Bobby’s World: Heroes – CS Lewis

I present to you Bobby’s World, monthly musings from the one and only Hubby!  Its been a while, but a few months ago he introduced us to his Hero series. Check it out here is you want a little refresher.


 

The Apostle to the Skeptics

If there was one person I could meet up with and have an hour long conversation over a cup of coffee, it would be C.S. Lewis.

Now, let me be clear. Lewis would be drinking tea, not coffee. His habit for smoking a pipe would be frowned upon by whatever local coffeeshop I suggested, and we would be thrown out. And he would probably reject the invitation of going out in the first place, unless it was to The Eagle and Child pub for a strong pint, poetry recitations and some story-telling.

If you have never heard of the great C.S. Lewis, you’re not alone. The Montclair Library has not heard of him either. However, you may be more familiar with his most popular mainstream piece of children’s literature, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which is part of the larger fantasy series known as The Chronicles of Narnia.

I’m actually kind of glad that I don’t have the opportunity to meet Mr. Lewis, because I would lose my mind and probably fall apart in front of him, providing him with ample writing material for a small, foolish character in his next book (which upon second thought would be awesome). Think Leslie Knope meeting Joe Biden… then cube it. I have this guy’s poster in my classroom, his headshot reigns on both my school Google account and classroom Twitter account, I consistently Google search “cs lewis reenactments near me” and I have a pair of Narnia-character patterned pajamas. (Ok, I don’t actually have those pajamas, but only because they don’t exist… yet. I am not above that).

So how in the world am I going to sufficiently explain my admiration for a hero of such personal magnitude? The short answer: I’m not, because I can’t. But regardless, my hope is that you walk away knowing a bit more about me by knowing a bit more about Lewis, and that you learn a bit more about yourself.

Clive Staples Lewis was born in Ireland at the turn of the 20th century. Called “plain Jack” by his friends, Lewis was anything but ordinary, with his wild imagination and tall tales that he and his brother created in their childhood. His mother died when he was ten years old, and actually became an emotional source for his agnosticism and later atheism. His father shipped him off to England to receive a proper education through various boarding schools, and therefore we remember Lewis as being “English” when in actuality he was “Irish” and identified himself as such. He would never forgive his father for shipping him off to foreign England after his mother’s death, and their relationship would be somewhat estranged up to his father’s passing.

Lewis excelled in school and eventually landed himself a scholarship to Oxford, but was soon conscripted into the British army during WWI. He would be wounded on the frontline, which would lead to depression and homesickness, and Lewis would soon be discharged and sent back to Oxford. There, he flexed his intellectual muscle in philosophy, Greek and Latin literature, ancient history and general English. Noticeably gifted, he was hired in an adjunct role for a year at Oxford, and then offered a full-time position the following year. He would teach English Literature for the next 29 years as an Oxford Fellow and Tutor.

During his early years at Oxford, C. S. Lewis would develop friendships that would alter his life, namely J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. A devout Catholic, Tolkien would play a vital role in leading Lewis to becoming a Christian and developing an intellectually strong faith. Lewis would also enjoy the friendship and support of a literary circle known as the Inklings. A collective of fantasy authors, the Inklings would gather at the local pub every Tuesday to recite old poetry and read their own original work for collegial constructive criticism. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have been surrounded by the likes of Lewis, Tolkien, Owen Barfield and Charles Williams, as they discussed ideas, told stories and debated concepts as a group of friends.

Lewis’ teaching career provided him the time and financial support to engage in his love of writing and storytelling. Though best known for his The Chronicles of Narnia series, which are a lot of fun and worth reading, Lewis cranked out a slew of strong works over the course of his life. Some of these include:

  • Screwtape Letters – A fictional story that centers around the one-sided conversation of an elder demon attempting to guide his demon nephew in how to lead a young man’s soul to damnation.

 

  • The Great Divorce – A fictional story about a busload of citizens from Hell who get to experience Heaven, and are quite surprised and sometimes upset by what they find.
  • The Space Trilogy – A powerful, Sci-Fi adventure tale makes the reader ask questions about mankind and human nature from the outside perspective from inhabitants of other planets.
  • Mere Christianity – Originally written for BBC radio broadcasts during WWII, these talks were converted into a book that discusses why Christianity makes sense and offers easy to understand apologetics for the skeptic to consider.

