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Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

4.36 of 5 stars 4.36  ·  rating details  ·  4,085 ratings  ·  818 reviews
How do you fight despair and learn to meet the world with a loving heart? How do you overcome shame? Stay faithful in spite of failure? No matter where people live or what their circumstances may be, everyone needs boundless, restorative love. Gorgeous and uplifting, Tattoos on the Heart amply demonstrates the impact unconditional love can have on your life.

As a pastor wo...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 9th 2010 by Free Press (first published 2010)
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Jan 01, 2012 Liz rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: every Christian
It is interesting to me that if you read about people who work with the most wounded of human beings, they tend to have a very expansive view of God and a very inclusive Christian theology.

Fr. Greg Boyle works with Latino gangs in the public housing projects of LA. (I could have said "gang-infested" projects but Fr. Boyle makes a point in the book about language which brings shame to "life and love challenged" kids- I mean what do you think of when you say something is "infested"?) Instead he...more
This book makes me want to love better. PERIOD. I have never had such a clear picture of how God loves even me... especially me. Everyone should read this book and buy 10 copies to give away. All proceeds go to Homeboy Industries.
Jun 11, 2010 Herbie added it

I should mention, first, for the benefit of anyone who doesn't live in Los Angeles or follow closely the arena of gang prevention, that Father Greg Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries, the most well-known gang prevention program in the gang capital of the US, Los Angeles. The organization's slogan is "Nothing stops a bullet like a job," and Father Boyle (or "G" as he is known) has made it his vocation to hire convicted felons straight out of jail and employ them in various Homeboy enterpr...more
From My Blog...[return][return]Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle is a deeply moving, heartwarming series of essays from some of the most memorable times of Father Boyle’s career. Father Boyle has been a Jesuit Priest for 25 years working with many sections of the population that others deem frightening at best, including his work at his beloved Dolores Mission and the creation of Homeboy Industries (which is brilliant and what he refers to as a “tiny drop in a pretty big bucket” yet one we a...more
I read Tattoos on the Heart because the title caught my eye. Regina King, the star of Southland, was interviewed in O Magazine in the March issue, and was asked what was the best book she had read recently. She named this one.So I looked it up on Amazon and loaded it on my kindle. I was on vacation at the time and I read it in less than 2 days. I once read somewhere that compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use. Fr. G is what we are all called to be, humble, caring, loving, and able to...more
Heather Jacks
I have always been a little left of center; deeply spiritual, not terribly religious; a modern day hunter and gatherer of theological principles and wisdom. I imagine something akin to a recycling center inside my head. Everything separated and compartmentalized, waiting to be processed and then smooshed into something new; something that I can use...that `fits' me. In this new creation bits and pieces of many great spiritual traditions are found and the unused portions are released, like mist i...more
I heard Father Boyle interviewed on NPR a few months ago and was inspired by his work. He is a Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy Industries in LA in 1988. Homeboy Industries helps former gang members redirect their lives and become contributing members of their families and community by offering training, job skills and much more.

Tattoos on the Heart is a collection of anecdotes of Father Boyle's work which are compassionate, inspirational, thought-provoking, funny, tragic and unforgettable. Hi...more
Dec 16, 2010 Martha added it
I met Fr. Greg Boyle several years ago, and later began working as the psychotherapist in residence assisting people from immigrant communities to gang communities. Fr. G's life was previously written by another author, Celeste Fremon, who wrote about Fr. G but after many years, and after telling the many stories about his Homeboys and Homegirls at conferences and at universities, today, December 15, 2010, he spoke on the Dr. Phil show. Fr. Greg is a humble, holy, courageous and wonderfully comp...more
This book tells the story on Father Gregory Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in LA, and those of the "homies" that he serves. The organization helps gang members in LA find work, get their tattoos removed, and have a fresh start. I was inspired by how beautifully Fr. Boyle lives out his Christian faith. I think a lot of people could learn from his example of truly serving the poor and expressing love rather than judgment. However, as someone who is not a Christian some of his messages didn't...more
The website caption for Fr. Greg Boyle's organization reads: "Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education." While apparently accurate, having read about his experiences first hand it seems like a bit of an understatement.

