Out of God's Closet: This Priest Psychologist Chooses Friendly Atheism--A review by Kirkus Discoveries -- An exploration of the good, the bad and the ugly of religion, from an ex-priest s point of view. Uhl shares his transition from Catholicism to secular humanism with much wit and authority. A former priest, he s not afraid of deconstructing much-treasured beliefs and systems that religions adhere to. The author questions how religion harms a society rather than helps it, and also poses a loaded query to people of faith if one has faith does it mean losing control of one s reason? Uhl answers this question and others, poring over bloody biblical events performed in the name of God. He also declares that the repetition of prayer and memorization of biblical verses can dull one s thinking thus, religion can contribute to mental laziness. The author explores how religious guilt can undermine self-confidence, especially when it comes to children, who aren t equipped to process such lofty ideas. Eventually these children end up feeling guilty about needing God s grace and may end up avoiding any real responsibility. Uhl tells his story, which focuses on how religion can interfere with personal happiness, with clarity. He combines biblical story, personal anecdote and empirical data in such a way that he demands to be taken seriously. The author shares from his personal experience with such honesty that the book is a breath of fresh air in a religious culture otherwise saturated with fundamentalism. His analysis on the Bush administration s toxic combination of patriotism and God is a logical response crying out for a reasonable America a country without extremism. Though Uhl is full of conviction, his writing is never preachy, and his manner of thinking neither cynical nor lofty. Most importantly, he encourages readers to think for themselves. A profound conversion story told with clarity, insight and wit. --Kirkus Discoveries --Kirkus Discoveries
Review of Stephen F. Uhl s Out of God's Closet:This Priest Psychologist Chooses Friendly Atheism (Golden Rule Publishers, 2><009, Oro Valley, Arizona, ISBN 978-0-9793169-3-7) Reviewed by Philip E. Johnson, Ph.D. Simple and Profound Stephen Uhl's book is both profound and simple. Profound in that it deals with some of the most important concepts facing the world today; simple in that is clear and persuasive. Dr. Uhl is able to speak from an unusual perspective. He is a former Roman Catholic Priest, and has moved very carefully and thoughtfully to an agnostic/atheist position. His insights are remarkable, and many of us who are increasingly doubtful about the existence of the supernatural, and worried about the effects of a belief in the supernatural, will find the book a very solid grounding for our currently vague concerns. An excellent and thoughtful exposition of important and even crucial ideas. Philip E. Johnson, Ph.D., Author, Educator --Dr. Philip Johnson, Author, Educator --Dr. Philip Johnson, Author, Educator
Review of Stephen Frederick Uhl, Out of God s Closet: This Priest Psychologist Chooses Friendly Atheism (Oro Valley, AZ: Golden Rule Publishers, 2009) ISBN 9780979316937. A different title for this fine little book might have been, The Therapy of Belief. For that title would have been ambiguous and perhaps attracted readers who need therapy done on their beliefs that might mistake this book for a treatise on how their beliefs are therapeutic for what is wrong with them. Dr. Uhl, an experienced psychologist, had to come to terms with what his former profession as a Roman Catholic priest may have done to people: instill in them shame for their normal urges, a sense of guilt for being an inquisitive human, and a constant readiness to self-blame arising out of the presumption that weekly confession is necessary because of our sinfulness. He left the clergy to become a psychotherapist, and then became an author in order to try to repair old errors. In part the book is something of an autobiography, in that it traces Uhl s development through priesthood, through a period of increasing doubt and internal conflict, and out of the priesthood to a professional life as an atheistic psychologist. Having been on both sides of the belief fence, Uhl undertakes to help bring believers, doubters and non-believers to better understand one another and become united in their common humanity. The work is punctuated with humor, carefully chosen to illustrate how we have differing perceptions. In fact, the jokes are so appropriate, it almost seems as if the text were written to identify the serious point of the jokes. Uhl s book is incredibly timely. We have just learned of Sister Theresa s doubts that tormented her all during her life as a nun. New York Times Magazine carried a feature article that probes the reasons why the majority of humans are what we would regard as religious fanatics. A plethora of books have recently appeared, denouncing religious belief and believers as delusional fools. Uhl s book stands out from these others as respectful, as offering a therapeutic analysis of how one man came to regard his profoundly held commitment to the religious life as mistaken, and how he acted on that judgment. Uhl does not prescribe for others, but he does show how various forms of religious belief make for a life beset with guilt, shame, and blame. Uhl recognizes that working through the tangle of beliefs, attitudes, and feelings that are evoked by religion is a difficult and arduous process, and he offers patience and understanding at every stumbling point. In this way, Out of God s Closet is a gentle, respectful, understanding guide to a level of self-knowledge that few ever attain. Richard T. Hull, Ph.D., Executive Director Text and Academic Authors Association, --Text and Academic Authors Association
About the Author
STEPHEN UHL, Ph.D. Doctor Stephen Uhl was a Benedictine monk for 17 years and a Roman Catholic priest for 11 years before becoming a psychologist. He had been destined by his mother to become a priest. After years of sincere and devoted priestly service, deep meditation, extensive consultation and a near-fatal accident, he discovered that he no longer believed the church teachings. So, to be true to himself and to the great chagrin of his large Catholic family, he left the monastery, the church and the priesthood. Dr. Uhl earned his Ph.D. at Loyola University of Chicago. He enjoyed a thriving private practice of psychology. It was during the productive years in his psychologist’s office that he more deeply and more practically realized the very destructive effects of guilt. Seeing that so much guilt was based in superstition and faulty religious beliefs, he recently wrote the exciting and insightful little book, Out of God's Closet: This Priest Chooses Friendly Atheism. Dr. Uhl’s broad and deep academic background equips him well to deal with the most important building blocks of human happiness. Before earning the Ph.D. in psychology, he earned the license to teach theology in pontifical universities, achieved a masters degree in the teaching of mathematics, and was licensed as a parent and teacher effectiveness trainer. During his years of psychological practice, he attained membership in The American Psychological Association, American Orthopsychiatric Association, and American Society of Clinical Hypnosis. He became a Preferred Provider of General Psychological Services, Washington, D.C., was admitted as a Fellow in The American Orthopsychiatric Association, and in 1992 was admitted to Who’s Who Among Human Services Professionals. All this rich academic background, coupled with the common sense of a farmer’s son and a great sense of humor, contributes richly to his little book, Out of God's Closet. Reviewers have called it the work of genius, simple and profound, easy to read, deeply insightful and outrageously funny. The book reflects the author’s journey from superstition to the joyful practice of a modified Golden Rule while showing other doubters of “eternal truths of childhood" how to enjoy a rich and friendly planetary life without guilt.