The Divine Right of Kings

The Mad Monarchist has posted an interesting article on the history of “the Divine Right of Kings”. While the concept had its roots in Judaism and carried into Christendom, one can study history to see where other pagan rulers claimed deistic authority to rule. Even the Bible supports the notion that Jehovah, through His Providence seats and unseats rulers as He desires. One excellent example from the Scriptures is the account of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and fall, his descent into insanity, and his restoration:

28 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking in the royal palace of Babylon. 30 The king spake and said, Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling-place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? 31 While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, [saying], O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from thee: 32 and thou shalt be driven from men; and they dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; thou shalt be made to eat grass as oxen; and seven times shall pass over thee; until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. 33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hair was grown like eagles’ [feathers], and his nails like birds’ [claws].

34 And at the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth for ever; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation. 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

36 At the same time mine understanding returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent greatness was added unto me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven; for all his works are truth, and his ways justice; and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. (Daniel 4:28-37, ASV)

We also learn from the “handwriting on the wall” that Jehovah can quickly topple regimes as he chooses. MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. (Daniel 5:25, ASV). We only get a glimpse of the hand of the Lord guiding the affairs of a limited number of nations in the Scriptures. He tells us that the children of Israel were his covenant people, though whom the Christ was born, and we see that special relationship, but we get glimpses into His interest in other nations in accounts such as that of Jonah.

We don’t know how God administers the affairs of the nations of the Earth. As Americans, we see no place for the Divine Right of Kings in our society. There is no dynastic family that rules over us, we stick to the quaint notion that “We the People” rule our own affairs.

Does God actively seat the presidents of the United States? One could argue that we are free moral agents and we set our own fate. I don’t discount the Providence of God to direct the affairs of even the United States of America. How many current events are being guided by His invisible hand? How deep is His involvement. We don’t know, and can’t. Many have preached repentance for the end was near (and for each of us it is, for we are not guaranteed another moment of life) throughout the history of this land. We’ve had revivals, and we’ve had moments of national irreverence toward the Lord. Whether we believe in Him, as a nation, or not, He is still there, guiding the outcome of mankind to His desires.

Many conservatives in this nation believe we are a Christian nation, a Nation under God. They lament the impending punishment we are bringing upon ourselves for our godlessness. I won’t argue against that possibility. We have been blessed, to be sure, and we might have that blessing and protection withdrawn should we continue to disregard the Lord in our society overall. I can only address the matter at the only level that I have true influence: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah.” (Joshuah 24:15, ASV)

Georgia on my mind

I peripherally keep up with international politics, and one nation I follow is Georgia. I noticed on Pravda that Georgia is near formalizing its recent presidential election results, with the unofficial winner being Mr. Giorgi Margvelashvili I haven’t read up on Mr. Margvelashvili, so I make no comment on him or his ability to preside over the affairs of the Georgian nation. Georgia is  currently a republic, but the photo below of Mr. Margvelashvili is amusing to me.

Courtesy  of Pravda.ru
It is amusing because of Mr. Margvelashvili’s head tucked neatly under the crown on the seal behind him. Georgia, actually has, however, a legitimate heir to its deposed monarchy, H.R.H. Prince Davit Bagrationi Mukhran.

Another thing I found interesting from the article is that based on a constitutional change:
Georgia will become a parliamentary republic, and the head of state will not be able to either take part in the formation of the Cabinet or influence the decisions of the government.
I understand the will of the people and all, but if the position is symbolic, why undergo the expense and process of a presidential election? Why not just return to a constitutional monarchy, with the Bagrationi heir on the throne?  Is monarchy anathema to the Georgian people? With a constitutional monarch with similar limitations, there is at least the benefit of stability, and possibly to some extent, cost savings.

According to an article published by MSN in September 2012[1], the American people paid more than 20 times the amount of money ($1.4 billion USD vs $57.8 million USD) in maintaining President Obama and his household that the British did in maintaining HRH Queen Elizabeth II for the year of 2011. Not to mention the costs in remodeling the White House for every new president elected. Now, I don’t want to begrudge anything due the President of the United States, he is one of the most important men in the world, and his home should reflect that[2]. However, the maintenance costs of our past several presidents are a far cry from the paltry budget allocated to decorating the White House in the early years of the republic[3]. The palaces of kings were commonly were filled with many old and precious things, but they were not redecorated every several years when a new tenant moved in. Given, I am throwing out this trivia without any context whatsoever. It may not be a valid comparison at all, but it demonstrates my point.

Granted, I am a nobody in my own country[4], much less on the international stage, but my question to the good citizens of Georgia would be this: which is better, a X year political cycle with its ongoing drama and recurring expenses, or a stable monarchic line with its tradition and (presumably) conservative expenditures? If the role is ceremonial, do you want the man who is the real deal, or just the man who happens to stand in front of an image of a crown?

