Paradox Project Podcast

The official podcast for the Paradox Project

Katrina Jørgensen is back this week to talk about what a truly weird year 2017 was, starting with an embarrassing flub at the Oscars and ending with a new Star Wars movie for people to fight over (for the record, all three of us enjoyed it).

2017 Was Weird

We kick off with a speed-read review of foreign policy in 2017 through the lens of a simple, terrifying question: "Are we closer to nuclear war after this year?" We then cover some of the craziest things we remember from a bizarre year and wrap up with our latest Terrible Opinions. Here are some of the funniest/weirdest things that happened in 2017. Listen to the full episode to see what else made the list.

Terrible Opinions:

Katrina: I hate brisket.

Jordan: I liked "The Last Jedi," and I'm surprised it's suddenly a "Terrible Opinion" to enjoy the latest Star Wars movie.

Matthias: The updated Barbies with different body sizes are frustrating for kids.


Eric Owens, a D.C.-based tax attorney, joins us to analyze the GOP's new bill for tax reform and what it means for millennials and the average American family.

This bill is definitely good news for ...

Tax professionals. A tax code overhaul is first and foremost a boon to tax attorneys because it will make filing your taxes more complicated and will likely put people a bit on edge. Plus, some ambiguity in the bill itself makes it a "wait and see" game.

The Rubio effect

We debate whether or not the stand Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) took for expanding the child tax credit in the bill was a passion project or merely a political move. Matthias has a conspiracy theory about Rubio's stance that involves a plot with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

How does tax reform affect millennials?

Fortunately for anyone pursuing a Ph.D. or still paying off student loans, the latest version of the bill shouldn't affect you. In earlier versions of tax reform, Republicans considered taxing graduate students on tuition waivers and ending deductions for student loan interest.

Terrible Opinions

Jordan: I was disappointed by "Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri."

Eric: People got upset over taxpayer funding going toward preparation for aliens, but I thought it was cool.

Matthias: I'm going to be so mad when the baby boomers all of a sudden care about the elderly because they reach old age.


Katrina Jørgensen joined us again this week to share her foreign policy expertise and millennial perspective. You can follow her on Twitter @Veribatim.

Terrible Opinions

Jordan: I've been enjoying "bad" made-for-TV Christmas movies this year.

Matthias: I'm not OK with how Twitter turned the man who committed suicide at the Hague into a meme.

Katrina: White chocolate is not a chocolate, and it is bad.

"You'd think it'd be really simple, but it's not."

Katrina covers some of why the question of Israel's capital is so complex and details the fallout from the administration's decision to officially acknowledge Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Riots, increased hatred for America, and injury and death show why the decision was so controversial.

The myth of "work-life balance."

Using this article as a jumping-off point, we talk about how work-life balance simply isn't possible unless you work less and about bad workplace culture in general. Jordan explains the typical millennial workplace experience: leaving a job once you're exhausted and knowing that another millennial is waiting to take your place. Matthias proposes a new regulation for businesses that would ensure they either cover their employees' education so they can still be competitive in the job market or pay a fine that would go into a government fund to protect people who get fired and can't get a new job without more education.


Terrible Opinions

Jordan: Fans are actually the best music critics.

Matthias: Christians who are living out their faith and lean toward socialism in politics are far more winning and influential than conservative Christians preaching to the choir.

Perception is truth now

Jordan talks about the introduction to "Reputation" that Taylor Swift included in the album's liner notes and details her theory that Swift secretly slipped in some references to today's toxic political climate without being explicitly political. Matthias ties the idea of "reputation" being seen as fact to the way people get trapped only seeing the worst of the "team" they disagree with: "People end up in their bubbles."

Can comedy save us?

We talk about the "Saturday Night Live" parody ad for the Democratic National Committee and Sarah Silverman's new Hulu show, "I Love You, America." Are liberals showing more self-awareness as a group, or is there just too much noise for these two examples to break through? We also discuss the inevitable future: a reckoning for the Democratic establishment when millennials and on-the-ground activists stop putting up with untrustworthy "establishment" figures like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.


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?


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.


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.


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.   


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. 


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.


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.


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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