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

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Reba Riley's twenty-ninth birthday was not a good time to undertake a spiritual quest, but when chronic illness prompted her to focus on one thing she could fix - her whopping case of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome - she undertook a challenge: Visit thirty religions before her thirtieth birthday. This was transformation by spiritual shock therapy. Reba would find peace and Reba Riley's twenty-ninth birthday was not a good time to undertake a spiritual quest, but when chronic illness prompted her to focus on one thing she could fix - her whopping case of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome - she undertook a challenge: Visit thirty religions before her thirtieth birthday. This was transformation by spiritual shock therapy. Reba would find peace and healing ... if the search didn't kill her first. During her spiritual sojourn without leaving home, Reba: Danced the disco in a Buddhist temple; Went to church in virtual reality, a movie theater, a drive-in bar, and a basement; Was interrogated about her sex life by Amish grandmothers; Got audited by Scientologists, mobbed by NPR junkies, and killed (almost); Fasted for thirty days without food - or wine, dammit!; Washed her lady parts in a mosque bathroom; 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; Discovered she didn't have to choose religion to choose God ... or good. For everyone who has ever needed healing of body or soul, this poignant, funny memoir reminds us all that transformation is possible, brokenness can be beautiful, and sometimes we have to get lost to get found.


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Reba Riley's twenty-ninth birthday was not a good time to undertake a spiritual quest, but when chronic illness prompted her to focus on one thing she could fix - her whopping case of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome - she undertook a challenge: Visit thirty religions before her thirtieth birthday. This was transformation by spiritual shock therapy. Reba would find peace and Reba Riley's twenty-ninth birthday was not a good time to undertake a spiritual quest, but when chronic illness prompted her to focus on one thing she could fix - her whopping case of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome - she undertook a challenge: Visit thirty religions before her thirtieth birthday. This was transformation by spiritual shock therapy. Reba would find peace and healing ... if the search didn't kill her first. During her spiritual sojourn without leaving home, Reba: Danced the disco in a Buddhist temple; Went to church in virtual reality, a movie theater, a drive-in bar, and a basement; Was interrogated about her sex life by Amish grandmothers; Got audited by Scientologists, mobbed by NPR junkies, and killed (almost); Fasted for thirty days without food - or wine, dammit!; Washed her lady parts in a mosque bathroom; 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; Discovered she didn't have to choose religion to choose God ... or good. For everyone who has ever needed healing of body or soul, this poignant, funny memoir reminds us all that transformation is possible, brokenness can be beautiful, and sometimes we have to get lost to get found.

30 review for Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    It’s a common story: if you were raised in Evangelical Christianity, chances are that at some point you threw it all over as hokum, spent a while flailing around in doubt, and then started wondering whether there was some modified form of Christianity you could actually live with. I could relate to so much of Reba Riley’s story. She was a Pentecostal-leaning fundamentalist right through high school, but in college she turned her back on it all; even setting foot in a church made her feel nauseou It’s a common story: if you were raised in Evangelical Christianity, chances are that at some point you threw it all over as hokum, spent a while flailing around in doubt, and then started wondering whether there was some modified form of Christianity you could actually live with. I could relate to so much of Reba Riley’s story. She was a Pentecostal-leaning fundamentalist right through high school, but in college she turned her back on it all; even setting foot in a church made her feel nauseous. Yet she retained a strong spiritual compass that helped her tap into the energy of what she calls the “Godiverse.” This is one of those yearlong projects that got turned into a book. At age 29, Riley concocted the idea of experiencing 30 different religious traditions before she turned 30. Despite debilitating sickness (later diagnosed as celiac disease), she spent 2011-12 visiting a Hindu temple, a Buddhist meditation center, a mosque, a synagogue, a gathering of witches, and a range of Christian churches (it seemed to me like a little bit of a cheat, using a bunch of these to make up the numbers, but maybe it was the best she could manage in suburban Ohio). Some of the highlights were spiritual training under the Urban Monk (an Orthodox guide), a Native American sweat lodge, and an epic peanut butter sandwich with the Amish. As a guy she met in the synagogue said, “You can’t change the religion you were born with, so you might as well learn to celebrate it.” Determined not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, Riley decides to move forward in a “Christian-ish” direction – “Could Christianity be the bedrock of my transformation instead of something to overcome?” – with her two new totem objects as reminders of what she learned on her quest: a disco ball shows the myriad facets of the divine, while the peacock, her spirit animal, is a symbol of rebirth and healing. Riley writes in a chatty, girlfriend-to-girlfriend style, as if you’ve joined her book club for a glass of pinot grigio. She readily acknowledges the influence of Elizabeth Gilbert, Cheryl Strayed and Anne Lamott, which gives you some idea of her demographic. I can imagine this book appealing especially to twenty- and thirtysomething women, but anyone who has stepped away from religion, reeling with disillusionment, will find this true to life. Related reading: • When We Were on Fire by Addie Zierman • Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott • Wild by Cheryl Strayed

