Are you tired of the warring factions between religious believers and non-believers? Did the New Atheist writers seem to make good sense, yet leave the impression that something was missing? Are you willing to consider a new, overarching explanation for the atheist/believer controversy itself?
In Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind, real life stories from a former Mormon, a clandestine Muslim apostate and two others demonstrate how complete confidence in human reason can lead a person out of literal religious belief—without their having to give up the life principles and values that govern a good life.
But the second set of six real life stories in Faith Beyond Belief demonstrate what can happen next if the person remains open to further growth. Here literal religious belief may be replaced by a more amorphous form of spiritual faith wherein truth and reality are recognized as multi-dimensional, doubt and paradox are tolerated, and spiritual concepts are interpreted metaphorically.
The ten Faith Beyond Belief stories and the surrounding discussion pave a painless path for the reader toward an understanding spiritual development according to basic commonalities found in the writings of twelve spiritual development experts from academia, the spiritual literature and even New Age spirituality.
Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind is not really a book against religion. It challenges both traditional believers and non-believers alike to consider a broader perspective, and should appeal to readers whose rational minds demand a strictly scientific basis for our existence, but whose hearts still tug at the validity of a greater spiritual reality.
This book aims to promote understanding and tolerance by illuminating a faith process that places us all at varying points along a common path toward unity and love.
Targeted Age Group:
Many religious and spiritual professionals have enumerated the steps in the spiritual journey, and described what spiritual maturity looks like. But they write in cryptic terminology difficult for the popular reader to understand. I have sought to bring this valuable information down to the popular level through the use of true stories about people going through these stages, and through plain language discussion of the implications of spiritual development theory.
What Advice Would You Give Aspiring Writers?
This is not an easy field to break into, but if passion for your subject matter drives you, the right doors should eventually open for you. Good luck!
Margaret Placentra Johnston
As a practicing Optometrist, Dr. Margaret Placentra Johnston has spent most of her professional career helping people see better in the physical world. But now she is on a new mission to offer clearer vision of a different kind, on a larger scale through her writing. As the author of Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind, Margaret has shared how a bird’s eye view of the religious belief versus non-belief debate from a spiritual development perspective can lead to a kinder, more gentle world.
Margaret is confident that an understanding of the spiritual stages could bring an end to religious intolerance, by freeing people from the literal religious beliefs that separate us one from another. The broader perspective of spiritual development theory would recognize all the various religions as localized expressions of a common human search for connection with something greater than ourselves. This would lead us beyond literal belief, toward a metaphorical understanding of spiritual concepts and a genuine spirituality based on values, especially unity – the most spiritually mature value of all.
Dr. Johnston holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master of Arts (MA) in Education from the Catholic University of America; a Bachelor of Science (BS) and a Doctor of Optometry (OD) degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (now called Salus University.) Her writings have appeared in the Optometry journals, and in the personal growth journal, Recovering the Self. She blogs at Patheos.com and the Hufington Post. Margaret gives talks about spiritual development issues to interested groups. She has two grown sons and lives with her husband in McLean, VA.What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I have been – and remain – dismayed and flummoxed by the superficial, simplistic and divisive levels at which religion is discussed in our society. Theologians KNOW that our religious texts merit complex interpretations far beyond the literal. Yet from the pulpit, our pastors largely refuse to share these perspectives, seeking instead to keep their congregations mired in superficial and immature LITERAL understandings. They fail to TRUST that people in a sophisticated society would welcome the opportunity for spiritual exploration.
This book is an attempt to elevate the religious believer versus nonbeliever conversation to a higher level. It offers a broader explanation to readers whose rational minds demand a strictly scientific basis for our existence, but whose hearts still tug at the validity of a greater spiritual reality.