Introducing Readers’ Stories

From time to time on this site, I will be posting stories real people have sent in that somehow resonate with the topic of my book, Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind.  The book  describes a process of moving toward what may be called post-critical faith. This is a more fluid, and more personal type of faith, that can arise after a period of questioning the religious beliefs dictated by outer religious authorities, or in a holy book.  If the spiritual development theorists are to be trusted, we might even go to so far as to say that post-critical faith or Faith Beyond Belief is more mature than the pre-critical variety.

If you have a story to share (please limit it to under 1000 words) you may do so through this link: http://www.questbooks.net/faith_beyond_belief_book_club.cfm.  We would be especially interested if you can mention books that might have contributed to movement along your spiritual path – especially those that might help others begin their own journey.

The first brave soul to volunteer her story is PMD. She lists two books that were especially influential for her.  Well, maybe three if we are including mine.

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I really enjoyed reading the stories of the other people who have found their way out of organized religion. My own first inclination towards that was after my First Communion when I realized I didn’t feel any different after receiving the Host. Nonetheless, I stayed with Catholicism into my 40s and was active in the church. In my late 40s I read a book entitled From Sand to Solid Ground by Michael Morwood[1] which made me realize I didn’t need to stay in a church that doesn’t treat women equally and whose administration is so appalling.

I first left to join an Episcopal church, but as my spiritual journey continued I realized I couldn’t say the prayers anymore. I left the church – but for a while would be sure to tell people I was still a Christian.  Eventually I realized that all the world’s great teachers have taught Love and one book that reinforced that for me was Unifying Truths of the World’s Religions[2].

Where I am spiritually now is that I feel we are all connected in every way possible, and that the only belief I need is love and respect for all of humanity and the earth. That has led me to sell my car (5 1/2 years ago) so I can use public transportation and walk more, thus connecting with more people and helping my body be healthy. I have also given away my TV, because so much of it is mindless, although I occasionally will watch something on my laptop that is interesting.  I’ve also switched to a totally plant-based (vegan) diet because I think it is better for my health, for the environment, and it is a compassionate choice. 

 I am happy with my choices and looking forward to my spiritual journey as it continues.  I don’t feel the need to be part of an organized religion although many tenets of Unitarian Universalism, Quakerism, Bahai and other religions have admirable ideals. I don’t feel any particular need to be in nature although I am out there every day walking and appreciating its beauty. I don’t feel like a mystic but many of my choices seem to point that way if I understood your book correctly. Since I got a lot out of reading other people’s stories, I thought I would share mine.

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Thank you, thank you, PMD.  Your story does seems to fit the pattern, with your Rational Stage beginning sometime around when you read From Sand to Solid Ground.  And the stance you claim now does have elements – and does show traits -typical in post-critical faith: unity or connectedness, environmental awareness, desire to connect with others, compassion for the animals you would have eaten, were you not a vegan. I much appreciate your generosity in sharing – and your bravery in being the first to do so.

 


[1] Moorwood, Michael. From Sand to Solid Ground: Questions of Faith for Modern Catholics.  Crossroad Publishing Co. 2007.

[2] Lundberg, David C. Unifying Truths of the World’s Religions: Practical Principles for Living and Loving in Peace.  Heavenlight Press. 2010.

About Margaret Placentra Johnston

Author of Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind, Margaret Placentra Johnston writes in hope of challenging both religious believers and nonbelievers to consider a broader perspective.

A practicing Optometrist, Margaret also loves helping people see better in the physical world. She lives in Virginia with her husband and has two grown sons.


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