Tuesday, November 20, 2018

David Brooks

October 16, 2018

Dear Mr. Brooks,

Ideological echo chambers abound in the age of the internet. They generate web traffic with headlines that galvanize cognitive bias, but rarely change minds. Humble opinions based on factual evidence and anchored to morality are hard to come by, but a pleasure to read from any point of view.

I appreciate the fact that your reasoning gently ruffles feathers at the narrow minded fringes of the political right and the left, while imploring the practical to stop and think. Thank you for your thoughtful approach to hot-button issues.

Thank you for addressing matters that jeopardize the collective cardiovascular health of our nation and the world with a measure of grace, rather than stoking political fires with an inflammatory tone that only serves to polarize. Please continue to encourage contemplation and understanding over pitchforks and vitriol.


Daniel Loffer

Tuesday, November 13, 2018



October 10, 2018

Dear Amber,

In December of 2006 I was Christmas shopping in Tyler. On my way to Best Buy, a big tent in front of the nearby PetSmart full of pups in need of homes got my attention. I fell for a jet-black shepherd mix labeled “Sport,” and adopted him on the spot. “Sport” didn’t really suit my boy, and “Scout” didn’t stick either. By the time Christmas rolled around, he was known as Shadow.

Shadow turned out to be an amazing big brother to my tiny border collie puppy, Daisy, who joined the family shortly after he did. She would nip at his ears or gnaw on his tail and he would just look at me like, are you really going to let her treat me like this? I’d purchased my first home, out in the sticks, shortly before taking on Shadow and Daisy in rapid succession. That made me a single father of two in the middle of nowhere. All of that was great, except for the single part. The rural setting wasn’t ideal for changing the fact—slim pickin’s.

Just a few months after assembling my family of three, an opportunity to relocate to a sales office in Dallas presented itself. I couldn’t pass that up. But a small house on two acres out in Nowhereville cost about as much as the rent for an aging 400 square foot efficiency in the Big D. I couldn’t imagine moving into a space that small with two puppies. I didn’t think the complex would let me keep even one of them at first, so I set out to re-home my babies.

Daisy has a redemption story all her own. But in March of 2006 you agreed to take Shadow, and for that I am eternally grateful. Also, thank you for touching base months ago to let me know that he’d recently passed after a long and happy life under your care. I don’t think circumstances could have worked out any better for him.



Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Mrs. Foster

October 9, 2018

Dear Ms. Foster,

You’ve been aware of my project since your husband got a letter months ago. Having served as a primary shepherd of mine through 3rd and 4th grade, I hope you’ve been expecting one. Those were good years, especially relative to those that flanked them.

In 2nd grade I quickly transformed from cherub to brat when the honor of being dubbed the first “student of the month” went straight to my head. I spent the rest of that year getting the pride beaten out of me. As you know, Mama was my teacher in 5th and 6th grade. She was determined to show no indication of favoritism. I was a cheeky lad. Those were hard-knock days. I spent a lot of time in my room.

My allowance at home was a meager fifty cents a week, but in your class I was flush with cash. Ballin’ as they say. The weekly games of Jeopardy that we played on the chalk board, with categories by subject and questions based on recent studies were an ingeniously fun way to reinforce what we learned. That Xeroxed monopoly money was worth far more than the paper it was printed on and, often, the pencils we could spend it on. Subliminal lessons in sociology and economics were abundant.

I wasn’t a very good student when it came to the post-lunch music period in elementary school. However, I do have fond memories of those daily sessions where our entire tiny school practiced together for small-scale musical productions while you played the piano. We really had something special in that. I danced through an auditorium in a white sweat suit with a modified Styrofoam bait bucket on my head as Frosty the Snowman, conducted a high-wire act on a hardwood stage, and went down on the wrong knee before a cabbage patch doll as a nativity scene shepherd. Good thing I wasn’t cast as a “wise-man.”

I still know the words to Rockin’ Robin, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, Chickory Chick, and many other songs that make me smile on the rare occasion that they surface today. From officiating jeopardy, to making sweet music, to cussing at Jody Crocker – thank you for the memories. But most of all, thank you for your investment in me and all the other kids who were truly blessed by both your care (and wrath J) as Marietta Angels.



Thursday, November 1, 2018



October 9, 2018

Dear Rev,

Sometimes I wonder why the most passionate/compassionate pastors I’ve known have worked in construction. Maybe it takes the same propensity for faith-based risk-taking and people skills to be a successful contractor as it does to be an effective spiritual ambassador. Heck, even Jesus was a carpenter! When I watched the documentary about Sam Childers (AKA “The Machine Gun Preacher”) I couldn’t help but think of you.

I’m writing to personally thank you for your fearless leadership and personal investment in humanity—from your work with addicts in recovery at Renovation House, to the establishment and ongoing management of Heather’s Home orphanage. It was a pleasure to get my hands dirty alongside you during the recovery efforts in Joplin following the great tornado in 2011, and to serve as a sidekick during a visit to Haiti.

I miss your inspired, high-octane, straight-from-the-heart delivery of God’s hope for the world in a world where it’s becoming harder and harder to find. Please keep on keeping on, for the sake of us all.