Often when I meet people who like my writing, the first thing they say to me is “Where did you get the name for your blog? It’s so creative!”
So let me destroy the magic here.
I didn’t make it up. “The Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism” is just the name of the Protestant denomination on The Simpsons. It doesn’t come up often — just in a couple of episodes — but the First Church of Springfield is a parish of the WBARP.
It’s a joke that bothered me the first time I heard it, because, like all Protestants, I take myself way too seriously. As I’ve bounced through life, though, from the embrace of one denomination to another, I’ve realized how apt the joke is.
To be Protestant, undeniably, is to immerse yourself in doubt and ambiguity. There are two huge churches out there, each claiming to be the One, True one, and then there’s…us. Over here, in our thousands of little camps, squabbling over what, exactly, Paul is talking about in Romans 9, occasionally shouting out, “Hey! I’ve got a great idea for a schism!”
And yet, even for the bad kids poking each other in the back of the class, there is grace.
For my part, I was baptized, raised, and confirmed in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (a tiny sect that gave the world J. Gresham Machen and [sort of] Francis Schaeffer, before pretty much giving up), but my parents made the mistake of sending me to an elementary school run by the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod, leaving my spiritual life in a vague, “Presbylutheran” limbo.
I went on to absorb a zeal for missions from the Evangelical Free Church of America, before having my love of High Church traditions nurtured by The Episcopal Church, and finally landing back in the liturgical end of the LCMS.
Lutheran theology appeals to me because it’s a reminder that ultimately, no one but God can catch me when I fall — which is comforting when your safety net is as patchy and convoluted as the one Protestantism provides.
But when even the holes in the net can catch you, comfort you, and set you back on your feet, you know God is at work.
This blog, in any case, is my little corner of the world.
I’m a professional writer of sorts — I write a biweekly column for Christianity Today, and until recently, I wrote the weekly humor column “LOL Intewebz” for the otherwise-respectable criticism site Christ and Pop Culture. I also contribute occasionally to Cracked and BuzzFeed, and my debut horror novel, Ophelia, Alive (A Ghost Story), is now available (!) from Post Mortem Press, and my nonfiction debut, HOLY SH*T! The Dirtiest Bits in the Bible, is currently stuck in development hell, but maybe it’ll come out someday? Who knows.
I don’t post here a ton anymore because my paid gigs keep me pretty busy, but it’s a still a good place to kick back and be myself, when I have something to say that no one in their right mind would ever publish — stuff about how God’s Not Dead is really a blaxploitation film and how the horror flick Mama is basically a papal encyclical.
Contact me at luke [dot] t [dot] harrington [at] gmail [dot] com.