At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

The Christian Worldview of Rocky Balboa

posted by Jack Kerwick

On November 25, Creed, a spin-off of the Rocky franchise, will be hitting theaters.

Rocky Balboa, “the Italian Stallion,” is an American icon. A down-on-his-luck nickel and dime club fighter and strong arm man for a local bookie, Rocky’s life appears to be a dead end until a stroke of luck changes everything.

Everyone knows the story. But how many people are aware of the philosophical ideas underwriting the story?

First, Rocky’s is a Christian worldview. His universe is one that is created and conserved by, not just a Supreme Being, but the Supreme Person, a Deity that is at once all-powerful, all-seeing, and all-loving.

More specifically, Rocky’s God is three Persons-in-One: Rocky affirms the uniquely Christian doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. The God to Whom Rocky prays while surmounting the challenges in his life—both those within and beyond the ring—invests the cosmos with meaning.


Secondly, Rocky’s theocentric metaphysic gives rise to the moral philosophy informing the Rocky franchise. In Rocky’s universe, there is an objective moral order, a “natural law”: Rights and duties aren’t determined by cultural and historical considerations, and they certainly aren’t the function of the individual’s subjective preferences and tastes.

There is a moral law that, ultimately, derives from the Supreme Lawmaker: God.

Moreover, that Rocky’s is a distinctively Christian ethic can be gotten easily enough for other reasons. For starters, unlike the various forms of ethical hedonism that pervade much contemporary morality, from the perspective of Rocky’s morality, pain is redemptive.


Also, Rocky embodies the classical cardinal virtues of courage, temperance, justice, and even wisdom, it’s true. But he also possesses the “theological” virtues of faith, hope, and love.

Yet the philosophy of Rocky raises questions.

Rocky is wise, but simple-minded. He is humble. Rocky is a character that could only be a hero in a Christian, or “Judeo-Christian,” culture. To the extent that “liberalism” and “democracy” are secular spin-offs of Christianity (a point made by both Christian and non-Christian observers alike), it is safe to say, then, that Rocky could only be a hero in a “liberal-democratic” culture.

Yet more than one thinker has challenged Rocky’s morality.

The 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, for example, had famously declared “the death” of God. What he meant is that belief in God or theism was on the wane. But if theism is on the way out, so too must belief in an objective morality be heading in the same direction, for, according to Nietzsche, if there is no God, then there can be no objective moral order: If there is no Legislator, there can be no law.


And if there is no objective morality, then there is no cosmic meaning. Moral values are not discovered. They must be created. And since there is no God, it is we who must create them.

Now, Christian morality and that of its secular offshoots is what Nietzsche calls a “slave” or “herd morality.” It is the morality of the masses, of the overwhelming majority of people who, due to their cognitive and character limitations, are both incapable of and unwilling to assume responsibility for their own lives.

This morality is designed to compensate for its adherents’ weaknesses by transforming them into strengths: e.g. meekness, mournfulness, humility, compassion, simple-mindedness, etc. now become virtues. At the same time, it subverts the morality of the aristocratic few, those relatively rare individuals who recognize that value is a creation and that they are its creators.


From a resentment of the proponents of the “master morality,” who are stronger, smarter, more creative and cunning, as well as from pure self-interest, the weak, stupid, and unimaginative invented the fiction of an objective morality as a means of facilitating their own “Will to Power,” the “will” to dominate, exploit, and subjugate the world until it satisfies the needs and desires of those whose will it is.

Simply put: There is no God. There is no objective morality. Christianity, as well as its secular variations—democracy, liberalism, socialism—are species of a slave morality invented by the masses to “exact an imaginary vengeance” against those who they resent.

What this means is that those who make demands for “justice,” “equality,” “God’s will,” and the like are demanding nothing more or less than that others serve them. Such purportedly objective, universal moral ideals constitute a smokescreen behind which their proponents conceal their own subjective psychological and emotional longings.


In the 20th century, the atheist existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre famously stated that we are “condemned to be free.” Freedom is not a blessing. It is a burden. It is a burden because human beings have nothing other than their own resources to draw upon in making decisions.

The Rocky franchise is not about boxing. It is about a philosophical worldview, a Christian worldview.

