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Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical…
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Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship (edition 2018)

by Gregory Boyle (Author)

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18913126,078 (4.36)None
"In a moving example of unconditional love in difficult times, the Jesuit priest and bestselling author of Tattoos on the Heart, Gregory Boyle, shares what three decades of working with gang members in Los Angeles has taught him about faith, compassion, and the enduring power of kinship. In his first book, ... Gregory Boyle introduced us to Homeboy Industries, the largest gang-intervention program in the world. Critics hailed that book as an 'astounding literary and spiritual feat' (Publishers Weekly) that is 'destined to become a classic of both urban reportage and contemporary spirituality' (Los Angeles Times). Now, after the successful expansion of Homeboy Industries, Boyle returns with Barking to the Choir to reveal how compassion is transforming the lives of gang members. In a nation deeply divided and plagued by poverty and violence, Barking to the Choir offers a snapshot into the challenges and joys of life on the margins. Sergio, arrested at nine, in a gang by twelve, and serving time shortly thereafter, now works with the substance-abuse team at Homeboy to help others find sobriety. Jamal, abandoned by his family when he tried to attend school at age seven, gradually finds forgiveness for his schizophrenic mother. New father Cuco, who never knew his own dad, thinks of a daily adventure on which to take his four-year-old son. These former gang members uplift the soul and reveal how bright life can be when filled with unconditional love and kindness. This book is guaranteed to shake up our ideas about God and about people with a glimpse at a world defined by more compassion and fewer barriers. Gently and humorously, Barking to the Choir invites us to find kinship with one another and reconvinces us all of our own goodness."--Dust jacket flaps.… (more)
Member:froghollowbooks
Title:Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship
Authors:Gregory Boyle (Author)
Info:Simon & Schuster (2018), Edition: Reprint, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
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Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship by Gregory Boyle

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Our parish, St. Joseph's Episcopal Church, read this books as part of its book club. It's a remarkable story Father Greg Boyle and his indomitable work with gangs in central and eastern Los Angeles. Boyle is a Jesuit and pastor of the Dolores Mission Roman Catholic Church. His mission is to help point the direction of gang members away from crime by providing alternatives. Boyle loves this work. It is a tragedy that he has buried 220 gang members over the course of 2-3 decades.
Many of our Episcopal parish in Durham, NC, found it to be an affecting story and were glad that they red it. One gets the feeling that the situation of gang violence is worse than in New York where I worked for 20 years. ( )
  vpfluke | Oct 17, 2022 |
This is the second book I've read by "G" (Jesuit priest Gregory Boyle) and it was just as good as his first, Tattoos on the Heart, which you don't need to read before reading this one. But if you like this one (and of course you will) you'll most definitely be searching out Tattoos when you finish this. I especially liked that at the beginning Father Greg says he isn't going to repeat any of the stories from the first book, which can make a memoir sequel disappointingly dull. You won't be disappointed with this book at all - it is definitely not dull.

In 1988 Father Greg founded Homeboy Industries in Southern CA, now the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world. This book is a moving example of unconditional love and filled with anecdotes written by Father Greg describing his conversations and experiences with current and former gang members, their families, and the (often miraculous) changes that take place in their lives. Father Greg is Catholic, but refers to various belief systems to support the truth and transformation he witnesses in these young people. He shares what working with gang members has taught him about faith, compassion, and the enduring power of kinship. Barking is not just a book where you read about former gang members and their lives, but it's a book that will alter your thinking, and your attitude towards others. This book can't help but make a change in your life.

As the publisher notes, "This book is guaranteed to shake up our ideas about God and about people with a glimpse at a world defined by more compassion and fewer barriers." This is a heartwarming, entertaining, sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, very special book that would make a great gift as well as a wonderful book club read. I highly recommend it. ( )
  PhyllisReads | Jul 4, 2021 |
I find that I can only review a book like this is by telling a story of my own and not by quoting or analyzing, or explaining what I want from Life and wife and why sometimes books can be a little random like life and not a perfect chew toy for the mind. There is a thing as being too abstract and wanting too much abstraction.

A little over a year ago, the Christmas before Covid hit America I was volunteering at a soup kitchen washing dishes irritably. I was irritated by the radio, which is an annoying thing. I was irritated because I didn’t get to be in silence or listen to religious Christmas music but instead I had to struggle through listening to Michael Jackson and all the rest. What really bothered me was that the top 40 stuff isn’t abnegating enough and so I wasn’t really being allowed to be as selfless as I wanted to be. (Chew on my idiocy for a moment.) I wrote a long thing in my head as I was washing dishes about Dora Spenlow and Agnes Wickfield, and although it’s not Agnes’ fault my new religious Victorianism, where I had to be allowed to be as selfless as I wanted to be, and be surrounded by other people who were the same, was only slightly better or different if at all from the romantic Victorianism I had in younger days. Back then I had to be the perfect husband, even though I wasn’t in a relationship, so I could have the perfect wife and the perfect pleasure and never be criticized by anyone ever again and all the rest of it and be surrounded by other people who are exactly the same....

Anyway if you read the book you’ll see what Boyle has that I didn’t have and maybe get an idea about what not being selfish and not consigning people to the margins actually consists of.... There is certainly much more to this life that our little plans.

.... “.... and to have a lighter grasp on perfection.”

Well, ok....

