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Read In Case Of Emergency
A weekly newsletter on ethics, policy & society
  • Life Under the Algorithm – Gabriel Winant, New Republic – Plenty has been written about how algorithms curate our Facebook feeds and Netflix queues, but a far more insidious use of technological control is in the daily tasks of millions of service workers. From warehouses to call centers, the wish of many increasingly insatiable companies is for the humans they employ to become machines.
  • What Would Mister Rogers Do? – Tom Junod, The Atlantic – If you've read Junod's magnificent Esquire profile of Mr Rogers or seen the Tom Hanks movie based on it, you'll love this recent reflection on civility, friendship, and prayer.

  • Smells Like Teen Spirit: God and Adolescence in New Literature – Martyn Wendell Jones, Image – The American religious spirit is in many ways a spirit of adolescence, a youthful rebellion against received tradition trying to pull itself to heaven by its bootstraps. This review of several new books on the subject paints a picture of how this searching shapes the nation's spiritual character.

  • The Left Case for Fertility Awareness – Megan Magray, The Nation – While this essay has some legitimate limitations, it's a worthwhile read to see an argument from the left against the technical solutions marketed to women to allow their sexual liberation to continue without consequence. It turns out bodies, actually, are good, regardless of how you get there.

We greatly enjoyed the kind letters these past few weeks! Here are two we especially appreciated:

From Robinson Meyer (whose This Land Is the Only Land There Is was included on our year-end best-of list, and whose email signature is perhaps a front-runner for this year's):

  • Thank you for the generous citation here! Gary Saul Morson was my old professor and the master of my residential college, and it feels like coming full circle to see our essays next to each other. 

    And thanks for another year of great newsletters. Have a blessed, joyful, and peaceful new year, 

    Sent from my TI-83 Plus, so please excuse any typos or brevity

And some more interesting thoughts from Hannah Smith:

  • I am really enjoying these articles. Keep up the good work. I especially appreciated the TAI article on Woke Occultism. I have been fascinated and saddened watching many friends leave the church for Occultism or Occultism-lite (I.e. self care Occultism). I remember in college the presiding preachers of the day seemed to be rational atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens. At the time, I had this idea that rational atheism was and would continue to be the leading cultural thought for decades to come. I have been amazed at how quickly rational individualism has been unraveling into a postmodern spiritualism, hungry to regain a sense of community. I remember watching a Q&A video with Hitchens years ago. A woman from the audience asked him, "I know religion is evil and I,am ready to leave. But what should we do for community?" to which Hitchens effectively replied, "That is a great question. Come talk to me afterwards. I am still trying to figure that out." It should have been a cue to me that this vacuum of individualism would quickly be filled by many forms of community which is why postmodernism makes so much sense to me now. I have a theory that over the next few decades (barring great disaster, world war or economic crash), we will see a reversal where people become burnt by communities founded in postmodern rejection of absolutes and rapidly return to militant atheism. Do you all have thoughts? I would love to hear a different perspective on this issue.

We’ll refrain from convening a full RICOE symposium like last week, but we’d love to hear your thoughts! Drop us a line at


Read In Case of Emergency is produced by Peter Gaultney, Zachary Holbrook, Matthew Loftus & Timothy Milligan.

For more information, read our bios.

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