We can thank Nietzsche and Sartre for helping us to see that more clearly.



Ronald Reagan: No Conservative

posted by Jack Kerwick

On October 21, Bill Bennett and Sean Hannity had a somewhat feisty exchange during a segment on the latter’s television show.

Bennett made two remarks that are worth focusing upon. First, when asked whether he is “ok” with a Trump candidacy, Bennett replied that he’s “not OK at all” with it. Given “the totality of his acts and his record and the things he has stood for,” Bennett said, it’s clear that Trump’s “not very principled in terms of his convictions [.]” Trump has “a record” that’s “longer than your arm” of being “wrong on all of these things [.]”


Trump, that is, is not a real conservative.

This is Bennett’s first point. He then went on to say that “Reagan would be thrown out by this caucus [the Freedom caucus that’s resisting Paul Ryan’s move to become House Speaker].”

Bennett, Hannity, and many other self-avowed media and Washington “conservatives” may be unaware of this, but Bennett’s invocation of Reagan as the emblem of conservatism actually reinforces Trump’s candidacy.

It isn’t that Trump is conservative. The point, rather, is that, for all of the rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, Reagan was not a conservative—at least he wasn’t if we judge him according to Bennett’s benchmark of “the totality of his acts and his record and the things he has stood for.”


And, unlike Trump, who has never actually governed in a way to contradict the GOP—the “conservative”—party platform, Reagan as both governor of California and president of the United States undermined it every step of the way.

While he’s widely heralded for having slashed taxes, as Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming and friend of Reagan, confirmed, Reagan went on to raise taxes eleven times during his two terms. Moreover, in 1983, he raised payroll taxes to pay for Social Security and Medicare, i.e. “government-run healthcare.”


Reagan eliminated not a single government program, much less an agency. Instead, he strengthened those agencies—like the Departments of Energy and Education—that he originally pledged to abolish, and he even strengthened the profoundly intrusive Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Reagan created the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. As Murray Rothbard writes, “The Gipper deregulated nothing, abolished nothing.”

He concludes: “Overall, the quantity and degree of government regulation of the economy was greatly increased and intensified during the Reagan years.”

Indeed it was. The federal government grew exponentially under Reagan’s watch.


As recently as 2014, Mother Jones, a leftist journal, commended Reagan for advancing the cause of Big Government. Alex Park remarks: “If you judge him [Reagan] by the uncompromising standards of today’s GOP, Reagan was a disaster.” During Reagan’s eight year tenure, the national debt almost tripled from $907 billion to $2.6 trillion. The federal workforce increased to 324,000 people (of whom only 26% consisted of military personnel). In fact, Park observes that as of 2012, nearly a quarter of a century after Reagan left office, the federal government has nearly a million fewer people working within it. In contrast, under the “liberal” Democrat, Bill Clinton, “the federal workforce was at its smallest size in decades.”


Implicitly, even Reagan’s biggest devotees admit that he presided over a substantial enlargement of the federal government, for they continually declare, against “liberal” Democrats who suggest otherwise, that government revenues increased courtesy of Reagan’s income tax cuts.

Thanks to Reagan’s economic policy, then, the federal government now had significantly more of citizens’ monies to do with them as it pleased.

In 1986, Reagan granted amnesty to some three million or so illegal immigrants that were then residing within the United States, a move that only exacerbated this country’s illegal immigration crisis.

Regarding gun-control, Reagan’s actions too frequently conflicted with his pro-Second Amendment rhetoric. He promoted and signed into law the “Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986,” legislation that the NRA favored. Yet Reagan signed it after a Democratic congressman from New Jersey, William J. Hughes, slipped in a provision that criminalized ownership of fully automatic firearms that weren’t already purchased before the date that the Act became law.


After Reagan left office, he came out in support of “the Brady Bill,” even going so far as to say in a New York Times editorial that had this piece of federal legislation existed in 1981, the assassination attempt on his own life may have never occurred! Reagan as well cited gun death statistics that, he contended, could be reduced courtesy of such federal legislation as the Brady Bill.

In 1994, Reagan, along with Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, endorsed a federal ban on “assault rifles.”

