The Deacon's Bench

Last night, my wife and I finally went to see “WALL-E”; everybody else on the planet was going to see “The Dark Knight,” so it was easy to get tickets.

Two hours later, I staggered out of the theater, wiping the tears from my cheeks. It just got me. My wife squeezed my hand. “It’s allergies,” I sniffed. “Or the air conditioning.”

Aside from the technical brilliance of the movie — the filmmakers imagined an altogether amazing, tangible, depressingly plausible world, and then made it come to life — the movie has a wild, warm, sentimental heart beating underneath. So much has been focused on its environmental message; but in a recent interview, the movie’s director Andrew Stanton spoke candidly about the story’s strong Christian theme of love:

Well, what really interested me was the idea of the most human thing in the universe being a machine because it has more interest in finding out what the point of living is than actual people. The greatest commandment Christ gives us is to love, but that’s not always our priority. So I came up with this premise that could demonstrate what I was trying to say—that irrational love defeats the world’s programming. You’ve got these two robots that are trying to go above their basest directives, literally their programming, to experience love.

With the human characters I wanted to show that our programming is the routines and habits that distract us to the point that we’re not really making connections to the people next to us. We’re not engaging in relationships, which are the point of living—relationship with God and relationship with other people.

Yes. I think that is what stirred me so deeply and had me rooting so much for the hapless title character. Thomas Merton wrote: “We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone; we find it with another.” “WALL-E” is an achingly poignant reminder of that.

See it with another. And see if you aren’t moved by its simple message of love and hope and renewal. Life began in a garden — and as the movie shows us at the end, that is how it will continue, too.

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