When it comes to content, CIVA has an embarrassment of riches. We have almost 35 years of published articles which we will selectively post here on the site.
Wrestlemania: Jacob and the Angel
by Cameron J. Anderson
The prevailing goal of most professionals in the visual arts is to “make it”—that is, to make a career, a profession, a life and to make paintings, essays, collections, exhibits, and installations. In response to this overarching goal, the contributors to this issue of SEEN are of one voice: “making it” requires deliberate and sustained effort. While editing this journal, my thoughts turned repeatedly to the account of Jacob wrestling with the Angel (Gen. 32:22-32). There is no evidence—not a hint—that Jacob was either an artist or an artisan. Nonetheless, it seems to me that this biblical narrative speaks directly to every Christian in pursuit of a career in the visual arts. Read more…
Imprint: The Thumbprint on the Clay
by Luci Shaw
I’m a collector of hand-thrown clay pottery. Around my house I have what I consider a fabulous collection of bowls and jugs and individual mugs, all in subtle earth and glazed jewel tones. I love them all, the look of them, the feel of the shapes in my hand, each of them the result of combining earth and human eye and muscle–some hand built, some from the wheel, some with the thumb-print signatures of the potters themselves on the mug handle or the bowl base. I know where each unique piece came from, from which potter I purchased it, and when. That Galliano Island potter in the woods two years ago. The friend who died last year just after removing his fired pieces from the kiln. My brother-in-law on Bainbridge Island. The why of my choices is nearly always implicit; an aesthetic appeal or shape or function that corresponds to my need, my impulse, my desire.
Each of these pieces bears the evidence of intentionality and human art. The thumbprint, like the finger-print, is for me a singular clue to human identity. A thumb print leaves a more powerful impression than a finger print because there is a greater weight of hand and arm and muscle behind it. And that’s only one reason this image carries such energy for me.
If each human thumb print is unique, God’s is even more so—the original thumb-print on the universe, seen in the whorls of suns and planets in space, in the nebulae, and closer to home, in the fractal patterns of trees and crystals, of deserts and rivers and oceans, and in the wild profusion of color and texture and design displayed in plants and animals. It’s a creative complexity unmatched within the known universe.
And in human beings. Each one of us has a distinct and distinctive history, a story, an identity, a personality, a way of seeing the world and a way of expressing what we have seen and heard. We are as varied and intricate and striking as stars or snowflakes, as internally rich and complex as a geode. As different as Eve was from Adam, and as they both were from antelopes or elephants or eagles.
I have come to believe, through observation and study, that beauty is an aspect of Grace in Creation. That beauty isn’t resident simply in what we see, but in the way we perceive what we see. That it is in design, in pattern, in juxtaposition, in relationship, we discover beauty and meaning. Further, that we, as responders to all this divine initiative are called upon to create in the image of our Creator.
Beauty seems to be inherent in Creation (and by Creation I mean the God-created universe in which we live, including sentient human beings). Believe me, when I use the term beauty I’m not referring to the kind of easy sentimentality found in a greeting card, a popular song, or the physicality to be seen in a Miss Universe contest, but rather in the experience of what we might aptly call glory—the appearance of something of supreme worth that seems to make sense of all the breakage, the heartache and distress of our world. An epiphany, perhaps. It may be momentary—a glimpse of something wondrous, that is, capable of evoking wonder.
The blue eyeball
The grove, and this huge eucalyptus tree
leaning over me. In the clasp of two
saber-shaped leaves heaven looked like
the gaze of God peering through the eye of a needle.
The sky’s air—intense as a rare bead of clear
cobalt sea-glass–God looked straight through,
through me, as though my transparency
were something he craved.
And then, rising from stillness, the air
began breathing, began rearranging
the leaves. Oh, they closed–God’s eyelids.
Clouds arrived in their dark boats over
the waves of hills. My view of heaven
was shut. But then, in a thin wire
of lightning, he spoke into me the promise–
his view of me will not be held back
by clouds, two leaves, a forest.
To pragmatists, it might have seemed enough to live in a functional universe, with self-sustaining life-forms that replicate themselves and keep the world going. To add beauty to the mix and to supply men and women with an aesthetic sense so that we can respond to what is beautiful seems to me an act of pure Grace. In the truest sense and most positive sense of the word it is gratuitous.
