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Paradox Project Podcast

The official podcast for the Paradox Project

Kate Bryan returned to the show this week to talk about Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, the avalanche of sexual misconduct allegations that are disrupting the entertainment industry and the world of politics – and for some pop culture, the new Taylor Swift album.

Will the stores about Moore affect his Senate campaign in Alabama? And what made the Weinstein story different when people haven’t cared before about sexual harassment and assault in Hollywood?

Terrible Opinions

Kate: I hated Taylor Swift’s new album and here’s why.

Jordan: Taylor Swift’s initial singles for her albums aren’t great – I didn’t love “Look What You Made Me Do” but I loved “Reputation.”

Matthias: I relate more to progressive Christians who have socialist views and strive to be faithful believers than to conservative Christians who embrace the Trump crowd.

Weinstein and Hollywood history

We discuss the allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein that sparked a revolution in Hollywood, the music industry and politics to expose serial predators. Decades of abuse in the entertainment industry are finally coming to light – but what made this story about Weinstein different? We analyze the political moment, the timing and the research that went into exposing Weinstein’s years of allegedly exploiting and assaulting young actresses.

Matthias asks an important question: How can these abusers in entertainment, politics and all of society go about making restitution?

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Katrina Jørgensen returned for another fun discussion about culture and how media-saturated millennials see the world.

Terrible Opinions

Katrina: I hate Thanksgiving food.

Jordan: I can’t help judging adults who spend a ton of money on Halloween costumes.

Matthias: The internet did not give us the permenance or expansion we hoped for, but an increasingly ephemeral "dust in the wind" existence and we should avoid that. 

Writing as fast as you can

Katrina is participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, so she shares some insights on how the annual challenge to write a novel in one month brings writers together. The goal in theory is to write 50,000 words in a month, but the main point of NaNoWriMo is simply getting people to write.

“Binge-worthy”

Netflix recently released some rare numbers showing which shows are being binge-watched the fastest: a top 20 list with shows that are watched within the first 24 hours of release. We analyze what insights we can glean from the list, which includes everything from “The Ranch” to “Santa Clarita Diet” to “Grace and Frankie.”

Jordan explains why it’s awesome that “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” is No. 1, but the other titles on the list are more relevant. We talk about why comedies are so much better for binge-watching than dramas – especially when the world is already hard enough – and debate whether or not the instant gratification of streaming changes how we watch TV.

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Kyle Howard joins us to talk about the church's ongoing identity crisis in America as politics and faith collide.

Terrible Opinions

Jordan: Twitter direct messages should become their own app because I want dms without having to look at my timeline.

Matthias: Education should be far more hands-on and DIY than it is. We should also abolish group projects because they are evil.

Kyle: DC makes better films based on comic books than Marvel because they are actually faithful to the original stories.

“The American church is at an identity crisis.”

Kyle analyzes the evolution of the American church as it became tied to political ideology and contrasts white evangelical culture with black evangelical culture. White Americans sometimes have difficulty grasping that they have a culture at all, sometimes thinking that what they do is “normal” and everything else is “other.” Matthias talks about the split among church communities.

The church’s white femininity problem

We talk about a piece Kyle wrote earlier this year on the evangelical view of femininity. Churches often portray the ideal godly woman in a way that fits into a certain view of white femininity but leaves many women out of the picture. Young men are encouraged to pursue women who are quiet, docile, demure and southern belle-esque, and women who don’t fit that stereotype are made to feel less feminine and godly. We discuss how the church can offer a more inclusive view of complementarity – the special distinctions between men and women as designed by God.

Not the “Bathsheba scandal”

Inspired by Kyle’s recent tweet, we talk about how Mike and Karen Pence’s marital rules were dragged into the spotlight again after horrifying allegations about Harvey Weinstein were recently reported. Weinstein was known throughout Hollywood as an accused rapist and habitual sexual predator, and some people tried to tie his alleged crimes to Pence’s rule for not spending time alone with women other than his wife.

Jordan untangles some of the pieces in this discussion, pointing out that Pence’s own self-instated rule for staying faithful to his wife in the world of politics was a personal decision we should respect – but it would not magically make someone like Weinstein a good person.

Kyle ties the discussion to the church’s misconception of what healthy interactions between men and women should look like, saying that “in pursuit of purity, women are objectified.” Ultimately, Christians should see each other as brothers and sisters, and men of the church should not automatically see their sisters in Christ as temptresses, treating them with fear instead of with love.   

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Kate Sills joined us to talk about free speech, great TV and the dangers of "anti-college" outrage. 

Terrible Opinions

Kate: British comedy TV is better than American comedy TV. See "Peepshow." 

Jordan: A lot of people are yelling about football, but they're all ignoring a big issue. Not to rain on everyone's parade, but the research about the damage to football players' brains is pretty damning. 

Matthias: If you got a 4.0, it means your teachers failed you because students should be challenged.