  2. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    i find the writing, well, not very good. Lame jokes, boring conversations and descriptions (why do I need to know that her husband nuzzled her neck?) and it seems she is starting off with a very evangelical point of view- God speaks to her directly, God wants her to explore different religions, etc. She seems to shun evangelical Christianity but its most basic tenets are still with her - so exploring other religions will never really be given a fair shot. Hard to explain why I don't like the ama i find the writing, well, not very good. Lame jokes, boring conversations and descriptions (why do I need to know that her husband nuzzled her neck?) and it seems she is starting off with a very evangelical point of view- God speaks to her directly, God wants her to explore different religions, etc. She seems to shun evangelical Christianity but its most basic tenets are still with her - so exploring other religions will never really be given a fair shot. Hard to explain why I don't like the amateurish writing style - there just seems to be so little intellect behind it. Interesting that Elizabeth Gilbert found it so profound - but then Gilbert herself is also all about self absorption. I'd like to read a serious book about people have have really left their Christian faith and how they have returned to it or reconciled it, etc. Or attempted to understand that there is a whole world of liberal Christianity that has nothing to do with the type of Christianity she comes from. Too shallow, too amateurish.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Roach

    Having grown up in a very strong religious background--including six years at a Baptist school and years of serious devotion as a teenager--I thought that reading this book would help me to come to terms with some of my emotional baggage. The title sounds so relevant to my life! I know what it feels like to be an adult trying to make sense of the emotional abuse they received as a child done in the name of a higher power. It seemed upon first glance that this woman felt the same way and that she Having grown up in a very strong religious background--including six years at a Baptist school and years of serious devotion as a teenager--I thought that reading this book would help me to come to terms with some of my emotional baggage. The title sounds so relevant to my life! I know what it feels like to be an adult trying to make sense of the emotional abuse they received as a child done in the name of a higher power. It seemed upon first glance that this woman felt the same way and that she wrote this book to help others like herself. ...Except, as it turns out, it's just another "I did this social experiment and wrote a book about it" book. It just wasn't what it purported to be, and the author came off as incredibly self-indulgent. I didn't care for her writing style, and I ended up skipping to the final chapter then carrying on with my life.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Einstein

    Full Disclosure -- I'm a rabbi. I am fascinated by people's search for faith, for God, for a relationship with the Divine. So I've read a LOT of spiritual memoir. This book does NOT disappoint. The author speaks from a place of raw, self-deprecating honesty. It was like sitting down with one's best friend and talking about the stuff in life that really matters. I LOVED this book!! [Received an ARC from www.Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.] Full Disclosure -- I'm a rabbi. I am fascinated by people's search for faith, for God, for a relationship with the Divine. So I've read a LOT of spiritual memoir. This book does NOT disappoint. The author speaks from a place of raw, self-deprecating honesty. It was like sitting down with one's best friend and talking about the stuff in life that really matters. I LOVED this book!! [Received an ARC from www.Netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.]