The Benedictines hold that beauty is “truth shining into being,” a principle echoed by John Keats in his famous line: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty.” In this sense beauty is redemptive. It can motivate us to turn a corner, to pursue a new objective. It awakens in us a fresh awareness because it is often surprising enough to startle, showing up in unexpected forms and places. C. S. Lewis found that beauty could summon in him a surprising joy, a hint of what we might expect in heaven. Lewis referred to such moments as “patches of God-light,” like glimmers of sunlight in a dark wood. Os Guiness, another insightful writer, calls them “gleams of transcendence.”
Beauty was one of the three Platonic ideals—companion of Truth and Goodness. For Plato, being human meant having to deal with these ideals. Beauty is no abstraction; it is always tied to the real, the observable. It is there to be seen, felt, heard, experienced. I find it in the morning moments I spend as I drink my dark, pungent coffee from a favorite hand-thrown clay mug.
The church has given considerable attention to Truth and Goodness, to theology and ethics. But too often Beauty, or an appreciation of the aesthetic, has escaped us, or we have attempted to evade or devalue it. This is partly because of its innovative, experimental aspect, its way of reaching for originality or an untried way of expressing a value or truth. In Christian circles this exploratory element in art has often been felt to be dangerous; the pursuit of beauty is seen merely as an option, and a seductive one at that, because beauty can neither be controlled nor programmed. As Eugene Peterson once wrote to me, “[Beauty] works out of the unconscious, is not practical, cannot be quantified, is not efficient, and cannot be ‘used’ for very long without corrupting either the art or the artist.” (Quoted from a personal letter, 1999)
The messages of beauty, received through the five senses, when combined with the responses of our reasoning intelligence, achieve meaning or significance for us. These messages lodge in our minds and memories. They print themselves like pictures on the film of our imaginations, and do their transforming work in us, reminding us, if we are aware, of the One behind the messages.
Though beauty is intensely personal, experienced moment by moment in individuals with vastly differing tastes and standards, I love to think of beauty’s universality. Around the globe we all gasp at the sight of breakers sending up violent white curtains of foam as they crash on the coastal rocks. We breathe in the silent greenness of a meadow after rain, with its moist fragrances, or the wonderland of freshly fallen snow. We expand inwardly with the spaciousness of the night sky, infested with stars. We call our neighbor on the phone to witness with us a double rainbow over the lake, or the golden glory of the sun setting behind spectacular purple clouds (I did this just the other night). We marvel at the icy glory of the Antarctic, the subtle earth-tones of the Kalahari, the Gobi, the Sahara, Ayers Rock. The painted deserts and canyons of Utah and Arizona.
Tenting, Burr Trail, Long Canyon, Escalante
Even when I close my eyes, even later in
the tent, dreaming, I see banks and rivers running red.
My blood has drunk color from the stones as if
it were the meal I needed. I am ready to eat
any beauty—these vistas of stars, storms.
The mesas and vermillion cliffs. The light they magnify
into the canyon. The echoes, the distances.
The rocks carved with ancient knowledge.
But after vast valleys I am so ready for this
low notch in the gorge, the intimate cottonwoods
lifting their leafy skirts and blowing their small
soft kisses into my tent on the wasteland’s
stringy breath. The spaces between the gusts are rich
with silence. I am ready to stay in this one place, sleep,
dream, breathe the grace of wind and earth that is
never too much, and more than I will ever need.
In this parchment land, the scribble
and blot of junipers and sagebrush, each crouched
separate, rooted in its own desert space,
spreads low to the sand, holding it down
the way the tent-pegs anchor my tent, keep it
from blowing away. The way I want my words
to hold, growing maybe an inch a year,
grateful for the least glisten of dew.
I want the stamp, the impression of my words to last, to point to something that has leaped into significance for me, so that I can point it out to you and believe (hope, pray) that you will respond.
I have a confession to make. I’m a bit of an addict of shows like CSI and Law & Order, in which forensic investigation plays a large part in determining and tracking down the perpetrator of a crime. DNA and finger prints provide evidence that is often conclusive in bringing the perp to justice. It’s all a testimony to human uniqueness; if the print of A is on the gun, then B may not have committed the crime. If C’s prints show up on the car door handle, maybe D can be exonerated. It’s a kind of sorting mechanism, a way of determining fact within a complex set of circumstances.
