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Paradox Project Podcast

The official podcast for the Paradox Project

Tech veteran and Pixar fan Doug Stewart joined us this week to talk about why the church desperately needs to address the idol of accomplishment; whether Facebook regulation will follow the European model; and exactly how excited/nervous we all are for "The Incredibles 2."

"The act of working itself is meaningful."

The tech industry specifically and our society in general have made an idol of success. We think working long hours is a virtue, and we don't value work itself, only the material "success" that comes from work. Where is the church on this issue? Too often, Christians as a culture also encourage the view that successful people must also be morally good because they've been rewarded.

Will Regulation Benefit Anyone Besides Facebook?

If we're discussing privacy and data regulation, shouldn't we look at the regulation that is already happening? Matthias pointed out that despite Mark Zuckerberg's hearing in Washington last week, very few people are talking about the regulation crackdown happening in the European Union. Will something similar to the General Data Protection Regulation come to the U.S.? What would that mean for Facebook?

'The Incredibles,' Then and Now

Doug is the only one who has watched the trailer for "The Incredibles 2," and he thinks it looks promising. "I'm going to trust Brad Bird on this one," he says. He talks about how the original film has rich layers that he better understood after becoming a parent and why he thinks Bird can bring the same nuance and subversive messaging to the sequel.

Terrible Opinions

Matthias: Our society's faulty view of God makes us want to administer our own justice, which is why we are all so terrible to each other. Jordan: Jury duty is a good thing. Doug: The complementarian debate isn't getting enough attention from the church.

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Futurist Jonathan Crabb returned this week to talk about the growing market for a transhuman retirement plan as well as the role of ethics in the world of social media.

"The future is coming very quickly."

Jonathan shares some insights on transhumanism, the idea that people will eventually merge with technology and evolve to become a new form of humanity. We talk about the startup that promises to one day upload your brain and give you a kind of second existence, and Matthias points out that there's a "crisis of the dignity of human life" in our culture. The pro-transhumanism community is looking for this kind of service as part of an ideal retirement plan because they want to be on the cutting edge of the next evolution of humanity ... but at what cost?

The Ethics of Facebook

Does Facebook have a moral obligation not to keep changing its algorithm and pulling the rug out from under businesses that use the platform? We debate if and how ethics should be part of the business model when it comes to Facebook, YouTube and other platforms that work with content creators. People depend on Facebook reach and YouTube views for their livelihood, so tweaking an algorithm or demonetizing videos with certain topics can be devastating.

Terrible Opinions:

Matthias: The best tech industry regulation to start with would be a data audit that lets each user see exactly what information is being collected.

Jordan: A lot of conservatives were yelling about Kevin Williamson this week, but David French's opinion was the only one that I cared about.

Jonathan: American evangelical churches aren't celebrating Easter right.

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Kate Bryan returns this week to talk about Saturday's March for Our Lives rally, millennials' political party affiliations (or lack thereof) and movies.

Acknowledging a Broken World

Matthias talks about his pastor's thoughtful and apolitical comments on the March for Our Lives, and he and Kate discuss a more nuanced angle on the gun control rally: how it exposes our cultural problems and the brokenness of the world we live in.

Millennials Going Rogue?

The Pew Research Center recently released this startling statistic: The number of millennial women who identify as Democrat or lean Democrat has jumped from 56 percent to 70 percent in only four years. Jordan isn't a bit surprised at this trend, but she also doesn't think Democrats are guaranteed that vote forever since millennials don't have the same loyalty to party branding that their parents did. We discuss the Obama campaign's effect on millennials and their cynicism toward politicians.

Nothing New in Hollywood

We ask Kate, a fellow movie fan, to weigh in on the discussion of violence in movies and specifically, violence toward women. Do you need to portray violence to tell a story? At what point are we simply glorifying and celebrating violence in say, a Quentin Tarantino fashion? We talk about Uma Thurman's account of filming "Kill Bill" and (according to her) sustaining long-term injuries under Tarantino's direction as well as the tragic story of Taylor Hickson, a young actress who was pressured to bang on a glass window during filming and sustained a permanent facial scar after the glass broke.

Terrible Opinions

Jordan: Being sick as an adult is awesome.

Matthias: Churches need to tell Christians to stop worshipping the idol of accomplishment.