  5. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Stoeckel

    [I received this book free from the publisher 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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. I am also an ordained minister for over 25 years with a specialty in transitional ministry ( aka interim ministry) with f [I received this book free from the publisher 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. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. I am also an ordained minister for over 25 years with a specialty in transitional ministry ( aka interim ministry) with focus on transitioning aging churches towards inevitable closure] "We may not recognize it,” the Urban Monk said, looking straight at me. “But the moment we ask the question is the moment the miracle happens. The answer comes with the question, the miracle with the asking I think I have found my favorite book of the year so far, and it's not even fiction! Not since Barbara Brown Taylor's Leaving Church have I been this excited about a book on redeeming faith! Reba Riley is a going on thirty married woman who was so hurt by her experience of religion in America via Pentecostalism, that she virtually got ill even thinking about going into a church building. But she missed her faith, she missed her community, she literally got what she calls "The Sickness" that sent her to bed periodically. However, she held down a responsible sales job in a field dominated by men and even got a better one! I keep imagining how she was able to function at that level with such a debilitating situation. A chance meeting with a former school friend got her wanting to find that divine Spirit within, and she takes on a daunting exercise of attending 30 different forns of faith by her 30th birthday. And this amazing book, which almost reads as a "once upon a time..." was born. But it is true. It is an enormous truth that church paradigms need to change in reality, not just on paper or in platitudes. She talks about visiting a mosque, about a virtual church, about the Simple Lives of Amish. And to me, one if the most profoud lines in the whole book is, at her 30th birthday party, when "Daniel the Omnipresent Atheist tapped his glass. “Reba, on behalf of the Atheists; you made us think differently about people of faith." For that is what we are eventually called to be: people of faith. "Ehipassiko,” the teacher pronounced. “It means, ‘Come and see", for in our broken down, battered Post Tramatic Church Syndrome lives we can find the key, and reopen our door to faith. Please, read this book. Suggest it to the pastor as a group study resource. Hand a copy to your Conference adjudicator, your DS, your rabbi, your bishop. Read it with your spiritual advisor, your confirmation classes, your womens' group. Show it to the Faith Columnist of the local newspaper, the director of the interfaith network in town. Give it as a gift to your friend who is burnt out on church, to the retired pastor, to the Youth Minister, to your favorite Seminary Professor. Hand it out at a Pride Festival, the Arts Fair, at Annual Meeting locally, or even at Synod. This book will change your thinking. I challenge you NOT to be changed by this book, because, it WILL change you.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    To summarize my thoughts on this author's "journey" I would use the words she received from one of the spiritual leaders "And this 'journey' of yours sounds shallow, transient, and unable to offer any insight of lasting value. I'd be surprised if you learned anything from being a religious tourist." To summarize my thoughts on this author's "journey" I would use the words she received from one of the spiritual leaders "And this 'journey' of yours sounds shallow, transient, and unable to offer any insight of lasting value. I'd be surprised if you learned anything from being a religious tourist."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Scott Wilder

    "Why do so many people believe that if I seek the truth with an open mind, I'll end up thinking exactly as they do?" – Reba Riley Over the course of a year, Ms. Riley carries us through her journey to reconcile with a spiritual injury she received while growing up in a fundamentalist evangelical church, an injury she dubs “Post Traumatic Church Syndrome”. The fingers of this trauma reach deep into her life, choking her desire to pursue spirituality without shame. Her solution, arrived at by a con "Why do so many people believe that if I seek the truth with an open mind, I'll end up thinking exactly as they do?" – Reba Riley Over the course of a year, Ms. Riley carries us through her journey to reconcile with a spiritual injury she received while growing up in a fundamentalist evangelical church, an injury she dubs “Post Traumatic Church Syndrome”. The fingers of this trauma reach deep into her life, choking her desire to pursue spirituality without shame. Her solution, arrived at by a conviction she lightheartedly dubs “The Godiverse” involves a shock-and-awe stratagem of visiting thirty religions before she turns thirty, an idea she receives during the summer of her 29th year, giving her less than twelve months to accomplish this formidable goal. The title might lead a reader to expect a therapeutic self-help guide. Or a detailed sociological and psychological understanding of spiritual injury, cause and effects, with a detailed prescription vetted through careful research. This is not that work. It is light, fun, with the occasional nugget of spiritual insight that floats like a cherry on a sea of easy-to-read and humorous anecdotal stories. Though the spiritual injury Ms. Riley received never feels cheapened or casual, her own internal buoyancy keeps the reader from ever feeling weighed down by its effects. I think here of a conversation she has with a bartender very early in the book: “Today is only the latest in a string of bad car luck. In the past two months I’ve had four other tire blow-outs, one dead battery, one stopped starter, and two car break-ins. I’m on a first name basis with the AAA dispatcher, and my mechanic gave me his cell phone number with great seriousness, like he was a surgeon on call.” Her good sense of humor is what makes the journey so palatable (both for her and for us), along with her wry and supportive husband, her respectful use of vulnerability (there was only once in the memoir where I felt she overshared, and she acknowledges the moment herself), and her careful eye for pattern-recognition. This careful awareness of the patterns in her life could have made the work feel forced (I think here of the meticulous Star Wars fans who are, at the time of this writing, desperately trying to convince jaded fans that Lucas had a grand plan in those prequel movies for the much-loathed Jar Jar Binks character). Instead, her pattern-recognition gives the work a sense of plot without feeling contrived. In fact, her careful identification of the patterns in her life, both in the way she tells her journey and also in the way she structures her book (broken down by chapters into sections revolving around the seasons of the year), rewards the careful reader to imitate this kind of pattern recognition for the development of one’s own spirituality, regardless of the particular religion or denomination. It should be noted that Ms. Riley is not an advocate for orthodoxy. If you are the kind of religious reader who needs theology to be carefully systemized, you may find her smorgasbord approach to spirituality not only off-putting, but downright offensive. And I would argue that you are exactly the reader she hopes to reach through the telling of her own exploration into faith traditions she once found repellant, and the struggles she went through to understand not necessarily what The Truth is, but why people diligently seek truth, and the pitfalls that can keep us from the Journey, wherever that may land us.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Keith Gatling

