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Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless…

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

by Gregory Boyle

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In this book, Jesuit Priest, Gregory Boyle, describes his work with L.A. gang members over the past 25 or so years. Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries, an organization which helps gang members find gainful employment, removes tattoos, etc. The book is chalked full of anecdotes about gang members getting out of gangs, or getting killed, or both. This book is at times heartbreaking and at times humorous.

It is Boyle's experience of working among the poor in South America which sets the trajectory of his life. He wants to continue to find Jesus among the little and the least. And he does. In Boyle's description, the 'Homies' often provide a window into the heart of God.

This book is worth reading, but it is not a quick read. I found it wasn't one of those, 'can't put it down' kind of books. Rather it was a 'I have to put it down and process this' kind of book. ( )
  Jamichuk | May 22, 2017 |

Fr. Boyle worked and lived in the barrios of East Los Angeles and spent his life working with gang members. While he states at the beginning that his book isn't a "how to" book to solve the gang problem, his life of compassion illustrates that the only way to reach lives destroyed by shame, poverty and violence is to love them, see them through God's eyes, and help them recognize their own worth. Some of the stories made me laugh, some left me heartbroken, and all challenged me to see beyond people's exteriors. At one point he speaks of potential donors to "Homeboy Industries," the arm of his ministry that provides jobs, tattoo removal, and referral services. The donors want to contribute to programs that "work." Boyle understands that what he's doing won't eliminate gangs and their attendant heartbreak, but he's chosen to "stand" and let God do his work in his time. Among the many themes referenced in this book, this one had the biggest impact on me. Boyle just stayed there, kept loving, and kept showing gang members the love of God through his devotion. It's hard for us to "stand" while watching people contributing to their own downfall, but that willingness did change, and save, lives. I will never forget Fr. Boyle's book, or his homies. ( )
  LeslieHurd | Jan 11, 2017 |
I'm an avid reader; however, I must confess that I'm an even more enthusiastic book collector. My shelves contain hundreds of books that I've yet to read or that I've only read in snippets. And, sometimes, I find myself upset as I read through a book that I waited so long to get to it. "Tattoos on the Heart" is one such book.

I suppose the best description of the book is "memoir," but that designation gives you no real indication of its power. Father Boyle's stories of his work with Homeboy Industries, an organization that works with gangs in Los Angeles is no simple collection of "feel good" stories. It presents, in vivid detail, what Switchfoot once called a "new way to be human."

Father Boyle's touch is sure but light. The book makes you cry and laugh in equal measure, all the while demonstrating the common humanity that unites us all...the "kinship" that is at the root of who we are. He reminded me of something that is so easy to forget: Whatever else "sin" might be, it is an INTRUDER in human existence, a foreign object lodged in our character. And though it may shape much of human reality today, it is STILL an alien presence...and not the essence of who we are. No matter how degraded we become, there is always a piece of us, beyond the touch of any corruption, that retains the divine thumbprint, marks as God's own special creation with inestimable value.

The book isn't "preachy" or "forced." It's just stories of one man's journey into authentic humanness. And it weaves together the tragicomedy of our life together in a way that calls us each not just to BRING beauty to our world but, more profoundly, to recognize the beauty that has been there all along.

Just read it; then you'll understand. ( )
  Jared_Runck | Jan 2, 2016 |
This book added a whole new dimension on how to deal with "the other." Father Greg's answer? You just love them. ( )
  bohemianshell | Apr 25, 2014 |
This book was incredible to read. Father Gregory Boyle works with ex-gang members in LA. The book is filled with stories of his work. It's a touching and inspiring collection. ( )
  ariahfine | Feb 6, 2014 |
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This day . . . with me . . . paradise.
---Luke 23:43
To the Homies and the Homegirls
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I spent the summers of 1984 and 1985 as an associate pastor at Dolores Mission Church, the poorest parish in the Los Angeles archdiocese.
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Father Boyle started Homeboy Industries nearly 20 years ago, which has served members of more than half of the gangs in Los Angeles. This collection presents parables about kinship and the sacredness of life drawn from Boyle's years of working with gangs… (more)

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