Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I.H.S. – I Have Suffered – Jesus H. Christ

There is one of those symbols of Christianity that has always confused me.  Nobody ever explained it to me.  I never asked.  The Catholicism of my youth was pretty much “don’t ask, don’t tell” when it came to theology.
Don’t ask and I won’t tell you - embarrass you in front of a crowd - for asking a stupid question.  People with faith or of the faith are not supposed to question anything.  Whatever.
I.H.S.  A Christogram.  From a rather tedious explanation of it from Wikipedia, it is a corrupted or poorly translated, Greek to Latin thing for the name Jesus Christ, first three letters,  in Greek or “IHCOYC XPICTOC”.  IHC though is something like “Jes” – geez.  Sounds more like a street corner nickname for old bro Jees.
Anyway, Latin of the letter I can be represented as a J.  Greek letter sigma can be represented as S or C.  So over the ages you have JHS, JHC, IHS or IHC. 
The JHC is the supposed origin of the Jesus H Christ swear thing.  IHS has always been translated on a peon level of understanding as I Have Suffered, the mantra of all good Constantine dying empire beliefs.  Suffer now and be happy later.  It’s guaranteed.
In other words, ancient and or superstitious symbolisms like Chi-Ro, XP, are iconic symbols hanging around worship places explaining a faith you have but in other languages that you so not necessarily understand. 
This whole IHS thing got a run through the corporate cash register with a medieval mystic named Beradino of Siena who wandering all over Italy stirring up local bailiwicks with his vision of IHS in the middle of  a Sunburst.  (Again, the old sun worship sub-cult of the Roman church going back to the Egyptians). 
Always a good selling point to win over the hierarchy on visions with the question of them being bona fide, if the ancient sun god is involved in the background of the sales spiel.
At least San Bernadino was only interested in selling his worship of the holy name of Jesus.  He wasn’t trying to reform anything like Father Savonarola or Father Luther.
It is remarkable how in a closed system of medieval theology, how you can come up with a way to sell indulgences and or the scraped paint off the wall so long as you have some reasonably holy person having visions and his or her conduct does not greatly interfere with the weekly collection plate thing.  Or “crisis of the purse” as they still in the Roman church discuss the whole matter of the Martin Luther cash flow thingy.
That if you die and people start huddling over your grave and miracles are attributed to you, it is somehow a sign of sainthood of the deceased.  Again, whatever.  So long as it $ells, package it.
In a closed arena of where theology, with its limits, is allowed to go, a vision carefully screened and considered, an image, an abstract of an idea can become an object of worship.  Is this, in a technical sense, just another  idol?
(Wrapping oneself in the “holy name of Jesus” is a sign of respect or just another propaganda tool used by corrupt bishops and clergy to hide crimes behind?)