 

Perhaps one of Lewis’ shortest works, A Grief Observed, was one of his greatest triumphs. Originally released under a pseudonym, Lewis recorded his experiences and internal turmoil in the aftermath of his wife’s death. They had been married for roughly four years late in Lewis’ life, and her death came as quite a blow to Lewis. A Grief Observed chronicles his grief, his wrestling with God, and his process of coming to terms with his own selfishness and emotional needs. Ironically, some of Lewis’ friends suggested the book to him as a way of processing his loss, not knowing it was he who had written it.

Lewis lived a full life, and it came to an end on November 22, 1963, the same day of the Kennedy assassination. (Interesting fact though, Lewis was technically declared dead earlier that July when he passed into a coma on a hospital bed. He awoke to the surprise of his doctors, checked himself out and enjoyed some beers later that evening with friends).  

 

So why is this dead author my hero?

More than any other author I’ve read, I’ve always felt like C. S. Lewis “got me,” as if he knew me and was writing to me personally. It’s just something about his approach to writing that is so attractive and seems to connect with me. His logical arguments are presented through such palatable means: fairy tales, fictional stories and some of the most incredible analogies that make perfect sense. In fact, one of my favorite things about Lewis is that he has an extraordinary ability to take something complex and confusing, and explain it in such simple and clear terms. That has to be the teacher in Lewis, and our shared profession also probably makes me like him all the more.

I’m a bit embarrassed to say this, but if I am honest, I’m in awe of his intelligence and its influence on his faith. For better or worse, I’ve always been swayed and won over by the intelligentsia in the room, and C. S. Lewis takes the day. The man was brilliant, and he left a legacy that has supported a strong, reasonable faith. Nicknamed “the Apostle to the Skeptics,” he appeals to the common sense and reason of those who doubt or oppose God’s existence, and offers incredible insight and logic as to why they should reconsider their views, as he did. For a Christian, intuitive-thinker (NT) as myself, Lewis writes with a bold and powerful intellect, and ultimately champions a faith that is strong, reasonable and right. It was once said best…

“Lewis, perhaps more than any other twentieth century writer, forced those who listened to him and read his works to come to terms with their own philosophical presuppositions.”

But C. S. Lewis does not only appeal to the mind, but to the heart as well. At the end of the day, the strongest reason why Lewis is my hero is because whenever I read any of his works, it makes me want to love God more. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at Barnes & Noble reading one of his books and I have to put it down and say to Megan, “This guy makes me want to follow Jesus more closely.” Without fail, when I read Lewis, I am moved to love God more deeply, pray more often and live with greater awareness of eternity. Do you have a friend who, when you’re done hanging out with them, makes you want to be a better person or go achieve something great? For me, that is C. S. Lewis, and even reading just a quote of his has the effect of pushing me closer to Jesus Christ.

Speaking of quotes, Lewis is king. I would suggest perusing over here… at your own leisure just to see what I’m talking about. The guy sure can spit a strong one-liner. If you like what you see, I would recommend following some of his fan-based Twitter personalities.

Another suggested link that I stumbled across is a Youtube channel that is devoted to adding time-lapsed sketch art to readings of some of C. S. Lewis’ works. “CS Lewis Doodle is the title of the Youtube channel and it is incredibly helpful to see someone supplement Lewis’ words with engaging artwork. Nerd moment… I like to take my lunch break everyday at school by watching one of the videos while I eat. They’re short enough (10-15 minutes) that I can handle one or two as a great way to have a thinking, reflective and restful lunch. If you’re a Lewisian disciple, you need to check it out. If you’re not there yet, you need to check it out.

As I was thinking how to close this out, I felt it would be appropriate to quickly list and briefly highlight some other heroes of mine that I look up to for similar reasons as Lewis. Maybe you’ll be interested to check them out as well, or maybe you already look up to them!

