In this episode, Arlan is joined by Minda Hearts, Author of multiple books and the Founder of The Memo LLC. Arlan and Minda discuss how their life experiences led to their different faith journeys, and how they relate to others who believe differently than they do.
5:07- How this show came about
8:35 – Dating someone who believes differently than you do
18:41 – The difference between religion and spirituality
28:50 – Respecting the beliefs of others
41:55 – Handling divergent beliefs in family and business
We’re so thankful to Minda for joining the show! If you enjoyed it please subscribe and review, or check out www.demystifyingfaith.com to keep up to date with our latest episodes.
Arlan Hamilton 0:00
I’m Arlan Hamilton. I’m an investor, a founder and author, a professional speaker and an atheist. I wanted to find out what would happen if I sat down to have open and honest conversations with people from all walks of life and various degrees of faith. Would my preconceived notions be debunked? Or simply reconfirmed? Maybe a little bit of both? Let’s find out on Demystifying Faith.
Minda hearts. Minda hearts is a friend. She is a sage, in my opinion, and an incredible, incredible author, the name of her first two books are “The Memo: What women of color need to know to secure a seat at the table” , and “Right Within: How to heal from racial trauma in the workplace.” She is a powerhouse and I was so so delighted and honored that she said she would be on the very first episode of Demystifying Faith before it even had a name. The podcast didn’t even have a name when she said yes to it. It all started with a tweet. I said that I wanted to sit down with some people and just have open and frank conversations about faith or the lack thereof. As we all know, there is no linear path. Not everyone is what they may seem, or feels the way that they may appear. And I wanted to do this for the listener and for myself. And a quest that I have for understanding people more and more and more. So this has no affiliation with any company that I work with. This isn’t about getting a lot of listeners. This is about a journey that I hope some of you will go on with me. And I hope that we will all discover something together about ourselves and about other people. I already have with our first guest. Minda hearts.
Minda Hearts 2:20
Arlan Hamilton 2:20
Hey, how you doing?
Minda Hearts 2:22
Good. How are you?
Arlan Hamilton 2:23
I’m doing all right.
Minda Hearts 2:25
You hanging in there?
Arlan Hamilton 2:26
Yes. I appreciate you being part of this experiment. Hopefully, it’s the first of many conversations that I get to have, and that they’re interesting. But I do appreciate you kind of being part of the very first episode of a podcast that doesn’t even have a name yet.
Minda Hearts 3:00
I love it. I’m like, Why Why wait, right? Let’s just do it.
Arlan Hamilton 3:04
So what I want to do here is… I often think to myself and say in small circles, and sometimes in larger circles, I often think that it’s harder, it was harder to come out as gay than it is to come out as atheist.
Hey, again, it’s Arlen jumping in here. After listening to this episode, I meant to say to Minda, “it’s harder to come out as atheist than it was to come out as gay.” That makes more sense, doesn’t it? Okay, let’s get back to it.
Or not, you know, and I don’t even know if I consider myself atheist, because I don’t even know if such a strong term needs to be put on it, what I feel. But especially in the startup world, it’s almost like if you’re if you don’t believe in God, or a God, then you can be part of this group, but they’re considered very specific. You know, and if you do believe it’s hard to pierce that without offending someone, or etc. So I just don’t ever really bring it up in a world where I bring up all kinds of stuff. So I just thought it was interesting that that’s like the last frontier of things that I won’t talk directly about. But even in our conversation now, with our book club, being out and and even in our conversation, I started thinking in that moment, while we were talking, I was thinking “man, it would be really cool to talk to her about religion and about her faith, and about my lack of faith.” Because I just know from your book, “Right Within” that, you would make space for that. You know, so I don’t know can we start by because this is an experiment. Can we start by you telling me & the audience, what you thought when you saw the tweet and how you think about someone in that space who you get along with, but doesn’t agree with your beliefs?
Minda Hearts 5:07
Yeah, you know, I thought it was really great that you put it out there that you wanted to have this conversation because I feel like there’s this like intersection of where those who identify as Christians, and those who may identify more atheists or agnostic, don’t come together and have these kinds of conversations. Like we’ve been told, don’t talk about politics, don’t talk about religion, right? All that kind of shit. And so I was like, Yes, we should be talking about these things. These are the intersections that we that we sit at. But I will say Arlan that I wasn’t always that person. Right. You know, I grew up in a very religious household. So when someone says atheist, you automatically think they’re like a Satan worshiper. Right?
