Spiritual Awakening, Growth, and Enlightenment/Expert Profile

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Margaret Placentra Johnston


I am particularly interested in answering questions about the stages of spiritual growth, faith development, religious stages. The term spiritual growth or spiritual development can have many different interpretations. In some cases, it refers to the ability to have para-normal or mystical experiences. Others use it to describe the ability to communicate with beings that are not present here on earth with us at this time, such as dead people or our own prior lifetimes. This is not where my knowledge and expertise lie. The type of spiritual growth questions I can address concern here and now issues about religious belief versus non-belief, the stages of religious development and spiritual development where spirituality is defined as living deeper than the surface things of life, knowing there is more to life than the latest new car, questioning the deeper meanings of our existence.

Experience in the area

For at least the past twenty years I have been a serious student of the various spiritual development theorists. The concept of spiritual growth occurring in stages throughout our lifetime is a vitally important factor that, if more widely known, could help decrease a lot of the religious intolerance and societal tensions we are putting up with today. My book of stories about real people growing beyond the need for traditional religion was published by Quest Books in October, 2012: Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind.


Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation(and many others unrelated to this topic.)


www.mpjauthor.com Faith Beyond Belief: Stories of Good People Who Left Their Church Behind.(Quest Books, October, 2012.) http://www.exploring-spiritual-development.com http://www.huffingtonpost.com/margaret-placentra-johnston/


Four college degrees, including an undergraduate degree from the Catholic University of America where required theology and philosophy courses formed the equivalent of a college minor.

Awards and Honors

GOLD WINNER of the 2013 Nautilus Book Award in Religion/Spirituality.

What do you still hope to achieve/learn in this field?

I hope, through my writings - especially my book - to spread awareness of the spritual development stages to society. I feel that doing so should serve to decrease a lot of the arrogance and intolerance that surrounds religion today.

Something interesting about this subject that others may not know:

There are at least fourteen spiritual development theorists who describe a path of spiritual development leading a person beyond immature literal belief to a mature form of faith that is not so much about the beliefs. This level of faith is similar in all major religions, once you get past the fact that all use different terminology.

Something controversial or provocative about this subject

Many people are not willing to accept that these spiritual development stages exist because they find it painful to consider their current beliefs may not be the only "right" ones. More on this topic on my website: www.exploring-spiritual-development.com

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    K = Knowledgeability    C = Clarity of Response    P = Politeness
sam07/31/16101010thanks for the insights!
Lisa04/04/15101010Wow! Thank you so much! You have .....
Alison02/20/15101010Thank You. :)
Ale07/19/14101010Thank you for your reply. I really .....
Ronda10/03/13101010Thank you for your help. I have .....

Recent Answers from Margaret Placentra Johnston

2016-07-31 query on karma:

Hi Sam. I wish I could give you an exact answer to your question, but you have hit on one of the great mysteries of our existence. First of all, you are presuming that karma and reincarnation are facts

2015-02-20 Feeling lost...:

Dear Alison,     Well, I certainly enjoyed your website and reading your story. I can see you are quite artistic, and also have a flair for motivational speaking. I wish you happiness and fulfillment in

2015-02-18 Feeling lost...:

Hi Alison,     I am sorry you are feeling what sounds to me like frustration and despair. I don't have exact answers for you, but I may be able to share some perspective for you to consider.     First

2015-01-20 Growth, feeling strange.:

Dear Lauren,     Thanks so much for your question. After giving it some thought, I fear I don't know near enough about you to answer it directly, but let me talk about some of the issues you raise.   

2014-07-14 How to fix this:

Dear Ale,     Thanks so much for your question. I hope your health outlook remains as positive as you describe it being now.     I do believe that life crises (health and other types) can strengthen us


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