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Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing Hardcover – August 18, 2015
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"Hilarious, courageous, provocative, profound ... Reba Riley brings the light for seekers of all paths, reminding us that every journey of transformation begins exactly where we are. 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 and The Signature of All Things)
"Whatever your beliefs or lack thereof, whether you pay heed to a savior or a spirit animal, you should read this moving, funny, thoughtful book. Reba Riley has traveled the unlikely mystic's path and come back with an enormously entertaining, immensely hopeful report." (A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically and My Life as an Experiment)
"PTCS is a brilliant, emotional and audacious rampage through religious sensibility, an exploration I recommend without hesitation. Enjoy!" (Wm. Paul Young, author of The Shack and Cross Roads)
"Riley's debut gently offers...a powerful love that is greater than any single religious expression." (Publishers Weekly)
"Reba Riley is a natural-born storyteller and writer who I expect to be reading for many years to come." (Brian D. McLaren, author/speaker at brianmclaren.net)
“If your soul has ever doubted, if your feet have ever lost their way, if your halo's always just a little askew, or if your heart has been wounded by a faith community, Reba Riley's humorous, honest memoir about exploring the ‘Godiverse’ is just the thing for you.” (Sarah Thebarge, author of The Invisible Girls)
"Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome is real. Been there done that. If you have been there too, this book is going to let you know you are not alone. Prepare to be encouraged to leave outright abuse of spiritual power and dogma of the kind that kills the soul. Prepare to survive. Courageous and wonderful, Reba Riley to the rescue!" (Frank Schaeffer, author of Why I Am an Atheist Who Believes in God)
“Riley’s book is so compelling; beautifully written, exceedingly funny, and refreshingly honest. As she described her journey of spiritual and physical healing, I rooted for her with every page. Riley’s story is also compelling because it is our story, our journey. We can identify with her spiritual pain, her questions, her prejudices, her fears. Her experience proves that if we are willing to open ourselves up and listen, we too can find God everywhere and know the Love that is for us all. It is a book of profound hope.” (Kristen Vincent, author of A Bead and a Prayer)
“Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome is a literary and philosophical triumph. Reba Riley reveals the strength of spirit through the vulnerability of flesh with tears, laughter and soul-stirring moments of profound revelation. Her first book—certainly not her last—is so much more than a memoir about faith; it’s a celebration of all that defines the human condition.” (Christian Piatt, author of postChristian and Pregmancy)
“Written with beckoning eloquence and humor, Reba Riley describes an amazing interfaith journey through the depth of her broken humanity in a quest for healing and the face of God. Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome is a most valuable and inspirational guide to those on a path toward enlightenment, and especially to those seeking healing from spiritual abuse. It should be on the shelves of every counseling center and divinity school.” (Franklyn Schaefer, author of Defrocked and a United Methodist minister)
"Moments of laughing and tears. It provided much needed closure for me in many ways. I love Reba Riley and her heart and work. I'm honored to be her teacher and also, through her book, her student. (Deep bow of respect.) Namaste." (Bushi Yamato Damashii, Roshi/Zen monk at Daishin Buddhist Temple & Mindfulness Center, Thomasville, NC)
"Honest, witty, and reflective... Reba is real when it comes to 'religion' and what it takes to unpack that word in our culture today. This is a book for anyone who has fumbled, wondered, fallen away, or wanted something bigger to hold them close at night. She doesn't claim to have all the answers, but Reba, undoubtedly, is asking all the right questions." (Hannah Brencher, author of If You Find This Letter)
"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, New York Times best-selling author of I Regret Nothing)
"In this humorous, self-deprecating memoir, Riley turns pain and suffering into an (almost) fun journey of self-discovery and personal enlightenment." (Booklist)
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
I don't think the Witnesses are truly bad people, but they are lied to and manipulated by their leaders, who do well to cover up the secrets of their past, such as the fact that it is actually technically a sect (the original religion still exists), they have failed to predict the exact date of the end of the world several times, and more.
Due to the author's interpretation of this group, I'm not sure what to make of any of her impressions, really. Because of that, I don't truly feel like I learned much. Still, I appreciate her sharing her experience. I just think people should know that some of these fundamentalist groups she explored have a history of emotional/psychological abuse and readers should know what they're actually getting into.
Evangelical Christianity was not working for Reba Riley. Early in her book Post Traumatic Church Syndrome (PTCS) she shares a conversation she had with her Fundamentalist Christian mother. “Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No man cometh to the Father but by Him,” her mom said. “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” Reba quoted back. “But Mom, that truth didn’t set me free. It imprisoned me. That truth is keeping me away from God because I can’t buy in to all the church crap. And I can’t understand a God who would send people to a fiery pit for eternity. That’s not a God I can believe in.” I liked Reba’s honesty and vulnerability throughout PTCS – she gives the reader a front row seat to her doubting yet seeking soul.
A health crisis led Reba explore other spiritual paths. In PTCS she tells in detail her sampling of 30 religious groups before the age of 30. Serious stuff? Not really – Reba tells her story with humor as she encounters the quirks of various religions. “Find yourself an old lady, or a couple of old ladies, and sit right behind ’em,” her friend Vinnie says when Reba was unsure how to act at a Catholic service. “That way you can watch ’em, so you’ll always know what to do, even if you aren’t paying attention,” Vinnie adds. “Whoa!” Reba says as she enters the massive cathedral. ““If churches were beauty pageant contestants, Catholics would win evening gown every time.”
I was laughing with Reba as she gives details of her quest – visiting such diverse groups as the Scientologists, the Amish, the Hindus, the Omnipresent Atheists, and more. Embedded in the humor were words of wisdom from unexpected sources. In a Hindu temple Reba encounters a fountain in a small meditation room. “This is our monument to the invisible God who cannot be seen, who is too vast to be contained,” her Hindu guide said – a concept of God that resonated with Reba (and with me). I found myself drawn in by Reba’s many entertaining stories, wondering what adventure she would have next (I read the book in three days)
Reba deals with criticism from her fundamentalist Christian friends and family – like being thrown out of a small group Bible Study for asking too many questions (“Your identity just isn’t in Christ” a friend says. “You are being deceived like Eve.” says another). I could relate, as can any former Evangelical Christian who has explored non-traditional spiritual paths. I too was once asked to leave a Fundamentalist Christian Bible Study because of my many questions .
In the end Reba does find a more loving and inclusive spiritual orientation that works for her. She comes to terms with her Evangelical past – seeing that period as a stepping stone for her own growth. Will her version of spirituality work for you? Perhaps, but that’s not the point of the book. Rather through her honest sharing of her own doubts and struggles, Reba encourages the reader to find his or her own answers. To not be afraid to ask questions. To explore. “Rejecting someone else’s version of reality isn’t the same as creating your own,” a friend tells Reba along the way. Like Reba, I’ve moved from following the religion of my youth to creating a spirituality that does work, and I feel reading Post Traumatic Church Syndrome will encourage you to do the same.