All posts by Charlotte Vaughan Coyle

Charlotte Vaughan Coyle

About Charlotte Vaughan Coyle

Charlotte Vaughan Coyle lives in Paris TX and blogs about intersections of faith, culture and politics on her website and her Intersections Facebook page. She is a retired minister for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and past president for Coffee Party USA. Charlotte also blogs about Scripture from a progressive Christian approach at her Living in The Story website.

When Pentecost Spirit Blows the Roof Off

When Jesus entered his public ministry, he came with one primary message: “the reign of God is here. The kingdom of God is coming. The presence of God is not out there; it’s here, among you.”

The people who heard that message didn’t really know what to make of it – especially since Jesus’ idea of kingdom, power and privilege was different from their own notions.

In fact, Jesus’ notions of power and privilege were completely upside down and inside out from theirs.

Jesus ate with anyone who sought him out.

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

Jesus sought out people whom others isolated and taught his followers to do the same.

When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind…

Jesus shepherded the lost sheep, went after the lost coins, embraced the lost sons. Jesus washed feet, broke bread and poured out wine.

Jesus took up his cross and carried it straight into the worst violence the world could muster.

And then, fifty days after the death of Jesus, a small group of disciples gathered in Jerusalem for the celebration of Pentecost. Most of these had experienced the Resurrected Christ. Many of them had been present at his ascension.

And now – 50 days later – these disciples were floundering and wondering:

  • What’s real?
  • What’s true?
  • What’s next?

And then the doors of their small lives were blown off their hinges by the wind of Pentecost. The safely shuttered windows of their preconceptions were whooshed wide open.

Continue reading When Pentecost Spirit Blows the Roof Off

Defensive Driving Tips for Defensive Living in an Age of Pandemics

When my husband was learning to drive, his dad would sit in the passenger’s seat repeating his mantra (an old family favorite): “Watch out for the other drivers on the road because they’re all trying to kill you.” We continued this tradition with our own kids and (mostly) we all took the lesson to heart.

Defensive driving became a way of life for our family.

So I’m thinking now would be a really good time to do some defensive living. To take some of the time honored practices of defensive driving as a way to live together in an age of deadly, disorienting pandemics.

Continue reading Defensive Driving Tips for Defensive Living in an Age of Pandemics

No One Ever Accused These Folks of Being Logical

As states begin to reopen, some of the nastiest ‘reopen America’ protesters have backed off. I’m willing to bet, though, that few of these protesters have backed down from their opinions.

In these early weeks of reopening, we are seeing evidence of a quieter, more entrenched protest: brazen rejection of the CDC recommendations for keeping a safe distance; refusing to wear a safety mask in order to make a political statement.

Bald-faced, small space congregating has become a badge of honor in some circles.

It’s been fascinating to watch these protesters rally across the nation. It’s been interesting to listen to the convoluted reasoning justifying their civil disobedience. “Fascinating. Interesting,” I say politely. Or maybe better – worrisome and wearisome.

I’ve written about the childish petulance of immature, unpatriotic protesters. I’ve blogged about the moneyed special interest groups that are agitating behind the scenes and I’ve pondered the power brokers who are in control of this chess board, quite willing to sacrifice their pawns for their own economic advantage. (A recent research project estimates that roughly half of the ‘reopen America’ Twitter accounts are actually bots doing much of this rabble rousing.)

Today I’m musing about the mental gymnastics that has characterized this backlash movement. No one ever accused these folks of being logical.

Continue reading No One Ever Accused These Folks of Being Logical

“You’re Not the Boss of Me”

Protest is part of our American DNA. From our earliest beginnings, when colonists dumped tea into Boston Harbor, pushing back against the government has been a time honored, legal and popular activity within this diverse population of ours.

As a teen and young adult shaped by the 60’s, I remember well the protests that swirled around the Vietnam War, civil rights and women’s rights. Those were watershed years that shifted America society (and U.S. politics) in deep and significant ways.

The current protests to reopen America, however, are not part of this tradition. There certainly are legitimate concerns about the economy, but too many of these protesters express too narrow an understanding of the actual complex reality that is going on.

Continue reading “You’re Not the Boss of Me”

Creating a New Normal that Works for Everyone

I wrote a guest column that was published in my local newspaper (“What or Who is Behind the Reopening Protests”) and it prompted a strong response from a neighbor in my community. I wrote this follow up column as a way for us to continue that conversation.

This man and I volunteer together as election workers and we have worshiped together. I consider him a friend so it’s important to me that I clarify some misunderstandings he seems to have about what I said. When conversation partners correctly understand each other’s position, then we can move on to discuss issues more constructively. 