Of course, no one should’ve been surprised by any of this. As governor of California, Reagan—an FDR Democrat for over three decades who never abandoned either his admiration for FDR or the New Deal—foreshadowed how he would govern as president.


While campaigning for the governorship of California, Reagan pledged to not raise taxes. Once he was elected, however, he not only reneged on his promise; he slammed Californians with the largest tax increase in their history. And it wasn’t just incomes that he taxed. Reagan proceeded to tax sales, cigarettes, alcohol, banks, and corporations.

He also acquiesced in legislation requiring tax payers to conserve three of California’s rivers—after he had promised to fight it.

Reagan legalized abortion. Though Reagan (supposedly) came to regret this, his biographer, Lou Cannon, writes that Reagan “knew that the California law was overly restrictive,” and he “was particularly bothered that it made no exception for rape or incest.”


Like such “pro-life” Republicans as, say, Paul Ryan—Reagan’s rightful heir, according to Bennett—Reagan was against abortion except for when he was for it. The politically-convenient (but logically and morally untenable) position to which virtually every Republican subscribes is that abortion is immoral except for when the human victim is the product of rape or incest, or when that unborn human being threatens its mother’s life.

It is obvious, though, or at least should be so, that this point of view is indeed a cop-out, for if abortion is immoral, it is immoral because it consists in the unjustified killing of an innocent, defenseless human being. This innocence is in no way compromised by the circumstances within which that human being was conceived. Thus, if Republican conservatives are “pro-life” even though they allow exceptions that are morally irrelevant to the innocence of the unborn, then liberal Democrats are also “pro-life,” for most oppose abortion as well under some circumstances (second and third trimesters, etc.).


Conversely, if liberal Democrats are “pro-choice” for allowing circumstances for abortion, so too are conservative Republicans “pro-choice” for allowing circumstances under which women can choose to abort their offspring.

In summary, if Trump is no “conservative” because of his past support for Democrats and some of their positions, then neither was Reagan a conservative for the same. (In fact, Reagan appears far less “conservative” than Trump by this measure, and there is no denying that, because he actually held office, that Reagan did far more damage to the “principles” for which “conservatives” claim to stand.)

On the other hand, if Reagan remains, not only a “conservative,” but the poster boy for “conservatism,” then so too does Trump fit this description.



Mitt Romney, Faux Conservative Extraordinaire

posted by Jack Kerwick

Those of Donald Trump’s “conservative” critics who accuse him of promoting a faux conservatism would be well served to look in the mirror.

In the GOP presidential primaries of 2012, many of the same commentators, like Charles Krauthammer, who now declaim Trump as a fake invoked the so-called “Bill Buckley rule” in endorsing Mitt Romney, for the latter, it was said, is “the most conservative candidate who can win.”

After National Review endorsed Romney, Tim Pawlenty, writing for its online edition, described Romney as “a man of principle” who “believes in the bedrock conservative ideals of limited government and free enterprise.” The editors of National Review endorsed Romney in 2007 as well.


Now let’s look at Romney’s actual record, of both his words and deeds.

For starters, Romney had supported “a woman’s right to choose.”

Back in 1994, while running against Ted Kennedy for the Massachusetts Senate, Romney revealed that he and his family had supported “safe and legal” abortion services ever since they lost a relative to an illegal abortion in 1963. In 2002, and throughout his eight years as governor, Romney remained true to his pledge to “preserve and protect a woman’s right to choose,” to refrain from altering “any provisions of Massachusetts’ pro-choice laws.”

As for “gay rights,” while running against Ted Kennedy in the senate race of 1993, he promised that he’d be better on this issue than his opponent. “I’ll be better than Ted Kennedy,” he told Richard Tafel, the founder of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay organization. Romney also added: “I’m with you on this stuff.”


Around this same time, Romney came out in support of a federal legislation—ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act)—that would ban employers from discriminating against homosexual employees. While running for the presidency in 2011, Romney expressed regret for not having opposed it, explaining that it is a matter that should’ve been left to the states. But in doing so, he likened himself to Abraham Lincoln, who also changed his mind on issues.

