Faith Beyond Belief Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-09-25
  • Publisher: Quest Books
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While over half of Americans claim to be Christian, the number of the unaffiliated has increased from 14 million in 1990 to 34 million in 2008. Insulated Christians rank atheists below Muslims and criminals on their moral scale. Faith Beyond Belief challenges this attitude by giving a much-needed voice to the "good" people who have left their church but whose spirituality continues to mature. Johnston's may be the only book that uses first-person stories as well as known spiritual authorities in describing various stages of religious growth. Some of these real-life accounts are by nonbelievers; others are by those among the growing numbers of the "spiritual but not religious". All are thoughtful people with too much integrity to live what they consider a lie. The stories of the nonbelievers, including an ex-Catholic, a former Mormon, and a clandestine Muslim apostate who left his community after the attacks of 9/11, show how complete confidence in human reason can lead away from literal religious interpretation, as exemplified in New Atheist writings. But, Johnston points out, while that step is a necessary one on the spiritual path, it is only intermediate. Beyond it, a person rejects human reason as the ultimate gage of reality. Her second set of stories are of people at this "mystic" level who can tolerate paradox, see truth and reality as multidimensional, and view spiritual concepts metaphorically. They may even have returned to their original church, but now with the more evolved traits of humility, forgiveness, gratitude, acceptance, and a unitive worldview in which religious differences are seen as mere details.

Author Biography

After 25 years practicing Optometry, Margaret Placentra Johnston now writes to help people gain clearer vision of a different sort. Dr. Johnston holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master of Arts (MA) in Education from the Catholic University of America, and 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 Optometry journals and in the personal growth journal Recovering the Self. She serves as an expert on in the categories of spiritual growth, atheism, skepticism and optometry, and as a religion expert on Margaret gives talks about spiritual development issues to interested groups. She has two grown sons and lives with her husband in McLean, VA.

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