The intricacy of digital whorls and ridges on our fingers and thumbs is only one instance of the complexity and infinite variety of Creation. As the discoveries and applications of science and physics expand exponentially, as the boundaries of knowledge are pushed further and further back, (perhaps we should say forward) and deeper and deeper in; with the discovery in the last century of phenomena such as the double helix, molecules and quasars and quarks, string theory, burgeoning astrophysics, the patterns of genes and chromosomes, and the ongoing Genome project, physics and metaphysics seem to merge to give us clues to the way the world is, and who we are. We are persuaded that these phenomena demonstrate more than just physical evidence of complexity. They have begun to imply meaning and purpose. They have significance beyond themselves.
A favorite quote of mine from Annie Dillard goes like this: “We are here to abet Creation and to witness it, to notice each thing so each thing gets noticed. Together we notice not only each Mountain shadow and each stone on the beach, but we notice each other’s beautiful face and complex nature so that Creation need not play to an empty house.”
Wonderful poet Mary Oliver says:
If you notice anything
it leads you to notice
Mary Oliver, always a lover of Creation, has recently undergone a startling conversion to Christian faith in an Episcopal Church on Cape Cod. I’ve been reading some of her recent poems and am resonating with her praise and wonder in this new chapter of her life.
In this and the last century’s fascination with spirituality (however that may have been defined), spiritual mentoring and faith formation, we are beginning to delve into the forensics of discernment.
Many of us, raised perhaps in an environment where faith was codified and ironclad, have had to move away from a fundamentalism that is ruled by the fear of infringement and its penalties. Now we have the opportunity to question and explore. We have learned that it is possible to doubt faithfully. Such questions and experiments have needed an open avenue for expression, and often the arts have given us the opportunity to show that we have been created in the image of an imaginative Creator. That imagination and imagery are ways of entering the mind of God, of approaching the mystery of the transcendent.
Are we truth-seekers? We must come to appreciate that Truth is a lot larger than fact. Truth underlies fact the way the planet underlies the grain of sand on a beach. When Scripture encourages us “to seek and find” truth, or a truth, we need to trust the search. To seek, and, in incremental and perhaps gradual and subtle ways, to find.
I’m thinking back again to my clay pots. (Interesting that St. Paul uses that metaphor for human beings—“We have this treasure [the light of the knowledge of God’s glory] in clay jars so that it clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.”)
Here are some definitions that seem to apply to this discussion:
To imprint, or its variation, the noun imprimatur, is used primarily to indicate the authorization of books or documents, to grant official endorsement. That’s the whole idea behind sealing wax, in which the imprint of an author or letter-writer was pressed to “seal it,” preserve it, and to show its attribution. The word “stamp” is a contemporary example—a bit of colored, printed paper image stuck onto a letter to show that we have paid for the privilege of sending it through the U. S. Postal Service. Ancient coins were stamped with the outline of an emperor or ruler to authenticate their value. The verb stamp implies force and conviction. If I stamp my foot on the floor your attention is drawn to the sound and movement and you begin to understand that I’m feeling something pretty strongly!
Impact, the noun, and the more recent verb to impact, both refer to what happens when we fix something firmly by pressure, or press it forcefully enough to make a change in its surface.
Influence, used either as a noun or a verb, derives from the concept of “in-flowing,” suggesting a less direct, more gradual kind of persuasion or manipulation.
Each of these words may be applied to the way we, as people of faith, connect with society. When I think of the power of a group of artists and writers and the difference we can make by our writing, our thinking, our personal influence and conviction, I am electrified, energized.
A thumb print with its capability of depicting identity and uniqueness reminds me of a seal–that which seals, or marks.
We’re going to do a bit of Bible study here. I’ve been struck by the O. T. example given in the message of the prophet Haggai, in which God pronounces that he will make Zerubbabel his “signet ring.”
Zerubbabel himself, though not a king, was the governor or civil leader of the fragmented nation of Israel during the time when the city of Jerusalem was being rebuilt following the Babylonian Captivity.
