“When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue= purple… purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.” – Prince
The key to investing is to buy low and sell high. You’ve got to know not only what something seems to be worth right now but, more importantly, what value it will have in the future. The ideal is to find something that most people don’t think is worth very much right now but then will become very valuable in the future. With that in mind, ask yourself this question, “What is the value of this world?”
If we look at right now, there are two possible extremes. We could say that this world is so messed up that it is just a pile of junk. There’s no good in it and we can’t wait to leave this world and go to heaven. On the other hand, we could place so much importance on this world that we live as if this is all there is. It is important that we don’t fall too far to either extreme. Yet, the more important question, the one hinted at above, is not what the world seems to be worth now, but what will it be worth in the future?
Our second reading today gives us the “insider trading” information about the end of the world. We shouldn’t treat the world as though material things are bad because the scripture tells us that such things will exist in eternity; there will be a “new heavens and a new earth,” not some intangible “spiritual” life without either. Yet, we are also told that this world is “passing away;” it won’t last, so don’t put too much stock in it.
Many people have been caught up this week in the sensation of the death of the famous pop singer, Prince. People are turning things purple all over the place to honor the memory of the singer who’s most famous song is entitled, “Purple Rain.” For full disclosure, I have to say that I do in fact like much of his music and grew up with it, but I in no way condone much of his personal life or even most of the lyrics of his songs. I was, however, interested to learn more about this strange phrase, “Purple Rain.” While many people have opinions, the one I found most interesting was an answer given by Prince himself, and that is the quote above; it’s about the end of the world… and therefore a fitting topic for today’s readings (a stretch..but go with me)
The red in the sky is of course a reference to the Book of Revelation and Prince says as much when he says the song is about the end of the world. Note that the red represents all the struggle and suffering and death in the world while the blue represents the peaceful beauty of creation. In Prince’s mind, the two end up mixed together and you get purple. I’ve read that Prince did have a “spiritual side,” but you wouldn’t call him a theologian by any means. And yet… there’s something very theologically right about the purple. This world is a mix of both suffering and beauty. There’s much right with the world, but also much wrong. The answer is not to look only at the extremes, but to accept the world as it is…purple.
In a beautiful way then, Prince is right that the answer is not to escape the world, or to worship the world; you go through it. When faced with the ambiguity of the purple, the answer is “letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.” The result is a new creation where every tear is wiped away, when things are no longer purple but pure beauty.
At the risk of giving Prince more theological credit than due, consider this interesting tidbit: The “B side” of the Purple Rain single is a song called “God” and it’s about the Book of Genesis. I don’t know if he intended it, but it is absolutely theologically sound to look at the end of the world as really just the “flip side” of the creation of the world. Just as God created everything in the beginning, he will make a new creation at the end of this world.
Finally, I can’t help but notice Prince’s reference to going through this purple rain “with the one you love.” In the gospel today, St. John gives us the best investment tip we could ever hope for. Invest in love. It only increases in value. We don’t take anything from this world with us into the new creation…except love. This life is difficult, but we are not meant to go through it alone. Take care of your brothers and sisters. There will be a day when the new creation arrives and we pray we’re in heaven together. Until then, we need to help each other make it through the messy, ambiguous mix of joy and suffering in this life. We’ve got to help each other through the Purple Rain.