Arlan Hamilton 5:45
Yeah, yeah. You’re PK right pastor’s kid?
Minda Hearts 5:49
Arlan Hamilton 5:50
And yeah, can I tell you, I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness. So I don’t know, to the degree that you’re being facetious. But to me growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, when someone said they were atheist, I truly thought that they were devil worshipers. 100%. They were sinners going to hell. And I was very afraid of them and afraid for them. And so when do you think that switched for you?
Minda Hearts 6:20
I think probably when I got out of my parents house, and I went away to college. I think I started to meet different people. I’m like, wait a second, they’re not devil worshipers. They’re not like doing seances in the room, even if they were, right. But there’s some nuance here. And I don’t think I really, really understood it until one of my last relationships I was in, I used to make a joke to I don’t know, if you probably do this with your friends, but we make up names for people that we meet. And so we call this person atheist, right? Because they were given like atheist.
Arlan Hamilton 6:51
Right, right. We gotta unpack what that means.
Minda Hearts 6:54
Yes, yes. But they were giving like atheist vibes, even though it was really silly for me to think that, but I used to think I couldn’t date someone who was an atheist. Because that’s a difference, right? And then the more I got to know them, I’m just like, well, they do have faith, they do believe in something. We may not believe in the same thing. But they do believe that there are higher entities, and we just need to have more conversation. And and it was that relationship that actually had me think a little bit differently about our various intersections. Yes, it can be yes and right. Or it can be these other aspects to who we are.
Arlan Hamilton 7:27
That’s so interesting. I want to talk about that a little bit. Because when you’re dating someone, are you and this also, by the way can become a dating episode, If you like. But if you’re dating someone are you in the mindset of I may one day marry this person?
Minda Hearts 7:48
Arlan Hamilton 7:53
Okay, good. So, but I would, I would imagine that for some people, especially those who might have grown up grown up in the church, that it’s important that it would be hard to think you could date someone who is atheist because of where it could lead. And then what does that determine when it comes to the life you want to craft for yourselves? Right? Even? Or even if it’s like, I want to be with this person for two years, we’re going to live together, we’re going to whatever. What does that mean, for specific times of year? What does it mean for decisions that have to get made fights that could come up all of that? What? What did you did you find that there was a time when it did matter, during that relationship?
Minda Hearts 8:35
You know, so we were together a very long time. And I think like, my main thing was like, if I asked you to go to church with me that you don’t have a problem with that, right? If I invite you to something that’s important to me, or I want you to say a prayer with me like is that problem, right? And that’s where I was kind of on the line, like, I’m like, ” Okay, if they would come to church, every now and then with me on like, on Christmas, or some of these things that matter to me. If they say yes to that, because they know it’s important to me, then I can rock with this person, right?” If I need a prayer, and they don’t mind saying the prayer, then let’s do that. And I think because they just didn’t grow up in a religious home where they didn’t grow up going to church, that it was just very foreign to them. But they were very respectful. And I think that’s where I was able to engage with other people. Like, let’s engage in a conversation that might be uncomfortable, but can we still see each other with dignity and respect? And let’s see where that goes.
Arlan Hamilton 9:28
Yeah. I think about that, you know, the, would you go to church, would you do a prayer? And I have a couple of flashbacks that we can talk about. One is going my wife Anna, she grew up Catholic. Um, she believes in a higher power. I’ll probably have her on just to talk about it better. But I think she says she believe the way she thinks of it is that we are all God collectively, that’s the energy. But they’re, you know, then we are together a higher power. I think that’s how she thinks of it. And I remember going back to Bavaria, where she’s from in South Germany, and they have some of the most beautiful, iconic churches there. You know, hundreds of years old, obviously. And going there around Christmas time, actually, where all the lights candles were lit up. And it was just, she had to pull me out of there because I just thought the history of it was so beautiful and so interesting. But I didn’t I don’t feel the the presence of it or any of that, that part of it. That’s one image I have another image I have is being on the Sunday best television program as a production assistant and a talent wrangler. So B. E. T., if people don’t know, B. E. T., had Sunday best, which is a talent competition like American Idol, but it’s for gospel singers. And for the season that they were in New Orleans, I worked on for two months in on location. As an atheist, surrounded by people who would pray, there was someone praying somewhere in that arena every four or five minutes. And I also went on Kirk Franklin’s Live Nation, the Kingsman tour, that was the highest grossing Gospel tour in the US to date. Right after that, and I was on the road with 40 or 50, people who would all very much to express their their faith everywhere, it’s a Gospel tour. So I just remember being in these moments, and how I dealt with being myself in those moments and how I did it. I believe I would be able to go to a…I don’t know if I’d be able to go to a full on church event, like a full on two hours or four hours. What is it these days?
