So we come, in this Lenten sonnet sequence, to the second of the ‘temptations in the wilderness’ (I am following the order set out in Luke’s Gospel Chapter 4: verses 1-13).
This is the temptation to worldliness, to ‘success’, money and power set up obsessively on the throne of our hearts as rivals to God. It is the supreme temptation of our own materially obsessed culture. And it is our failure at this point that has led to the gross imbalances between the 1% and the 99%, against which the Occupy movement are understandably protesting. ‘All this power I will give thee…’ is the dreadfully conditional offer that the devil still makes, and in my sonnet I have tried to flesh out in contemporary terms some of the figures who seem to be making and receiving that offer now.
The photo of 5th Avenue above was taken by Margot Krebs Neal and the compelling and disturbing fusion of sand and money in the image below was taken by her son Oliver. Of course the tower of glass above is only made from the sands of the desert below and to sand it will eventually return.
You can hear the sonnet by clicking on the play button or the title.
All the Kingdoms of the World
‘So here’s the deal and this is what you get:
The penthouse suite with world-commanding views,
The banker’s bonus and the private jet
Control and ownership of all the news
An ‘in’ to that exclusive one percent,
Who know the score, who really run the show
With interest on every penny lent
And sweeteners for cronies in the know.
A straight arrangement between me and you
No hell below or heaven high above
You just admit it, and give me my due
And wake up from this foolish dream of love…’
But Jesus laughed, ‘You are not what you seem.
Love is the waking life, you are the dream.’