Kate: I now love having my phone in black and white.

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Jordan and Matthias do a post-Oscars recap after "The Shape of Water" won at last night's 90th Academy Awards.

"Will millennials watch the Oscars?"

If you missed last night's ceremony, Jimmy Kimmel hosted and it was ... meh. Jordan and Matthias critique the overall show and mention some of their favorite Oscar hosts from past years. They also discuss an important question: Will millennials and their kids watch the Oscars and make it a tradition? That doesn't seem likely when it's almost impossible to watch the awards ceremony without cable. The Academy doesn't seem interested in preserving the small audience it has or in building the next generation's interest in movies. (For more of our analysis of this year's nominees, check out our big pre-show episode here.)

Inclusion vs. Exclusion

We talk about some of the great examples of promoting diversity in last night's show as well as moments that fell flat or seemed way too heavy-handed. Tl;dr ... we need more Kumail Nanjiani and Greta Gerwig. Both of them showed an appreciation for movies and talked about how they wanted to build on film history and bring more to the table instead of trying to erase the past or edge anyone out.

Terrible Opinions:

Jordan: That article claiming you can magically read a lot more by swapping in social media and TV time was pretentious and wrong. Matthias: Conservatives hate too many movies and paid critics have a responsibility to curate the ocean of films, helping readers find stuff they might like rather than simply being Another Movie Person On The Internet.

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It's Oscar time! Jonathan Crabb returns this week to talk all about the 2018 Academy Award-nominated films ahead of this Sunday's awards ceremony.

"Fan service well done is a good movie."

Jordan kicks off the movie discussion with a rant that has been a long time coming: Movie trailers are the worst. After seeing the "Red Sparrow" trailer half a dozen times, does anyone really need to see the movie? Jonathan is a fan of good trailers and talks about the art of giving just enough away to get you interested in the film. He also touches on an upcoming movie he's excited about: "Solo: A Star Wars Story."

Our Favorite Best Picture Noms!

It's the most wonderful time of the year ... time to analyze the Best Picture nominations and gush or vent accordingly. We all list our favorites and least favorites from this year's eclectic list. Jonathan's favorite was "Get Out," and he wasn't really into "Phantom Thread." Matthias loved "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" and was not a fan of "The Post." Jordan fell for "The Shape of Water" and "Lady Bird" but could barely pay attention to "Dunkirk."

We also give a shoutout to the most underrated recent trilogy: "Planet of the Apes." The third film in the brilliant Andy Serkis revamp, "War for the Planet of the Apes," is up for Best Visual Effects.

Prediction Time:

We take turns predicting some of the top awards: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress. Jordan and Matthias have similar predictions, while Jonathan disagrees. We'll see what we got right (and wrong) when the awards are announced on Sunday!

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Writer, pastor and counselor Kyle Howard returns to Paradox this week to talk about the cultural significance of Marvel's "Black Panther" as well as the Christian church's role in modern society.

"The great tension with Wakanda"

Just another superhero movie? Tl;dr ... no. "Black Panther" hit theaters this weekend and seems to have lived up to people's expectations for box office success. But what about its representation of black culture and the role models it gives kids today? Jordan kicks off the "Black Panther" discussion with an outsider's perspective of it as a movie, touching on its heavy themes of isolationism and radicalization and drawing some parallels to "Wonder Woman," another culturally significant superhero flick.

[embed]https://twitter.com/KyleJamesHoward/status/965383884929150976[/embed]

Kyle analyzes how "Black Panther" covers the realities of colonialism within the bright packaging of a Disney/Marvel movie. He talks about why one of the most exciting things about this movie is the way it gives black kids some admirable role models to look up to and learn from, men and women who are strong, confident, self-sacrificing and brave. For Kyle, this was a "deeply theological" superhero movie, and he explains why T'Challa is a Christ figure similar to other characters in epics like "The Chronicles of Narnia."

A Neighbor Closer Than Benedict

We talk about the secular vs. the sacred and the church's role in society. How should Christians apply their faith when it comes to voting, getting engaged in politics and trying to change culture? Jordan explains a growing school of thought among evangelical Christian leaders that pushes back against decades of evangelical Christians being ordered to fight the culture war. It's time to stop lifting up politicians as false gods and expecting them to save us. Kyle takes a critical stance on Rod Dreher's "The Benedict Option" and asks why Dreher needed to go so far back in order to find a saint who resisted a culture that hated how he lives out his faith when the black Christian church has been doing that for centuries. "Why didn't you knock on your neighbor's door and ask this?" he wonders.

