Re: Honorary or Earned???
Rank is well a ranking system. It places you in order of experience in your dojo, school and wider organisation if a part of one. Outside of these confines it has less significance. Thus in being granted your shodan or 3rd Kyu you might ask yourself is it consistent with the dojo, school, organisation within it was granted. The ranking here tells you at what level you represent this school as well as things like who is your junior and who is your senior which can be helpful in the smooth running of practice. As an exit statement the ranking enables you to continue your journey elsewhere as a representative of your system.
maybe your Shodan is the most difficult to swallow because the concept in the west is made out to be something much more than that you can do the basics and are now ready to learn the art. With the wider arts some Mcdojo's giving them out after a year and some jujitsu schools having 10yrs as a minimum to gain shodan the interpretation varies widely.
Like or not Shodan is a kind of informal perquisite to participating fully in a new dojo and at seminars and thus holding it a bit sooner, rather than spending years in the wilderness is an option. Being prepared again in a new school over an extended period of time might be advantageous or not.
My understanding of the gift of Shodan is that it is a common exit statement in university dojo in Japan. Following graduation a student is likely to move, take up a career, start family etc… and what follows may be sporadic training and breaks and possible extended breaks in training. Leaving with Shodan makes it much easier to pick up again and to slot in at an appropriate level in a new dojo wherever that may be (assuming similar standards/ or same organisation), rather than spending a few years of hard training to get there again with a new teacher (assuming that level of commitment is even possible).