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Browsing Tag: Catholic

Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship

From the publisher:

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, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, 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…

I really enjoyed Father Greg Boyle's first book, TATTOOS ON THE HEART, but it seems now that Boyle reread his own first manuscript and thought, "Nah. Hold my beer." BARKING TO THE CHOIR may very well be the best book I'll read in 2018, and it's only the first. Filled with anecdotes and personal insight, Father Boyle, a Jesuit priest in Los Angeles and one of my personal heroes, writes about the way reaching to the margins and building community truly helps us save ourselves. Boyle founded Homeboy Industries, the largest and most successful gang intervention, rehabilitation and reentry program in the country, and writes about his experiences with the people within the program with absolute grace, humility and humor. Boyle is funny, self-deprecating, and at times surprising, and delivers messages so fiercely and quickly that I found myself carrying a pencil with me as I read. By the end of my reading, the manuscript was so marked up with underlines and notes in the margins it looked like a college textbook. This is a good thing. Boyle speaks of belonging to each other, of the importance of reaching beyond ourselves, and of getting with the "original program" of Christianity as recently urged by Pope Francis. But this isn't a book only for Christians, Catholic or otherwise. He references the Buddha, the Dalai Lama, and countless other leaders as examples of how the "original program" (i.e., "we belong to each other") is a universal truth. His essays bring the realities of extreme poverty, the cycles of abuse, and the reality of desperation into everyday life through the words of the gang members he mentors. TATTOOS ON THE HEART was good. But BARKING TO THE CHOIR may be the book I reread to begin each new year. Read this book. I do not say this lightly: it may very well change the way you live your life.

Well, I Know What’s Right: Las Vegas and Ethics and Being a You Liberal

My little guy is sitting beside me, drawing, and his tongue is sticking out of his mouth in concentration. “Mom?” He looks up from his coloring sheet, one covered with superheroes and villains. “Why is Ironman called that when he doesn’t do any ironing?” I answer him, trying not to laugh, and notice that his eyes look green today. They reflect the dinosaurs marching across his pajamas. He was wearing them when we dropped the girls off at school, a little homebody who’s relieved to spend most of the day with me, away from the rest of the world. Superheroes have powers, but what about us? What are ours? I try to keep telling myself that the best way to start changing the world–because yes, we need to, and no, we’re not overthinking it–is to begin with my own family. Show each person in this house unconditional love. Grant a little mercy and grace more often. Make each kid and adult feel like he’s someone good, someone worthy, someone capable. And then somebody smears toothpaste all over the bathroom mirror and I lose my…

Get the Message, Already

“Hey,” I said to David on Saturday. “Let’s try to go to the 9:45 mass tomorrow so we can have the rest of the day to ourselves, okay?” “You think you can do that?” he asked. “Um, yeah,” I said. I was super sweet about it. Totally sweet. Not defensive at all. “Of course. It’s 9:45. We’re up three hours before that most days anyway. Why wouldn’t I possibly be ready?”  Fast forward to Sunday morning. I slept in (because, weekend), then scrolled through my phone for a bit with my coffee while Cian played with a Milennium Falcon on the bed beside me, right up until the moment I remembered I had to prep the chili for the crock pot or we’d be eating leftover pizza for dinner. Fifteen minutes later, in the middle of the chopping of the onions, I decided that it’d also be a good idea to also prep the rest of the ingredients for the week’s dinners. It was right around 9:30 when David approached me and said…