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[1] http://now.msn.com/president-obamas-family-costs-the-us-20-times-what-royal-family-costs-the-uk

[2] http://www.wnyc.org/story/185533-first-ladies/

[3] Unfortunately, I can’t find the reference I am looking for, but I have a book at home on the early years of the White House that I’ll reference at a later date.

[4] Really, if you’ve actually ran across this blog, you’ve already figured out how irrelevant I am in the grand scheme of things.

American Revolution fought over having a monarch?

Violating to an extent my ban of current political topics from this blog, I want to address a comment by Senator Rand Paul:

”I’m against having a king,” said the Senator. ”I think having a monarch is what we fought the American Revolution over, and someone who wants to bypass the Constitution, bypass Congress, that’s someone who wants to act like a king or monarch.”

In my most amateur of observations, I think he is absolutely wrong in this statement. What the Revolution was fought over was the right to either be represented in Parliament or allowed free course of political action. I’ve noted the hyperbole in the Declaration of Independence in another post, so I’ll not rehash it here, other than to caveat that I do think that the Declaration is a magnificent document when you get past the political bombast.

The majority of American Colonists didn’t have a problem with HM King George III, but as king, he was the easiest target for political darts. Nevermind that the true source of the problem was the Parliament, with its evolving view of democratic representation. It was akin to the way foreign nations attribute the opinions of the current (or any past) President or Congress with the general will of the American people.

The real rub in the matter is that the President of the United States has had increasingly more power at his disposal in the last century than near any monarch still reigning. The President has much more power than HM Queen Elizabeth II of England and the Commonwealth or HM Juan Carlos of Spain, and it is debatable whether any of the six absolute monarchs[1] left in the world have more power of their nations than the President of the United States of America does. Maybe that is Senator Paul’s point, but the truth is that Congress, with it’s bipartisan inability to do anything, is the greater culprit if an Executive power grab has occurred.

In light of that, there might be some positives to a monarch. For one, he or she would have been trained their entire life to accept the role, unless they started out as the spare heir. There are still examples of successful monarchs who rose from that state, HM King George VI being a prime example. As such, monarchs don’t have to concern themselves as much with the political cycles of a nation. They don’t have to worry about losing their jobs every four (or however many) years. Since a monarch generally keeps it in the family, the successor has the opportunity to learn from his or her predecessor  There is a certain stability to that. In fractious democratic societies, presidents and their ilk disavow the acts of their predecessors, often to the detriment to the people.

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[1] HM Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei, HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman, CTHM King Abdullah bin Abdul‘aziz of Saudi Arabia, HM King Mswati III of SwazilandHH Pope Benedict XVI, and HH Emir Hamad bin Khalifa of Qatar.

Liechtenstein: the most gun-violent country in the world?

Just to show how much fun it is to manipulate statistics for one’s own purpose, according to the Guardian, Liechtenstein has the highest percentage of homicides by firearm in the world.

Yes, you read that correctly, the Principality of Liechtenstein[1]. How can this be? How is tiny little Liechtenstein so violent that it topped the list? One poor soul was gunned down in the data collection period, the only homicide that was recorded. Statistics are wonderful. You present the parts you want with big graphs and then leave the rest in footnotes no one reads.

Of course, this statistic is unfair and misrepresentative. According to the U.S. State Department:

Liechtenstein has a low crime rate. You should be careful on trains, especially on overnight trains to neighboring countries. Thieves, who steal from passengers while they sleep, can enter even locked sleeping compartments. Thieves have been known to work in pairs to target train passengers; while one member of the pair creates a diversion at a train window or on a platform, the other steals items you have left briefly unattended.

So what is the point I am trying to make by all this? None in particular, just throwing out a post title for Google to index. Someone will see it in a search result and do a double-take. Liechtenstein violent? No! Really? Then they will read this little screed and curse me for wasting their time. If it causes anyone to be a statistic skeptic, then I have made my point.

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[1] My apologies to H.S.H. Prince Hans-Adam II, H.S.H. Hereditary Prince Alois, and the citizens of his this beautiful nation. It is not my intention to besmirch the reputation of their homeland. Conversely, I want to bring positive attention to it.

Liechtenstein has a total area of 61 square miles and a population of ±36,000 people. By comparison, Decatur, Alabama, which is 64.9 square miles and a population of ±55,000, had three murders in that same year. I wasn’t able to determine how many of the three murders were committed with a firearm, but I would feel safe in assuming all of them. Having grown up in the area, I consider Decatur a fairly safe town, with a few neighborhoods to avoid. Other than the Old State Bank, there’s not a lot to see in Decatur and unlike Liechtenstein, it isn’t wedged between Switzerland and Austria in some of the most beautiful country in Europe. I’m sure there are better towns to contrast Liechtenstein to, but I am going with what I know.