Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

“Buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy, cause Kansas is going bye-bye.” [1]

Written by: on October 22, 2022

Prior to completing Joseph Campbell’s, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, I experienced an epiphany.  I felt as if I had read this book many times. I knew I had been here before somehow though it was my first time through this book. Why did it feel so familiar? Was this a spiritual reaction? A coincidence? Perhaps a misdiagnosis, or Déjà vu? Should I be looking for white rabbits while reading this eye-opening chronicle, because it feels appropriate? Or by chance, is there a common theme in this storyboard succession that parallels thousands of classic movies and books I was accustomed to? The latter befitted the verdict after concluding the reading.

Campbell’s book navigates a journey that I was very familiar with and common to modern-day readers and movie viewers. Although the focus was clearly on the hero’s journey and a theme that unites many stories of mythology, the overall premise is recognizable in countless ancient and modern narratives. One of the draws of this unique exposition is its relatability to the masses. It has been duplicated for centuries and continues to provide a proven template for many historic masterpieces. The theme and cycle of experiences have a profound impact on the hero, and the reader, with each stage of the monomyth.

The storyline is set in motion when the main character, the ordinary hero, is faced with a mystifying message or tribulation of some kind and is uncertain of the future. At this stage of the cycle, the hero may be considered more of a victim and has not earned their heroic title yet. The plot thickens when the hero encounters a (“fill-in-the-blank”) challenge or an invitation to pursue a divine adventure of self-discovery. As the hero progresses through several formulaic events, he (or she) continues to unlock the next phase of self-awareness that ultimately leads to a complete transformation.

Many legends, folklores, novels, and movies follow the hero’s exact monomyth model and vary only in minor detail to attract their target audience.  Most share a wise or unique character such as Yoda from Star Wars, that assists the hero in some way prior to the unknown journey. Next, a leap of faith is taken by the hero and the adventure is initiated. In the first Matrix movie, Morpheus (the wise character) describes this phase of the hero’s experience cycle famously to Neo (the hero). “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”[2]

Campbell continues to outline each step in the hero’s journey like clockwork. The uncertain, yet dedicated hero plunges into the unknown realm that requires resilient faith and diligent execution. Small wins build the hero’s confidence as he prepares to stare fear in the face and battle the very thing that terrifies him the most. Everything is leading toward success for the hero pending an “unexpected” disaster. The plot shifts suddenly and the hero’s momentum is lost. The unsung hero falls short and confusion is imminent (for the hero and reader) as the hero lies “defeated” and on the brink of death. The storyboard reaches a climax as the hero is resurrected and overcomes the most challenging obstacle in Campbell’s model.  The hero returns to his former life transmogrified, never to return to the enslaved state of consciousness he once knew. The hero has emerged and his title is legit.

The story of the hero’s journey never seems to lose its awe and wonder. Campbell brilliantly expresses a heroic theme and outlines a model that will continue to inspire storylines forever. Whether is Rocky Balboa, or Jesus Himself, the hero is the epitome of greatness and moves individuals to better themselves and reach a divine state of consciousness.

I believe the Bible is more exciting than any other book or action movie to date.  It also shares common attributes with Campbell’s model as Jesus rises as the ultimate hero.  Although the Bible holds true to this model in many ways, the Bible is not fiction and Jesus taught us more than any hero ever could. He lived by faith and was the ultimate example that can never be duplicated.  His story of heroism is evident in Hebrews 11:13-16, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have the opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.”[3]

[1] Wachowski, L., & Wachowski, L. (1999). The Matrix. Warner Bros.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Hebrews 11: 13-16

About the Author

Michael O'Neill

Director of Operations / Executive Pastor at Kinergy, Inc. Federal 501c3 Non-Profit Organization. An experienced entrepreneur, leader, father, wellness professional, and owner of a multi-location medical practice with my wife, Nicole O'Neill, MD.

