The Nautilus Book Award has named its 2013 Gold Winner in Religion/spirituality: “Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind.” Author Margaret Placentra Johnston holds degrees from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (BS, OD 1982), and the Catholic University of America (BA, 1973. MA, 1974.) From 1983 to 2003 she operated her own private optometric practice in Springfield and currently sees patients part-time in Alexandria and Georgetown.
After practicing optometry for many years, Johnston began to notice that while she had been helping people see better in the physical world, there was a greater need to inspire clearer vision of a different sort in our larger society. Certain factions of our society, and many in the media, proceed as though completely unaware of a concept that is largely accepted in the fields of psychology of religion and philosophy of religion.
Despite its subtitle, the book that finally emerged from this dilemma, “Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind,” is not at all a book against religion. Rather it calls readers to a broader, more sophisticated understanding of religious belief than that preached from in the typical pulpit. Identifying correlations in the work of 12 notable theorists in a field that should come to be known as spiritual development theory, “Faith Beyond Belief” lays out steps a person must traverse on the road to spiritual maturity. Rigid religious conformity based on outside authority from a religious leader or holy book is not near the top of this journey.
Former Nautilus Book Award winners include Desmond Tutu, Deepak Chopra, Barbara Kingsolver, Thich Nhat Hanh, Caroline Myss, Gregg Braden and Eckhart Tolle.
More can be found on the book’s website: FaithBeyondBelief-book.com.
This summer, Johnston will be leading a four-session class in Annandale at Lifetime Learning Institute (NOVA) entitled Spiritual Maturity—A Progressive and Rationalist View of the Road to Unity: http://lli.nova.org/13summer.pdf.