Mark Wahlberg was on Howard Stern yesterday discussing his new movie Ted (which looks awesome by the way) and Howard asked about his apparent re-discovery of religion, to which Mark replied that he goes to church every single day, either to a service or to pray, even when he is on the road (like he was to come into the show). Howard, who is not religious but speaks about it with honesty and much more reverance than religious people typically afford atheism, asked Mark what he prays about when he attends church every day -- jokingly asking if he's praying for the success of Ted. Mark said he did not pray for personal success (of course) but "first and foremost, I pray for those less fortunate, for the troubled and starving...". That's the part of the interview that made me want to write this post. Whether or not Mark is being honest or just saying what you're supposed to say, I think that it's both a laudable thing to do -- pray for others less fortunate -- and also a hugely stupid waste of his time. And I don't mean to pick on Wahlberg particularly, because there are plenty of people that do this, even on a daily basis, but I'm just using his example to illustrate the larger point that struck me here. As someone who does not believe in religion or that praying could possibly do anything other than perhaps result in some inner peace for the person praying, I find it to be a huge waste of effort for Wahlberg to spend every morning praying for poor people, particularly when he could be spending that time actually helping poor people. There are a million charitable organizations begging for time and money to support poor people and Wahlberg could find them in every city he is in, just like he can find a church. Hell, there's a lot of churches who have soup kitchens and other charities that he could volunteer for. You know, since he's got some much time on his hands to go to church every day. Maybe he could actually help these people instead of praying for some imaginary dude in the sky to help them. And even if you do believe in that imaginary dude in the sky, I kind of think you would expect him to know about the poor people without your prayers having to remind him.
Now let me say, Wahlberg might do a shitload of charity outside of his church (or inside of it). And churches in general do a lot of charity work. They also do a shitload of evil things in the world but I won't get into that here. So if Wahlberg is charitable with his time and money, he's probably a hell of a lot more charitable than I am. All my gifts are monetary and I don't volunteer my time so I really have no right to criticize Wahlberg for going to church every day and praying for poor people but the point I'm making is if he (or anyone) is going to put his actual time (and money) into trying to help poor people, he should stop fucking waste his time at church doing it. I don't blame Wahlberg for going to church every day -- it must make him happy -- but I guess I wish he would just admit that he's doing it for himself and wasting his own time and what he's doing ain't got nothing to do with anyone poor in the world. Of course, if you don't believe praying does anything useful then you are likely wise enough not to buy into religion in the first place, so that might be a bit too much to ask of Marky Mark. Or the 80% of Americans who agree with him.