Saturday, February 24, 2018

Barking to the Choir

Perhaps you remember the 2010 book, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, by Gregory Boyle, SJ.  In 1988, Father Boyle (with the assistance of many others) founded Homeboy Industries as a way to intervene in the increasing gang violence in the Los Angeles area.  Since then, Homeboy Industries has grown exponentially and "serves as a beacon of hope and opportunity for those seeking to leave gang life, for whom barriers and challenges are great, and for whom there is virtually no other avenue to enter the mainstream" (from the Homeboy Industries website).  Visitors to the website are met with this audacious claim:  "Hope has an address."

Now, Father Boyle has published Barking to the Choir: The Power of Radical Kinship, which just might be the book you'd like as a companion during the rest of your Lenten journey.  Continuing to tell the stories of Homeboy Industries and the variety of people who find refuge and transformation there, the author challenges us from the beginning of the book.

Here's an excerpt from page 2: "Human beings are settlers, but not in the pioneer sense.  It is our human occupational hazard to settle for little.  We settle for purity and piety when we are being invited to an exquisite holiness.  We settle for the fear-driven when love longs to be our engine.  We settle for a puny, vindictive God when we are being nudged always closer to this wildly, inclusive, larger-than-any-life God.  We allow our sense of God to atrophy.  We settle for the illusion of separation when we are endlessly asked to enter into kinship with all..  The Choir has settled for little . . . and the 'barking,' like a protective sheepdog, wants to guide us back to the expansiveness of God's own longing."

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