Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Readin': Tatoos on the Heart

Fr. Greg Boyle has written an incredible book. It has been a while since a reading a book has affected me so often. I found myself tearing up over and over again reading the stories of his experiences in the Los Angeles projects.

Boyle has been a Jesuit priest for 25 years and has spent most of his time in and around the same parish in L A situated between two housing projects, home to many of the gangs. He started an organization called Homeboy Industries whose motto is, "Nothing stops a bullet like a job." The organization gives jobs to as many gang related individuals as they can and helps them up and out.

The book, subtitled The Power of Boundless Compassion, is astonishing. In it, Fr. Boyle explains his ministry, and by extension, our call to ministry in eloquent, poetic terms. The book is truly inspiring and one whose impact will be with me for a long time. His theology is sound, compassionate and grounded. He illustrates his points with stories of his homies and the experiences he has had with them. I read it for the stories to begin with, but realized shortly after beginning that this was an intensely spiritual work. It should give anyone who is struggling with work in what may appear to be a hopeless situation the fortitude to persevere. I know it has inspired me to look at my life and what I do with it in a new way.

A life-changing book, if you let it.

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I'm currently 60 years old. I currently work as the learning management system specialist for American University of Madaba in Madaba, Jordan. I was originally certified as a high-school English teacher and taught school for 13 years (1 year of substituting, 1 year of 7th grade, 2 years of a combined 5th, 6th, 7th grade, 9 years of 8th grade). I've worked for hardware and software companies for the past 23 years doing training, training materials development, certification test development and other education related stuff. My wife and I have raised four children to adulthood; some of them live at home at the moment, but that won't last (they're too independent for that). We live at home with 2 Golden Retrievers, 2 black cats, a crazy cat, and, during the winter, 70,000 coho salmon.