This was the proclamation: “The word of the LORD came…to Haggai on the twenty-forth day of the month. Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Judah, saying, I am about to shake the heavens and the earth” (talk about the impact of God’s thumbprint! An Hasidic saying goes like this: “God is not an uncle. God is an earthquake.” In a similar vein my Canadian friend, writer Murray Pura, recently told an audience, “Jesus is not a glass of milk.”)
“On that day, says the LORD of hosts., I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, says the LORD, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, says the LORD of hosts.”
Zerubbabel’s name means “son of Babylon” because pagan Babylon was his birthplace. Yet as part of Israel’s faithful remnant he was the one who returned from exile to ruined Jerusalem and laid the foundations of the second Temple to Yahweh.
I find this significant. It seems to prefigure the role we as Christians writers and thinkers may claim in society, of rebuilding an authentic relationship with God, for ourselves at worship, at work, as communicators, and as change-makers in society. We make the seal. We are the seal. Such a seal, impressed in wax or a clay tablet, or in Zerubbabel’s day in ink on parchment, or today’s copyright symbol applied next to an author’s books and poems and essays, was the proof of authenticity. It’s as if that ancient seal of authority is now ours to rebuild what, like Solomon’s temple, has been eroded or dismantled in Christendom and in the secularization of culture.
The Enlightenment, the cynicism and skepticism that has since infected the Church, the schisms and conflicts, (I’m an Episcopalian, and my church is desperately trying to find itself in the midst of conflict), the “death of God” movement, the deconstructionism of Derrida and the related post-modernism, the commercialization of the sacred, the pluralism of belief or unbelief, the erosion of anything that can be called “absolute,” have all effected shifts in human understandings of meaning and the sacred until it is sometimes seems like a ravaged parchment, or a garbled, coded memorandum without a key.
I believe what Yahweh was saying, through his prophet Haggai, was, “I am extending my authority through you, Zerubbabel, so that you may make my mark on your people.” How was this “marking” to begin and continue?
Not only was Zerubbabel one of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, so that God’s authority was manifested through him to proclaim a new covenant, to change the world–the whole human race as well as the Jewish nation. But further, that authority, that seal of divine authority, has been passed on to us by Christ himself to make a mark on our own culture, many centuries later. “Go into all the world…”
How are we ourselves imprinted by God, beyond being “made in his image,” with intellect, emotions and will? I believe human beings, with their self-consciousness, their capability for abstract thought, their use of language and story, their sense of the transcendent, their almost universal moral sense of right and wrong, have a unique place in creation. Recently the New Yorker ran an article on young children’s intuitive grasp of the supernatural, a sensitivity that seems to have been lost in many adults.
This implies a deep, personal, practical contact between deity and the human being. God doesn’t simply wave his hand in our direction. His touch is firmly and continually felt. It is our souls and spirits that feel the impact, which were created to feel the impact, and respond to it.
We have been told that as believers we are Christ’s body—a startling thought. The immediacy of it is electrifying. Mary bore the body of Christ. We are the body of Christ. The physicality of this metaphor is disturbing but also enlightening. I may be a fingernail, but you may be an eye or an ear or an eyelash. A penis. A neuron in a cerebral cortex, an ovary, an artery, an ankle bone, a toenail.
It makes us ask, Is it possible for us to be the hands and fingers and thumbs that mold our friends and neighbors and beyond them, the culture at large, in a way that reflects the truth about our Maker?
The Partaking (addressed to God)
Bread of the Presence
was, in Moses’ day
served on engraved gold plates
to You and Your select few.
And in exclusive glory
one alone and lonely man
sprinkled, with fear,
the ceremonial drops that pleaded
failure for another year
to You, known then
as only high and holy—
heavens apart from common
women, common men.
Often we taste the
granular body of wheat
(Think of the Grain that was buried
and swallow together
the grape’s warm, burning blood
(Remembering First Fruit!)
knowing ourselves a part of you
as you took part of us, flowed
in our kind of veins
quickened cells like ours
into a human subdividing:
now you are multiplied—
we are your fingers and your feet,
your tender heart—we
are your broken side.
Take now, and crumble small,
and cast our human bread on
the world’s waters, your contemporary
Shewbread. Feed us
to more than five thousand women and men
and in our dark, daily flood of living
pour yourself out again.
