that I would want a whole article devoted to TOD. He was right.

From a box of junk comes our newest team member.

One of the great things about being a geek, I mean head of the NNYPRS Tech Council, is that friends and family give me all kinds of stuff that they don’t need any more. Sometimes what I get is pure junk, but sometimes I hit the jackpot!!! This was the case recently when my brother, preparing for an out of state move, decided to get rid of some of his stuff. I ended up with two big plastic totes of stuff that makes geeks like me drool, among them was an interesting toy.

It’s called SPYKEE and it is a remote controlled robot. We have nicknamed him TOD, it stands for Terrestrial Optical Droid, He is named after a former team member whose sole desire on an investigation was to climb into attics and crawlspaces so that he could get a thrill. TOD is outfitted with a camera, microphone, and I control it with my laptop or my android based phone. Now aside from the fact that I am a big kid and this thing is cool, this is a very practical tool for our paranormal team. We often get claims of noises in areas that my 6’3″ 350lb frame can’t fit in. That is where TOD comes into play, I have modified him to make him more compact and he now carries a more powerful light to see in the dark. So now when we get a report of a noise in a crawlspace or attic, I can run him into the area and transmit noises through him to track his exact location. Once I get to the correct area, I can use the camera to see if there are any loose pipes, animal droppings or nests and then take pictures to show the client. Now TOD has a few other tricks up his sleeves…well he doesn’t have arms anymore. He also carries a microphone so I can actually monitor an area and run an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) session with no human presence. He also has an alarm setting so that if the camera detects any movement he sends an alarm to me through my laptop or phone.

That is one of the great things we do at the Tech Council, we turn things that people don’t want into tools that people don’t expect. Like most of my tools TOD is getting upgrades very soon. His next upgrade is a better quality camera and I am currently putting together the parts to make that camera pan and tilt so that I can get a better view of my surroundings. Those are some of the newest tools (toys) that we are developing within the Tech Council.

Some of the other tools we are currently working on – a Hydrophone made form an old buzzer and a 35mm film case, an underwater camera made from an old web camera and clear housing. Both of these are being tested for our Champy investigation we are going to do on Lake Champlain this summer.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our group visit us at www.nnyprs.com. And if you are interested in attending one of our Investigative seminars in Albany, NY then send me an email at Brian@nnyprs.com.

Brian following TOD's adventures on his laptop.

About Brian Leighton:
Brian Is the NNYPRS Team Leader and head of the Tech Council. You can contact him at Brian@nnyprs.com with any question or comments.

Ghost Hunters of the Finger Lakes: Investigation Summary

Article Provided by Ghost Hunters of the Finger Lakes.

Private Residence in the Newark Valley of Upstate New York.

We got a call to check out a house in Newark valley in upstate NY. The owner had been having activity and wanted some answers to what was going on in her home. Her husband had even witnessed a large apparition in the basement. He actually walked over to it and swished his hand right through the dark shadow man standing before him. Then the shadow man vaporized right before his eyes. They also had lights flickering, doors closing and opening, and a lot of other noises in their home. After figuring where to set up our equipment and started our investigation, we had a heard a lot of noises and had some really high EMF spikes in the living room. My EMF meter was sitting on the table in the living room and it just started going off for no reason at all. We had many motion lights coming on for no reason and the house seemed to have a lot of paranormal activity happening. We picked up our equipment and headed home.

The next day I was looking over my photos taken from the investigation. I could not believe what I had captured in several of my photos in the living room. It was a huge man standing right where we were getting very high EMF readings. The man was huge and it was easy to tell it was not any of our investigators. At first it showed no head, only shoulders and his large body. The next picture showed his head and you could plainly see he was wearing a large hat. We showed the family what we captured along with the high EMF spikes and motion lights going off with no one around them. They could not believe what we captured for evidence in their home. We assured them that it was okay and nothing that could hurt them.

They still have activity in their home but they know its okay and not to be afraid of the ghosts among them. They are harmless and never tried to hurt them. Here is my photo of the large man that haunts their home.