    Ironically, as a librarian, I don't get to read much for fun. Books come home with me and never get opened before they're due back because I'm too busy with other things. But when I saw this book mentioned in Library Journal, I knew I had to read it. Still...when I actually got my hands on it, I worried that it would suffer the same fate as so many other books I'd intended to read, but never finished. Well, thanks to a challenge from a colleague, I not only made it through one chapter the first n Ironically, as a librarian, I don't get to read much for fun. Books come home with me and never get opened before they're due back because I'm too busy with other things. But when I saw this book mentioned in Library Journal, I knew I had to read it. Still...when I actually got my hands on it, I worried that it would suffer the same fate as so many other books I'd intended to read, but never finished. Well, thanks to a challenge from a colleague, I not only made it through one chapter the first night, but I made it through seven. I couldn't put the book down, but my eyes were burning from trying to keep them open when I knew I should be sleeping. The book was tough for me in the beginning, because I knew people like the ones she grew up with. I ran screaming away from a group like that when I was in college, and so reading about her experiences gave me flashbacks. But I also knew that the mere fact that I was reading this book meant that she had gotten past her over the top religious past and found something that worked for her. And that's one of the main reasons I love this book...in an age when most people are better at shopping for a cell phone than a religion, she actually decided to do the hard work of looking around at all that was out there, and not just assuming that all religious people were like the ones who left their scars on her. And she was willing to look at some of the very people she had been warned against. This book could so easily have turned into a whiny diatribe against the religious sect she grew up in, and religion in general, but it didn't. It turned out to be a touching and funny look at a journey that not enough people take...whether it leads them to a new look at religion, a comfortable place in a different religion, or totally out of religion altogether. And by the way...I finished it in four days.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Felicity

    Funny, awkward, and oh so familiar I grew up in church. Church is a family: messy, awkward, and able to hurt more painfully than anyone or anything else on Earth. Combine that with the fun of chronic illness. I dunno how many copies of this book I'll be buying for family and friends, but it'll be a lot. Funny, awkward, and oh so familiar I grew up in church. Church is a family: messy, awkward, and able to hurt more painfully than anyone or anything else on Earth. Combine that with the fun of chronic illness. I dunno how many copies of this book I'll be buying for family and friends, but it'll be a lot.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I received a copy of this from the publisher through Edelweiss after I requested it. "Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome." As a fellow sufferer of this disease, I knew I would be in good company when I decided to read this book. Anyone who has left church and then suffered anything from hives to nightmares to panic attacks at the thought of going back to one, or running to the bathroom mid-service because you are hyperventilating should read this book. It isn't what you might assume. Reba Riley is not I received a copy of this from the publisher through Edelweiss after I requested it. "Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome." As a fellow sufferer of this disease, I knew I would be in good company when I decided to read this book. Anyone who has left church and then suffered anything from hives to nightmares to panic attacks at the thought of going back to one, or running to the bathroom mid-service because you are hyperventilating should read this book. It isn't what you might assume. Reba Riley is not anti-church, anti-religion, or anti-God. She feels a hole in her life and decides to visit thirty religions by the time she turns thirty. This decision is made on her 29th birthday. By thirty "religions" she really means more like thirty religious gatherings, because there are many flavors and denominations of Christianity included in that list. Early on she asks, "Did the beliefs my parents taught me about God, the ones that were stacked one on top of another Jenga-style, have to be destroyed so something stronger could take their place? And what about all the anger and bitterness I'd stacked on top of those beliefs?"I laughed a lot while reading this, both from a shared understanding of how church people can be sometimes, but also just at Riley's experiences during her project. There are also some meaningful moments, like her day with the Amish family and her strong bond with the man she calls the Urban Monk. I wouldn't say the writing is spectacular, and the fact that she is also battling a debilitating illness throughout this experience means that much of the focus of the book veers off to her daily life with The Sickness. (I understand that since then she has actually found a true diagnosis with actual relief but I think the simultaneous nature of the two can't be avoided.) It seems like she is heading toward personal reconciliation with her past, toward healing. For her that seems to mean finding a church that allows her to feel comfortable in her new understanding of God. I'm not sure what I think about this - could she have traded in PTCS for Stockholm Syndrome? I would almost like an update another year later once it isn't about the exploration but about the day to day practice of whatever her path becomes.

