Dan was an intellectual with a sense of humor. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive – though I imagine there are intellectuals who are affectatious when it comes to humor, that is they kill whatever humor might be latent so as not to mar their intellectual persona.
C.S. Lewis had humor that would embarrass many (most?) American Evangelicals – he called it “bawdy”. You can make what you want of that as you sip your pint of bitter. While I don’t know that I’d hold John Riggins up as a model for life, his words to Sandra Day O’Connor (who probably didn’t deserve them), “Loosen up Sandy baby”, might be good advice for a good many churches and academic institutions.
When Dan went to meet his future in-laws for the first time he wore wax teeth – or something along that line – Dan not only had a sense of humor, he was a man of courage.
Dan’s courage extended far beyond wearing wax teeth, for the root of his courage was a life in Christ, a life which extends into eternity. Throughout his illness his focus was on others, encouraging them, challenging them, comforting them. He ministered to nurses, doctors, hospital aides, and fellow patients – but there was none of that the flowers come up in the spring kind of thing, there was Jesus.
I recall prepping for a seminary exam in which I anticipated an essay question on the philosopher Immanuel Kant. I read and read about Kant, trying to distill his approach to life, philosophy, and epistemology – but I just couldn’t get it. With exam hour rapidly approaching I called Dan and asked him to give me a primer on Kant. Within 20 or 30 minutes Dan made the elusive (to me) Kant understandable, the fragments of knowledge I had about Kant fell into place and I began the exam looking forward to meeting Mr. Kant; which I did with good result.
Of all the marketplace material I’ve read over the years, Dan’s seminal work is the best and without a doubt the most systemic. In fact, in terms of a matrix of thought and approach, I know of nothing close to it. The problem, if it can be called a problem, was that Dan spawned the concepts and pictures but had trouble filling in the wide open spaces within the constructs he created. Some of that was in his nature, ever the explorer, venturing into new lands. Perhaps some of it was a sense that he needed to break as many new trails as possible within a short life? He wrote little that I am aware of but he outlined a great deal. His Thirty Moments of Truth in the marketplace remains a valuable framework within which to consider our vocational calling.
Dan not only challenged our thinking, he challenged the way we live – something I have found lacking in much marketplace ministry – Dan wasn’t content to see Christians live good lives in the marketplace, he wanted them to live in and through the Cross – he wanted their lives to be sacrificially intentional in Christ.