The first picture is my sister walking by the large ghost in the living room.

Copyright belongs to Ghost Hunters of the Finger Lakes

The next one is the large ghost standing by himself in the living room.

Copyright belongs to Ghost Hunters of the Finger Lakes

To learn more about the Ghost Hunters of the Finger Lakes, visit their website.

Prepare Yourself, Movember is Coming!

Two years ago my friend Will Hobbs, an artist whose work you may recognize from this very website, brought Movember to my attention. With it’s commitment to men’s health issues and swaggering attitude I decided then that each year I would dedicate one post to bring attention to this spunky international fundraising organization.

What is Movember? (from the Movember United States website)

Movember challenges men to change their appearance and the face of men’s health by growing a moustache. The rules are simple, start Movember 1st clean-shaven and then grow a moustache for the entire month. The moustache becomes the ribbon for men’s health, the means by which awareness and funds are raised for cancers that affect men. Much like the commitment to run or walk for charity, the men of Movember commit to growing a moustache for 30 days.

The idea for Movember was sparked in 2003 over a few beers in Melbourne, Australia. The plan was simple – to bring the moustache back as a bit of a joke and do something for men’s health. No money was raised in 2003, but the guys behind the Mo realized the potential a moustache had in generating conversations about men’s health. Inspired by the women around them and all they had done for breast cancer, the Mo Bros set themselves on a course to create a global men’s health movement.

In 2004 the campaign evolved and focused on raising awareness and funds for the number one cancer affecting men – prostate cancer. 432 Mo Bros joined the movement that year, raising $55,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia – representing the single largest donation they had ever received.

The Movember moustache has continued to grow year after year, expanding to the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, Spain, South Africa, the Netherlands and Finland.

In 2009, global participation of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas climbed to 255,755, with over one million donors raising $42 Million US equivalent dollars for Movember’s global beneficiary partners.

The funds raised through Movember’s US campaign benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) and LIVESTRONG, the Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The success of Movember can be directly attributed to the more than 627,000 Mo Bros and Mo Sistas who have supported our cause since 2003. Movember is sincerely grateful for their efforts and appreciates all they do.

To register, donate, or learn more, visit the Movember website.

The 2010 Northern New York Paranormal Expo

Last Saturday was the 2nd Annual Northern New York Paranormal Expo hosted by the Northern NY Paranormal Research Society and the City of Plattsburgh. Roughly 900 people visited the Old Air Force Base Gym in Plattsburgh, NY to visit with vendors from across the region and to hear talks from psychics, paranormal researchers, and authors.

Like last year there were so many different talks being given throughout the day it was impossible for me to hear them all, so I ended up missing the talks that various vendors at the expo gave to attendees. The vendors discussed a wide range of topics, covering UFOs, 2012, and the human energy field. Judging by how busy the vendor tables were throughout the day I can safely assume people enjoyed what they heard.

At 10:30 AM I plopped my butt down in the main speaker room and essentially spent the rest of the day there. From my orange plastic chair I got to become familiar with author Joe Citro from Vermont. He’s written a ton of books, “Green Mountain Ghosts, Ghouls, and Unsolved Mysteries”, “The Vermont Ghost Guide”, “Curious New England”, and many more. After hearing him speak about his research into the lives and times of William and Horatio Eddy, the alleged psychic mediums from 1800’s Vermont, I can see how he’s managed to have such a long career. He’s a fascinating and enthusiastic speaker and amazingly accessible. I picked up a copy of his book “Not Yet Dead” and definitely plan on keeping up with him and his work at his website.

NNYPRS President Merrill (center) introducing me to author Joe Citro.

Next I got to see Dan Lowenski’s presentation “The Ark of the Covenant: Movies, Mysteries, and Myths”. His presentation featured art, graphics, and a replica of the Ark. That’s right, last weekend I saw the Ark of the Covenant, what did you see?

Yep, that's the Ark of the Covenant. Nice, right?