  11. 4 out of 5

    John

    Having been raised evangelical, and then burning out on such literal interpretation, the author begins the book with an attempt to fill the void that her church used to occupy. So, she comes up with a plan to visit 30 religions (including various Christian denominations) in order to get at what "truth" they may have in common. Not exactly a spoiler that she determines that in the end, you go with what works for you. Part of the story involves her chronic health problems, which she seems less foc Having been raised evangelical, and then burning out on such literal interpretation, the author begins the book with an attempt to fill the void that her church used to occupy. So, she comes up with a plan to visit 30 religions (including various Christian denominations) in order to get at what "truth" they may have in common. Not exactly a spoiler that she determines that in the end, you go with what works for you. Part of the story involves her chronic health problems, which she seems less focused on specifically curing, than learning to co-exist with. That sub-plot, if you will, is resolved, though I have my own ideas on exactly what happened. I've given the book four stars, and if the author is reading this I'm sorry, but I would've preferred a professional narrator for the audio version. Moreover, the visits kind of ran together listening; she'd refer to previous ones, with my not being able to recall that one specifically. So, I'm going to recommend reading this one as a print book (if possible). Myself, I look forward to do that myself later, where I feel I might appreciate her experience more. It's a story I think several of my Goodreads friends would like reading.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cecily Kyle

    OMG! First of all I picked this book up to fit a challenge I was participating in and I was very weary about reading it because I am definitely a sufferer of PTCS!!!! Like so much so that was why I was afraid to read this book. I love what she did here, and that there is hope that you can have beliefs without having organized religion. A lot of bad things happened to me in the church but that was the problem, it was the people in it not God or whatever, I am not sure what I believe in now but I OMG! First of all I picked this book up to fit a challenge I was participating in and I was very weary about reading it because I am definitely a sufferer of PTCS!!!! Like so much so that was why I was afraid to read this book. I love what she did here, and that there is hope that you can have beliefs without having organized religion. A lot of bad things happened to me in the church but that was the problem, it was the people in it not God or whatever, I am not sure what I believe in now but I just strive to be a good, caring person all around. I am really happy a book like this exists. She is a lot more optimistic and willing to try to find more about what spirituality has to offer than I do and I am glad she decided to share it!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mskarla

    One of my book clubs read this book. While I didn’t read it at that time, one of the members, a good friend, gave me her copy and told me she found it interesting as she had made her own spiritual journey to find a religion that was right for her. My respect for her is the only reason I finished this book. I appreciated some of the insights, although 90% of them weren’t particularly original. But the cutesy writing and lame, humblebragging jokes (oh, I’m so clumsy, isn’t it adorable) were hard t One of my book clubs read this book. While I didn’t read it at that time, one of the members, a good friend, gave me her copy and told me she found it interesting as she had made her own spiritual journey to find a religion that was right for her. My respect for her is the only reason I finished this book. I appreciated some of the insights, although 90% of them weren’t particularly original. But the cutesy writing and lame, humblebragging jokes (oh, I’m so clumsy, isn’t it adorable) were hard to take. I mean, this person is NOT a compelling writer. It may be unfair, but I felt this sense of her own specialness- she’s a healer, she has a special light, blah, blah blah - that was really annoying. And as another reviewer noted, I would love to know if all of those coincidences that she says are true, really happened. It’s a bit much.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Egan

