Thursday, November 20, 2008

What does Prince have in common with a believing Mormon, Catholic, or Saddlebacker?

One of the things that's neglected at times is the ties between black musicians and the church.

Well, perhaps "the church" isn't the way to put it. More like "the churches."

Take P.R. Nelson, better known as Prince. Popeater linked to a New Yorker interview of the purple one. It turns out Prince, who started out as an Adventist, has now become a Jehovah's Witness (ironically, the church that Michael Jackson ended up leaving).

Seven years ago, he became a Jehovah’s Witness. He said that he had moved to L.A. so that he could understand the hearts and minds of the music moguls. “I wanted to be around people, connected to people, for work,” he said. “You know, it’s all about religion. That’s what unites people here. They all have the same religion, so I wanted to sit down with them, to understand the way they see things, how they read Scripture.”

Prince had his change of faith, he said, after a two-year-long debate with a musician friend, Larry Graham. “I don’t see it really as a conversion,” he said. “More, you know, it’s a realization. It’s like Morpheus and Neo in ‘The Matrix.’ ” He attends meetings at a local Kingdom Hall, and, like his fellow-witnesses, he leaves his gated community from time to time to knock on doors and proselytize. “Sometimes people act surprised, but mostly they’re really cool about it,” he said.

Although devout Jehovah's Witnesses do not participate in politics, Prince does have some views on the intersection of politics and morality.

“So here’s how it is: you’ve got the Republicans, and basically they want to live according to this.” He pointed to a Bible. “But there’s the problem of interpretation, and you’ve got some churches, some people, basically doing things and saying it comes from here, but it doesn’t. And then on the opposite end of the spectrum you’ve got blue, you’ve got the Democrats, and they’re, like, ‘You can do whatever you want.’ Gay marriage, whatever. But neither of them is right.”

When asked about his perspective on social issues—gay marriage, abortion—Prince tapped his Bible and said, “God came to earth and saw people sticking it wherever and doing it with whatever, and he just cleared it all out. He was, like, ‘Enough.’ ”
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