Lowenski’s presentation was followed by the Northern NY Paranormal Research Society discussing the technology they use in their investigations. The speakers were Brian, the head of the NNYPRS tech council and Buffet contributor, Carmen, one of the primary researchers for the NNYPRS, and Merrill, the President and Founder of the NNYPRS. However, despite the knowledge the three of them possessed, the real star of the presentation was Tod. Tod is actually a high end toy; a spy robot that can be controlled by a laptop. It has a camera that can take pictures, record video, and can even be set to take pictures when it detects movement and send an alarm as well. It’s also adorable. I’m hoping to convince Brian to write a profile on their newest robotic team member in the near future for the site!

The cutest NNYPRS, T.O.D.

And bringing the day to a close was a man who is no stranger to Buffet readers, David Pitkin. You may know him from this or this. As I’ve come to expect, his talk was wonderful. If you still haven’t seen him in person, you can keep tabs on him at his website to find out where he’ll be appearing next.

David Pitkin (right) with NNYPRS President Merrill (left)

The Northern New York Paranormal Research Society and the City of Plattsburgh put together another great expo. I can’t wait to see what they’ll do next year!

I do have one other non-expo related, but Plattsburgh, NY relevant note to add here. While in Plattsburgh I visited Fantastic Planet, a comic book/game store at 164 Boynton Avenue Plattsburgh, NY. The owners, Pete and Donna I believe, have a fabulous, wonderful store! Clean, well organized, brightly lit, with tons and tons of glorious graphic novels as far as the eye could see (I picked up The Invisibles 1 and 2), a big ol’ wall of manga (I picked up Death Note 11 and 12), a gigantic stuffed Bone doll that was fortunately up too high for me to grab and hug until it got ruined by my make-up and would be forced to purchase it, and a respectable selection of table top roleplaying games and board games. Also, we stumbled across Corner Stone Bookshop, a truly magical wonderland of used books. I managed to show some restraint and only purchased a 1969 edition of “The Graham Kerr Cookbook” and “Jesus in India”, an English version of “Masih Hindustamein”, an Urdu treatise written by the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

Also, my October tour of events isn’t done yet. This Saturday I’ll be going to Celebrate Samhain in Peterborough, NH where I’ll be getting to see Raven Grimassi, Christopher Penczak, The Gypsy Nomads, and more! It sounds like it will be a great time! If you’re in the area, you should stop by too!

Think Before You Pink!

It is October again, which means it’s time for me to remind you all about Breast Cancer Action and the great work they do! This month you’ll be assaulted with public service announcements, television specials, pink versions of any item you can color, and pink ribbons everywhere! Yes, it is breast cancer awareness month, and yes, breast cancer is bad, but the ladies at the BCA ask that you “Think Before You Pink”.

What does it mean to “Think Before You Pink”? Simply put, before you buy a product with a pink ribbon on it to support “the fight against breast cancer”, you should ask a few questions (from the “Think Before You Pink” website), such as:

How much money actually goes toward breast cancer programs and services?
Where is the money going?
Which types of programs are being supported?
What is the company doing to assure that its products are not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

Why year after year do I devote a post to Breast Cancer Action? Primarily because of their core principles and values (as found on their site):

1.We are a membership organization.

2.We honor each person’s commitment and energy to our mission.

3.We are not afraid to examine all sides of all issues.

4.We cannot be bought.

5.We tell the truth about what we discover.

6.We serve individuals while reaching the broader population.

7.We value the involvement of grassroots activists throughout the country and around the world to further our mission.

8.We encourage people to participate fully in decisions relating to breast cancer.

9.We believe access to information is vital.

10.We recognize that structural changes in society are needed to accomplish our mission.

One of the main things I’ve learned from BCA that I have used repeatedly in my life is this, if you really, truly, care about a cause or organization, donate directly to that organization.

Dear Rebecca,

Breast Cancer Action is deeply grateful for your generous online donation of $10 dated September 15, 2010.

We are able to be the watchdogs of the breast cancer movement because of your support. We are in the unique position of being able to tell the truth because we are the only national breast cancer organization that refuses funding from corporations that profit from or contribute to cancer. Our policy, and your support, will ensure that we continue to demand that corporations clean up their products and practices so that your health is put first. Thank you very much for donating online.

