I have just seen Pixar's well-reviewed movie WALL-E, with Luca (aged 6) and Anton (aged 3). The film deserves praise for creating such a powerful story with such unlikely material. Set on a deeply depressing toxic wasteland of Earth, and an equally dismal spaceship with obese human beings, the hero is a rusty garbage disposal unit whose only friend appears to be a cockroach, until Eve (Extra-terrestrial Vegetation Evaluator) drops into his loneliness.
There's enough science-fiction echoes, clever allusions and deft humor to keep adults engaged, but I was amazed by how much emotion was invested in these central characters, Wall-e and Eve, so that even our three-year old stayed connected to the end. How extraordinary that digital technology can convey such a convincing world, with almost wordless machines making the story line!
I was reminded of a list I use in class, which places the significant parts of effective communication in order of priority. Susan Page (Away with Words) offers this mnemonic, INLAWS, representing:
I think preachers (and other communicators) need to recognize that words come lower in order than we might imagine, and that silence matters too.