    I did not complete this book so my review is only based on half the story. I found the plot-line underdeveloped and lacking in depth. In all fairness, I had just published my own book about a similar topic ( I grew up in the Mormon church in Salt Lake City, Utah). I felt my story was more intricate with many parallel themes, which I was hoping to find with this book. I will say Reba is a talented writer, but I just couldn't keep my attention on her journey. I did not complete this book so my review is only based on half the story. I found the plot-line underdeveloped and lacking in depth. In all fairness, I had just published my own book about a similar topic ( I grew up in the Mormon church in Salt Lake City, Utah). I felt my story was more intricate with many parallel themes, which I was hoping to find with this book. I will say Reba is a talented writer, but I just couldn't keep my attention on her journey.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Rica Kaufel

    The idea for the project is great, but in its execution it boils down to one entitled lady barging into other religions, taking center stage, and using her newfound perspectives to gaze at her own evangelical navel.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Carrie

    Meh. Evangelical Christian becomes slightly more mainstream. Chick lit at its not-best.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Tennis

    I read this on the recommendation of a dear friend of mine after we had discussed our various stages of lapsed-ness from the Catholic Church. I should have stopped in the first chapter and I have only my stubborn nature and hope that this book would improve to blame for the next 300+ pages. The author begins her story complaining about having to wear ugly panties for her birthday and cries all the time about how tough her upbringing, then proceeds to mention Oprah, Elizabeth Gilbert, sparkly vam I read this on the recommendation of a dear friend of mine after we had discussed our various stages of lapsed-ness from the Catholic Church. I should have stopped in the first chapter and I have only my stubborn nature and hope that this book would improve to blame for the next 300+ pages. The author begins her story complaining about having to wear ugly panties for her birthday and cries all the time about how tough her upbringing, then proceeds to mention Oprah, Elizabeth Gilbert, sparkly vampires, hot guys messing up her meditation, yoga pants, drinking skinny martinis with sorority sisters (her husband is of course from a fraternity) and on and on. The book reads something like this - crying, sobbing, i'm sick (spoiler alert - she has celiac's disease though she acts like its a curse from the God she gave up), religion, crying, religion, crying, religion, crying, religion. So on and so forth for 300 pages. I persevered because I was hoping for some insights into a few of the religions of the world that I have not experienced firsthand. I was left disappointed (and grateful I had not purchased the book and could return it to the library). Around page 160, the author seems to understand that the God of her upbringing is simply the God of her religion's choosing. Find this book, flip to that section, read it and save yourself the $25 and the hours spent reading. The author perpetuates all the stereotypes about women as being this whiny bunch of frail things that need to be coddled. Funniest part of the book was at the end when she suggested the readers recommend this book for a book club. Best. Joke, Ever. I think I would rather drink one of those skinny martinis with your sorority sisters and talk about how rough your religious upbringing was.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dana Burgess

    The first thing you need to know is that, if you are looking for an in depth discussion of post traumatic church syndrome or a self-help guide to get over it, this is not the book that will answer those needs. What it is is one woman's journey to overcoming her own PTCS. This is the first book in a long time that I have read in one sitting. It is well written and humourous but doesn't discount the trauma associated with loss of faith in a church or set of ideals. It's interesting to learn snippe The first thing you need to know is that, if you are looking for an in depth discussion of post traumatic church syndrome or a self-help guide to get over it, this is not the book that will answer those needs. What it is is one woman's journey to overcoming her own PTCS. This is the first book in a long time that I have read in one sitting. It is well written and humourous but doesn't discount the trauma associated with loss of faith in a church or set of ideals. It's interesting to learn snippets of what other religions believe and also to see the similarities in those beliefs. The journey itself is told well and feels open and authentic. For those of us that do suffer from traumatic church experiences, the take home here is that there is hope. You can become whole. It will take work and will not be easy or always comfortable, but it can be done. Excellent read for anyone interested in world religions and healing.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lois Schulz

