Former crack-addict, prisoner, Calvin Klein model, rapper, current actor and father, Mark Wahlberg has been in the news recently. The famous Hollywood actor, was petitioning the Massachusetts Board of Pardons to get his criminal record erased.
I never realised that Wahlberg had a criminal record, but apparently in 1988 he was involved in an assault on a Vietnamese man outside a convenience store, which resulted in him serving 45 days in jail. It was a vicious assault, and young Mark shouted racist abuse at his victim throughout the assault.
Opinion has been divided on whether or not he should get the pardon, some say he definitely shouldn't because it would be an affront to victims of racial crime everywhere, and others say that he should be shown forgiveness because of his young age at the time and other mitigating factors. The only person who can truly forgive him though, is his victim, Johnny Trinh. And happily for Wahlberg, Mr Trinh has said that he forgives him, and that he believes Mr Wahlberg should be given a pardon by the State as well.
The interesting thing about Mark Wahlberg, which I never knew before, is that he is a very religious man. I would have thought that with a history of juvenile delinquency, and with some of the 'macho' movie roles he plays, that he wouldn't be the type. But how wrong can you be. Apparently Mr Wahlberg is a devout Catholic, who attends mass every day. No matter where he is, he will begin every day in prayer at a local Catholic church, even if he can't make it to daily mass, he stops by the church for a few minutes at the beginning of each day to spend some time in prayer.
We might wonder why he feels he needs to still go to a church building especially if mass isn't on at that time, and just pray at home or somewhere outdoors in a quiet place. But for Mark Wahlberg, his faith is deeply rooted in the belief that Jesus is present in the church in the Tabernacle. And that's something we seem to forget from time to time - we believe that God is present everywhere, and in every thing and every person, but we also believe that God is ALWAYS present in his own house, in the church. It's a special space where we can meet God in quietness all the time.
It's amazing to think that somebody like Mark Wahlberg could be such a religious person, and yet it's not really all that surprising at all. A further search on the Internet will reveal that he is a well known activist and supporter of many charities and causes.
He even created a charity himself called 'The Mark Wahlberg Youth Foundation' which works to improve the quality of life of inner city youth, to help them to succeed in life, and provide assistance to helping these youth to reach their potential. In a nutshell his charity tries to help young inner city kids from making bad choices like he himself did when he was young.
I think that he is a shining example for today's young people - he has a past, but he has emerged from it to become a better person and is working to better himself, his family, and his community. And all of this is sustained through a deep belief in God.
Should he get the pardon? I think he's proved the adage 'Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future'.