It all started with Twitter, really. After many years when my blog was to be found at http://www.godspell.org.uk, I opened a Twitter account and found that the name godspell was already taken. So I chose godspelled instead. And quite liked it.
Names really matter: ask God, who is always going on about God’s Name, and about giving names, or new names, to God’s friends. YHWH: I AM, or I AM WHO I AM. And so on. I love the fact that the Name is so important.
Names are even important for websites and blogs. My first attempt at a website of my own was called Living to tell the tale. Then blow me, that Gabriel Garcia Marquez steals it for his autobiography. So when I started a WordPress blog I called it something different: Storyteller’s World. Both of these were meant to suggest that they were about storytelling – this was the original plan – but it grew and had a different life of its own. It was about being a parish priest, it was about the books I was reading, it was about living in Oxford, my political views and rants about current events, my family, how I felt about God. It was all about me, then.
And now I am no longer a parish priest, I’ve retired. You never stop being a priest, of course. You just let go of the responsibility of leading and looking after a parish. And you leave behind your home, your church, your friends, your position in a community. That’s Huge, actually.
It’s nearly a year now since I retired, and during those months I’ve lived through the experience, felt it and thought about it. I think I may have something to say, that other people might find interesting or even helpful. Or it may just help me, to have a place I can express myself. So, a new blog.
Godspelled? Well, I liked Godspell because it is an old English word for gospel, the good news. Also, I really loved the 1970s musical, with its image of Jesus as a kind of hippy-clown: it showed that being a Jesus-follower was fun. I’m not sure I altogether (any longer) believe that what some professed preachers of the ‘gospel’ believe and want to sell you is really good news. But I do still believe that God is good news, being alive is good news, the universe is good news. I really want to explore more of that, and go on exploring, all the years that are left to me.
But I’ve come to believe other things about it, too. The gospel-as-good-news is not something I possess or fully understand or own in any way. It feels much more like something that has taken hold of and possesses me – and not always in a comfortable way. So, I don’t really have a Godspell: I have been Godspelled. It’s like when someone puts a spell on you: it can be very negative, perhaps, but it’s also possible it can be wonderful. It’s magic. It’s an enchantment. Believing in God feels like that. So much of the modern world feels like it’s lost its magic. Certainly a lot of modern religion has. Instead of being mysterious, awesome, splendid, it looks cheap and tawdry or worse: bigoted, judgmental and life-denying.
If seeking God means anything to me at this time of my life, it’s about wanting to discover, or rediscover, life’s enchantment, the enchantment of religion.
So, Godspelled. Come with me, if you will.