First, I am not arguing against reopening. Rather, I am asking the question our nation is struggling to answer: Do we reopen quickly or do we reopen safely? I say we should reopen as safely as possible even though it may not be as quick as we all would like. I say we should prioritize the needs of those who are working on the front lines of this pandemic and find ways to support their health, safety and well-being; to use their concerns as our guide.

Continue reading Creating a New Normal that Works for Everyone

What (or Who) is Behind the Reopen America Protests?

I’ve been angry.

And then frightened.

And then terribly sad to watch the various protests clamoring to reopen America.

I’m sad that too many of these people seem to be protesting out of selfish motives; protesting their own inconvenience rather than showing concern for the health and welfare of their neighbors.

I’m sad that people who used to tout the rule of law whenever they argued about immigration, now brazenly break the law because they disagree with the legal directives issued by their governors, mayors and county judges. 

I’m sad that these people believe they are free thinkers, part of a grassroots movement, when actually they are being manipulated. Ample evidence and solid research demonstrates that well funded, special interests groups are behind this current protest movement. Power brokers and king makers control the board and they are quite happy to sacrifice their pawns in order to maintain their own power and influence.

Continue reading What (or Who) is Behind the Reopen America Protests?

Will our County be a “Sanctuary” for ALL our Constitutional Rights?

Now that Lamar County, Texas has become a “sanctuary” for Constitutional amendments, I propose several more.

(You must admit it is only fair for our County Commissioners to adopt these proposals so they won’t be guilty of promoting and privileging the Second Amendment over other amendments.)

My Proposal Number One:

Whereas Lamar County, Texas seeks to protect the First Amendment rights of all of its citizens, hereby let it be known that this county will be supportive of the active religious freedom of Muslims, Jews, Native Americans, Hindus, Sikhs, Atheists, Wiccans and all people who seek to exercise their Constitutional rights of worship, prayer, dress and speech.

Continue reading Will our County be a “Sanctuary” for ALL our Constitutional Rights?

Curiouser and Curiouser

The current political-religious theologies and ideologies of the White Evangelical Right are immensely curious to me. And as I watch the unabashed adoration of this president and his policies, these evangelical allegiances only grow curiouser and curiouser.

In 2019, journalist Elizabeth Bruenig published an essay about her travels to my own state of Texas and her conversations with some Trump supporters here in “God’s Country.”

In her insightful article, Ms. Bruenig pondered the marriage between conservative politics and evangelical Christianity, a union that was consummated in the 1970’s and has become even more co-dependent, convoluted and curious within this past decade.

Continue reading Curiouser and Curiouser

Another New Hope

In 1977, I was a young woman whose firstborn was still new born and whose husband was deployed to the Philippine Islands. While Jerry was overseas, my baby and I flew to Florida to spend time with our family. That was when I went to see this new space movie getting a lot of attention, a movie they called: Star Wars.

From the opening moments, I was hooked.

  • Instead of a futuristic flick, it was “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”
  • Instead of a story with a beginning and an end, this was Episode IV, clearly a tale with much more yet to tell.
  • The good-guy aviators wore flight helmets that were scuffed and scarred; they obviously had seen hundreds of flight hours – much like my Navy husband.
  • There was a bar scene with aviators telling sea stories with hand motions – much like every gathering we Navy wives had ever attended.
  • Unlike so many other plot lines of the day, there was a strong, outspoken woman giving orders and strong, brave men following her lead.
  • Like so many other plot lines, there were sidekicks – but Oh. My. Goodness! such sidekicks!
  • And like every classic story every society has ever told – there was evil. And there was good.

As I watched Episode IX, I wept.

Continue reading Another New Hope

The Rule of Law

Here in Lamar County Texas , we are fortunate to have a healthy criminal justice system.

Sheriff Scott Cass and Charlotte

Our Chief of Police and County Sheriff are honorable men who lead their deputies to follow the law as they protect and serve us. Our judges know the law and use their authority carefully and wisely. Our District Attorney leads a department of prosecutors who function with deep integrity, people for whom the rule of law is foundation and guide. Our defense attorneys serve their clients conscientiously, ensuring that the entire system abides by the rule of law and those who are accused receive fair and just treatment.

As a CASA volunteer, I am in court regularly watching human drama play out before my eyes. I continue to be impressed with the professionalism and decorum of these public servants. We are fortunate that they are our neighbors.

Because of my experience with our county court system, I have been astounded and dismayed by what I have seen during the legal proceedings in the House of Representatives during this impeachment process.

Continue reading The Rule of Law