Minda Hearts 12:13
It ranges? But now I go virtual. So it’s like an hour or so?
Arlan Hamilton 12:17
Yeah, right. And I know, for sure I could not pray. When prayer happens at a dinner or something, you know, my whole family is of faith. When the prayer happens at, you know, with any group friends or not, I simply do not close my eyes. I do not join hands. Actually, sometimes I do join hands. If we’re in a circle, and it’s like, friendly, I’ll join hands, but I won’t pray and I won’t close my eyes. I’ll certainly just let that moment happen for them, you know, and step out of it. So when that happens, how does that feel to you to hear that, like, Do you feel any sort of, like any sort of like, I’m worried for your soul? This is what this I want this to be about-peeking into the mind of what it’s like for the person.
Minda Hearts 13:14
You know, I think now, I don’t necessarily think that way. But there definitely was a time where I was like, Oh, I wonder why she’s not praying, like, what’s that about? Like, I’m gonna pray for pray for her, you know, and figure out what that journey is. But I think that when we talk about inclusion, and just understanding that people have different experiences. Now, I would think listening to you say that, Arlan, what was it about religion that maybe turned you off? Right? What was it about a certain situation where you don’t want to engage in that way? And so now I’m aware of the psychological kind of sense of like, what was the experience that that makes you not want to really close your eyes that makes you not want to do that? Because I think that that also informed why people show up. And now I could see that there’s reasons why, like, for me, for example, I grew up in one of those churches where people would like speak in tongues, run down the aisles, pass out all the things right. And when I was able to leave and go on my own journey to find God for myself, It’s not that I don’t want to go to churches like that. But that isn’t how I show up in my space. Right? So for me, that’s good for you. But that’s not where I’m at right now. And so I get it right. And I think because I was scared a lot growing up in those spaces that I’m like, I don’t want to really be dealing with that. So I understand that now. I’m more like, tell me more tell. Tell me what this really isn’t.
Arlan Hamilton 14:35
The therapist side of it. Which is what you do, essentially in your research for yourself and for your book. You do with yourself and for others, because you want to just like it’s like a combination of therapist and journalist. I want to find out what’s going on and so again, if anybody has not picked up right within Minda’s Second Book of 15. I think you have
Well, I tell you I can, I can tell you very frankly, what I feel or don’t feel. I certainly growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness, and going through that, what I believe was a cult. And I don’t, I don’t know if I can get sued for libel. So I’ll say, in my opinion, what I believe is a cult was absolutely transformative, absolutely foundationally impactful. But I’ll tell you even then, and now and how I think about it is I simply, there are two things at play. Essentially, there’s probably 1000 variables, but there are two major things. One is, I simply do not feel a presence of any higher power, in the way that I see it being talked about, or portrayed. I don’t feel a connection to anything that is godlike, I should say, that is spiritual. That is sort of guiding my life. And now some people who are spiritual could say, your life has been blessed and touched, if you think about it, but what I see is, why did I go through the 36 years of it not being? Why do we get to pick and choose that? Right? So that’s, that’s part of it. The other part is actually a little bit more practical. And this is what I’ve wanted to save. I wanted to talk about for so long, and maybe we can talk about it here. And maybe if we can’t, that’s fine. But it’s in the details. Like when I when I think I look around, obviously, I’m not an idiot. So I look around I get here, how did all this get here? You know, anything that’s not manmade, and man itself? How did we get here? And if it were just me saying, well, there’s no way we couldn’t have gotten here without something creating, then that would be that would probably send me to the point where I believe, I don’t believe because of the intricacies of life. Because I studied the Bible. I know what it says I know what the tenants are. I don’t believe that there was a God like force that said, I’m going to make 14 cells that do this intricate thing in the body. I’m going to make, you know, however many how don’t even know, I should know more science and stuff. But I don’t have 144 elements. And this and that. So it’s in the details. Like when I look at it, someone tells me or I think to myself, go look at that rose that’s in your backyard, go look at that rose and say how in the world is that exist? And I look at the rows, and I look at the rows, slightly step back and I say, you’re right, something had to make that. But if I step closer to it, and I see the 15 or 16 intricate lines of that rose. I say that, to me doesn’t make sense that there was this all consuming God that said, Every detail has those details. It’s almost like if we were all drawn like South Park, I would be more prone to believe that one entity created. So there’s does any of that trigger any sort of answer or thing you thought about?
