Posted in: history,Spirituality by bill-o on January 26, 2010

Who will receive the greater honor? That is the question for any social event where two or more dignitaries are present. For example, at a formal dinner, who will have the honor of speaking last? You may not have realized it, but social planners have already prepared lists to deal with such contingencies. These lists are called orders of precedence.

The concept of precedence is distinct from orders of succession or formal chains of command. Precedence is the ceremonial order of respect. Being higher on a list of precedence does not necessarily imply having greater authority or power. In fact, someone high on a precedence list may have much less power than someone lower on that same list.

What precedence bestows is the greater honor. The list of precedence for the United States is at: You’ll find the list for England and Wales at:

Precedence echoes through great historical moments in American history. For example, President Abraham Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address after the featured speaker Edward Everett because the president had the greater honor. At inaugurations, the President is sworn in after the Vice President. The Supreme Court of the United States maintains its visible order of precedence with its seating order: The Chief Justice sits in the center, the most senior associate justice to his right, the next most senior justice to the Chief Justice’s left, and so on, alternating between right and left for all 8 associate justices as per seniority on the court. After all, to sit to the right implies the greater honor. Yet to sit closer to the center of the court is an even greater honor.

In England and Wales, proximity to the throne grants the greater precedence. Then, the greater titles take precedence. In the United States, a mayor of a city has the greater precedence while in his or her city than almost everyone else. For within the proverbial walls of the city, the mayor is the honorary king or queen, able to give the ceremonial “keys to the city” (the proveribal city gates) to others. Regarding mayors, the American order of precedence recognizes that a mayor is, in a sense, a monarch within one’s own home town.

And so it is with each of us: with the measure of spiritual rule that we have each been given. There will be others with more power, money, and authority in this world. Yet within our own homes, whether actual houses or within the lives of those few who are close to us, we are kings, queens, princes, and princesses. In a way, we each have a divine precedence given to us that takes effect within our own “personal kingdoms”. And that precendence is not given to us to “lord it over” others. Rather, it’s given to us for the sake of love.

Thoughts about “The Young Victoria”

Posted in: history,Popular Culture by bill-o on January 23, 2010

In the recent film The Young Victoria, HM Queen Victoria, presented in the movie at the beginning of her reign, and her husband, HRH Prince Albert, are surprised to discover that the royal household that the queen has just inherited is well-, let’s just say, not functioning in a way that would be fit for a monarch.

Cold. The scheduling and maintenance of fires in the palace fireplaces was completely out-of-order, leaving the queen, prince, and their servants sitting in the cold. This cold palace is a symbol of the coldness in our own hearts. The palace looked great on the outside and thus seemed to be a place where everyone would have preferred to live. Yet even the royal family struggled to stay warm through the winter. Will the love of our hearts grow cold, so that we look good on the outside but are frozen on the inside?

Windows. Window cleaning is sporadic in the palace. The outside and inside of the windows are never cleaned at the same time. The dirty windows make it hard for the royal couple to see outside their own house. This is a picture of a lack of clarity in the way that we see things looking out from ourselves to the world around us. These dirty windows represent “faulty filters” in our approach to how we view the other people in our lives. We have to adjust or clean these filters, the way that we see things, before we can truly relate to others in love.

Lunch. Prince Albert is shocked to find a servant preparing for a formal lunch for HM King George III and his officers, even though King George, Victoria’s grandfather, had died over twenty years before. There comes a point for each of us where old things must be “pruned” and pass away. They are no longer useful and need to be trimmed from our lives.