The first temptation is, of course, to turn stones into bread. There is an excellent analysis of this in Meditations on the Tarot, which I'm sure we have discussed in the past. Let's see if I can track it down...
Well, there is this:
"'Lead us not into temptation' has obvious resonance with Jesus' forty days in the desert, just after his baptism. If baptism is the 'purification,' then temptation is the test of purity.
"And as we have discussed before, the adversary never forces the issue; he does not operate through coercion, like some mid-level government functionary, but through temptation.
"Temptation is the test of purity, and purity is the victory over temptation. The purifying 'fire' that occurs in the space between these two poles is our phoenishing school, allowing us to make ashes of our former selves.
"Temptation is etymologically related to stretch, so that it implies a kind of centrifugal pulling of ourselves outward, from the center to the periphery, from coon-centration ("coon central") to dissipation. The world itself is a giant test, an opportunity to challenge our ability to resist its seductions."
Then there is this:
"Appropriately, the temptations all ultimately flow from the violation of the first Commandment, in which God is pushed aside 'as secondary, if not actually superfluous and annoying' (Benedict).
"With this primordial (vertical) act, man inverts the cosmos and places himself at the top.... Doing so redounds to countless errors of every kind, e.g., cognitive, spiritual, philosophical, political, scientific, moral, etc.
"This cosmic inversion cannot fail to result in epic falls, for no house can be built upon sand. In replacing God with man, we necessarily replace truth with opinion, virtue with convention, and wisdom with tenure."
Now, the promise to turn stones to bread is the central promise of the left. It even has a technical name: the Keynesian Multiplier, whereby one can simultaneously feed the masses by stealing from them; it may be visualized as a vast circle of human beings, each with his hand in the next guy's pocket. Or perhaps using a bucket to remove water from one end of the pool and pour it into the other end.
As we expressed this infallible truth back then,
"One popular way to try to turn stones to bread is through the apparatus of the welfare state. In its case, it attempts to transform money obtained through coercion into compassion. But the state has only enumerated powers, not innumerable feelings." Or in other words, it mainly has a feeling for power. To paraphrase someone, when a liberal politician asks us for power to do good, it's usually wise to subtract those last three words.
Bottom lyin': The liberal fuses magical faith and raw power with an irony so thick that his own mind cannot penetrate it, so the self-deception -- the auto-pullwoolery -- is complete, and the totalitarian temptation is able clothe itself in mercy. (See, for example, Jonathan Gruber's candid acknowledgement that it was necessary for the state to lie to its stupid citizens in order gain the power to control their healthcare.)
Yes, for the statist, taxes are his eucharist and entitlements his benediction. His appeal to "progress" is likewise an empty gesture in a world deprived of hierarchy. For how does the materialist measure progress except in the form of more and bigger stones?
Which generations to come will carry on their backs, trundling around in fiscal circles. Americans will still be paying for Obama's stone soup long after we're all gone.
Obama's temptation in the political desert went like this: "if you are truly the One, then transform this stolen pork into prosperity!" Might as well try to turn the bacon back into the pig.
Any materialist has failed the first test of spirituality -- or "temptation in the wilderness" -- which is to not attempt to turn stones into bread, or quantity into quality. For in so doing, the materialist inevitably reduces bread to stones, or life to death, spirit to matter. We are left with only stones, so there is "nothing left to eat," speaking metaphysically. And with nothing to eat, there is no way to grow into spiritual manhood. --That Would Be Me Again