TATTOOS ON THE HEART

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The book Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle is a story about “the power of boundless compassion” and it caught my attention .  I liked it as soon as I read the first page because it is a true story of a helper in our society.  Sometimes it seems like too many people in the United States look out for themselves but this man is so much for other people.  It is important to be reminded and to see stories of caring for one another.  It is important to see stories of love without judgement.  He does not care about the labels of addiction, poverty and gangs.  He sees the ones in most need as brother and sister to be respected and loved.

This is a chapter on God, I guess. Truth be told,the whole book is. Not much in my life makes any sense outside of God…. I am helpless to explain why anyone world accompany those on the margins were it not for some anchored belief that the Ground of all being thought this was a good idea.

page 21 About God, I Guess

Many say religion divides people. For those who act on what they say they believe; their understanding of God provides strength and healing.  Freedom of religion in America can lead to a greater good.

The relationships in this book are made through service.  Religion gives people a bigger language for understanding each other because it teaches them how to serve. The first amendment of the USA  is freedom of religions. This freedom opens the door to be good citizens and helps people to form good personality.

Greg talks about offering opportunities, not to people who need help but to those who want it. What difference do you think this makes?

He gives the people salvation from the death  and violence and hate of gangs. Gregory Boyle gives them a choice.  It is up to them if they decide to take it but he teaches people how to make good choices by giving them good choices .

Greg writes,”kinship (is) not serving the other, but being one with the other. Jesus was not ‘a man for others’;he was one with them.” how are the two different, and how does Greg integrate this distinction into his work?

He makes kinships by being with the gang members. He has the idea that one God makes all people and so all people have the possibility of being like family.  His growth mindset can change all for better.  People need goodness; not more gangs.  His work is good- not bad work. Because of him and the lives he touches there is a change for the good. Religion is meant to unite and not divide.

The Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world.

A native Angeleno, Father Boyle entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1972 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1984.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from Gonzaga University, a master’s degree in English from Loyola Marymount University, a Master of Divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology, and a Master of Sacred Theology degree from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

After ordination, Father Boyle spent a year living and working with Christian base communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia.  In 1986, he was appointed pastor of Dolores Mission Church in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East LA.  At the time, Dolores Mission was the poorest Catholic parish in the city, located between two large public housing projects with the highest concentration of gang activity in Los Angeles. He witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence on his community during what he has called “the decade of death” that began in the late 1980’s. In the face of law enforcement and criminal justice tactics and policies of suppression and mass incarceration as the means to end gang violence, Father Boyle and parish and community members adopted what was a radical approach at the time: treating gang members as human beings.

By 1988, having buried an ever growing number of young people killed in gang violence, Father Boyle and parish and community members sought to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth by developing positive opportunities for them, including establishing an alternative school and day care program, and seeking out legitimate employment.  They called this initial effort Jobs for a Future.  “Gang violence is about a lethal absence of hope,” Father Boyle has said.  “Nobody has ever met a hopeful kid who joined a gang.”

In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Jobs for a Future and Proyecto Pastoral, a community-organizing project begun at Dolores Mission, launched their first social enterprise business in an abandoned bakery that Hollywood producer Ray Stark helped them purchase.  They called it Homeboy Bakery.

 

When his term as pastor ended later in 1992, Father Boyle spent his tertianship (the final year of Jesuit formation) serving as a chaplain at the Islas Marias Federal Penal Colony in Mexico and at Folsom State Prison.

In the ensuing years after his return to Jobs for a Future in 1993, the success of Homeboy Bakery created the groundwork for additional social enterprise businesses, leading Jobs for a Future in 2001 to become an independent nonprofit organization, Homeboy Industries.

 

 

 

“No daylight to separate us.
Only kinship. Inching ourselves closer to creating a community of kinship such that God might recognize it. Soon we imagine, with God, this circle of compassion. Then we imagine no one standing outside of that circle, moving ourselves closer to the margins so that the margins themselves will be erased. We stand there with those whose dignity has been denied. We locate ourselves with the poor and the powerless and the voiceless. At the edges, we join the easily despised and the readily left out. We stand with the demonized so that the demonizing will stop. We situate ourselves right next to the disposable so that the day will come when we stop throwing people away.”
Gregory J. Boyle, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion