Year 11, Book 97

97. Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing by Reba Riley

Reba Riley grew up in a strict Pentecostal life that encompassed her whole world including her house, school, and of course church. As an adult her upbringing left her scarred by religion to the degree that encountering religious experiences that reminded her of her childhood physically made her sick. On her 29th birthday plagued by a mysterious illness that no doctor could diagnose Riley feels a calling to face her past and explore religion. She sets out on her 30 for 30 project in which she visited 30 religions over the course of the year leading up to her 30th birthday. Through it all she reconciles her past and finds a sort of faith again.

This book for me was a case of the perfect book at the perfect time. My experience with religion doesn’t mirror Riley’s, but I have often found myself at odds with religion even though I have faith. I could relate to her experiences in that way and found some of the insights she shares extremely helpful and relevant in the face of how I’ve been feeling recently. She helped to remind me that my faith is not in people it is in God and even in what I view as the most broken examples of people claiming to live out God’s will there can be shimmers of God’s love. I’m not sure the book itself is the best book, but for me it was exactly what I needed to read and I hope other people in need find it. I give it an 8 out of 10.

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