Margaret Placentra Johnston

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

As a practicing Optometrist Dr. Margaret Placentra Johnston has spent the last three decades helping people see better in the physical world. But now she is on a new mission to offer clearer vision of a different sort: a broader, more sophisticated perspective about religion and spirituality than what the conventional world typically recognizes. Her book, Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind, was named the GOLD WINNER of the 2013 Nautilus Book Award in Religion/spirituality. Margaret is working on her second book, Rx for Spiritual Maturity. Margaret is confident that spiritual development theory, based on the work of twelve noted theorists, could bring an end to religious intolerance, and lead to a kinder, more gentle world. The spiritual development stages invite a person beyond literal beliefs, and toward a metaphorical understanding of religious concepts. They point to the realization that all our various religions and spiritual practices are but localized ways a given culture has chosen to express a universal human need – the desire to connect with something greater than ourselves. If people could only recognize that spiritual maturity is not about becoming more firmly embedded in a single belief system, they could be freed from the from divisive literal beliefs that separate us one from the other. The resulting perspective would suggest a faith based on trust in the goodness of our existence, and a fully universal worldview, a genuine spirituality that includes everyone and everything that exists. For more about this, please visit Dr. Johnston holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master of Arts (MA) degree 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. She offers courses and speaks to groups on spiritual development. Margaret has two grown sons and lives with her husband in Northern Virginia.