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Out of God's Closet: This Priest Psychologist Chooses Friendly Atheism Paperback – May 31, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Golden Rule Publishers (May 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979316936
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979316937
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,152,263 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Susanna Hutcheson TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 13, 2010
Let me first say that the author has written one book but published it under a number of different titles. Even the audio book is this book under a different title. I find this somewhat disingenuous. So beware that any book you buy under this author's name will likely be this book.

Aside from sticking in some unnecessary Latin, which few people will understand or care about and which sounds and reads pretentious, this is a well-written, very intelligent book by a former priest turned agnostic turned atheist. He takes us through each step of his evolution. This is not a scholarly treatise nor does it pretend to be. It is a book of reason. In other words, you're invited to use your own reason, logic, to overcome the useless fear and guilt that is caused by religion --- all religions.

We learn the sadness, sickness, of giving up the happiness of the one and only life we have for a great, grand, wonderful afterlife that will never be.

You'll enjoy this book and you'll learn a lot from it. If you're a rehabilitating believer in the superstitious, you'll find this little book a real help.

Highly recommended.

-- Susanna K. Hutcheson
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By B. Centre on September 19, 2009
As I read Dr. Uhl's account of his escape from religious superstition to his embracing of reality and science I couldn't help but think "there but for the grace of secular parents go I." Having never had to make that journey myself, I found his experience fascinating.

Indoctrinated into Catholicism as a child, the product of a devoutly religious family, his entry into the priesthood was pre-determined for him. Unquestioning as a child and young man, a by-product of his religious immersion, the author takes us on a journey that leads from complete acceptance, to challenging his own beliefs, through to rejection of fable and acceptance of reality.

Included in his personal story are observations on the negative aspects of religion; the collective guilt imposed by Christianity,the intolerance inherent with it's doctrine, the suppression of science and personal freedoms, the dangers of religious extremism of any flavor.

One cannot escape the feeling that Dr. Uhl's writing is a sort of penance for his priestly promulgating of the myth of supernaturalism by transmitting it to the credulous -- imposing it on others as it was imposed upon him. If that is his intent he acquits himself well. While it is a fascinating read for those of us who have never had devotion to myth thrust upon us, it is clearly intended as an out stretched hand to theists. It's an appeal to logic to those believers who hold doubts and may be torn between the self-realization and intellectual freedom of reason and modernity; or lifelong dependence on the delusion and self-limiting influence that is religion.

With a blend of humor, avuncular advise, and hard hitting reality, Out of God's Closet is an eye opening appeal to reason.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By G. Ash-porter on December 9, 2009
Do NOT buy this book if you already Bought Stephen Uhl's 'Imagine No Superstition'. This is that book renamed Gggggrrrrr. I purchased it and wasted my money when I found I had already read it 2 years ago under the other title. So for reviews see under 'Imagine No Superstition. Yes it is a good book, but I have been conned. You have even paired it with the other title!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By W. Cooper on January 15, 2010
I enjoyed reading Stephen Uhl's book. The humor throughout added moments of welcome relief from his serious topic. His metamorphosis from believing priest to secular atheist moved me. How difficult and sad it must have been for him to lose the friendship of so many of his colleagues in the church and to face a family whose expectations he disappointed!

As one who fell victim to the superstitious training of Presbyterian ministers during my childhood, enough so that the thought of rejecting God as a teenager gave me sharp pangs of guilt, akin to physical pain, I understand how difficult his "conversion" must have been. I would describe his book as a personal statement of creed and a plea to non-believers to consider atheism, rather than as an argument to convince them to shed their superstitions. While he presents an argument or two for non-belief in God, nothing in the book, other than his avowal that non-belief is a viable philosophical position to take, would be likely to convince a person to shed his or her religious beliefs.

As such, the book is extremely valuable--the community of non-believers must confidently express again and again their personal sense of fulfillment and contentment in living without God. The 80% and more of the American population that does hold religious beliefs must come to see that atheists don't have horns growing from their foreheads; they do good works; they're responsible and desirable citizens; and they stand for traditional American values of freedom, democracy, and self--reliance. His book does that. I felt happily that I got to know him through it. Having no evidence to the contrary, I suspect that many non-believers would feel the same: Steven Frederick Uhl seems like a decent man, and he's an atheist!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sarah Trachtenberg on March 26, 2010
One of the book's best features is its jokes. I told some of these at the bar after a Christopher Hitchens debate LOL. I especially liked a writer's open letter to Jerry Falwell, pointing out the literal following of Leviticus.
There seem to be a lot of clergy members who "convert" to atheism. Does it ever happen that atheists become religious? If not, that should tell us something.
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