Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome by Reba Riley

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome

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.


This book was a fascinating read. Before I read this book, I thought it might say more about the beliefs of the various groups, but it focuses on Reba Riley’s journey of spiritual healing instead. It doesn’t mention a whole lot about the beliefs of the groups themselves, but rather Riley’s thoughts and feelings, and what happened to her. I enjoyed her writing style and that she wrote this book as more of a story than just facts. I also liked that she included humor, which made this book that much more enjoyable. I didn’t necessarily agree with some of what Riley did or said, but I was able to glean things from her journey that could help me in my own spiritual journey.

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