BillboardThe other day, Sister Julie and I were going to a meeting when we passed these two billboards. Please excuse the poor quality of the photo — it’s hard to take a good picture on a busy highway….

The first has the figure of a man standing at the edge of an ocean, his arms upraised, the sun sparkling all around. The words say: “All of the joy. None of the shame.” At the bottom is the name of a Christian ministry called Cornerstone. By itself, the billboard didn’t make much sense to us. But then we saw another billboard, just a few yards away.

It has the picture of a woman with a sexy look on her face. The words say: “All of the liquor. None of the clothes.” The big arrow on the sign points the way to the bar.

Both billboards are targeted to men, but the messages are very different! Why not choose joy and what’s life-giving! Why not respect women and the sacredness of the human body! To me, the heart of Cornerstone’s message is that respect is a two-way street: when we respect ourselves, we can respect others, and vice versa. Respect can free us and lead us to joy. Drinking too much and treating people as objects for our gratification cannot.

I was so impressed with Cornerstone’s billboard that I called the ministry center and talked with one of the pastors there. Pastor Esperanza said that the billboard was a decision of the entire congregation. She explained that it was a way for the church to have a voice in the world: “If we don’t say anything, nothing will be done.”

She also told me about another billboard intervention. In several places around Chicago, a radio station had billboards promoting its morning show. The billboards depicted two men in bed with a woman. The words said something like: “Who do you wake up to in the morning?” A member of the congregation went to executives at the station and explained that her child could not avoid seeing the signs, and she asked them to remove the billboards. The billboards came down.

Although I’m not familiar with Cornerstone’s stance on other areas of faith and life, on the topic of respect and how to take creative action, Cornerstone rocks!!

I’d love to hear stories about the creative things you’ve seen in regard to countering negative messages with positive ones.