Lately actor/philanthropist Mark Wahlberg has become a trending topic as of late. It’s not because of a movie or a new product coming from his one of many companies that he owns. Instead it is about his faith life.
On Ash Wednesday, Mark gave an interview with a black ashen cross on his head, talked about his faith, and endorsed the Hallow app which is now available on all platforms. While giving interviews and/or promoting a product that one is endorsing is not uncommon, what is unusual is the fact that Mark had the blessing of ashes on his forehead and wore it proudly.
So, what are these ashes that many of you have a question about? Is it that Mark is a “chosen one”? Is it something cultic? Nope, its much simpler than that. They symbolize death and repetency. When the priest or any blessed person gives the sign of the cross with ashes made from burnt palms collected from parishioners who had them since last year’s Palm Sunday, they will evoke the words “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
But why Mark Wahlberg? Why is he sporting these ashes so proudly? A lot of celebrities like Martin Sheen who are devout Catholics for example have never done anything like that. That’s because and even Mark said it himself, it is a very taboo thing to discuss in Hollywood.
But aren’t there celebrities out there who a very religious in their own faiths and talk about their beliefs? Yes they do, but oftentimes their statements have been too judgmental or even controversial for that matter. When this happens, instead of speaking about their faith in the general public, they often go to their own media circuit where they can talk about their faith and beliefs as much as they want to without the criticism. For example, Candace Cameron Bure who is a devout born-again Christian (along with her famous brother Kirk Cameron) got into trouble when she said she was leaving the Hallmark franchise because she was not comfortable with the direction their Christmas movies were going. Instead, she “wanted to tell stories that have more meaning and purpose and depth behind them.” No more sappy Christmas love stories with LGTBQ+ and other non-traditional themes for her, but faith-based themes.
While the statement itself is not a bad thing, as Candace went on, the judgement upon which caused her decision to leave came out. In fact, her statement alone infuriated many of her fans as well as her former co-star of Fuller House, Jodi Sweeten. Of course, Candace had to backtrack her remarks and even had to delete her Tweet due to all the fallout from her bold statement.
So what makes Mark Wahlberg so different besides being an openly devout Catholic? Like others who are devout in their beliefs, he says that “I cannot deny my faith. It’s important for me to share that with people.” At the same time, he also recognizes that he doesn’t need to shove his faith down people’s throats especially his kids. He just lives by example and what he feels is comfortable. He has connections who are different from him in faith, race, belief, etc. and he not only embraces with it but is not bothered or offended by it at all because that’s always been a part of his life. Why be preachy with one’s faith when one does not have to be
I think that is why for many out there who are uncomfortable with outspoken religious celebrities, Mark Wahlberg is a bit of fresh air. He just states the obvious of who he is and what he does and let’s us decide. It’s not up to him to say who should follow his way, but God (or whoever one believes) to guide that path with Mark being the conduit.
Granted, Mark is not a perfect person either nor claims to be. He’s lived a rough life as a teenager in Boston. When he first came into the spotlight with Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch he was a bit of a trouble-maker known for stripping down to his underwear on stage (which ironically got him a Calvin Klein ad) and causing some violence amongst other marginalized communities. However, as he got older, got married, had kids and found his path in life, he began to grow up and move forward into his faith. This is especially obvious watching his interviews and promotions for the movie Fr. Stu, which was released last year to critical acclaim from everyone who saw it.
While critics and naysayers are trying to “cancel Mark” because of some of his past faults, especially when he presented the SAG award to the cast of “Everything Everywhere All at Once“, what they don’t realize is that Mark has reflected on these things and openly expressed his regrets of the past. It’s just a matter of doing a little research. If he’s already put out the olive branch, what is there more to do?
What I think Mark Wahlberg challenges us through his testimony and his public life is this:
Is there such thing as a “perfect” person, let alone a “perfect” celebrity?
What makes a celebrity the perfect role model? An unblemished record?
If someone has committed heinous crimes in the past that were in the public eye and have sought forgiveness and were forgiven, why continue bringing up the issue? Is there something in you that is being stirred that maybe you need to forgive in your life?