7. Denial

Denial is the sin most descriptive of our age. When you can see so much that’s horrible, and with so many ways to counterfeit reality, denial may simply seem like pragmatism to many in the twenty-first century. Moreover, the current era offers countless ways to falsify and obscure the truth. Character has been replaced by Personality, just as Branding has replaced Poetry. When no one is encouraged to seek authentic ideas—but instead pursues a readymade series of images and sound bites optimized to ‘them’ as consumers—the chances are that no one will ever make the effort to separate truth from falsehood. Arising from this fertile field of opportunity, denial comes in many flavors and shapes. For instance, it includes a unique form of sinning when denial reconstitutes the identity of those who have witnessed the abuse of others. These individuals—who might otherwise carry the torch of truth within them—weaken their humanity by affiliating themselves with their fears, while inadvertently affirming the New Age of Lies.

Marten saw the contours of a face suggesting a cerebral, European count coalescing above the quicksilver swamp. Yet there was a formality to the image that seemed imposed rather than natural. It could have been the bad portrait of someone’s uncle lost in the middle of an estate, a token presence rather than a genuine character.