Sincerely,
Barbara A. Brenner
Executive Director

This letter fulfills the IRS requirement that donors receive a receipt issued by Breast Cancer Action. We confirm that no goods or services were provided in exchange for your contribution. Your gift is tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law. BCA’s federal tax ID # is 94-3138992.

You can print this email as a record of your donation for your tax purposes.
Donation Summary:

Confirmation Code: VTJE5EA876F8
Donation Amount: $10
Donation Date: September 15, 2010
Donation Made By: Rebecca Elson

To learn more about Breast Cancer Action, visit their website. Also be sure to check out BCA’s “Think Before You Pink” campaign site as well!

NNYPRS Tech Council: Hi! My Name is Brian

It’s no secret that I have the internet organizational equivalent of a bromance with the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society. I wrote quite the love letter to them last year in anticipation of their first expo, so I’m not going to rehash it all now because you can just read it here. (Besides that, it’s mushy and I have a reputation to uphold.)

One of the big hits of the expo was the NNYPRS displaying and discussing the assorted tools and technology they use to investigate paranormal claims. I was lucky enough to have a corner behind their booth to rest at and while there I would watch all the people gathering around to learn about all the widgets they had out on display. I was impressed at how good they were at explaining what each thing did, how it did it, and why it mattered. I know that a lot of folks that read The Magical Buffet belong to their own paranormal investigation groups and/or have serious interests in investigating the paranormal, which is what has brought about the article you’re about to read.

Brian Leighton, the head of the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society’s Tech Council, has agreed to share information about some of the tools (many of which are custom made) that he and his teammates use to investigate the paranormal. And he’s letting Buffet readers help him and the rest of the Tech Council decide what to discuss! Here Brian introduces himself and shares some quick thoughts with you. If there is anything you’d like to learn about, or have a tech question you want answered, just post it in the comments.

Some NNYPRS tech from last year's expo! What is it all? These are the kinds of questions that will be answered!

Well, I guess this is where I introduce myself. My name is Brian and I am the team leader of NNYPRS. I am also the head of our illustrious Tech Council. You may ask, “What is the Tech Council?” The short answer is it’s a bunch of big kids that love to let our inner geeks out to play. The long answer is basically it consists of several of our investigators who discuss theories related to the paranormal, and ways we can build or modify gear to test these theories.

Now the Mistress of the Magic Buffet was crazy kind enough to allow us to contribute to her awesome site. So what are some of our theories? Well, one that we are actively working on is a better way to catch EVP’s. For people that don’t know, an EVP is an Electronic Voice Phenomenon; something that is caught on tape that isn’t heard when the recording was done. This is by far the most common form of evidence we collect while on investigations. Anyone can go out and purchase an inexpensive digital or analog recorder and with very little effort catch what may sound like an EVP. However, the big question is whether it really is an EVP.

There are several ways that we can verify an EVP. They begin with the start of the actual session that we are recording. We take careful steps to eliminate any false positives by not allowing whispering. They end with careful review using software to view what frequency the recording took place in. Was it infrasonic (below the human levels of hearing) or ultrasonic?

Here is a theory for you to ponder. Animals supposedly have the ability to sense the paranormal; their hearing also allows them to hear infrasonic sounds (lower than 20 Hz). Is there a connection? Animals can also hear ultrasonic as well. This is one connection we are trying to validate with our group.

If you would like to learn more about the paranormal, please feel free to check out our website. Also, mark your calendars for October 16, 2010 to visit our annual Paranormal Expo in Plattsburgh, NY where our Tech Council will have our tools on display for all to see. Until next time, SEEK TRUTH!!!

(Hey, Rebecca here. First, the NNYPRS motto is “Seek Truth”. That ending is way better now, right? Also, The Magical Buffet will be at the expo, and by Magical Buffet I mean me and my husband. Regardless, if you’re in the area you should stop in and say “Hi”. Lastly, I can’t help but point out that David Pitkin, first ever guest author on The Magical Buffet and A Magical Buffet of Authors participant, is going to be at the expo. As you’ll see if you attend the September event, Pitkin is great in person. If you can’t make the Magical Buffet of Authors event, you should definitely try to make it to the expo to see him. Heck, even if you see him in September you should see him again in October, he’s just that good. For reals yo. I’m outtie.)

The Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer

Summer is here, and what an odd, mixed up, mess it is. In a few days I’m going to be visiting a shiny new specialist conveniently located 4 hours away. The constant bummer that is my health, paired with the huge amount of stress this appointment is laying on me, is making me distinctly un-fun to be around. However, for you guys I’m mustering up my best Pollyanna because yes, my health sucks, but there is still a whole lot of generally awesome stuff I want to share with you.

First, in August I’m going to see Public Enemy live! Never as a teenager listening to “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” did I imagine there would be a day when I would get to hear, in person, Chuck D say, “Bass, how low can you?” Perhaps there will be some zany antics to write about after the event.

While discussing zany antics, my friends at the Northern New York Paranormal Research Society have got a film crew following them around for a documentary! A trailer just went live on You Tube for it.





As you’re aware, if you read this site regularly, my friend and partner-in-crime for the “A Magical Buffet of Authors” event at the Saratoga Springs, NY Barnes and Noble, Crystal, passed away. It’s been a challenge to wrap my brain around the idea of this event happening without her support and guidance. That said, I am pleased to reassure everyone that Barnes and Noble has confirmed that the event will still be happening!

For those of you unfamiliar with event, go here to see me break it down for you.

If you’re on Facebook, join the event here, and be sure to invite any of your Facebook friends that you think would be interested.

If you’re on My Space, the first online home away from home for The Buffet, join the event here, and again, invite any of your My Space friends that you think would be interested.

Hopefully soon I’ll be touching base with Barnes and Noble to see what the promotional plans are like, and how the event is firming up. Count on me to share it all with you guys as we rapidly approach September 11, 2010.

As Crystal’s death pointed out to me, the friendships forged on the retail sales floor can be pretty potent stuff. Whether it’s loaning a spot on your website to a former retail cohort, or writing an overly sentimental essay on the nature of said relationships, the cat is out of the bag; us current and former retail workers have a sentimental streak and can be prone to nostalgia. Perhaps knowing all of that, you won’t find this a surprising statement, but I certainly can’t believe I’m about to make it.

This summer I am officiating not one, but TWO weddings. Yep, your read that right. Not one, but TWO different couples have decided that I am qualified to oversee the beginning of their new lives as couples. With the lead in, I doubt it will surprise you that I know both couples from different tours of retail duty. So yes, if you are so inclined, you may call me Reverend Rebecca (Let’s give it up to my home state of Illinois for hooking me up!). Of course, what’s funny about this is that I’ve attended very few weddings in my life. Also, I’m not chained to a formal religious text for wedding ceremonies, so writing a ceremony has proven to be a pretty big challenge. It doesn’t help that my husband offers such gems of wisdom as, “You should wear a name tag at the wedding that says, ‘Hi! My Name is Officiant!’” Then I get caught up in whatever silly stuff I can get away with, and then I realize this has offered nothing productive to the process. Funnier still, when my hair stylist found out I was now a Reverend her immediate response was, “You totally have to do my funeral! That would be a riot!” That is I, spiritual shepard to those in service industries. Perhaps I should start my own church? A spiritual movement could certainly help move along my plans for global domination.

Design by Than Saffel

While on the topic of religion, The Pluralism Project at Harvard University is having a photo and video contest! The Pluralism Project’s mission is to help Americans engage with the realities of religious diversity through research, outreach, and the active dissemination of resources. They invite you to participate in their first-ever Pluralism Project Photo & Video contest! They are looking for high-resolution (300 dpi) digital images and digital videos (max. 3 min.) that convey the vibrancy of religious diversity in the USA.

Photos/videos might feature: religious practices and rituals, religious centers, including festivals and center openings, participation of religious groups in American civic life, interfaith encounter or social action, and women’s leadership and participation.

