This I Believe

Stephen - Oro Valley, Arizona
Entered on December 24, 2006
Age Group: 65+

Former Priest Shows How To Enjoy Life Without Guilt

A family psychologist who had been a Catholic priest writes a book to show all who doubt some of the eternal truths of childhood how to trade guilt for joy.

Dr. Stephen Uhl kicks the stuffiness out of scholarship in his book, Imagine No Superstition: The Power To Enjoy Life With No Guilt, No Shame, No Blame. The sparkling humor is sometimes vulgar, but it is always on point in showing modern men and women the path from childish superstition, fear and guilt to the secure, joyful and profitable practice of the Golden Rule.

The book started out as an intimate letter to Dr. Uhl’s 31 nieces and nephews right after he learned he had prostate cancer. He stated, “My love would not let me die before trying to help my large family avoid many 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.”

The cancer turned out to be a non-aggressive localized cancer, so Uhl decided he had time to expand the letter and address the little book to a much wider audience. “After all,” said Uhl, “during the eleven years when I was a young Catholic priest, I had influenced friends and neighbors as well as family. I had believed sincerely, so I had taught effectively the same lessons that were handed down through priests and family traditions for centuries. So a lot of repair work needed to be done.”

It was not any sense of guilt that drove Dr. Uhl to try to undo a lot of the work of a naïve young priest. He had sincerely followed his conscience, so there was no guilt. Rather it was a sense of responsibility for mopping up after earlier mistakes. Then as the book developed, a joyful sense of sharing drove the author to develop his message for all the planetary neighbors.

This work was almost titled The Book of Tolerance. While writing it, the author realized that, even with his extensive education, he had gotten into his 30’s before unlearning some traditional lessons of childhood. “It’s much 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,” Dr. Uhl explained. “It’s not easy to let new knowledge replace the ingrained, old prejudices of childhood faith and superstition.”