Tattoos on the Heart contains the insights received by Fr. Boyle through his work in the gang capital of LA. Powerful almost seems an understatement as yo...more
Di Taylor
I picked this book up as it is the freshman summer read for the university I'll be attending in the fall. While several books have gotten to the very core of me of recent, this book has by far affected me on a deeper level than the other books. Father Boyle is the heart of what Jesus asks us to do for our brother and sisters – the good and 'the bad.' The story is thought provoking, inspirational and helped restore my cynical attitude towards our current world climate. On a cynical level it is ea...more
Jennifer Defoy
The stories in this book were so touching. There were times I was crying and times I was laughing. Hope and compassion are really great words to use when talking about this book.

There were so many stories, and while they were all touching they were presented in a way that seemed a bit jumpy to me. If the stories had flowed better I would have been much happier with this one. But it was still pretty good as it is.

The language took a bit for me to get used to. Greg Boyle's language shocked me th...more
This is a profound work. It is a testimonial work about violence, gangs, and remediation in a broken community. And yet it returns the reader to fundamental questions of the existence of God, God's nature, and our response to inhumanity in our world. It does this by way of a narrative cataloging the events that have followed the creation of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. The author, a Jesuit who has spent the last three decades working with the former gang members and their families in some...more
This is an amazing, inspirational, funny, sad, well-written book. Gregory Boyle is a Jesuit priest who founded Homeboy Industries to assist the most violent gang-ridden section of Los Angeles. The style of the book is very casual, as if you are sitting at a party with an expert story teller, who never runs out of real life anecdotes. He is a preacher, but never seems to be preaching. In fact, it is the best spiritual book I have read in years and made me wish I was still a believer.

The author i...more
Tim Eby-mckenzie
Quite possibly the most powerful book I have read to date. I spent late night reflection time reading this book over a period of months, just soaking it in. I found myself unable to resist tears quite often, so moved by the compassion and wisdom reflected in the stories "G-dog" relates. The grace communicated so expansively through Father Greg's exposition of the "Narrow Gate" completely changed my perspective on Matthew's gospel. Before, I just hoped I might be able to squeeze in by the skin of...more
Jun 02, 2011 Katina rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2011
"G," Father Boyle, is a perfect contrast to Greg Mortenstern. Instead of bragging and inflating the success stories of his amazing organization, "Homeboy Industries," he tells personal stories and shares spiritual insights into what it has meant to him to serve and, eventually work alongside, an impoverished and gang-dominated public housing community in Boyle Heights, L.A.

Boyle is a strong writer and I really couldn't put this book down. I will probably buy a copy so I can (shamelessly) dog ear...more
This was the all-school summer reading book for the school where I teach. It's a quick read—vivid, often humorous, full of interesting stories about the lives of LA gang members that Boyle, drawing on years of homilies that he has given, has turned into parables about God, suffering, and, as the title indicates, the power of boundless compassion. The book offers an interesting contrast to a couple other books I read this summer—Behind the Beautiful Forevers and On the Run: Fugitive Live in an Am...more
This book is incredibly moving. It really underscored the power of love and compassion and kinship in a tangible way, so that sentences like "A spacious and undefended heart finds room for everything you are and carves space for everybody else" made me cry unstoppably rather than roll my eyes. Wonderful.
Joanne Otto
This chronicle of a priest's interactions with gang members in L.A. is both heartwarming and heartbreaking and should be required reading for anyone who wants to learn more about the art of brotherly love. Believe it or not, it is also, at times, side-splittingly funny. I loved it.
Chuck Jackson
It is a telling of many interconnected anecdotes with no overarching narrative but a theme of loving our neighbors. We are all challenged by saying yes the 25th time and yet this is what Greg Boyle does.

Inspiring, motivating, heart wrenching that people live like this and we mostly ignore them. Many, many quotes I could put in here. Here is one:

I was brought up and educated to give assent to certain propositions. God is love, for example. You can see" God loves us, "and yet there is t...more
Webster Bull
I am enthralled. Tattoos on the Heart, by Jesuit priest Gregory Boyle, is a constant inspiration, from paragraph to paragraph, chapter to chapter. Buy it, read it, then read it again.