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Tech reporter Sonya Mann joins us this week to talk about why "Smart Kids Should Skip High School" and what cryptocurrency and AI mean for society.

Who needs high school? No ... really. Is it necessary?

Do high school students learn anything that they end up using in a real-world job? Sonya makes the case for either ditching high school or seriously revamping the broken system, which is currently a "stultifying waste of time." Standardized testing isn't about learning for the future; it's about getting credentials in the short term. How do you teach high schoolers to have a vision for the future that doesn't keep them stuck in the standardized test mindset?

Cryptocurrency vs. artificial intelligence

Billionaire and controversial Silicon Valley figure Peter Thiel recently said, "Crypto is libertarian, AI is communist." Sonya explains what he meant by that and what we should look for as these two burgeoning technologies disrupt our lives.

Terrible Opinions

Sonya: I like Starbucks coffee.

Jordan: Authors should be banned from Twitter.

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Jordan and Matthias have a special Part I and Part II episode this week! In the first part of this recording, you'll hear our predictions for the Oscar nominations (recorded Monday), quickly followed by our reactions to the official noms (recorded today).

How close were our predictions? Listen to find out. We discuss the Best Picture category, then dive into our respective passions as Jordan dissects Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress and Matthias looks at the Best Cinematography and Best Visual Effects races.

Also in this episode:

  • Why this wasn't Jessica Chastain's year
  • Can Meryl be nominated too many times?
  • The problematic Best Picture nomination in a year of sexual abuse allegations
  • Marketing vs. reality for "The Shape of Water"
  • Is Christopher Nolan our Stanley Kubrick?
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Note: This podcast has major spoilers for two episodes of "Black Mirror."  Futurist Jonathan Crabb joins us to talk about Netflix's "Black Mirror" and what it can teach us about the dangers of future technology.

Terrible Opinions

Jonathan: White chocolate is the best kind. Jordan: In the long term, it's mean to let your kids be super picky with food. Matthias: The app business model is broken.

"Could have been a 'Black Mirror' episode ..."

We kick off by covering the strange real-life episode that was the false ballistic missile alarm in Hawaii on Saturday morning. Hawaii residents received an alert on their phones letting them know that a missile attack was on its way. "Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill," the message read. Hawaii emergency officials revoked the warning 38 minutes later, but the damage was done.

To Delete or Not to Delete?

Matthias brings in a fireworks-inducing topic: Should Twitter delete President Donald Trump's account because of his threatening tweets toward other world leaders?

Simulating God's Image?

We look at two specific "Black Mirror" episodes: "Fifteen Million Merits" and "Hang the DJ." Jonathan admits that while he tends to be a positive person, he also takes the warnings in "Black Mirror" to heart. The show is basically telling people, "here's what will happen if X technology is used in a way that dials it up to 11." Somehow, we think it's OK to keep using that technology at a level 2 or 3 ... which is why we need to pay attention to "Black Mirror." "How would we treat the AI version of ourselves?" is a recurring question in "Black Mirror," and Jonathan characterizes this theme as an imitation of a common argument about God. We analyze the episode "Hang the DJ" and draw different lessons from the story about a futuristic dating app.

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Yes, the Gorilla Channel Is Satire

@PixelatedBoat kicked off 2018 memes with a joke about the new book "Fire and Fury," which purportedly details the disheveled early days of the Trump White House. The satirical tweet was just close enough to the truth for some people to believe it, and gorillas took over the timeline. 

Focus and Build

We talk about our New Year's resolutions for 2018 and how much we like making resolutions and embracing the rhythm of having a new year. After reading Malcolm Gladwell's "Outliers," which includes the "10,000 hours" theory, Matthias is resolved to focus on one area of expertise in his field and become better at building that instead of jumping around to different projects and new technologies.

Jordan wants to grow instead of "just surviving" and talks about using meditating to be calmer and able to focus better.

Terrible Opinions:

Matthias: We should leave up Christmas lights for as long as possible.

Jordan: You should stop watching TV shows that just make you sad.

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