"The kind of spiritual vision we discuss here invites a person to involve himself fully in the inevitable mysteries of our existence."

Author Johnston has drawn wisdom from many sources to construct her thesis that religion as usually understood needs to move beyond the level of the lawless, beyond the generally accepted levels of the faithful and the rational, and enter the realms of the universal. A practicing optometrist, she begins by explaining in simple terms, with illustrations, the medical term “myopia,” in which the physical vista is limited to objects close to the viewer. These objects naturally tend to become a primary focus, while things in the farther distance are blurry and hard to comprehend. In the same way, persons devoted to a single religion, or none, will tend to see the world in terms of one’s personal ego, or one’s fixed, highly regulated, and closely held beliefs.

Johnston takes a sweeping look at world history, demonstrating how, with modernity and then the development of complex technology, life has changed considerably for most people; the once-prevalent phone booth offers an example. Early Christians lived in a restricted realm where the elite ruled, and peasants could be eliminated if they caused any bother. Jesus offered hope; his words and those of his followers gradually became codified. The faithfulness quotient of Christianity, like that of other world religions, began to take refuge in exclusivity and emotionality. The counter to the emotional approach came with the scientific age and the birth of rationalism as a way of perceiving spirituality. But even the rational perspective, which offers the comfort of fact, is being uprooted as technology leaps ahead at lightning speed. In general, a holistic viewpoint is needed—what Johnston calls spiritual maturity or emmetropia (normal, or perfect, vision). Those who begin to look at the larger picture will gradually lose their spiritual myopia, Johnston believes, and “develop an unshakable trust that the big story in the universe is Goodness.”

Johnston has written on similar spiritual topics in an earlier work, Faith Beyond Belief. Her concentration here remains focused on a broader understanding of the concept of God as a universal and all-pervading force that leads us to the realization that all religions have the same basis, and all should be included in our consideration of spiritual reality. Her writing is didactic, and her work is copiously footnoted, but it also exudes a freshness and frankness that should serve to make her ideas accessible to the ordinary reader whom she wishes to reach. She takes pains to extol the validity of a multitude of religious approaches, from the most devout to the most open and unstructured. This book, she stresses, is not for the advanced seeker, but more for the average, conventional person who might be looking for an expansion of his or her current thinking to include “post-conventional” ideas.

Johnston does not consider herself a leader but merely someone whose ideas can evoke deeper exploration. She states that much of the inspiration for this work seemed to come as a message from a source outside herself, citing that experience as a way in which the force that is called God can manifest in anyone’s life. The author’s scientific credentials and her proven ability to logically organize a wide range of materials into a step-by-step, engaging text will no doubt garner the kind of thoughtful readership she hopes for. Her intention as a writer is positive, and her thesis is as clear as the vision—physical, mental, and spiritual—that she seeks to promote and improve.

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