With the planned publication of Balloons of the Apocalypse, the sequel to Marlowe and the Spacewoman, coming up Very Soon Now™, the time is ripe for an exposé on a group that features prominently in the book.
I speak, of course, of the Ludites (pronounced LEWD-ites).
Adherents to the Ludite faith, also known by the (derogatory) term Beeters, worship the music of Ludwig van Beethoven and await His return to complete His 10th Symphony.
It turns out this wait can be a dangerous one, for many of the faithful have died in the course of trying to expedite Beethoven’s return.
I will offer no person judgments on the ludicrous beliefs of this reckless cult, but will instead, in a series of articles, paint a picture of their history and beliefs, and allow you, my gentle readers, to come to the conclusion that they’re kooks.
In this first installment, I talk about the basic tenants of the Beeter faith.
But before one can talk about the rules of the Beeter faith, one must describe the events that led to it.
This brings us, of course, to the period of history known as the Partially Thwarted Apocalypse, and the collapse of the Big Fed (known in its heyday as the United States) that occurred as a result.
A great deal of chaos and fear ensued amongst the general populace immediately following the global collapse of all large governments. However, instead of driving the unwashed, and now ungoverned, masses to church as conventional wisdom suggested, this uncertainty so disheartened people that they fled from faith in droves.
Those who failed to be circumspect about their lack of a lack of faith often found themselves on the wrong end of a hail of stones and other heavy, sharp projectiles.
In the North American continent, secretive, isolated cults did well in the first few years after the fall of the Big Fed, as did religions that masked their beliefs behind faith in more secular items.
Prominent examples of these neo-secular faiths would be the Ludites and their fixation on Beethoven and his music, the Church of Mickey D and its holy Shroud of the Clown, which held certain types of fast food to be hallowed, and the deadly Bunny in da Hat cult, which placed a high premium on violent street magic.
And yet, within ten years, as city-states formed and imposed order in the form of local government, the uncertainty and disheartenment of the masses faded back to comfortable, or at least tolerable, levels. In this environment of structure and perceived stability, faith came back into vogue and there followed a period of openness.
With this new openness came conflict, and then, inevitably, consolidation.
The Ludites proved quite adept at co-opting and absorbing other religions, and as one of the first faiths to embark upon such a course of action, quickly built itself a large and stable fan base.
The best example of this absorption of other faiths is the annexation of the Church of Mickey D. To ease the merger, the Ludite Church declared fast food a required staple of the faithful (more on Ludite eating habits in a later article), and by the time fast food was phased out of Luditism, three years later, the Mickey D members had either embraced the Ludite faith completely, were excised with ruthless precision (sans all their worldly goods), or died due to poor heath resulting from their preferred diet.
The Shroud of the Clown became the Shroud of Tourette, reportedly donned by Beethoven prior to delivering his frequent public verbal flayings. According to the new Church doctrine, the shroud cloaked Beethoven in an impenetrable aura of obscenity and invective that left those subjected to his withering diatribes gibbering, broken shadows of their former selves.
The incongruity of a bright yellow and orange shroud in Beethoven’s era was glossed over as an article of faith not to be questioned. The golden ‘M’ emblazoned on the front of the shroud was explained as an emblem of the Church’s supreme leader, and thus was the office of Il Maestro born.
It is towards the end of this period of consolidation that the Ludite Church, now confident in its ability to safely operate in the open, published its basic tenants. Prior to this, the articles of faith were passed down only orally, in the form of hauntingly beautiful cantatas.
Initial circulation of the tenants was poor due to the use of stone tablets as the medium of publication. This was quickly rectified by phasing in the use of parchment and paper.
The basic tenants are simple:
- Only through Beethoven’s music can one find fulfillment
- Beethoven shall return to this Earth to complete his Tenth Symphony, bringing harmony and peace to the world
- To prevent false prophets from claiming to be the Bringer of the 10th Symphony, Beethoven cast upon the world the Curse of the Tenth Symphony
- Thou shalt not write a Tenth Symphony before Beethoven’s return, and after His return, His 10th will be so perfect there’s no reason to finish yours
- The Return of Beethoven will be known and heralded by the Ludite Church’s holy leader, Il Maestro
Surprisingly, from those five basic tenants, Church bureaucrats have derived eight thousand pages of rules and regulations. This includes, to mention but a few, minutiae on offices that can be held within the Church, proscribed and prescribed food stuffs, acceptable methods of travel for missionaries, hierarchy of techniques for indoctrination (ranging from ‘kill them with kindness’ to use of drugs and sleep deprivation to break resistance), and proper posture of orchestra members when performing Beethoven’s music.
But whatever you might think about the Ludite Church, there is one fact that no one disputes:
They have excellent taste in music.