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Browsing Tag: faith

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.

Monsters, Monsters Everywhere–And Only Love Can Scare Them

I got news last week that a relative of mine, one of my mother’s cousins, Alice, had passed away. Her funeral was this past Saturday in Broomall, Pennsylvania. My in-laws were coming up from Baltimore to visit us the same day, but I snuck out to the service, a drive of about two hours each way, because, well, it was Alice. And it was a funeral. I’m big on showing up to funerals. Always have been. I just…we need to show up. So I try to. But here’s the thing about Alice. She was the kind of person you wanted in your life, even if it was as remotely as she was in mine. She was 61 when she died, but with the mind of a child, someone in the age range of eight years to 12. What this meant for her family–as accounted by her immediate family at the funeral, as known by me and everyone who’d ever had the chance to interact with her–was that she saw life in the absolute best possible way. Alice was treasured. Treasured. She was happy, positive. She…

Onward to Victory Sounds Kind of Easy After All

We took our kids to South Bend, Indiana this weekend to see Notre Dame (go Irish!) play Navy.  It’s always a good game to take kids–respect! honor! tradition! a flyover!–but it’s also an incredibly intense weekend: we drive out early on Friday from our home here in Pennsylvania, pack in some activities that night, spend most of the day Saturday on the go, and then try to pack in a bit more before we drive home Sunday. We’ve never done it with all three children before. We would be traveling with my mom, and meeting up with my brother and sister-in-law, who were driving in from Wisconsin. People thought we were nuts. I’m not even going to wager a guess as to what my bro and his wife were bracing themselves for. Thank God for sibling love. 10.13.15. Notre Dame. flyover. MOV And even though we knew we were supposed to be nuts, we had absolutely no expectations going into this trip: on one hand, the kids have become really good travelers (well, SK and Quinn have always been, and Cian suddenly has done…