  • J. R. R. Tolkien – Pioneer of medieval high-fantasy, Tolkien gifted the world with another world: Middle Earth. His works The Silmarillion, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and a host of others really laid a great deal of foundation for the fantasy world. Game of Thrones owes him a nod of appreciation.
  • G. K. Chesterton – Famous Christian apologist and jack-of-all-trades with regard to academia, Chesterton gave the world his powerful work Orthodoxy and was the second voice that shaped Lewis, (Tolkien being the first). If you read Lewis, know that Lewis read Chesterton. (He was specifically shaped by The Everlasting Man).
  • Andrew Wilson – Teaching pastor at King’s Church in London. Introduced to me by a very close friend (to who I am eternally grateful!), Andrew Wilson essentially shaped and formed a great deal of my theology over the last three years through his sermons and writings on a blog that he contributes to; www.thinktheology.co.uk. Ridiculously bright, strong in reasoning, cordial in disagreement. And the only time I met him, he complimented Megan’s glasses. What a guy.
  • Jon Tyson – Lead pastor of Trinity Grace Church in NYC, the Australian native theologian and pastor is a recent addition to bright, humble, Christian thinkers that I look up to. He’s included here because of his genuine love of people and deep, nuanced thoughts on how to reach a city and a nation with God’s love. I’d recommend listening to his story at http://citycollective.org/podcast .

Who are your heroes? Who do you look up to? If you could sit down for a conversation with one person, who would it be? What do you think your choice says about you?

 

It is good to have heroes, and perhaps C. S. Lewis said it best when he wrote, “Since it is so likely that children will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage.”

 

*Next Hero Hint… This hero of mine married his high school sweetheart, currently resides in Philadelphia, and earned the nickname “The Kingmaker.”

Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

Bobby’s World: Summer Reading Review

I present to you Bobby’s World, monthly musings from the one and only Hubby!  As promised, here are his reading recommendations for the summer.


*Apologies… This became longer than I was expecting. If you’re looking to do some summer reading but would like some ideas before jumping in, feel free to consider what I’ve read over the last six months before making your decision. Happy reading!


Translating God by Shawn Bolz – A quick read that is chock-full of keen insight and pragmatic tips as to how to cultivate the prophetic into everyday, Christian living. Fueled by stories from Shawn’s own experiences, the recurring message of the book is to pursue prophesy in the context of loving others. A suggested book to anyone looking to explore the concept of hearing God and sharing His heart for others.


Tribes by Seth Godin – Almost a decade old, I had never heard of this book until Amazon recommended it to me. It looked to be worth a read, and I picked it up through my library. It’s premise was that leadership in the 21st century is based on building tribes–small, tight-knit, loyal and passionate crews that can carry your ideas forward in any field. Mixed feelings on this one; overall, it was filled with a lot of “rah-rah” leadership rhetoric that lacked in substance. However, it had moments of unique and dynamic language and analogies that made it worthwhile. Definitely walked away feeling encouraged to take risks, invest in others and build a tribe, even if it didn’t meet all my expectations.


The Lord of the Rings (Trilogy) by J. R. R. Tolkien – Though I grew up with the movies and even one time watched all three extended versions in one sitting from dawn to dusk, I had never actually read the books. Arguably blasphemous to say, I have found Tolkien’s storytelling to be a bit lengthy and long-winded. I opted to listen to the trilogy through audiobook on the way to work, and moments are filled with great excitement and others are very dull. To be fair, Tolkien accomplished the incredible task of creating a complex fantasy world, even incorporating his own languages for the varieties of people groups in Middle Earth. In the end, it was ok/good/dull. I’m glad I did it, but I’ll stick to The Hobbit for Tolkien reading and watching the LOTR movies.


Fools Talk by Os Guinness – A deceptively heavy work regarding Christian apologetics in the postmodern era. Guinness’ main idea is that Christians need to regain a persuasive spirit in presenting the gospel if they are going to have any impact in a day and age that is skeptical and cynical. Storytelling, wit, humor, questioning; all important “table turning” techniques to be used and reclaimed in winning the hearts, minds and souls of the people we rub shoulders with. This book is deeply introspective and analytical, bringing the reader into the human mind and breaking down the “why” behind complex processes such as conversion, truth-denial, atheism and faith. I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in making their faith relevant to those who seem absolutely uninterested, but do not expect a step-by-step guide to apologetics but rather a call to become creative and persuasive in our methodology.   