Years before Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party came out in favor of “gay marriage,” Governor Romney presided over the issuance of marriage licenses to gay couples in Massachusetts. Of course, Romney argued against the state’s Supreme Court decision affirming a right of gays to marry. But once the decision was made, and even though neither he nor the state legislature discerned any such right in the state’s constitution that spoke to such a right, Romney readily acquiesced in the Court’s ruling.


Romney was a big proponent of “gun control.” He supported federal legislation making it more difficult for law abiding citizens to obtain guns, as well as an assault rifle ban. Moreover, Romney increased fees on gun owners by 400%. Romney boasted that because his position on gun control “doesn’t line up with the NRA,” it is “not going to make me the hero” of the Second Amendment group.

There is nothing at all objectionable about a person’s changing his views over the span of his life. Indeed, growth is essential to intellectual health. Yet there are two points here.

First, in Romney’s case, there is no genuine growth, for it is painfully obvious that the changes that he purports to have undergone were perfectly timed to serve his professional interests:


When Romney was in MA and he needed the support of most of that state’s liberal voters, he held liberal views on the issues of the day. When, though, he was aiming to secure his party’s presidential nomination and needed the support of a different kind of demographic, he tailored his views accordingly.

Second, it is patently cynical and hypocritical for those of Donald Trump’s most relentless critics to pile upon him for having changed his views over the years given the unqualified support that they lent to Romney—in spite of the latter’s truly astonishing feats of flip-flopping.

And now we see that Romney is at it again.

Romney was the original architect of the much-despised Obamacare. His “Romneycare” provided “universal health care” for the residents of Massachusetts. It also subsidized Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the country, and it offered direct coverage of abortion services. In the original edition of his book, Romney expressed hope that Romneycare would become a reality for America (a sentiment that was conspicuously absent from the second edition of said book, the edition that was released once Romney decided to throw his hat into the presidential ring).


Understandably, Romney did his best to distance Romneycare from Obamacare as he railed against the latter. Only now, Romney is admitting what some of us knew all along: Romneycare is the blueprint for Obamacare.

And Romney seems proud of it.

Upon the recent passing of his friend, Thomas Stemberg, the co-founder of Staples, Romney has insisted that among Stemberg’s accomplishments is having enabled millions of Americans access to health insurance. Stemberg, you see, (allegedly) gave Romney the idea for Romneycare which, in turn, paved the way for Obamacare.

“Without Tom pushing it,” Romney told the Boston Globe, “I don’t think we would have had Romneycare.” He continued: “Without Romneycare, I don’t think we would have Obamacare. So without Tom, a lot of people wouldn’t have health insurance.”

Unsurprisingly, once the press seized upon this as just one more instance of Romney’s legendary lack of conviction, Romney swore that he still opposes Obamacare.

For however questionable Trump may be, he is a breath of fresh air compared to Mitt Romney.



Guest Blogger, Myron Pauli: “Political Orphans”

posted by Jack Kerwick

While both political parties pay homage to and occasionally quote Thomas Jefferson, the plain fact is that old TJ could never win the nomination of either party. Would the Democrats nominate a male white supremacist who owned slaves even to the point of raping (and owning) his wife’s half-sister, a man who wanted to expand white populations into Indian territories? Would the Republicans nominate a pro-immigrant deist who cut military spending, advocated non-interventionism, was sympathetic to Jacobin revolutionaries, and distrusted banks and corporations? No way!

The 2015 Republicans rest upon 3 fundamental pillars:

[1]   SUPPORT OF “FAMILY VALUES”: whereby government promotes abstinence education, school prayer, and the old “Leave It To Beaver” lifestyle of sexually abstinent heterosexuals who married until death do us part with no drugs, abortions, or much booze. While those values were nostalgic and disappearing even in Beaver’s 1950’s, many can appreciate that a nation that lauds an Olympic athlete who chops off his penis suffers from moral confusion. The old-time ideals still hold sway—especially among the rural white Protestants in the “Red States”.


