Welcome to Samsara Diagnostics, a (mostly) weekly newsletter focused on cultivating a dialogue space for religion, philosophy, and psychoanalysis.

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Who am I, you say?

I'm Matthew – I grew up in a small Calvinist church in Sacramento, CA, went to a small Calvinist school, and dreamed of becoming a theologian when I grew up.

My interests were eclectic, but none of them was more guiding than my passion for studying theology. When it came time to attend college, I knew I wanted continue my theological studies, so I decided to enroll at Wheaton College (IL), a Christian liberal arts school nestled in the suburbs of Chicago.

It was there that I fell in with some philosophers and began to expand my intellectual horizons. I remember reading Alasdair MacIntyre's After Virtue with the Philosophy Club, and it hit me that they were asking the really important questions – what are the building blocks of understanding? How are our limits integral to what we are? How do I update my notion of truth in light of this?

Fall of my senior year was a watershed season for me – for years I had wanted to pursue a career in academia, but I ultimately came to the conclusion that I could not accept the abusive and co-dependent relationship which Academia pushes on graduate students. This massively dysfunctional system promised only poverty and precarity for the rest of my twenties, with unimaginably abysmal job prospects waiting for me on the other side. I decided to say 'No.'

However, having turned my back on what was once my dream, I found myself totally unmoored. I no longer had this phantasmic support for my identity. In some senses, I'm still working through that question today – I'm trying to escape what I call "school brain." That's a big part of the underlying project of Samsara Diagnostics. I'm charting my way out of old identities that don't work anymore.

I always had an anti-authoritarian and idiosyncratic streak in me, but the real beginning of my way out of "school brain" came when I stumbled into operations for a software startup when I graduate from college. Working with projects plans and analytics, understanding and supporting customers, and identifying and solving problems helped me to shift my thinking from looking like I was doing the thing to actually doing the thing.

Since then, I've managed to use the compensation and flexible work arrangement from doing implementation work for SaaS startups to support my family's lifestyle and to continue my research outside of an institutional setting. That has given me the freedom to build Samsara Diagnostics and the connections which surround it.

Samsara Diagnostics brings my interests into a strange confluence – Christian theology, contemporary European philosophy, Japanese Buddhism, and psychoanalytic theory – in which each discourse can challenge and illuminate the others, all in service of becoming humans fully alive and liberated together.

Join us for reading groups and feedback circles in Samsara Study Groups, subscribe to Samsara Diagnostics, or follow along with my podcast Samsara Audio. This community and newsletter are my passion project, not my job, so that means that we can take things in whatever direction seems right to us.

Did I mention I published a book? It's about Japanese history, liberation theology, and the return of Christian Nationalism. Learn more about Ideology and Christian Freedom today!

You made it to the bottom of the page! As a thank you, here's my calendar link. Feel free to schedule a time with me to chat. I'd love to connect with you!

You can always shoot me a message through my Contact page or at my email matt[at]samsara.media, if that's your preferred mode of communication.