So. The holy Presence may become part of our quotidian living. We may shape the culture by service, by compassion, by ideas, by words, by stories, by the way our thumbprints touch and change who and what we are connected with. By being the people God has called us to be.
Imagery—God’s chosen teaching tool. God’s soft-sell sales pitch. Propositions may reach our minds. Pictures awaken our imaginations. We know that one-third of the Bible is in the form of poetry. Genesis Chapter One is pure poetry. So are the Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and many of the prophetic writings. We know that Holy Writ was writ under the guiding influence of the Spirit employing a brilliant array of metaphors, similes and images to bring home to us the substance of the stories and teachings. Many of these are sensuous. “As the deer thirsts for springs of water, so my soul longs for you, my God.” In Hosea 14: 8. Yahweh uses natural imagery to reassure his people: “I will be like the dew so that Israel may blossom like a lily. . . .his fragrance be like that of Lebanon.” And again, when he asks: “What have you to do with idols? I am like an evergreen cypress.” That is, my leaves will not fall, nor my provision fail. I am green and fruitful in every season.
Here’s another, one of many hundreds of promises in Isaiah, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they’re crimson red, they’ll become wooly white…” Abstract that idea, turn it into a proposition that proclaims, “God can change and cleanse you” and somehow the punch, the pinch, the energy of the image is lost. It needs the color and contrast and texture of blood vs. snow and wool to print our imaginations with its intense truth.
The prophet Ezekiel not only proclaimed his unearthly visions, he lived his metaphors, sometimes reluctantly, but with a kind of vivid reality that left no doubt about the message. He was told, in the precise words of Scripture (Ezekiel 4): “You, O mortal, take a brick and set it before you. By it portray a city, Jerusalem, under siege. . . Set your face toward it, and let it be in a state of siege. This is a sign for the house of Israel. “Then lie on your left side, and place the punishment of the house of Israel upon it. I assign you three hundred and ninety days, equal to the years of their punishment. So you shall bear their punishment. . . .When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, on your right side, and bear the punishment of the house of Judah; forty days I assign you, one day for each year. . . .See, I am putting cords on you so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have completed the days of your siege.” During these days of restriction Ezekiel was told to bake bread for his own sustenance on the fire of his own dung. When he protested that it would make him unclean, Yahweh relented and allowed him to use cow dung instead. An uncompromising message. Difficult to proclaim and equally difficult to attend to.
Our art may well need to be offensive. Harsh. Stark. Jesus’ indictment of empty, pharisaical religiosity was like a blow to the stomach of the religious leaders of the day. It was voiced in comparisons that likened them to whitewashed tombs full of decay. He was saying, “Smell the rottenness.” His hyperbolic language about cutting off one’s hand or gouging out one’s eye was meant to shock, to sting, to jolt his hearers, and us, with the impact of an idea that might change our lives. Warnings. Challenges. Impossibilities.
The Foolishness of God
or perish. Thrust out now
the unseasonal ripe figs
among your leaves. Expect
the mountain to be moved.
Hate parents, friends, and all
materiality. Love every enemy.
Forgive more times than seventy-
seven. Camel-like, squeeze by
into the kingdom through
the needle’s eye. All fear quell.
Hack off your hand, or else,
unbloodied, go to hell.
Thus the divine unreason.
Despairing you may cry,
with earthy logic—How?
And I, your God, reply:
Leap from your weedy shallows.
Dive into the moving water.
Eye-less, learn to see
truly. Find in my folly your
true sanity. Then, Spirit-driven,
run on my narrow way, sure
as a child. Probe, hold
my unhealed hand, and
bloody, enter heaven.
There is an established link between the immanent earthly, the earthy, the physical, the biological reality, and the eternal transcendent all of which lie beyond our grasp, out control, our view, our comprehension, but whose reality is even greater than that of the physical world.
I have to ask myself about my ability to receive the image and imprint of the Creator, “Am I sand, or sawdust, stone, or malleable, fire-able wax or clay? Have I asserted my own self-hood to such a degree that I’m impenetrable, unwilling to acknowledge God’s redemptive ownership of me and any gift I have? Does the thumbprint of my life and writing show any evidence of its origin? Its etymology?”