[2] CUTTING TAXES ON THE WEALTHY: – that is, the “supply side economics” from the 1980’s where tax rates of 70% were cut while the Federal Reserve jacked interest rates to 18% and led to renewed prosperity when inflation was finally conquered. People forget that Reagan and Bob Dole raised payroll taxes and that government spending skyrocketed. The “supply side” formula did not work under Bush-II and most people see that the bailouts enrich Wall Street Megabanks and that billionaires like Trump buy politicians of both parties to use eminent domain laws to grab private property and bankruptcy laws to default on $ 5 Billion of debt. The middle class treads water and the “working class” drowns (as its jobs disappear overseas or to robots) while Fiorinas come in, fire employees, tank the stock, and walk away with $ 100,000,000. Nevertheless, the “supply side” idea has enough libertarian appeal and sufficient economic common sense to gather political support.


[3] GLOBAL WARMONGERING: where the neocons make war on demons intent on destroying us – Afghans, Yemenis, Libyans, Russians, Chinese, Syrians, Iranians, “terrorists” and where we pump billions into defense contractors. The “bad guy” drumbeat never stops with some beheading or “Russians expanding influence” or some existential threat to Peoria such as Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-armed cruise missile “mushroom cloud”. Fear is not only a great motivator; it wins votes as well.


The 2015 Democrats have their basic pillars:

[1] THE MAJORITY OF “MINORITIES”: of immigrants, Hispanics, non-whites, non-Christians, non-heterosexuals, and feminists with enough identity grievances to constitute a majority. Lesbians and Moslems may not have common cause but they do have a common enemy. Blacks and Asians have little in common together, but the enemy of my enemy is my friend and rural, heterosexual, anti-immigrant, white Protestant men are the enemy.


[2] CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES/DEPENDENTS: discounting the military and defense contractors who lean Republican. Millions of academicians, Amtrak employees, elderly, students, welfare recipients, firefighters, Sallie Mae employees, social workers, TSA gropers, and their families get their compensation from the government. This forms an almost unstoppable bulwark even if a small percentage of this constituency consists of Republican voters. Money means self-interest. And money talks.

The libertarians and constitutionalists and non-interventionists who aren’t into the Red and Blue State identity politics have no other alternatives to which to turn than apathy and cynicism. Also stuck in the middle of this muck are old, rural, white gun-owning Jacksonians like Confederate descendant James Webb. The latter began his political life as a Democrat, left the party of McGovernization, worked as Reagan’s Navy Secretary, and then returned to the “old Democracy” after watching the neocon plutocrats of Bush-II screwing over his rural Virginian constituents. Webb and others are as much political orphans as the libertarians.


The political season opens up with two-thirds of Republicans rejecting their own politicians for three candidates who never served in any public capacity. The Democrats are stuck with an openly corrupt ex-Secretary of State and Presidential spouse who raises billions from the Wall Street crowd or an aging Marxist hippie who does not even belong to the party.

While a majority will stay home on Election Day, the only major motivation to vote is fear of the other party!

Previous Posts

The Christian Worldview of Rocky Balboa
On November 25, Creed, a spin-off of the Rocky franchise, will be hitting theaters. Rocky Balboa, “the Italian Stallion,” is an American icon. A down-on-his-luck nickel and dime club fighter and strong arm man for a local bookie, ...

posted 11:08:05am Nov. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Ronald Reagan: No Conservative
On October 21, Bill Bennett and Sean Hannity had a somewhat feisty exchange during a segment on the latter’s television show. Bennett made two remarks that are worth focusing upon. First, when asked whether he is “ok” with a Trump ...

posted 12:50:21pm Oct. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Mitt Romney, Faux Conservative Extraordinaire
Those of Donald Trump’s “conservative” critics who accuse him of promoting a faux conservatism would be well served to look in the mirror. In the GOP presidential primaries of 2012, many of the same commentators, like Charles ...

posted 9:42:36pm Oct. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Guest Blogger, Myron Pauli: "Political Orphans"
While both political parties pay homage to and occasionally quote Thomas Jefferson, the plain fact is that old TJ could never win the nomination of either party. Would the Democrats nominate a male white supremacist who owned slaves even to the ...

posted 8:07:12pm Oct. 13, 2015 | read full post »

"United in Hate: The Left's Romance With Tyranny and Terror:" A Review
When Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson claimed that Islam and the American Constitution are incompatible, he immediately found himself buried by an avalanche of criticism. Neither the tone nor the substance of the lion’s share of ...

posted 9:40:13pm Oct. 06, 2015 | read full post »


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