A banner in the Alice Millar Chapel at Northwestern University features these two statements set off from each other: Do not DESPAIR one of the thieves was SAVED; Do not PRESUME one of the thieves was DAMNED. The couplet refers to the two thieves who were crucified alongside Jesus, as recorded in Luke’s Gospel. The second half of the couplet, which is attributed to St. Augustine, is ambiguous. We could treat it as a command to presume that the second thief was damned. But I prefer taking the word presume as a synonym of assume: we should not necessarily assume that the second thief wasn’t saved. After all, Luke’s Gospel says nothing about his fate.
What books compel a second—or third or fourth—reading? How is the second reading different from the first, and what does the difference reveal about the book or the reader? We asked ten writers, including Margaret Miles, Gordon Atkinson, Mary Doria Russell, Diana Butler Bass and David Cunningham, to name a book that they chose to reread, and to share their reactions "the second time around."
Though it has all the marks of an independent film—a film-school screenplay and production difficulties—Saved! is blessed with an intelligent script and a first-rate ensemble of actors whose characters—though slightly overdrawn—engage Christian faith in believable ways.
If the United States and Great Britain are “two nations separated by a common language,” then perhaps Christian theologians of the two countries are “separated by a common theology.” American and British theologians often find themselves in significant agreement—drawing on similar sources and reaching shared conclusi