A modern rendering of Ps. 31: 12 goes like this: “I feel as useless as a broken pot.” From time to time, as political pressures and social shifts occur, we may feel tempted to see our own small imprint as too trivial or insignificant to make a difference, leaving no trace. We may fall back into a sense of failure and passivity. We may dismiss personal initiatives not only as ineffective but as requiring more time or energy than we feel able to give.
But think of the way artists of faith have touched the world. Botticelli, Durer, da Vinci, Titian, Michaelangelo, Rembrandt and his “Prodigal Son.” The illuminated pages of the Books of Kells and the Lindisfarne Gospels among others. And Bach, in his little church in Leipzig, writing choral music to accompany the story of Jesus’ death as told in Matthew’s Gospel. The metaphysical poets. Mel Gibson dramatizing the Gospel account in film. The great iconographers of the Orthodox Church. The cathedrals and monasteries of the world. Add your own examples to the brilliant list.
Here’s how a memorable imprint was made on me, as I had opportunity to go to Romania with poet Jeanne Murray Walker. Both Jeanne and I are members of the Chrysostom Society which, for the past 20 years, has been committed to making an imprint on culture by writing challenging books, essays, plays, and poetry. The two of us were invited by a group of about 25 Romanian poets of faith to come and lead a workshop with them in the university city of Cluj. They had felt isolated from Western culture and literature, and we hoped to bridge a bit of that gap.
Since the downfall of Ceaucescu in 1989 the national churches in Romania have largely become so politicized and corrupt that it is hard for heart-felt belief to flourish in them. But small independent communities of faith are springing up, and the work of these poets is beginning to make a difference, as part of this new wave of Christian conviction, in their lives and in the anthologies of poetry that they are publishing.
For the best part of a week we met with them to lecture, exchange poems, discuss the poetic process, critique individual work, and do what we could to encourage them. It has been said that “every Romanian is a poet.” These are passionate, gifted, generous, fearless, opinionated writers. As it turned out, Jeanne and I both felt that we had gained far more from them than vice versa. Their courage, their enthusiasm and the quality of their work has to be seen to be believed. Since then we have been able to help translate and publish a number of their poems in American literary journals, as well as supporting the publication of a new book of poems in Romania.
The biggest challenge: a two-way link had to be made between our language and theirs, our world view and theirs, our life history and theirs. Of incalculable value was a gifted Romanian colleague, Andreea Luncan, who has degrees in English literature and speaks flawless idiomatic English. Several other poet translators spent their days standing at our shoulders and quietly translating the conversations and discussions that were going on so that we could fully participate in the proceedings.
We were there also to attend the launch of a new volume of their poetry, Cuvinte la Schimb, or Words Exchange, in a major bookstore in the city. The Romanian Minister of Culture was part of the celebration and in his speech remarked how encouraging it was to read “a poetry of hope rather than despair.”
On a corner of a central intersection in Cluj stand six bronze pillars, erected as memorials to the six Romanian citizens who died during the coup against Ceaucescu. About eight or ten feet tall, they are shaped and twisted and bear marks like abrasions and deep bullet holes. We reached up and were able, like Thomas, to put our fingers in the wounds. I felt as if I were Thomas, and that my own faith was being restored.
These sculptures are the work of Liviu Mocan, an internationally known artist whose Christian convictions have never been hidden. On a metal plate embedded in the pavement next to the bronzes are the words of Christ: “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” In the bustling, utterly secular city of Cluj, this stamp, this public seal of faith impressed us indelibly.
At the intersection of faith and art you and I may be simply called to make our mark—an X on the signature line, or to send a first class letter with a 44 cent postage stamp. Or we may be asked to make prints from large woodcuts or illuminate manuscripts that end up hung in national galleries, to be seen by thousands. Culture has a thousand surfaces that invite the stamp of meaning.
Never has it been so important as now for our own artistic endeavor, as it happens, teaching us, marking us as we go, to inform us and enrich us so that we ourselves, in our relationships and connections, with our words and our personal influence, may become seals, living texts, of God’s thumb on our clay, indelible imprints visible to the world.
If God could shape an Adam out of mud, or an Eve out of a thin bone, what might he do with us?
The opposable thumb gives us the ability to grasp with the whole hand.
Digital. In technology. In flesh. The imprints appear through the use of our digits.
Examples should speak, rather than definitions.