A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis – As a fanatical Lewisian disciple, this was the first of a few CS Lewis’s works to be read over this year. The shortest book that I have read by Lewis, A Grief Observed is essentially Lewis’ grief journal that was written in response to his late wife’s death. Lewis holds no punches in this one, thinking and grieving out loud and allowing the reader to tread quietly along at his side. His writing shifts from personal stories to questions of God to memories of his wife; a brilliant swirl of raw emotion that is attempting to make sense of the grief that Lewis has been surrounded by. The beauty of this short, powerful work is that it does not offer clean and well-tied up answers to complex questions, but instead offers sobering and sometimes jarring insights about the human heart under the terrible pressure of pain.


The Great Divorce  by C. S. Lewis – Years ago, this book was recommended to me by a close friend (who I have consistently let down by not reading their recommendations until years later), and over the last year it has become my faithful Barnes & Noble read. After months of reading a page here and there, I finally settled down to knock this one out, as I should have a long time ago. Lewis does not disappoint with this one, using his imagination and outside-the-box thinking to tell a short story about a busload of inhabitants from Hell who take a trip to Heaven and are surprised by what they find. I will not go into further detail in order to avoid giving away too much, but I will say that it well worth the read. If you have read Screwtape Letters by Lewis, I would highly recommend The Great Divorce. For me, I often found myself putting this book down to walk away and think about the reality of the eternity that awaits us. The creative genius that he is, Lewis will have you asking tough questions throughout his story of a journey from Hell to Heaven, and that is precisely why I enjoyed The Great Divorce.


In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson – This book was recommended to me rather recently, and being that the copy was put into my hands rather than just suggested, it found its way to the top of my reading list in order to get it back to the person. Funny enough, the author is a pastor who I had previously followed closely on a blog years ago and did not realize it was the same person when I first started reading this book. Originally published over ten years ago, the main message of this book is to face your fears and to take the risk that you are currently afraid of taking. I could see In A Pit being a great and helpful read for someone facing a fork in the road who needs to be challenged to go down the path that they do not want to go down. As someone who likes to play it safe, I’m glad I read a book like this that charged me to take action. However, if I’m going to be honest, I don’t think you need to read the whole book. I found it a bit repetitive, even if the stories used throughout the book were fresh and honest. At times, too, it also felt a bit hokey, but maybe it was just me, or the fact that it was written almost a decade ago. In the end though, it is definitely worth a quick read (even if you only read the first three chapters).


Church Zero by Peyton Jones – I purchased this book last year after listening to the author’s podcast called “Hardcore Church Planting” (which is a great podcast for anyone who wants to hear quick interviews with leading church planters around the nation). Right off the bat, let me say this; Peyton Jones is cool. Yes, this is the opinion of a low-key nerd, I know. But the fact that you could incorporate Star Wars, shotgun wielding Zombie-slayers and Nacho Libre in a book about church planting in the 21st century; you’re pretty cool in my book. Here are a couple of things you will immediately notice as you’re reading Church Zero; Jones probably had a great time writing this book, you’re having a great time reading it, and Jones genuinely cares about the future of the church and church planting in today (and tomorrow’s) cultural-climate. He holds no punches, saying things that need to be said that no one is willing to say, and all with the intention of seeing Jesus honored and biblical churches built. An attractive blend of humor and honesty, I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in church planting or philosophy of ministry that also doesn’t mind laughing along the way.


