About Me and Why I Wrote this Book...
This book started out to be an intimate letter to my 31 nieces and nephews. I had just recently learned that I had prostate cancer. My love would not let me die before trying to help my large family avoid some of the more serious errors of my earlier ways. So I began to write to that large family to share some of the important lessons I had learned over seven decades.
After starting the family letter, I learned that evidently my cancer was not an aggressive type and that my death was not nearly as imminent as I had thought. With a great sigh of relief, I continued to write for my family. But now I had time to write a more complete letter. And since I was writing such a long letter, why not direct it to friends and neighbors also. After all, during the eleven years when I was a young Catholic priest, I had influenced friends and neighbors as well as family. My eleven years of preachings and teachings were sincerely those of the Roman Catholic Church.
Since I believed sincerely, I taught effectively. Many listened and learned from me the same lessons that were handed down through priests and family belief systems for centuries. Many credulous Catholics believed what I taught simply because I was a priest, simply on the authority they attributed to me as a man of God. Now that is truly cheap power!
So a lot of repair work needed to be done.
It was not any sense of guilt that drove me to undo the fallacies and superstitions that I had taught so effectively as a naïve young priest; it was more a sense of responsibility for mopping up after my earlier mistakes. Then as the book developed, it became a joyful sense of sharing that drove me to develop my message for all the planetary neighbors.
I almost titled this work The Book of Tolerance; it’s easier to become tolerant of different belief systems when we realize how and why different individuals develop, learn and unlearn at different rates---same for different ethnic groups, cultures and nationalities. After all, in spite of very extensive education, I was in my thirties before I had unlearned enough of childhood inputs to be comfortable continuing my upward journey to freedom from guilt. It’s not always easy to let knowledge replace the prejudices of faith and superstition.
This little book, Out of God's Closet: This Priest Psychologist Choose Friendly Atheism, is for modern doubters of ancient truths, not for the We-Are-Right crowd. The book first reveals how a priest found true love without guilt. Then it shows the modern questioner how s/he can enjoy shucking guilt and self-doubt. The humor is quite earthy at times, but it makes the points. (By the way do you know how many chickens a hungry pro-lifer eats with his morning ham and toast?)
After dealing briefly with the author’s personal journey from faithful priest to atheist psychologist, the book shows modern doubters how to enjoy his/her own exciting journey from superstitious credulity to selfless maturity. As the reader gets free of traditional guilt-based shackles he can stand on the shoulders of giant scientific thinkers to see much farther than grandma and grandpa could see. This improved knowledge crowds out old credulity-based superstitions. This, in turn, leads to truly enlightened selfishness that actually looks like selfless generosity. Richer family life and better neighbor relations result without customary sectarian divisions and traditional prejudices.
For the questioning reader this book will be a true delight. It literally sparkles with humor. It shows the pragmatism of the farmer’s son, the organized thinking of the former philosopher and the deep insights of the experienced psychologist. The book shows the reader how to help significant others progress and how those significant others are then more likely to help the reader progress. So a truly virtuous cycle of neighborly caring expands to make the real or natural world a more joyful place to live a naturally exuberant life. This happy situation is much more likely when there are no supernatural or sectarian axes to grind.
Out of God's Closet: This Priest Psychologist Chooses Friendly Atheism
-Stephen Frederick Uhl, S.T.L., Ph.D.
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