call their good works, “is just the
hallway to the ballroom. The ballroom is kinship,” where people
of all types can all enjoy mutual
love, respect, and mutuality.
The crowd stops Boyle’s words
with loud clapping several times.
Story after story seems aimed at
opening the hearts in the room.
Perhaps there is room in those
hearts to love these fierce and scary
people whose tattoos and manner of
speech can be so off-putting. They
are felons, yes, but now the audience
knows before that happened, they
were children with lives so twisted
and horrifying that the guest homies
can only make veiled references to
Boyle’s voice quivers and cracks,
and hearts open up a little wider.
He’s telling about a gang member
who has committed violent crimes.
themes are similar to those in his
popular book Tattoos on the Heart:
The Power of Boundless Compassion
(Free Press, 2010). He wears on his
sleeve his affection for the mostly
male, Hispanic gang members that
he ministers to. He gives to his
homies, and he receives from them
their love and energy. “I challenge
you to say who is serving and who
is being served,” he notes after one
Here’s what Boyle says a lot—
and not just this night in a Rustbelt
city with gang troubles of its own.
• God is bigger than you think.
More merciful. More forgiving.
• You have to go to the margins
to help make barriers between
people go away.
• “Service,” as church people
“THE DAY WILL never come
when I have more courage
or will be more noble or be
closer to God than Nicholas
or Luis,” says Boyle (right).
Here he poses with Nicholas
Lopez (left) and Luis Colocio
of Homeboy Industries.
CAROL SCHUCK SCHEIBER