Minda Hearts 18:41
You know, I think religion is interesting, right? Like, I used to always, even cringe when people would say, Oh, I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual. And then I realized, oh, okay, well, you could actually not be religious and spiritual and I don’t think I’m religious. But I do have a definitely a high spiritual acumen, you know, for what, for what I believe in. But what I will say is this, like when I look at your life, from my perspective, I say, Yes, she’s blessed, right? And she, the Bible talks about, we are blessed to be a blessing to other people, you are living out the tenets of Christianity, right? Even though you don’t identify that way. But you are living the tenets of being a good person sowing and reaping, like I see all those things present in your life. And I’m like, well, she may not give the credit to, you know, God or anything else. But she’s living right. Like, I feel like at the gates if you believe that there’s an afterlife that you get to go wherever the good people go because you have done the things that a lot of, you know, Christians don’t even do in this day to day like so. So I look at you and I say, Okay, well, she hasn’t had that intervention or that connection that maybe some of us have had it. Maybe she never will. But I think that you are a part of God’s plan. Right? You are God’s plan. So I see it. You don’t have to say it but you are living I think the the the plan that He has for all of us or she however you might be.
Arlan Hamilton 20:10
That’s very interesting. From your perspective. Why do you think? And remembering that there are some people listening who believe there’s a God or they believe there’s a different God than you believe in? And there are those who do believe there’s no God. But in your from where you stand? Why do you think this God that you love who has spoken to you has not spoken to me?
Minda Hearts 20:40
Oh, that’s a great question. And I think he is speaking to you.
Arlan Hamilton 20:44
I think he is, I’m on the wrong. I’m not hearing.
Minda Hearts 20:51
Because to your point, I feel like we are all entities, right? We’re all like godlike figures. We’re made in God’s image. So you are a God. And so you are creating, you are adding you are doing things that God has done with what he gave gave us. So I feel like he is talking to you every day, like Kanye said, “God’s talking to me, because I see it showing up and everything I’m doing.” So I feel like a god is showing up and showing you things and giving you ideas. I mean, you might think it’s you and that’s fine.
Arlan Hamilton 21:28
You’re saying that the things that I wake up thinking about when people say to me, how do you do at all? How do you have that? How did you build that? Even though I know that their struggle and every step of it?
Minda Hearts 21:41
Arlan Hamilton 21:41
You’re saying that those were not my ideas? No songs of Rihanna. Were not her songs. They were all of those things were God. So that’s interesting. That’s very interesting. I wonder how it manifests for you like how do you recognize that it’s God? Is it because from a very early age, you were told, that’s what you’re seeing right there as God’s work? Is that do you think that’s why you’re able to recognize it is because you actually feel like, God’s presence. When you’re at your weakest and what you’re at your best?
Minda Hearts 22:19
Yeah, I just feel like Jesus is walking with me, right? Like, I feel like this road even though it has not been easy. I do feel like there’s this presence. I don’t always feel it, or I don’t hear this audible voice that saying, yes, men create the memo, right? Like, it didn’t like come that way. But I feel like when I show up in certain ways, then there’s some reaffirming, like entity that showing me that I’m on the right path, or that I’m on to something. And I feel like that is the voice of God. But I think like because of the society that we live in, we make God a one size fits all, like you have to have like this moment in the bedroom where an angel shows up and now you know, they’re speaking to you. And I don’t feel like that’s the way that the things work, necessarily. I think people do get that kind of conversation. But I don’t necessarily get that. But I still feel God is with me, even in the moments where I feel alone. And so I do think that the creation, I know you, we kind of talked a little bit about that. But if we think about creation, we think about evolution, I think that our minds connect to other frequencies and our spirit like discernment, you know, when you meet with someone, if you’re gonna maybe have business with them or not based off of like a feeling that you get, and I feel like all of that are signs from God.
