Crouch jumping

Playing Black Mesa beyond a certain point reminds me of a certain game that a friend and I used to call Jumping Jedis, because of its masochistic focus on leaping when cooler things could be easily had. Sure, it looks cool, and in general it can be fun, but only if you like to die a lot. We used to joke that the leading cause of death for Jedi must have been falling into pits.

The original Half-Life was not particularly difficult. Black Mesa is. The old-school crouch jump is back and ready to humble you. Be prepared to hit four keys simultaneously in order to pass certain areas. For a game of such length, it’s a bit ridiculous.

Also, the design is pretty, but like Jumping Jedis, not intuitive. I never got lost or stuck, really, in the old Half-Life, but here I’ve had to stop playing to consult the web to see where I’m supposed to go. Encouraging exploration is nice, but widening corridors a tad, making the jumps less brutal, and including a sign or two isn’t that hard. I must say, though, in the game’s defense, I haven’t found any game-stopping bugs.

Talk on Luke-Acts – the ascension problem

I gave a talk at the Willow Pump Station at UHD last Thursday, delineating my theory on the authorship of Luke-Acts. In short, I no longer think Luke and Acts were written by the same person. In this wild and crazy idea, I join Patrica Walters (2009) and A.C. Clark (1933) as well as, I suppose, F.C. Baur and a few others. I think an imitator of the Gospel of Luke’s style wrote Acts, making it a very long piece of false writing, as well as a fine piece of Paulinist apology – someone wearing a ‘Luke hat’, in other words (a metaphor gifted to me by a commenter), wrote it.

Why do I hold this position? Two reasons.

First, as Walters has ably demonstrated, the stylistic studies ‘proving’ common authorship are similarity hunts. They fail a very basic methodology test.  Studying both similarities and differences, like Clark, ends on a far more cautious note of agnosticism.

Two,  there’s that pesky ascension, depicted at the end of Luke and the beginning of Acts, which I spent most of my talk on. In short, if we are to take the author of Luke’s introduction to heart, the two ascensions should square up on very basic things like 1) when the ascension occurred, 2) what Jesus said, and 3) the presence of angels. They do not. The typical  counterarguments to  multiple problems with the ascension amount to special pleading. What we have points to something far more shady.

I should note that I am aware of the various arguments for multiple authors/redactors working on Luke/Acts, the influence of sources and Aramaic, and the possibility of Marcion’s gospel predating Luke. I’m just saying that none of them explain the ascension problem satisfactorily, enough that if you look at the major commentaries on Luke and Acts – Conzelmann, Pervo, Parsons, Fitzmyer, etc – they avoid or sidestep the issue.

So what’s the ‘so what’? Why care if Luke and Acts had separate authors? It mostly changes how Acts should be interpreted; its contents, already historically suspicious, become even more suspicious. It also introduces the idea of not just a Pauline ‘school’ of writing, but a Lucan one as well!

My talk was designed for a lay audience, so it will take me some time to work it into an article that will likely position itself as an extension of Walters’s arguments.


So H and I moved recently, for the third time in three years, to a different but not terribly far away neighborhood in Houston. I don’t like moving very much, but there were some compelling reasons, involving plumbing, to get out of the rental we were in. The new place is very nice, and we recently finished cat-proofing much of it so the cats can roam more or less freely. This process involved covering furniture, installing childproof locks, and creating various zones of demarcation where their ability to push valuable things over is severely curtailed. The dogs thought we had broken into someone else’s house for awhile, but they seem to have accepted their new lot with grace at this point.


Clint’s RNC speech woke up an otherwise sleepy convention. Watching it, I can’t see the big deal that I’ve seen in convention coverage about it being a disaster. So he talks to a chair, rhetorically. So he stammers a lot. So he forgets Romney’s got a law degree. So his language is occasionally colorful. Nobody’s perfect and he did the job he came to the convention to do – fire up the base, which can be seen in the all the applause he got. Overall he spoke to frustration with Obama, which is not exactly in short supply, so he was on pretty safe ground at the RNC. His speech was not for liberals any more than any of Romney’s or Ryan’s.