Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle is a book I picked up just by looking at the title and the picture and making the (false) assumption that it was a parenting book. It was one of those days when I was not in possession of boundless compassion; it may have even been a day I didn't possess any compassion.
From Parenting to Priest
Well, it's not a parenting book, but it is a great true story about a priest who works with gang members in Los Angeles. It isn't a Pollyanna-ish story. Father Boyle has some rather hair-raising stories such as the gang member who asks Father Boyle when he (the gang member) has ever been disrespectful to Boyle. The priest reminds him of two events in the recent past:
- the time when he walked out during Mass and
- when he pulled a gun on the priest.
There are some happy stories of gang members who learn job skills and remove their tattoos. Those who turn their lives around often do so because they have become fathers.
But there are many, many sad stories. The saddest stories are of the abuse that frequently precedes the gang membership. But sad too are the stories of those who change their ways only to end up in the cross-fire. Father Boyle writes of baptizing children at their father's funeral Mass.
If this was just another collection story of sad stories I wouldn't recommend anyone reading it.
Light and Hope as Well
Father Boyle brings Scripture alive. He quotes Leon Dufour (a theologian and Scripture scholar) "I have written so many books on God, but after all that what do I really know? I think, in the end, God is the person you're talking to, the one right in front of you."
And this is exactly what Father Boyle does.
Mary Wilmes, Library Assistant at Half Moon Library, has lived in Half Moon Bay since 2000, raising a child, chickens, and home-made bread. She enjoys finding unusual books as well as knitting, learning Spanish and playing guitar and piano when she is not reading non-fiction (history, science, medicine, autobiography, and fashion) and fiction.