Higher education vs. conservatives? 

We discuss conservative writer and speaker Ben Shapiro's recent appearance at UC Berkeley, and Kate contrasts her own experience as a student with the extreme headlines about the school's supposed oppression. Matthias talks about the building antipathy that conservatives seem to have for higher education in general. 

EMMYS

We catch up on last week's Emmy awards, touching on "The Handmaid's Tale" and "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt." Matthias details his theory that a "hipster ratio" can explain what wins. Mostly, we all wish we had more time to watch great TV.

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Kate Bryan joined us this week to talk about horror movies, symbolism and why "It" was way better than "Mother!" 

Terrible Opinions: 

Matthias: People who make purportedly professional TV appearances to talk about the Constitution should act like adults. Apparently this is now a terrible opinion. 

Jordan: Movie trailers should be abolished because they spoil the whole story. They are also a terrible business model because so many of them give away the movie for free. 

Kate: Pumpkin spice is unnecessary in your latte. "Just have a coffee or don't have a coffee." Also, we need more good PR for candy corn because it's the best. 

"A very empty film" 

Kate and Jordan attempt to analyze "Mother!" The Darren Aronofsky film starring Jennifer Lawrence left a lot of viewers perplexed after seeing it this weekend. To give us a baseline for horror movies, Kate contrasts "Mother!" and "It" since one followed horror movie structure and the other used horror elements but wasn't a true film of the genre.

Matthias talks about monster movies, a favorite type of horror, and says "The Thing" is a must-watch. We also discuss Aronofsky films in general, with Matthias praising "Noah" and Jordan contrasting "Mother!" and "Black Swan." Kate talks about why horror films challenge who we are as people.

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Blogger and software developer Jayvie Arellano joined Paradox to talk about the Nashville Statement and give his Catholic perspective on dogma "living loudly" in those of the faith. 

Terrible Opinions

Jordan: I can't help liking the style of Chelsea Manning's tweets even though I completely disagree with her and know that she is a traitor. 

Matthias: People who are tweeting under #StopBetsy (against Betsy DeVos' decision to revisit how Title IX is applied in college sexual assault cases) should apply the same rules used on campuses to their own businesses. (Spoiler alert: They won't because it would mean anyone could sue them and win for any accusation.)

Jayvie: D.C. is an overrated place to work and live. 

Catholics in office

We talk about Amy Barrett, the appeals court nominee who was grilled by multiple senators on her Catholic faith this week. Should faith be considered a conflict for public office? What happens if we eventually live in a world where no Christians, Catholics, Mormons and other people of faith can be public servants? 

Jayvie points out that Democrats are shortsighted and too focused on abortion to realize that Catholics are huge proponents of economic justice. Jordan notes that these culture war battles have brought together religious groups that have been historically separate and sometimes even hostile to one another; for example, evangelical Christians didn't really want Mitt Romney, a Mormon, to be president. 

The Nashville Statement

We discuss the broad strokes of the Nashville Statement, an outline of the biblical view of sexuality and gender from evangelical Christian leaders. (Read it in full here.) Jayvie shares his perspective as a Catholic, giving his view of how the faith addresses sex, gender and marriage. Jordan and Matthias point out that no one should really be surprised by the statement, which gives a fairly straightforward view of biblical teachings. Matthias objects to the timing of the statement and wonders if evangelical leaders could have built more bridges before releasing it, while Jordan finds the statement hopeful because it acknowledges that people who experience same-sex attraction are just as precious in God's sight as anyone else. 

Heart-wrenching TV

Wrapping up with a fun topic, we talk about some of our favorite TV shows and the episodes that were the most emotionally draining. 

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Kyle Foley dropped by this week to talk about worship music, video games and millennials. Is video game culture really stopping this generation from getting jobs? 

Terrible Opinions:

Matthias: Worship music has crushed out actual church music. Old hymns set to new tunes are fine, but stop replacing them with wishy-washy emotional songs that have no theology.

Jordan: The “relationship contract” explained in a New York Times column isn’t a bad idea. It’s better to err on the side of over-explaining your relationship than to just wing it and not be on the same page.

Kyle: I hate Chipotle.

How many video games is too many?

Are millennial men really staying home and playing video games instead of getting jobs? Kyle, Jordan and Matthias talk about whether or not they’ve noticed this trend anecdotally and analyze how much video game time is too much. An avid gamer, Kyle mostly likes “social gaming,” video games that you’re playing with friends rather than on your own. Jordan compares video games to Netflix or another entertainment medium – it’s important to find balance and not invest too much of your time into it.

To fire or not to fire …

We wrap up with a debate about whether or not it’s damaging to society for people to be fired for participating in protests and having infuriating and offensive opinions.

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Claire Swinarski, writer and founder of The Catholic Feminist Podcast, dropped by this week to talk about better ways that people of faith can critique media and exactly what that whole “feminism” thing is about.