    Personally, I just couldn't get through this book. As someone who also struggles with chronic illness/unexplained pain, I was interested in how Reba would digest all of her religions and how each one would impact her, her faith, her pain, and more. I was expecting actual descriptions of the services, the religions, etc. Instead what I got was maybe two sentences talking about the service/experience and a lot of discussion about being tired and in pain and confused about God and just... It didn't Personally, I just couldn't get through this book. As someone who also struggles with chronic illness/unexplained pain, I was interested in how Reba would digest all of her religions and how each one would impact her, her faith, her pain, and more. I was expecting actual descriptions of the services, the religions, etc. Instead what I got was maybe two sentences talking about the service/experience and a lot of discussion about being tired and in pain and confused about God and just... It didn't interest me.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing in 30 Religions was funny, relatable, and empowering. It's not just about "religion" but it's about finding our own spiritual journey and I highly benefitted from going on Reba's voyage with her. PTCS is real. I have it and never really knew what to call it until now! Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing in 30 Religions was funny, relatable, and empowering. It's not just about "religion" but it's about finding our own spiritual journey and I highly benefitted from going on Reba's voyage with her. PTCS is real. I have it and never really knew what to call it until now!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Wise

    Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing in 30 religions was entertaining but also insightful. It not only gave me a new insight on different religions from around the world but also helped me understand myself. I highly recommend this book to everyone. It will change your perspective on life.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Heather Hime

    Post-Traumatic-Church-Syndrome is a thoughtful account, written in an easy conversational style. You feel as if you are chatting with Reba in her living room while sipping a cup of coffee or wine from a mug. She brings both humor and angst to her search for inner peace. I felt as if I was on the journey with her. It made me look deeper into myself and my feelings of the "godiverse". Post-Traumatic-Church-Syndrome is a thoughtful account, written in an easy conversational style. You feel as if you are chatting with Reba in her living room while sipping a cup of coffee or wine from a mug. She brings both humor and angst to her search for inner peace. I felt as if I was on the journey with her. It made me look deeper into myself and my feelings of the "godiverse".

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marti Dahlquist

    I grew up exactly like the author, and came to very similar moments where I knew if I had to leave. What started as an earnest quest to make peace with her religious past turned into a self absorbed journey to taste test rather than really explore the core of the religion. It felt belittling and disrespectful to the people she visited.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Aimee Vorrasi

    Reba makes an immediate connection with her readers! Her story gives you the encouragement to reflect on your beliefs and where you are with your faith. This book is a quick read and will have book clubs in deep discussions and thought while allowing humor to lighten it up!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Karey

    Such a great read! Fun, humorous and thought-provoking all in one. Made me take a closer look at all the small ways God is working in my life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mary Ellington

    I almost didn't read this book because one of the commenters said she didn't care for the writing. Let me say up front, that I loved the writing. This book had everything - humor, sadness, mystery illness, success, failure and (SPOILER)what I'd call a happy ending. After a childhood of Pentacostal church going where strong beliefs were forced upon her, the author diagnoses herself with Post traumatic church disorder. Just going into a church or hearing a certain song could produce hives and vomi I almost didn't read this book because one of the commenters said she didn't care for the writing. Let me say up front, that I loved the writing. This book had everything - humor, sadness, mystery illness, success, failure and (SPOILER)what I'd call a happy ending. After a childhood of Pentacostal church going where strong beliefs were forced upon her, the author diagnoses herself with Post traumatic church disorder. Just going into a church or hearing a certain song could produce hives and vomiting. But at age 29 Riley is not only looking for a God she can relate to and bring her peace, she is searching for a cure to what she calls the"Sickness." After a rather horrific 29th birthday, Riley embarks on a crusade to visit 30 churches/religions before she turns 30. She does this despite spending days at a time in bed, too ill to get up, and working a full time job. Her quest takes her to places that bring back haunting memories but with each new religion, miracles abound. Riley finds and keeps bits of wisdom, healing, and the Divine Disco Ball. I'm not sure there is a better definition of God than: "Every soul was a mirror; each reflecting light and dark; each joined with others to form this beautiful picture of Truth that is too large for any one of us to understand alone - our beliefs and no-beliefs, histories, experiences, and personalities - were distinct, so our individual perspectives differed, but the Divine Disco Ball shimmered with commonality. We cannot experience God without each other, because God is love. If faith is love in action, God is love in action times infinity." Another thing I liked about this book is how supportive her friends and family were of both her spiritual and physical health. I don't often read a book twice. As soon as I read the last page of PTCS I wanted to start all over again. Whether you are good with your spiritual/religious beliefs, are looking for more, or nothing at all, I think there is something to be gained by reading this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    J. Muro