I downloaded the audiobook thanks to a tip from a friend, and I had heard it all in 48 hours, thanks to a round-trip Boston-New York solo car ride, complete with iPhone, app, and ear buds. The beauty of the audio version is that it is read by the author, over 30 years a Jesuit and founder of Homeboy Ind...more
I found this memoir to be inspirational, although scattered in the writing. I find similarities in how Fr. Greg (G-dog) relates to the homies he works with and how I relate to my students. He deals with much deeper problems and infinitely more tragedy, but I admire his use of humor mixed with compassion when dealing with these troubled kids. I think the most useful part of his writing was his answer to how much success he has. He says that God has not called him to be successful, just to love th...more
In May, I had the opportunity to hear Father Boyle speak – and I’m glad I did, as he’s an amazing speaker with a unique voice and style. The book shares his speaking style, and, while I think I would have enjoyed the book even if I had not heard him speak, being able to hear his voice while reading did make it easier to appreciate the book from the start. (On a side note, even if you don’t want to read the book, if you ever have the chance to hear him speak: GO). This book is a memoir of Father...more
Chip Watts
This was really very good. I gave it 4 stars. It was referrenced on The God Journey podcast and one of those guys described it as "a real page turner". I downloaded it from iTunes (my first electronic book that I had to pay for - I've just read the free ones before). This is the well written aoutobiography of a Jesuit priest (don't let that put you off) who served for many years in the heart of the worst gang infested neighborhoods of LA.
This is a book about loving the unlovely. This guy exempl...more
This book is so beautiful and so intense and so accessible. Took me a long time reading it because I'd cry every few pages. I have got to reread the chapter on Success and reflect on its bearing on CGF. It should be noted that excessive god-talk is usuallly enough for me to put down a book, but here I found it tolerable.

"Once a homie said, "Can I give a tip to the waitress?" And when she arrived, he said, "Just say no to drugs." His homie adding, "Don't run with scissors.""

P.72 "the strateg...more
L.D. Taylor
This book chronicles numerous stories of broken people, living in a broken culture, who find their way to the grace of God... taking a Jesuit priest along for the ride. Boyle is a masterful writer, weaving the stories of ex-L.A. gang members (and their families) into some shockingly powerful insights about the nature of the God who can't take his eyes off of us. I love Boyle's writing style: the juxtaposition between the cultured language of the academic and the profane vernacular of the "homey"...more
This book is written by a Jesuit priest, Gregory Boyle, who takes on as his calling helping the latino gang members of East LA get out of the gangs. He does this by starting a business called Homeboy Industries and then hiring anyone serious about escaping the gang life, no matter if they know how to hold down a job or not. All the ex-gangsters work side-by-side regardless of their gang affiliation, and as they do that they re-form their allegiances. Gregory Boyle introduces us to kid after kid...more
A book by a priest that even an agnostic or an atheist could love? This is it, absolutely. Father Greg Boyle has written an honest, stunning memoir about his life with the "homies" in Los Angeles. During his tenure working in barrios and with gang members, "G-dog" has buried 168 young men due to random gang violence.

Father Greg touches on how small we try to make God and ferociously sheds light on our pious and puritan superiority of how much better "we" (supposedly) are than the poor and those...more
At the Farmer's Market they have a Homeboy Bakery stand. They have yummy rosemary rolls. This is how I found this book. Gregory Boyle, the author of this book, is a priest who has been working to help improve the lives of many LA residents, particularly those who are in gangs, & founder of Homeboy Industries. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the work this man does, & has been doing, for the past 20 years. In a world where most people dismiss those in need with a shrug & a "Why give...more
Amy Young
This book makes me want to be a better person. Period.

Any book has that effect gets five stars. My sister brought it from America and told me she laughed out loud as she read it and every morning her husband wanted to know the funny things she'd been reading. Anyone who can take working with gang members and ex-cons and some of the most tragic situations and find The Light and the light side is someone I want to follow. Father Greg consistently challenges the deeply rooted belief that some live...more
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“Close both eyes see with the other one. Then we are no longer saddled by the burden of our persistent judgments our ceaseless withholding our constant exclusion. Our sphere has widened and we find ourselves quite unexpectedly in a new expansive location in a place of endless acceptance and infinite love.” 76 likes
“Kindness is the only strength there is.” 40 likes
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