Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome
A Memoir of Humor and Healing
by Reba Riley
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Pub Date 18 Aug 2015 | Archive Date 11 Aug 2023
Reba Riley’s twenty-ninth year was a terrible time to undertake a spiritual quest. But when untreatable chronic illness forced her to her metaphorical (and physical) derriere on her birthday, Reba realized that even if she couldn’t fix her body, she might be able to heal her injured spirit. And so began a yearlong journey to recover from her whopping case of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome by visiting thirty religions before her thirtieth birthday. During her spiritual sojourn, Reba:
-Was interrogate by Amish grandmothers about her sex life
-Danced the disco in a Buddhist temple
-Went to church in virtual reality, a movie theater, a drive-in bar, and a basement
-Fasted for thirty days without food—or wine
-Washed her lady parts in a mosque bathroom
-Was audited by Scientologists
-Learned to meditate with an urban monk, sucked mud in a sweat lodge with a suburban shaman, and snuck into Yom Kippur with a fake grandpa in tow
-Discovered she didn’t have to choose religion to choose God—or good
For anyone who has ever longed for transformation of body, mind, or soul, but didn’t know where to start, Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome reminds us that sometimes we have to get lost to get found.
“If the ‘Pray’ in Eat, Pray, Love had a gutsy, wise, funny little sister who’d never been to India, it would be Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome.” -Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love
“A brilliant, emotional, and audacious rampage through religious sensibility, an exploration I recommend without hesitation. Enjoy!”-Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack
“Whether you’re spiritual, religious, or neither, Reba Riley’s grace, wit, charm, and profound insight will make you laugh and think. She is an author to watch!!!”-Jen Lancaster, author of I Regret Nothing
“Whether you pay heed to a savior or a spirit animal, you should read this moving, funny, thoughtful book.”-A.J Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically
“Reba Riley is a natural-born storyteller and writer whom I expect to be reading for many years to come.”-Brian McLaren, author/speaker
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 48 members
I loved this book. I was raised with a Christian mother and an alcoholic father, who became a Christian when I was 15. I grew up with Crusaders, Awanas, memorizing bible verses, sword drills, Psalty, Why Wait, Heavens Gate and Hells Flames...I've been on mission trips and retreats. Not all of it was horrible, in fact, lots of it was fun, but as an adult I've become very apathetic and angry about Christians in general. I felt a lot like Reba when she thinks about church and going to church - the rage and wanting to run away.
I'm still working through my thoughts and beliefs. It was very brave of Reba to go out of her comfort zone, try new things and experiences and face her issues, especially when she was sick and just wanted to be in bed half the time. It's really all anyone can do with themselves - to be introspective, look at who you realistically are without anyone influencing you, and try to improve as a person.
I loved her journey and all the people she met. The writing style was easy, reminiscent of Eat, Pray, Love and Wild. Very real, open and humourous. I laughed a ton.
There were so many great quotable sections. One I really loved was, "Religion is simply a tool to put God's love into words and symbols. Doctrine is only useful to the extent it enhances your understanding of that love. God doesn't care about religion. He cares about your heart."
I usually only buy books I really love and I think I'm going to have to get this one. It was a potentially touchy subject done really well.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
For anyone who has been so hurt by the church they were raised in that they ran away, or were kicked out, or were rejected, for anyone who believes if they walk even into the shadow of a church God will smite you down with lightening and thunderbolts, or swarms of locusts, this book is for YOU. For anyone to whom the idea of going to church sends you into cases of body hives, panic attacks and nausea, this book is for YOU. For me, who even after 18 years after the fact, wanted to reflex-throat-punch any Roman collar I saw, this book was for ME. I had a bad case of PTCS (Post Traumatic Church Syndrome), sometimes even now, my fellow church-goers will look at me knowingly if a certain subject comes up, knowing that it is certain to set me off.
The author’s Thirty by Thirty challenge was much more in-depth than the one I had done when I was rejected. It was both amusing and heart-breaking to read someone else’s journey into the depths of PTCS hell, but it helped me to see that I wasn’t the only one walking around, suffering from PTCS.
Overall, this is a wonderful, must-read for anyone, no matter what religion or non-religion you practice. I know I have been transformed by reading this book. You will be too.