Image: Andrew Nelles for The Tennessean, via Associated Press

America Has Stopped Being a Civilized Nation
By Margaret Renkl
The New York Times, 12 August 2018

On Thursday morning, The Knoxville News Sentinel published a front-page story by Matt Lakin about the imminent execution of Billy Ray Irick. The inmate had been on death row since 1986, a year after he confessed to raping and murdering a 7-year-old child left in his care. The little girl was named Paula Dyer. She called her murderer “Uncle Bill.” The print headline read, “Paula Dyer’s last day on Earth.” (more….)

Image: Mark Humphrey for the Associated Press

An American Tragedy in Nashville
By Margaret Renkl
The New York Times, 23 April 2018

There is something fundamentally democratic about a Waffle House restaurant in the wee hours of the morning. It’s a place where people working the late shift can stop for a hot meal on the way home, where high school kids can extend prom night just an hour longer, where 20-somethings jazzed on live music can wind down after a night on the town. The coffee is always fresh, and the counter staff has heard it all before but will usually listen again if you need an ear. It’s a uniquely American place. (more….)

Image: William Widmer for The New York Times

Christians Need a New Right-to-Life Movement
By Margaret Renkl
The New York Times, 24 December 2017

At least since Martin Luther nailed his theses to the church door in 1517, Christians have disagreed on what Jesus calls them to do in the name of faith. There are nearly 34,000 Christian denominations worldwide, a number that doesn’t account for American Christians — nearly one in six, according to a Gallup poll last summer — who belong to no denomination at all. (more….)

Image: Robyn Beck

The Raw Power of #MeToo
By Margaret Renkl
The New York Times, 19 October 2017

A few years back, when there were still three teenagers in this house, I got a little wound up at supper one night and kept going on and on about the brilliance of a novel I was reading by an Irish-born writer. “I can’t believe you’ve never been there,” one of my sons said. “As much as you love this stuff, I can’t believe you’ve never been to Ireland or England.” (more….)

Image: Maddie McGarvey

Good Neighbors, No Politics
By Margaret Renkl
The New York Times, 22 October 2016

A few years ago an app surfaced on Facebook that could identify how many of your friends were liberal and how many were conservative. One of my real-life friends clicked the button to see how her Facebook list stacked up and was shocked by the result. “I had no idea I liked so many Republicans,” she said. No wonder she was surprised. Facebook is very, very good at tracking our political leanings—and at serving up more of what it has decided we want. (more….)

Un-Resolved: A Resolution to Stop Resolving to Lose Weight
By Margaret Renkl
Nashville Scene, 30 December 2015

The American ideal of reinvention, of becoming a new creature simply by deciding to be one, is both a delusion and a kind of seduction. It’s also a delusion I embrace, a deceitful seduction I fall for every time, despite the fact that for me — as for virtually everyone else — making New Year’s resolutions is an exercise in failure. (more…)