Reba Riley – Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing

ptcsSick of Christianish slang and lack of stickiness of a personal faith in evangelical churches, Reba Riley took her 29th year to overcome her Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome (or Post-Traumatic Religion Syndrome) by visiting 30 religions and Christian denominations before her 30th birthday. Of course her parents were worried, though her husband let her go. The result, Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: a memoir of humor and healing,  is both fun to read, gives a personal peek into churches and religious settings most of you haven’t been to, and keeps the reader engaged until the end. Will Reba reclaim her original faith, come out as atheist, enriched or disillusioned?

Buddhist meditation class: “Mr. Hotness, by contrast, dropped right off into meditative la-la land. I know because I watched him furtively. (Reba Riley, the peeping tom-ette of Intro to Buddhism tranquility meditation.) At some point the practice meditation finished and the lesson began, but I missed most of it because I was busy chastising myself forgetting to wear deodorant.” But also interrogation about Reba’s sex life by Amish women, visits to the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah Witnesses, being identified as The Christian in a Wicca meeting where blessings are given by pentagram drawings on your head. Riley went to the Mormons (Latter Day Saints), visited a Jewish Yom Kippur celebration, participated with Muslim women in a service in mosque, and tried 30 days of fasting.

She was introduced to inclusive types of blended religions by an Urban Monk, initially perceived as representative of the Greek Orthodox Church. Will Hinduism, Quakers, televangelist, preachers on the radio or audio CD bring healing? “Church need not be entertaining to be beneficial, the pastor said through the radio. Bummer, I deadpanned. I came for the fireworks display.” Or “I like that author Rob Bell‘s open-for-doubts, maybe-we-got-some-things-wrong, I-don’t-have-all-the-answers brand of Christianity. His book Love Wins makes it almost something I could live with. In fact, I would very much like to buy him a drink.”

Does God end up as a giant disco ball? Can He be known through all religions? “What if the only phrase, the only origin of the world, was a quietly whispered I AM? The affirmation of Divine Existence, of all Creation, of God, us, the whole Universe…the whole Godiverse…” Or will a Church of Scientology audit do the trick? Get lost to get found again. start, Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome reminds us that sometimes we have to get lost to get found. Questions for a small group or reading group are included.

About the author

Reba Riley is an author, speaker, former Evangelical Poster Child, and lover of all things sparkly. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where she plans to write more books…once she recovers from Post-Traumatic Memoir Syndrome. She blogs about spiritual health and healing for Patheos.com.

I received this book free from the publisher Chalise Press through NetGalley. I thank them for their generousity. In exchange, I was simply asked to write an honest review, and post it. The opinions I have expressed are my own.