Tattoos on the Heart

The Power of Boundless Compassion

Tattoos on the Heart

“Destined to become a classic of both urban reportage and contemporary spirituality” (Los Angeles Times)—Tattoos on the Heart is a series of parables about kinship and redemption from pastor, activist, and renowned speaker, Father Gregory Boyle.

Thirty years ago, Gregory Boyle founded Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention, rehabilitation, and reentry program in Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. In Tattoos on the Heart, his debut book, he distills his experience working with gang members into a breathtaking series of parables inspired by faith.

From giant, tattooed Cesar, shopping at JC Penney fresh out of prison, you learn how to feel worthy of God’s love. From ten-year-old Pipi you learn the importance of being known and acknowledged. From Lulu you come to understand the kind of patience necessary to rescue someone from the dark—as Father Boyle phrases it, we can only shine a flashlight on a light switch in a darkened room.

This is a motivating look at how to stay faithful in spite of failure, how to meet the world with a loving heart, and how to conquer shame with boundless, restorative love.
  • Free Press | 
  • 240 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781439153154 | 
  • February 2011
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Tattoos on the Heart includes discussion questions, and a Q&A with author Greg Boyle. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

• Rival gang members worked side by side in Greg’s first humanitarian business venture, Homeboy Bakery. How did this unusual arrangement—enemies working together— play out? Can you think of ways this approach might work in a different context of conflict?
 
• Greg talks about offering opportunities, not to people who need help but to those who want it. What difference do you think this makes?
 
• Elias Montes accepts an award on Greg’s behalf and says to the audience, “Because Father Greg and Homeboy Industries believed in me, I decided to believe in myself.“ Greg himself writes, “Sometimes resilience arrives in the moment you discover your own unshakeable goodness.” For all their bravado, a lot of the gang members are deeply vulnerable and insecure—how does Greg approach this contradiction?
 
• Greg writes, “Kinship [is] not serving the other, but being one with the other. Jesus was not ‘a man for others
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About the Author

Gregory Boyle
(c) Eddie Ruvalcabra

Gregory Boyle

Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, CA. Now in its 30th year, Homeboy traces its roots to when Boyle, a Jesuit priest with advanced degrees in English and theology, served as pastor of Dolores Mission Church, then the poorest Catholic parish in Los Angeles, which also had the highest concentration of gang activity in the city. Homeboy has become the largest gang-intervention, rehabilitation, and reentry program in the world, and employs and trains gang members and felons in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to thousands of men and women each year who walk through its doors seeking a better life. Father Boyle has received the California Peace Prize, the James Beard Foundation Humanitarian of the Year Award, and the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal. He was inducted into the California Hall of Fame and named a 2014 Champion of Change by the White House. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

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