If God, Then What? by Andrew Wilson – If you haven’t heard of Andrew Wilson before, let me introduce you to “my boy.” I hope he never reads this because 1) I am ashamed of the reference I just used and 2) I am ashamed of how much I fan-boy over him. There it is, I have no dignity left. Getting back on topic, Andrew Wilson has had a profound impact on my life through the blog that he contributes to; www.thinktheology.co.uk. His teachings as a pastor and clarity as a writer have helped to shape my faith over the last three years, specifically with regard to charismatic theology. After reading his contributions on his blog, it was only a matter of time before I got my hands on some of his books. Last year I read his work Unbreakable (which I strongly recommend) and this year I hope to read his more recent work The Life You Never Expected. As for If God, Then What?, I could not put it down. I figured I would start it on a bus ride to Washington DC, but little did I expect to be so engrossed in it that I would finish it before we arrived. The book’s subject is just as it seems according to its clever title; an approach to Christian apologetics in a linear, question-based, thinking out-loud style of logical reasoning. The genius of this book is that you feel as though you are in your own mind as you try to process the questions that surround the existence of God. It is non-threatening while intellectually challenging. It is inviting to both Christian and unbeliever alike. It is focused on getting to the bottom of truth and drawing conclusions based on what is most plausible, not what is absolutely airtight and fully explainable. As it stands right now, this is the nonfiction “Book of the Year” for me, and I think it is going to be hard to beat. CS Lewis would be proud, and I’m almost sure that Os Guinness is. Check it out.

*I am also reading through the Harry Potter series right now (for the first time, and yes I know I am really late on this one) but will comment on them in a separate post, later on this year.

Bobby’s World : Heroes



I present to you Bobby’s World, monthly musings from the one and only Hubby!  


A few weeks ago, a fellow teacher and I were talking about our upcoming field trip to Washington DC and inevitably got on the topic of Arlington cemetery, which led to further conversation on the D-Day invasion during WWII.

We were talking about what it must have been like to have been a soldier on that stormy morning of June 6th 1944. Perhaps you had volunteered after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Or maybe you had been drafted later as a replacement, as the death tolls rose higher and higher. Regardless of how you got there, you were crammed into a boat with other young men who were all asked by their country, future and present, to answer the highest call of citizenship; to defend their country and their freedom.

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The other teacher and I thought out loud, “What must have been going through their minds?” As the low rumble of the Higgins’ landing-craft motors churned through the high waters, I can imagine their hearts and minds trying to cope, sort and make sense of the barrage of emotions that were being thrown against them. Memories of home and loved ones far away, dreams of the lives they’d live if they returned home, silent prayers uttered to God above; all the while fear of death lingering in their thoughts and being stifled as deep down as possible. I’m sure many of them accepted what seemed to be the inevitable, and stared into the dark waters thinking of nothing at all.

And that fear of the “inevitable” was well warranted. The first wave at Omaha beach would endure a staggering 50% casualty rate, according to more conservative historians. Imagine for a moment, your life determined by the probability of flipping a coin.

It was in these young hands that our future hung in the balance. Many in their early twenties, and a few probably eighteen years old. What weight, what responsibility pressed upon that American youth who were asked to sacrifice their world for ours. Known as the “greatest generation,” it was not as much that they earned that title as it was simply who they were all along and displayed true greatness under such incredible pressure.

(One of my favorite post-rock songs written on behalf of the Greatest Generation. Instrumental.)

These men were heroes. They fulfilled Hemingway’s definition of courage as being “grace under pressure.” And such grace must be strong if it is to compel men forward across a half-mile of open beach under the hail storm of endless enemy fire.

This Memorial Day, I encourage you to remember those who have fallen on behalf of our nation, across our nation’s history and around the world. Personally, I like to close my eyes and think about the places that they went and the conditions that they faced. The frozen ground of Valley Forge and the rolling hills of Gettysburg. The fields of the Somme and the jungles of Vietnam. The forests surrounding Bastogne and the deserts of Iraq. The Chosin Reservoir of Korea, where my deceased neighbor Frank watched his entire platoon disappear in minutes. A small, unnamed village in Afghanistan where 1st Lt. Daren M. Hidalgo, my mentor and company captain at West Point, would pay “the last full measure of devotion.”

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This post is kicking off a series for my future monthly posts, appropriately titled “Hero Series.” Through these posts, I will be highlighting some personal heroes of mine (some real, some fictional) and calling out their character traits that I hope to model in my own life. While it is my hope that you may be introduced to some new heroes and to hear some interesting stories about the lives of some personal heroes of mine, the goal is that you would be inspired to think about your heroes and what it is about them that make you look up to them.

Who your heroes are says a great deal about you. It shows what impresses you, what you hold in high esteem, what you value and who you strive to be. I look forward to sharing my heroes with you over the next few months, and I hope you do the same with me.

