If you ever find yourself on Jeff Davis Highway, on Richmond’s southside, you will see a shiny new billboard on the left as you approach the Lee Bridge. It’s rather odd. There is a young couple, sitting on what appears to be a boardwalk. There’s seagrass waving in the distance, and the young woman is leaning her head against the boardwalk’s wooden railing.
Both are unhappy. Miserable, even. She’s got kind of a Paris Hilton thing going on, and she’s looking away from her companion with an air of disillusionment. He’s all hip, decked out in black with a sportcoat/turtleneck combination, his hair gelled to perfection.
To tell you the truth, he looks gay. That’s why I though the billboard’s slogan was so funny. You see, the billboard had only a single word, the one-word question “Unfulfilled?” So I figured she was unfulfilled because he was gay. Although if that was what was going on, I couldn’t for the life of me understand what the point of the billboard was.
Was it some anti-gay thing? Were they trying to “convert” people?
My curiosity piqued, I looked up the website listed in the fine print, www.unfulfilled.org. This is what I found.
The name of the group is Unfulfilled Ministries, and it's not about the gay thing. Well, at least not directly. The site is decently put together, with the question “Unfulfilled?" at the top, on a black background, with three pictures right up front. The first picture is labeled “marriage,” and, like the billboard, shows an extremely unhappy woman with her man, only this time he’s got the remote in his hand and is paying her absolutely no attention. The second picture is labeled “career,” and shows a lineup of robotically smiling suits at a conference table. The last picture is “life,” and shows a father walking by a lake, holding one child’s hand while carrying another.
Above the three pictures its says excitedly “We search and search, yet remain UNFULFILLED . . .” Below it are the words “Our search is finally over! Here is the key to true FULFILLMENT!”
Directly beneath the allcaps exclamation point thing is a set of keys, with a key tag that reads, predictably, “fulfillment.” It’s a link to a picture of a really gruesome crucifix. Jesus bloody and beaten as he’s stretched out on the cross, head bowed. Below the cross it says “Jesus said, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; Repent and believe the Good News.’”
Below that is a link that says “tell me what this means for me.” Clicking on this link gets you to some seriously heavy-handed, typo-laden sermonizing. To tell you the truth, I didn’t read much of it. I got past the first few sentences and was completely turned off.
I was a little surprised. The billboard was hip and non-pushy. So was the web site, at least the first page of it. But you click a couple of links and, blam, you’re in the middle of “God’s Kingdom.”
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not an atheist. But then, I’m not much for hellfire sermons, either. Truth doesn’t need to shout.
This idea can be found in the Eleventh Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous, which tells us that "our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion." One of the spiritual principles underlying that kind of public relations policy is humility. When we share our message in public, we state it simply and directly, rather than making overblown claims.
We let the success of our program, and the changed lives of millions of alcoholics, speak for itself.