.... (paraphrase) How mentally ill they would have to be to (commit that crime)! (Don’t try to punish them!)

I agree literally but I don’t apply it to my life when someone upsets me (over whatever I imagine that they said).

.... I suppose sometimes he reacts differently than I do to do-good-ism, but I guess it can devolve into patronizing people and it would be preferable to derive legitimate pleasure from helping one’s fellow.
  goosecap | Mar 20, 2021 |
I read this over three months as I found that I had to sit and soak in almost every chapter. Really beautiful, really challenging. Cannot recommend it enough. ( )
  RachellErnst | Jan 5, 2021 |
This is a book which changes style from Boyle’s previous book Tattoos. Rather than expounding on a few key themes, Boyle just condenses his style to rapid fire sayings and revelations from his time with his Black, White, and Brown former gangsters. This was a great idea and takes some authority to even attempt something like this. It’s not a completely new style from what had gone before but still one which from the narrative of story telling has been inverted. It works well if you understand that. This book is even better, in my opinion than the previous one (and Tattoos was already high caliber). Boyle says this book and his community of Homeboy Industries are aspirational. This was obvious to me but most books you might find in a bookstore under self-help, inspirational, biography, or religion are notorious for straying away from their book title or stated introductory aim. Most of the time they end up proof-texting, becoming exercises in apologetics, or worse flat-out triumphalist in tone. The library listing for Barking To The Choir is categorized by the publisher as “church work with juvenile delinquents” and “Christian life”. Both are accurate.
Boyle’s task is one of citing from all religious traditions and famous persons to gather as much agreement from the reading audience that what he says is sound from all spiritual directions, or as many as possible within the pacifist tradition. By doing this Boyle is as centrist theologically as to embrace as many people of good will as possible. This is also very flattering to the reader to see someone trying to connect with the truths of wise women and men down the centuries for a goal which is tangible, namely working together to help people heal emotionally and spiritually and thus add hope for a future world built on kindness expressed today.
Two last things about this very interesting book about life in Los Angeles (Homeboy Industries and Homegirl Café are in Chinatown right below a Metro station platform). Boyle speaks about an Irish priest (not he) who was helping Jackie Kennedy after the assassination of JFK. She was questioning where God was during the shots being fired from the Dallas School Book Depository. This was not known until that priest who had made notes of her “counseling sessions” became public when the priest’s papers were posthumously bequeathed to a university library and read by a researcher. This was not a good situation as you might imagine. Recording by notes or electronic means by priests is forbidden as this is always considered under the veil of the sacrament of confession thus forbidden to repeat anything said. Every priest is obliged under mortal sin to carry all private conversations in counseling or confession to his own grave. Therapists work under different codes and laws but priests are always instructed to not reveal names, sins, or even if a person ever expressed a desire to confess at all. Boyle does not spend much time with this scenario, thankfully.
The last thing to mention is that Boyle has become self-reflective and this has made his writing even more powerful. In this book we hear how people criticize his work, find fault with him personally, make anonymous accusations and even repeat what the former gangsters tease him about. He’s not defensive but also not in possession of limitless patience with contacts who seek him out to complain about something Boyle might only be tangentially associated with. This is very authentic and somewhat experienced by almost every priest currently working in Los Angeles. This is experienced with everyone who has a paying job in Los Angeles. No index, one photo on inside flap of dust jacket, no glossary of slang terms (some translated), 210 pp.
By skillfully keeping your attention, this is another very fast read. I’ve heard Boyle speak twice in person but never heard one of the Homeboy Inc. employees speak when he did. When I say I like this book, what I mean is that I would want to read more books by Catholics working at anything.. ( )
  sacredheart25 | Jan 16, 2020 |
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"In a moving example of unconditional love in difficult times, the Jesuit priest and bestselling author of Tattoos on the Heart, Gregory Boyle, shares what three decades of working with gang members in Los Angeles has taught him about faith, compassion, and the enduring power of kinship. In his first book, ... Gregory Boyle introduced us to Homeboy Industries, the largest gang-intervention program in the world. Critics hailed that book as an 'astounding literary and spiritual feat' (Publishers Weekly) that is 'destined to become a classic of both urban reportage and contemporary spirituality' (Los Angeles Times). Now, after the successful expansion of Homeboy Industries, Boyle returns with Barking to the Choir to reveal how compassion is transforming the lives of gang members. In a nation deeply divided and plagued by poverty and violence, Barking to the Choir offers a snapshot into the challenges and joys of life on the margins. Sergio, arrested at nine, in a gang by twelve, and serving time shortly thereafter, now works with the substance-abuse team at Homeboy to help others find sobriety. Jamal, abandoned by his family when he tried to attend school at age seven, gradually finds forgiveness for his schizophrenic mother. New father Cuco, who never knew his own dad, thinks of a daily adventure on which to take his four-year-old son. These former gang members uplift the soul and reveal how bright life can be when filled with unconditional love and kindness. This book is guaranteed to shake up our ideas about God and about people with a glimpse at a world defined by more compassion and fewer barriers. Gently and humorously, Barking to the Choir invites us to find kinship with one another and reconvinces us all of our own goodness."--Dust jacket flaps.

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Book description
Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries, shares some of his stories from his work helping to provide opportunities for gang members in Los Angeles. He urges his readers to consider standing with others, as well as for others, in kinship.
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Stand beside others. Listen to their stories and let the margins fade. (johnxlibris)

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