on August 18th 2015
Genres: Personal Memoirs
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Reba Riley’s twenty-ninth year was a terrible time to undertake a spiritual quest. But when untreatable chronic illness forced her to her metaphorical (and physical) derriere on her birthday, Reba realized that even if she couldn’t fix her body, she might be able to heal her injured spirit. And so began a yearlong journey to recover from her whopping case of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome by visiting thirty religions before her thirtieth birthday. During her spiritual sojourn, Reba:
-Was interrogated by Amish grandmothers about her sex life -Danced the disco in a Buddhist temple -Went to church in virtual reality, a movie theater, a drive-in bar, and a basement -Fasted for thirty days without food—or wine -Washed her lady parts in a mosque bathroom -Was audited by Scientologists -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 in tow -Discovered she didn’t have to choose religion to choose God.
Reba Riley was a good Evangelical Christian girl up until college. The reasons for her break from Christianity are not explained but ten years later the effects are clear. She isn’t able to even think about religion without getting angry and sometimes even physically ill if she goes into a church.
In the meantime she developed a chronic debilitating sickness that no doctor has been able to diagnose or fix. On her 29th birthday she decides to do something about her spiritual state if she can’t fix her body. She is going to attend the services of thirty different religious groups by the time she turns thirty.
I was interested in this book because it sounded similar to my journey. Our paths are different though because she still feels a need to have a belief in God. I don’t. I get angry when I think about people being scammed by religion of any kind. She just thinks that the environment that she grew up in was toxic.
I didn’t blame my parents; any system of belief built like a Jenga tower is breakable. If you much believe x to believe y, and y to believe z, and x, y, and z to believe in God, it only takes a crack in one area bring all your faith crashing down. My parents didn’t break my faith; they had given me a faith that was inherently breakable.”
Yes! I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. I tell people that I studied my way out of Christianity. I mean that as I got deeper and deeper into the faith and the Bible, things started not to make sense or to mean something different than I was taught. It took a long time for the first bricks to fall but once they did, everything else happened quickly.
“…Christianese — the language of Evangelical Christians and therefore my native tongue. Due to my background, I speak Christianese beautifully: I can catch and throw idioms and deftly season whole conversations with Scripture. It’s like a secret verbal handshake, so Evangelicals can instantly recognize one another regardless of the setting.”
Oh, yes. Just this summer I listened to a story my sister-in-law was telling about my brother’s boss’ wife (also their pastor’s wife) telling her off for letting people know on Facebook that the church staff was on a retreat. Obviously if your Facebook friends know that your menfolk are not home they will rush over to rape and kill you. I said, “Smile sweetly and say, ‘Oh! I thought we weren’t supposed to have a spirit of fear.'”
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7
I told her, “I may not go to church anymore but if you need a Christian smack down for someone just let me know.” All the studying might as well come in handy for something.
A lot of the religious facilities she visits are Christian but she does spend some time out of the Christian fold. She visits Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Pagans, Hare Krishnas, Scientologists, and Atheists. I like what one atheist told her.
“You know, one thing people never consider about atheism is that it gives us even more of a reason to be good people. This life is all we have. No second chances.”
Thank you. I’m so tired of Christians constantly spouting off about how only Christians can have a system of morality because their god is the basis for right and wrong. That never made sense to me even as a Christian.
This book is fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you’ve ever walked away from religion, you’ll find something familiar here.