The terrible burden of guilt ... Off-Ramp for October 5, 2013

The terrible burden of guilt and how to get rid of it, or, Father Boyle and Rabbi Gross fundraise for KPCC

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Brian Watt/KPCC

Father Greg Boyle in prayer at Homeboy Industries, May 14, 2010.

Father Greg Boyle, who runs Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, and Rabbi Marv Gross of Union Station Homeless Services in Pasadena, are experts in guilt and redemption. They know the burdens of guilt men and women carry around with them, and they know the path to letting go of that guilt.

Both men work with people who have hit bottom, who often think themselves worthless. Both help them find the worth in themselves, and build new lives, whether it's a homeless mother escaping an abusive relationship, or a Homie who can't see his life outside his gang.

In that context, not giving to KPCC even though you're a listener seems nearly petty, but on the other hand, it's a problem that's also a lot easier to fix. Both Boyle and Gross are current members of KPCC, but even they have sometimes lapsed.

Boyle says even though he was raised in the guilt tradition, "I kinda don't do guilt. I gave it up for Lent years ago." And he admits it has a purpose in getting us to put first things first. "Not that you're fundraisers were guilt-inducing, but just the fact that this was the only station I listen to was enough" to get him to give.

Rabbi Gross says, "What's true in Judaism is that there's a notion of missing the mark. There are expectations ... to act in a certain way. Guilt is an okay motivator. One shouldn't be suffused with guilt, oppressed by one's guilt, but guilt can help us be better people."

I asked Rabbi Gross how we could get people to elevate their guilt level so they'd give to KPCC. Should we put mothers on the air to guilt listeners into becoming members, and if so, which kind? Catholic mothers? Jewish mothers? Muslim mothers? "I think any women who's had children knows how to instill guilt," he said. "We're a multi-cultural society!"

There's much more in our interview, plus a bonus: Father Boyle discussing the papacy of his fellow Jesuit, Pope Francis.

Feeling guilty? Then give to KPCC and find redemption.


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