    Jesus-Rama-Krishna-Christo-Abba-Allah-lleluia! Reba is a wonderful healer-thank-you for going on this 30-by-30 journey-it made me admire you a lot. It is inspirational and I hope to do this! Your book has healed a lot in me. Yes! Like a Disco ball (diamond)! Yes, “signs” are everywhere and not just solely inside a church, synagogue, temple, etc.,...-it is outside, everywhere,...& inside one-self. The key is the “be” still and not expect it-The holy religious symbols of the world are importantly Jesus-Rama-Krishna-Christo-Abba-Allah-lleluia! Reba is a wonderful healer-thank-you for going on this 30-by-30 journey-it made me admire you a lot. It is inspirational and I hope to do this! Your book has healed a lot in me. Yes! Like a Disco ball (diamond)! Yes, “signs” are everywhere and not just solely inside a church, synagogue, temple, etc.,...-it is outside, everywhere,...& inside one-self. The key is the “be” still and not expect it-The holy religious symbols of the world are importantly wonderful-the Star & Crescent, the Cross, the Pentacle, the Wheel of Dharma, and so much more-it is understandable some people may be (with many reasons) uncomfortable with the signs, however, that is a big brave and courageous leap-giving it a try!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I didn’t grow up going to church so when I started wanting to go, I remember going to a Bible church and the pastor screaming (imo) that if “you aren’t 100% sure you believe, then I don’t want to see you here again” and I was so shocked and, at that point, I wasn’t “100%” anything so I almost wanted to just get up and leave but I was with friends so didn’t. Thank goodness I didn’t let it deter me too much and I kept trying different churches. My in law family’s Lutheran church talks about how ev I didn’t grow up going to church so when I started wanting to go, I remember going to a Bible church and the pastor screaming (imo) that if “you aren’t 100% sure you believe, then I don’t want to see you here again” and I was so shocked and, at that point, I wasn’t “100%” anything so I almost wanted to just get up and leave but I was with friends so didn’t. Thank goodness I didn’t let it deter me too much and I kept trying different churches. My in law family’s Lutheran church talks about how everyone there is saved too. Personally I prefer non denominational churches where they are very accepting and desiring newcomers. I truly enjoyed listening to her experiences at trying different religions and experiences.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    Having rebelled against her strict "Christian Right" upbringing Riley found herself adrift. On her 29th birthday she was inspired to seek out, study and attend the services/rites/ceremonies in thirty different churches and belief systems before her 30th birthday. This book documents that epic quest and describes many of the unique experiences she had along the way. There were a number of unusual co-incidents - enough to appear that she was being led to the things that she found. Over the years I Having rebelled against her strict "Christian Right" upbringing Riley found herself adrift. On her 29th birthday she was inspired to seek out, study and attend the services/rites/ceremonies in thirty different churches and belief systems before her 30th birthday. This book documents that epic quest and describes many of the unique experiences she had along the way. There were a number of unusual co-incidents - enough to appear that she was being led to the things that she found. Over the years I have run into countless people suffering PTCS. Nice to know I am not alone. For me, my study has ended in a complete rejection of all religion. This book did not change that outcome for me.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    This book was so inspiring. I could completely relate to Reba and her feelings of loss in her faith. I was born and raised Catholic, but always felt a disconnect from the congregation's beliefs and values. I always longed for a deep seated faith that I saw in others, and this book taught me that it is possible and that you don't have to subscribe to one religion. Her writing is humorous and light-hearted while she talks about some tough subjects. If you've ever wondered about other religions, I This book was so inspiring. I could completely relate to Reba and her feelings of loss in her faith. I was born and raised Catholic, but always felt a disconnect from the congregation's beliefs and values. I always longed for a deep seated faith that I saw in others, and this book taught me that it is possible and that you don't have to subscribe to one religion. Her writing is humorous and light-hearted while she talks about some tough subjects. If you've ever wondered about other religions, I cannot recommend this book enough.

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