Many critics bemoaned 2001 as a terrible year for movies. For some religious critics, the year's only significant topic was the terrible evil of Harry Potter, and they exhorted parents to keep their kids away from a fairy tale that might lure them into dangerous waters. (Interestingly, those same critics lauded Fellowship of the Ring because the author was a Christian, even though the Dungeons and Dragons phenomenon and much of our culture's obsession with magic and fantasy stems from love of The Lord of the Rings.) Meanwhile, other moviegoers found spiritual truths evident in Shrek, Amelie, Moulin Rouge,Memento, Mulholland Drive, even in Harry Potter.

Daniel Taylor, author of The Healing Power of Stories, talks to Christians about the importance of exploring stories that come from secular culture. "There is a great hunger for meaning … for justice," he said in a recent interview. "Many things that we think are in 'our province' are things that are also in these stories, because everybody is made in the image of God. We might be quick to say 'This is secular, this is non-Christian, or this is liberal' or anything that distances us from it. That is an immoral way of listening. We listen because they are human beings … who have things to tell us that we need to know and will be better for hearing. And at the same time, listening to their stories will help us form relationships with them."

Last week I asked fellow critics and readers what 2001 answers are a testament to how God can reach us through all kinds of secular art—heavy political dramas, animated lowbrow humor, French romantic comedies, bombfilms were meaningful to them. I received a flood of opinions. Their astic postmodern musicals, action-packed epic ...

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