One photographer and one videographer will be selected as grand prize winners, each receiving a $250 cash prize. The winning photograph and video will be spotlighted on the Pluralism Project homepage, www.pluralism.org.

Additionally, 50 photos and 10 videos will be selected from the submissions to be featured on the homepage. The photo/videographer’s name, as well as the location of the image/video will be included as a caption. The winning photos/videos will be featured over the course of one year, beginning September 1, 2010.

For contest details and how to enter, visit their site here. It would make my day if some Magical Buffet readers contributed, and I’d be extra super happy if any of you guys won! Go forth and photograph!

Touched by His Noodly Appendage

As you know, I have been publishing my old “Letters from the Publisher” from back when The Magical Buffet was a monthly e-zine because the letters didn’t migrate over to the new blog format. Most of my letters aren’t worth republishing. However there are a few that share some of my more personal thoughts that I wanted new readers to have access to. With that said, here is my “Letter from the Publisher” from May 2008.

What defines a religion? What is the nature of faith? Does religion require genuine faith or can it get by on a set of rituals and a community that acts in sync? Guess what? I can’t answer those questions! I think everyone has their own opinion to those sorts of questions, so I can’t, and won’t, pretend that my thoughts on such topics are answers. But what’s great is when something happens that makes people ask themselves these kinds of questions. Which brings me to the subject of this month’s Magical Buffet Mythology, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

It’s true that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was created out of an act of annoyance by founder Bobby Henderson. Specifically a letter of protest that he wrote to the Kansas State Board of Education, that he then also posted on the website www.venganza.org. Essentially it was a sarcastic piece explaining that he fully endorsed the idea of intelligent design being taught as a science, but if they were going to do that, he needed to stress the importance of the inclusion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster creation theory, which is certainly as valid as intelligent design. (Do yourself a favor and read it on the website, my sum up doesn’t do it justice at all.)

This has led many to say that Henderson is mocking faith, and to sum up most of the hate mail on the website, that he’s a jerk. Obviously, I don’t agree. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and its adherents, Pastafarians, serve a vital purpose. They force people to examine their beliefs and the double standards that exist in a country that is supposed to believe in a separation of Church and State. In March 2008, Pastafarians in Crossville, Tennessee successfully won city approval to place a Flying Spaghetti Monster statue next to the Courthouse, and proceeded to do so. If it’s good enough for the Ten Commandments, then it’s good enough for the adorable Flying Spaghetti Monster. They make schools ask themselves, what is science, and what is spiritual? And, they do it all with a wonderful sense of humor and a pirate’s accent!

Is the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster a “real” religion? Well, they have a definite belief system, a rich mythology, and academic endorsements. People say they are Pastafarians, and are subject to harassment and threats, like many other religious groups. They do not have a not-for-profit status like most religions, but since many religions profit greatly from their followers anyway, I can’t hold that against the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The American Academy of Religion hosts discussions of the Pastafarians at their annual meetings.

I can’t speak for everyone reading this, but I for one have been touched by His Noodly Appendage!

~Rebecca

I wrote this letter for the month I decided to feature the Flying Spaghetti Monster as the deity for the Magical Buffet Mythology. I wanted to explain its inclusion, and use it as a touchstone to discuss the nature of faith. In reading this letter now, and the profile I wrote up for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I realize I really didn’t do the FSM, or it’s church, justice. Honestly, I don’t know if I can do any better now. The thing with the Flying Spaghetti Monster is, either you get it or you don’t.

I love how the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has taken on a life of it’s own. Pastafarians challenge the idea of what makes a religion a religion, work tirelessly to uphold America’s separation of church and state, and endeavor to maintain the integrity of science. All of that awesomeness comes wrapped in an adorable little ball of spaghetti with a bunch of followers who talk like pirates.

What’s not love about this?

I still remain touched by His Noodly Appendage!

By the way, that awesome illustration of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was done by Will Hobbs back when I first published the Flying Spaghetti Monster article. It’s so adorable I couldn’t resist featuring it again here.