02 August 2007

Introducing Reverend Dikkii

I've been reading a lot about titles and the like. And it's interesting to know that only some titles have set rules governing their use.

For example, doctor. I have had lots of conversations over the years with various friends of mine who hold or are studying for doctorates at university. The consensus amongst these guys is that if you have a PhD (or equivalent), you are allowed to use the title "Dr" in place of "Mr" or "Ms".

Honorary doctorates do not count.

You may also do so if you are a practising doctor, dentist or veterinarian. Note the word practising.

In Australia, you generally may become one of these without a doctorate - normally to be a doctor, you need to have a double bachelor degree in medicine and surgery, or MB, BS. A vet requires a Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc) and a dentist requires a Bachelor of Dental Science (BDSc). This may change in the future if the University of Melbourne's new model gains traction.

"Proper" doctors with PhDs get a bit flustered about this, and consider that "Dr" is a professional title only for doctors, dentists and vets. Consequently, once your average doctor gets into his BMW X5 and drives out of the surgery for the day, their right to use the "Dr" title in place of "Mr" or "Ms" vanishes in a cloud of exhaust fumes as they rush off to Huntingdale for nine holes before the light disappears for the day.

It then becomes somewhat frustrating when federal Minister of Defence Brendan Nelson, (whose highest degrees are his MB and BS) insists on calling himself "Dr Nelson", even though he's a proud, practising politician who hasn't been near a surgery in over ten years.

The law itself is actually quite grey on this, however, it is interesting that if you're a citizen of note and you use the title "Doctor" without being a doctor, dentist or vet, or you don't have a PhD (or equivalent) from an accredited university or other institution, you are going to get the shit-canning of a lifetime by the media when they find out.

Happily, doctors of chiropractic and naturopathy are viewed with some suspicion by the media as well, despite the fact that chiropractors and naturopaths quite often have "doctorates" from accredited institutions.

Anyway, looking at other titles, the rules are often a little more cut and dried.

Reverend is not a "title".

It is what is referred to as a "style".

Ministers of religion amongst Christian churches (mostly protestant) may be referred to as "The Reverend" this or that, and this appears to be universal.

Other styles include:

  • "The Honourable..." - in Australia, this is reserved for Justices of the High, Federal and Family Courts, as well as the Supreme Courts of the states. It also may be used by some Members of Parliament, provided that they have sat on an Executive Council at some stage.
  • "The Right Honourable..." - this is reserved in Australia for Lord Mayors only. Normal mayors only get the style "His/Her Worship..."
  • "His/Her Excellency..." - this is reserved for the current Governor-General. Past Governors-General don't appear to get squat.
  • "His/Her Worship..." - mayors, magistrates, some councillors, and Justices of the Peace.

Others exist.

But "Reverend" is an interesting one. It generally appears to be used as a title these days, thanks to misuse in the States and the far-reaching influence of The Simpsons. It's as pompous as hell to boot - insisting that people use this title when addressing you formally is like saying, "Revere me! I demand your adulation!"

Having just received my certificate of ordination from the Universal Life Church of Modesto, California, I wish to point out that this blogger is not above this kind of pomposity.

The Universal Life Church is a "religious" organisation that just offers ordination. Anyone can do it - all you need to do is to enter your details into a form on their website, and after "checking by a human" you're in. Theists are accepted. Agnostics and atheists, too.

Happily, this also means that I can officiate at funerals, naming ceremonies and "commitment ceremonies". Apparently in some states of the USA, I can even do weddings. I can't in Australia, though. Only celebrants registered with the federal Attorney-General's office may do these here, and this includes clergy.

"Rev. Dikkii?"

You betcha. I'm ringing everyone tomorrow and getting my title changed on all my incoming correspondence from everywhere. I am, after all, a pompous hypocrite.

Special thanks to the Rev Jenner J Hull of the most excellent Church of the Everlasting Groove for putting me on to this.

13 comments:

KitKat said...

Salutations and congratulations, oh greatly esteemed Reverend Dikkii, champion of all things hypocritical and pompous!!!

I spend my days with quite a few people who had the PhD version of the "Dr" title and generally they're pretty laid back about the title thing. I know of Dr couples who have thought about getting their utilities bills addressed to "Dr & Dr Smith" for the humour value. I've heard a few interchanges about the Phd Dr vs. Medical Dr thing, but usually in good humour except where pompous asses are involved.

In the US and Europe I've heard first hand that you must address these people as "Professor", "Doctor" etc. Here it's first name basis. Also, in these places "Professor" is an honorary term for any academic at a university, whereas in Australia, Professors are very senior appointments.

In the US though, a medical doctor is called MD (Medical Doctor), as in "Doogie Howser, MD" to distinguish from PhD doctors. In many countries in Europe, eg Germany, other titles are used in an honorary way, eg. "Engineer Smith" (Schmidt?).

I also know of a girl whose surname was "Doktor" - she was studying for a PhD and would eventually be "Doctor Doktor".

When (if?) I can call myself "Dr" I can see myself using it in two situations:
1. Dole form, if required. I just think that would be really funny.
2. Booking plane tickets. Better chance of an upgrade ;)

Greg said...

Interesting discussion, Reverend. Certainly, the prospect of being called "Doctor" (and forever paying double for a plumber) is the only thing keeping me going on my thesis right now.

In Germany, if you have two doctorates you are "Dr Dr". (To which students must struggle to refrain from shouting "give me the news ...")

You don't need years of study or research to use the title. Anyone can use it - without a PhD or medical qualification - providing they are not seeking to defraud anyone. It's also a valid firstname on Birth Certificates (unlike "Princess" and other royal titles).