Arlan Hamilton 23:30
Yeah. because where else would have come from? Now a friend of mine, a long time ago, maybe 10 years ago. She said to me, that she believes that there was that there is a group of people who believe I don’t know what it’s called. But there are a group of people who think there was something that happened, that was higher power, obviously, that created all of us, but it is not wrapped in a personality that people have given to God. You know, in our case, in this episode, we’re talking about a Christian God, right? I’ll talk to people about all sorts of things. But that’s that she said, that’s where she kind of falls is you it’s kind of like the best of both worlds where you’re like, you have to recognize that there’s something at play here or else you’d be kind of foolish in her opinion. But it’s not someone who the football players who are praying to them on Sunday is actually hearing it and actually sincerely day to day. And to me that’s it just makes me go into like Inception mode. I’m so tough to get my wrap my head around it, but it’s also like okay, well that, to me, that makes as much sense as there not being a god, which makes as much sense as there being a god. If you get my drift, right,
Minda Hearts 24:57
Yeah, so you’re not ruling out that there isn’t one incompletely, you just don’t.
Arlan Hamilton 25:01
Here’s what I’m saying. I’m saying, I believe personally, that there is not a god. That is like in the heavens looking down on us with personality making it who made us in His image, or her, okay? I believe that that is something that is the only way, the majority of this world, not just a Christian God, but other gods and other facets, have been able to stay sane and comforted. And that if that I have said, hey, I want to talk to you guys, I’d love to hear from you. I’d love to hear from you. And I haven’t. And I don’t expect somebody to come in and say “Arlan wake up. put a bra on.” But I would just have never felt their comfort of it. So I don’t think that I know, like I could be potentially thought of as agnostic. I don’t think I’m agnostic. I think I’m a little bit between agnostic and atheist, right? I don’t think that “Oh, I just don’t know what I don’t know.” Here’s one more thing to add to the nuance. And the complexity of that is, like you, I’ve changed my thoughts over the past 10 years, I used to be really, really strong. Like, it just doesn’t make any sense. Because I was coming from that past of being very angry with the religion slash occult, in my opinion, that now it’s more like, you know, I also had where my brother and I, we would get into it before before we had this beautiful kind of transformation of our relationship, where he would just say, you know, “you need to fall to your knees, and thank God and how dare you not believe in Him.” And that, to me, it was like, Oh, you’re telling someone who was very strong willed just exactly what to do the opposite. Those types of conversations now, today, and for the past several years, and even before I had any kind of, you know, any kind of resources it what didn’t happen because of that. I now say thank goodness to be meta, thank goodness, that my mother and my brother and his children and my other family members, and my friends believe in this. Because when things happen, like January 6, when things happen, like 9/11, when things happen like COVID, I have very little comfort. It’s very practical. It’s very, this is what happened, this is who people are. And I would love to have, oh, there’s something more here. And I love the fact that it gives me great comfort to know that my mother goes to sleep at night with the belief that is true to her that something is watching over her that night. That to me is I would not try to take that away for anything. And that’s why I get angry, for instance, at atheists who get online or there’s even a commercial by Ronald Reagan’s son, that’s so low. I think that is so offensive. It’s like, okay, you don’t believe in God? Why do you have to tell other people that they’re stupid for believing in God? That’s ridiculous. It makes. So that part is the evolution on my side is like, believe and feel what you feel and believe. Because who am I in the world to tell you you can’t, and that you’re wrong, and that I’m somehow right.