9 responses to ““Buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy, cause Kansas is going bye-bye.” [1]”

  1. A great post here Michael – I agree with you that “the Bible is more exciting than any other book or movie to date” It must be the source from which all these authors (Campbell included) get their inspiration whether they admit it or not! what do you think?

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      I find it amazing that the Bible is timeless and truly inspired by God. The stories are exhilarating and impossible not to recognize when you dive into each book. Each story. Each prophecy. And the culmination of it all through Jesus. I’m captivated the entire journey from start to finish, however some of the ancient myths are actually older than the complete Bible. If I must give a yes or no answer to your question, I would lean toward yes. I definitely believe that ancient writers and many myths were inspired by biblical components and there is a connection regardless of when the story was written.

  2. Tonette Kellett says:


    Jesus is indeed the ultimate hero! And in Him we find our calling, our quest and the fulfillment of our journey whether in this life or the next one. Your conclusion is right on target. I love the way you think and appreciate your posts.

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thank you, Tonette. This week really got me excited and served as a great reminder of the greatness of Jesus. He is our Redeemer. Our Savior. Our example. The Messiah. And our Hero.

  3. mm Daron George says:


    Good post. You made this comment “The story of the hero’s journey never seems to lose its awe and wonder. ” What is going on in your hero story today that is drawing awe and wonder? We are all writing a story and I am thankful to be invited in to yours.

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Wow. This is a big question for me because there is really so much that I could unfold. I’m blown away by the love of Jesus on a daily basis. He is everywhere and he is so gracious. He is so pure. He is so humble, and whitty, and wise, and marvoulus. He’s all of that and more and I have to give him all the credit for anything going on in my own hero story.

      I do not feel like the hero in my own story, though. I aspire to be the hero in a humble fashion like Jesus but I’m more in the stage of the hero cycle where I have made then commitment, jumped into the unknown, and have a few wins under my belt. I’m building confidence as I grow and connect with the Spirit but I still haven’t faced my biggest fears. The next challenge for me is yet to come and I am preparing for it although I’m often anxious about it. I have the faith to get me there and I believe in the process and example we have through Christ but I would by lying if I didn’t say it is scary. I anticipate the next chapter in my ministry and hero journey will be the most difficult in regard to faith, courage, work/school/life balance, and exposing myself as the “hero” in the very near future. Thank you for your continued support. Your energy is inspiring and your swag is contagious. Keep doing what you’re doing and stay connected to the Spirit. I am confident that your hero journey is well on it’s way. Have you made it through a complete cycle yet yourself? “New status quo,” etc.?

  4. mm Chad McSwain says:

    Great analysis. You had me with the Matrix references. Campbell is certainly requires reading for modern story tellers. It is no wonder we are drawn in by the familiar story elements that allow us to go on the journey with the new character we encounter. Particularly with each sequel as the hero goes off on another quest.
    What stage of the hero’s journey do you find yourself?

    • Michael O'Neill says:

      Thanks, Chad. I couldn’t help but think about the Matrix while reading Campbell’s book. I feel like Neo in my own way. My original post doesn’t give a lot of detail about my own journey because it’s technically incomplete. I am only about halfway through the Hero’s template if I had to evaluate myself. I mentioned this in a response to Daron, I feel confident that “I can do all things through Christ” [1] but I do not want to sound cliche in anyway. I am reading that verse in humble fear of stepping out into the true unknown and completely riding on faith and obedience. I feel guidance but I also am aware of my test to persevere. I find it super cool how God molds us and prepares us in exactly the best way for us if we stop and recognize it. Thank you for the comment and for your guidance in my journey too. I really look up to your leadership and I’m inspired by your commitment to Christ, your family, your congregation, and your ministry. Keep up the good work, my friend.

      [1] Phil. 4:13

  5. Kristy Newport says:

    I have not watched the Matrix. The title of your blog prompted me to look it up on You Tube! Too too good!


    Great reflections, Michael

    I have no questions.
    I am praying the Lord continues to reveal Himself as you have described Him in your blog!

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