Another observation: in Australia and the UK the convention seems to be to bill yourself as "Dr Joe Blow", whereas Americans go for "Joe Blow, PhD". Using both - "Dr Joe Blow, PhD" - is really de trop.

Anyway, as I'm sure you're aware, there are degrees of Reverendhood. For example, more senior church figures style themselves as "The Very Reverend". Do you have any plans in this direction? Perhaps start out as "The Mildly Reverend Dikki" and work up to "The Massively Reverend Dikki" as you achieve new and uncharted levels of humility and sublimeness?

Dikkii said...

Hi Kitkat.

In the US though, a medical doctor is called MD (Medical Doctor), as in "Doogie Howser, MD" to distinguish from PhD doctors.

These guys at least have "doctorates". Although, there's not much separating an MD degree from a masters, last time I checked.

In many countries in Europe, eg Germany, other titles are used in an honorary way, eg. "Engineer Smith" (Schmidt?).

Hmm. That reminds me of the spam I used to get from Nigeria signed by "Barrister Adams" or "Engineer Smith".

I also know of a girl whose surname was "Doktor" - she was studying for a PhD and would eventually be "Doctor Doktor".

How good is your Joseph Heller - Major Major Major Major, anyone? (Catch 22)

2. Booking plane tickets. Better chance of an upgrade ;)

Which reminds me, I must speak to Qantas Frequent Flyers. This might also work for "Reverend".

Dikkii said...

G'day Greg,

Another observation: in Australia and the UK the convention seems to be to bill yourself as "Dr Joe Blow", whereas Americans go for "Joe Blow, PhD". Using both - "Dr Joe Blow, PhD" - is really de trop.

Interesting story here, I once went to visit a doctor for something or other - and the doctor who we'll call John Smith (I can't remember his actual name) actually corrected me when I had the temerity to call him John.

He said something along the lines of, "At this point in our relationship, it would be better if you addressed me as Doctor Smith."

I curtly replied - I was in my late 20s at the time - that I preferred to deal with people on a professional basis, not a pompous one.

He didn't labour the point.

Anyway, as I'm sure you're aware, there are degrees of Reverendhood. For example, more senior church figures style themselves as "The Very Reverend". Do you have any plans in this direction?

As a matter of fact I do.

For $10, I can upgrade my title from Reverend to pretty much any religious title there is. Or even non-religious title. I saw "Free Thinker" on the list.

I thought I'd go straight for "Your Holiness".

Einzige said...

Congrats on the reverence!

KitKat said...

Can you upgrade "Your Holiness" to "Your Arse-Holiness"?

Sorry. That's disgraceful. It's been one of those days.

KitKat said...

2. Booking plane tickets. Better chance of an upgrade ;)

Which reminds me, I must speak to Qantas Frequent Flyers. This might also work for "Reverend".


The only problem with buying planes tickets as "Dr" is if someone gets sick... If you're a Reverend, they might ask you to perform last rites?

Dikkii said...

Last rites?

That's one thing I can legally do!!!

Dikkii said...

Thanks Einzige. I feel pretty irreverent, funnily enough.

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

And the circle of "fake" Reverendship (which is equal to "real" reverendship) is ever-widening... Congrats, Your Holiness.

The most fun part of being a Rev. in the ULC is that, after you meet someone and they get to know you a bit, you can spring your ordination on them and let them know that you are, in fact, "The Reverend Whoever the Fuck."

In my case, since I'm a profane, loud-mouthed, metalhead, the "Reverend" designation can be used in many comedic fashions.

For example, it's imminently fun when people who've heard you trash religion on a fairly regular basis find out that you're an ordained minister on the level of any other.

It's even better when you actually get the chance to marry people...

Rev. Dikkii said...

Hail, Reverend Jenner.

"The most fun part of being a Rev. in the ULC is that, after you meet someone and they get to know you a bit, you can spring your ordination on them and let them know that you are, in fact, "The Reverend Whoever the Fuck."

In my case, since I'm a profane, loud-mouthed, metalhead, the "Reverend" designation can be used in many comedic fashions."


I've already started having a little fun with this. The shocked look is completely excellent.

"It's even better when you actually get the chance to marry people..."

Thanks to our red tape, I'll never get that chance. But I'm working on it.

Anonymous said...

In the US it's generally only overly pompus medical doctors with an axe to grind that suggst only they should use the title of Dr. If any disctinction between medical and other doctor is needed one just lists the degrees after your name. There is more than one type of doctorate and all are entitled to being addressed as Dr. as a sign of respect. Afterall the title means 'one who speads knowledge' and has nothing to do with the medical profession. One would think, hope, that anyone smart enough to earn a doctorate should be smart enough to know that ;-)

Dikkii said...

Hi Anon, and thanks for dropping by.

The difference between the USA and here, is that medical doctors in the US at least have actual "doctorates".

In Oz, they might be at Uni for about the same amount of time as an American medical graduate, but traditionally, they generally only have two "bachelor" degrees.

Which means that any person who has been a doctor, such as our former Defence Minister, now Opposition Leader really is bang to rights on this title if they're not practising. It's not like "Major" where you get to keep the title even if you've left the Army.

After all the title means 'one who speads knowledge' and has nothing to do with the medical profession. One would think, hope, that anyone smart enough to earn a doctorate should be smart enough to know that ;-)

One would think that, wouldn't they? Sadly, as I can readily testify, pompousness knows no bounds. And I'm just as pompous as the next guy.;-D