Protagonist Perceptions

There is a saying in politics that “perception is everything.” Even if the perception is not based on truth, it will determine how one’s words and actions are received. If you want to influence people to follow you, it would be wise to always be sensitive to how we are being perceived, and make necessary adjustments when needed.

This past August, CCO unveiled its ten year vision: “Protagonists in the mission to proclaim Jesus clearly and simply.” It is a very exciting and timely vision that we believe will have a lasting impact on the mission of the Church. The vision’s effectiveness will be determined by how many choose to become protagonists in this mission to proclaim Jesus clearly and simply. In the early days of the soft launch of this vision, I quickly learned that we may be dealing with a perception problem. There is an impression among friends of the movement that, in our desire or commitment to be protagonists (leading characters), we are taking attention away from the real protagonist, who is Jesus. My quick response would be to say that we are protagonists in the MISSION to proclaim JESUS… Because our intention is to influence and raise up protagonists, my energy should not be focused on re-stating the obvious truth. The vision would be well served by us being aware of this perception, and with charity and humility bringing understanding and clarity to all those associated with the movement.

With this possible perception problem in mind, I intend to spend time over the next year gaining much-needed insight on this bold and intentional word “protagonist.” Each week, I am going to send out a simple blog expressing what I am learning from others about the true meaning and potential of being a protagonist.

  1. Andre,

    Thanks for highlighting this “threat” to the vision. If Christ is the ultimate protagonist, then how can each of us be a protagonist as well? Would it not be more appropriate to describe ourselves as “supporting characters” in HIS-story?

    We need to articulate the fact that, in one sense, we are “supporting characters” but in another sense we are “protagonists”. It’s possible to be both, but in different ways. How are we protagonists in his drama?

    In some sense, each of our lives is a story told by God. In story-telling, the protagonist isn’t always the most objectively important character in the story. Here’s a cliche example I’m trying to get away from using: The Chronicles of Narnia. Ultimately, Aslan is the driving force behind the history of Narnia. He creates it, he populates it, he saves it… Nonetheless, Aslan’s “appearance” in the narrative is actually very limited. Sometimes he shows up a lot, sometimes he seems almost absent from the story.

    The narrative focuses on the human and Narnian characters, on their aspirations, their concerns, etc. They would rightly be called the “protagonists” of the various stories in which they find themselves. Aslan is a “force” that influences their decisions. Aslan’s development as a character is not the interest of the reader. We want to know about Lucy and Diggory and Eustace. What will they do? How will they respond to Aslan’s influence on their young lives?

    I have to run for Mass. I’ll try to develop this more later! 🙂


  2. God is the author of all creation. Creation is a story – a comedy (I will expound on this in my own blog!). Can God become a protagonist in his own creation? Yes! He did that. We know this! But God is a serial author. His creation has many chapters, many volumes. Every human life is a volume in His story. Every story zooms in on a different character. This one is about me. That one is about you. In the one about me, I am the protagonist. In the one about you, guess what? You are!

    Is God there too? Yes. Is he objectively the most important person in His own creation? Yes. Is he the most important character in the STORY? I would say NO. The story is about you. Or me. The story is about how you or I respond to God’s grace in our lives. How we engage the circumstances we inherit. The story isn’t about God. God is the “atmosphere” of each story, of every human life. God is a force. If we look at our lives through a literary lens, if we consider ourselves in a story – God is not the protagonist. Protagonists are flawed, they develop. They fail. They change.

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