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*Hero #1 Hint* My next post will focus on a person who was called “Plain Jack” growing up, Irish by birth, middle name was Staples, and died on the same day as the John F. Kennedy assassination. (No googling for the answer!)

Photo Credit

Adventure

Hey there.
I have a little treat for you. My sweet hubby has written a guest post for this week! I think this will be a monthly staple around here, so what should we call it? Hubby’s corner? Blogs with Bob? Shoot me some ideas friends.
Sit back and enjoy some soul lifting, heart challenging, dream inspiring words from one of the greatest guys I know. 

 

 

You may or may not know this about me, but I am a low-key geek.

 

Actually, you would only know this if you know me very well. I’m pretty good at holding a conversation about a host of topics that would be deemed far from geeky, like sports and personal fitness. But I also grew up reading the Chronicles of Narnia by flashlight until 2am. I spent an entire Saturday with my brother and friends watching a marathon of all three extended versions of the Lord of Rings trilogy; a grand total of fourteen hours well-spent. I joined a Dungeons & Dragons campaign and found myself Live-Action-Role-Playing (aka larping) with a nerf sword and a catcher’s mask against an imaginary Soul-Wraith. I skipped prom to play The Hobbit on my Gamecube and slay two packages of Oreos. I played the boardgame RISK so often by myself, my parents decided it would be in my best interest to purchase a computer edition so that I could at least interact with AI.

 

The list goes on and on, but the point is that I absolutely love being a citizen of Nerdom. Recently, I decided to feed the beast of my geeky cravings and snagged an audio book from the library that would fix me up; The Fellowship of the Ring.

 

There is nothing quite like your forty-five minute commute being filled with hobbits, cave trolls, dwarves, elves and a quest to save the world. As the first of three books that J. R. R. Tolkien wrote about Middle Earth, this book will always have a special place in my heart. And I don’t think I truly realized how special it was to me until I began listening to it again on the way to work just recently.

 

Somewhere along the way of Frodo escaping dark riders in order to complete an unexpected mission, I let loose an internal sigh and began to dream about what it would be like to be called into such an adventure. Isn’t that the allure of adventure stories? You live vicariously through a fictional character whose rather mundane life is turned upside down unexpectedly and is forced to change and be something that they never believed they could become. A forty-five minute commute is forty-five minutes too short if it is filled with stories that you wish you could be living. Especially on the way to work.

 

But what hit me was this; why not live a life of adventure? Why sit in a car daydreaming about stories and fantasizing about what it would be like to be there with Frodo and Gandalf, when I could be dreaming about the very adventure that lies before me once I park my car and head into my place of employment? What is stopping me from living life passionately and deliberately, choosing to see life as a story and a grand adventure?

 

These questions are only further compounded by a conversation that I had with a colleague earlier today about life. We had an incredible dialogue about life, about the rut of monotony and feeling unfulfilled. It was fascinating to watch him search for the words to describe what he was looking for. “I want an adventure,” he finally managed to say. Well-spoken.

 

Perhaps for him or for you, adventure might mean a career change or moving to a new city or starting something that you never dreamed was possible. But perhaps it simply means changing your perspective rather than your actions. Only you can answer that question.

 

For me, I may not meet a cave troll or be asked to carry an all-powerful ring into the darkest regions of Middle Earth, but I will be confronted by conflict, surrounded by friends and given an endless set of choices as to how I will use my time. I will be tried and tested in both the mundane and the spontaneous. I will grow in my craft and hone skills that have uniquely been given to me. I will suffer tragedy and celebrate triumph. As the chapters unfold, I will change and others will be changed by me. And if you skip to the final pages, I hope that you will find that my story found its meaning not in anything that I did, but that I knew the Author and that He knew me.

 

Are you living a life of adventure?

 

What would have to change for you to begin living deliberately and finding satisfaction in your story?

 

Where do you want your story to take you and who do you want to become along the way?

 

My literary hero, CS Lewis, said something absolutely profound about people and about life. He said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” Let us keep those words in our mind as we go about our day and live our stories fully. And let us remember that about ourselves.

 

You are not ordinary. You are not a mere mortal.

 

 

photo courtesy of Unsplash