Terrible Opinions

Matthias: I’m *not* commenting on the Google diversity memo yet. So my terrible opinion this week is that Catholics need to stop making snarky comments on Martin Luther.

Claire: I like the Star Wars prequels … and I know I have no movie credibility now.

Jordan: People should never watch documentaries because they are (probably) all lying to us.

The Catholic feminist

Claire started her podcast project because she had been waiting for something like it for a long time and got frustrated at how little people seemed to understand what her faith actually teaches about women. “Catholics don’t know what the Catholic Church teaches about women,” she says.

She shares a simple, straightforward definition of what she means when she says “feminism.” Feminism = “women have dignity and worth that is equal to men.”  

Why we don’t watch ‘Game of Thrones’ – but don’t care if you do

We talk about pop culture and whether faith should influence your perspective on what movies and TV shows you watch. As the only person on deck who's seen it, Matthias explains the darkness of TV’s “Game of Thrones.” Even though she doesn’t watch the show, Jordan has a rant about someone who wrote a piece completely condemning “Game of Thrones” as unadulterated pornography. How can we approach media in a more nuanced way? Jordan shares her conspiracy theory that most pop culture is secretly conservative. 

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Matthew Hockman, known on Twitter as @matthops82, joins us to talk about TV shows and what life outside of Twitter is like—as well as what Twitter looks like now to a normal person.

Terrible Opinions

Matthew: BBC’s “The Last Kingdom,” a series about Saxons vs. Vikings, is better than “Game of Thrones.”

Jordan: I disagree with everyone saying the piece on Medium about modern dating is something eye-opening. People are always discontent in their own time and will imagine that some earlier era would have been perfect for them.

Matthias: I’m willing to hear about the context for the word “jihad” as used in Linda Sarsour’s recent speech, but I don’t see any explanation or definition from people that actually fits what she said and doesn’t mean “jihad against the administration.”

When is it OK to stop watching that TV show you loved?

Inspired by an episode of NPR’s “Pop Culture Happy Hour” podcast, we debate if and when it’s acceptable to abandon a TV series after you’ve invested time into it. Matthias admits that he’s at a crossroads with whether or not to continue “Game of Thrones,” and Matthew vents about “The Walking Dead.” As her example, Jordan talks about “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and why she enjoyed the first season but bailed on the second season when it completely lost direction.

We talk about TV character deaths and why they need to be thoughtfully written and integral to the plot (see “Breaking Bad” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) instead of seeming as if the writers just got bored and/or were planning to kill off everyone randomly anyway (“The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones”).

I broke free of Twitter: AMA

Matthew has been mostly distant from Twitter since his son was born, appearing here and there to update the timeline with adorable pictures. “I’m trying to bring joy to Twitter because it’s so angry,” he says, wondering what happened to the smart, rational people who used to make it a great place. He and Matthias reminisce about when Twitter was mostly jokes, fun and humor instead of constant political outrage and fights. Matthew notes that people on both sides of the aisle are ready to die on any hill as long as it makes the other team angry.

What we’re watching

We wrap up with some of the movies and TV shows we’ve been watching lately. Matthew has a glowing review of “Billions,” which stars Damian Lewis, and has also been watching “Impractical Jokers” when he needs some comic relief, while Jordan is ready for “This Is Us” to return in the fall.

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Grant Gambling, writer and keen observer of foreign policy, joined Matthias and Jordan this week to talk about Israel, standup comedy, the millennial who is taking on the Middle East and the general “tomfoolery” of our times.

Terrible Opinions

Jordan: I don’t blame Trump personally for the White House not acknowledging Pride Month (as observed in June). I don’t think he has anything against gay people—I blame the administration around him for pandering to their baby boomer/evangelical Christian base by ignoring it.

Matthias: Andy Serkis is one of the greatest actors of a generation, but he gets overlooked because people don’t realize how much skill goes into being the actor behind a CGI character like Gollum in “Lord of the Rings.”

Grant: Jon Stewart was criticized by the left and ignored by the right for “Rosewater,” but it was a good film.

“What we’re told is very simplistic …”

Grant walks us through some of the situation in the Middle East as Israel tries to lay low while in the middle of rising tensions. He explains why Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and the White House adviser tasked with “fixing” Iraq, is the first millennial to be at the crux of foreign policy.

Americans generally don’t get an accurate, unfiltered view of foreign policy since news stories become so politicized. Under the Obama administration, the media added explanations and excuses, while the Trump era is characterized by antagonism.

Comedy in the era of political correctness

Speaking of the politicization of everything, we talk about standup comedy and why comedians are (mostly) getting away with pointing out political correctness and lampooning it in a constructive way. We debate the implications of Patton Oswalt’s “listen to their heart” monologue and remind people that it’s important to listen to others’ words in context and try to understand where they’re coming from – regardless of what “team” they’re on.

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