Minda Hearts 28:59
That’s a beautiful articulation of it. And I think that that’s, I’m glad that we’re having this conversation, because I hope people listening will also think about what their evolution is, in their thought process. Like, it’s funny when I was hearing you talk, my former partner, I would never pray that they would become a Christian. That was never my prayer. My prayer was that they would have an encounter with God for themselves. That that would be the thing, right? So meet me in the living room, right? That they would have that moment or in the bathroom or something that they wouldn’t get to experience God whatever that is for them, but that they would experience it because of the peace that I have when I do have just what you talked about for nothing else. That when I am having a bad day or or something crazy hits the fan that I can like, stop for a second and say God has helped me Give me some peace, right? I want people to experience that we don’t have to practice the same. We don’t have to pray the same, but I want respect when people have something they can believe in during those times. Right, even if it’s just themselves or a family member, but having something so I like that you’re saying you’re an atheist, but there’s that there’s the dot dot dot, right? Like, I also can have these conversations. And I think growing up, it was very, like, if you’re an atheist and you like, no God, no, nothing. We’re not even having this conversation. You’re a Christian. We’re done here. Right. And I think we can’t get to “I’m a representation of God, when people meet me. I feel so if this is the only touch people get of God, I want that to be good.”
Arlan Hamilton 30:32
Yeah. Yeah. There is the another reason I wanted to have these conversations is not just to, you know, go through my therapy of this right. But it is to say that there are so many people who cannot broach this topic with their friends, or their co workers or whomever. It’s in the shadows a lot of the times and even for someone who’s so outspoken as myself to think that I don’t even want to, it’s not that I don’t want to offend anybody. It’s just that I don’t know what to what end, right? To what end? Am I bringing this up? But I do feel sometimes like it’s sort of like the default is you better believe in God. Or is there something wrong with you, in the startup, when I think about the startup world, which not everybody listening to this will relate to, because there’s people going to be listening from all walks of life. But in the startup world, the tech world, and the investing world. Again, if you’re, if you’re not, if you don’t talk, if you’re atheist, you’re also probably coupled into this group that’s very conservative or very like out outlier. So you have all these other things going on. But I believe in a lot of the tenants and a lot of the things the way how you should treat people, but I don’t have that spirituality part of it. And so then I feel like I should be sitting at a different table at the party, right? Like, I don’t want to, because I don’t I just, it’s like you’re, you’re talking about something that’s made up? Right. So do you think it’s, this is gonna be my last question for you? And then I would welcome a question from you. But do you think that because you said just recently on this, on this episode, you said that you weren’t really praying for your partner at the time to become Christian to kind of try to change their mind necessarily. You are praying, actually, to God, to show that person? That God because the God you’ve experienced has been so wonderful to you? Do you think that? Do you ever wonder why some people feel it? Some people don’t? Do you ever wonder, for instance, why I am an atheist? Like, not me personally, but why are “they”?
Minda Hearts 32:54
Yeah, yeah, I do. And like, for example, a god shows up to my parents, the way that they explain it is like they hear the voice, right. And so for a long time, I wondered, why don’t I hear it the same way. So I must not be like a good Christian, or there’s other things going on at play here. But then, part of that was realizing that we’re all individuals, and we’re all going to have our own experiences with the Creator, right with whomever we believe in. And so I gave myself permission to find my own relationship with God. And I think, through my own, excuse me through my own journey, I’ve also allowed others to find their own relationship with it with with God, right. And but it’s taken a lot of unlearning, I think with my partner, I was able to say, I’m not here to convert you. That’s not what this is. If I’m living the way I’m supposed to, then maybe you’ll see God in me. And maybe that’ll be the only thing or you’ll have your own. But I realized that I learned a lot from them as well about their thought process. And so I think a lot of it boils down to, like you said, this made up thing, right. So when we’d have these conversations, they’d be like, I just don’t get it. It’s made up. It’s like, now we say like NFT’s Right? Or Bitcoin and some thing you’re talking about, but I just don’t understand. But we, we foundationally our principles were saying the same and I was able to form a good relationship with this person, because our values and so now when someone like yourself, who I admire and respect says they’re an atheist, my mind doesn’t go to like that meme where someone’s sitting in the fire. And it’s just like, you know, I don’t automatically think you’re going to hell right, I think Wow. Well, let me find out more about that. And I’m glad that you’re talking about it. And last thing I’ll say Arlan is you said at the top of our conversation, that sometimes it’s easier to say that you’re, you know, gay or queer than it is to say Christian and I for a long time I wouldn’t talk about my Christianity because I thought that people would be like she’s a Bible beater. She said this she said that and then with right within, I’m like, You know what, I’m gonna let it all hang out. I cuss and I love God, right? This is what it is.
Arlan Hamilton 35:01
Yeah, they’re there. So I love this topic and we could go on forever, but I just love that, that you, there has to be a way to be yourself and believe and trust and speak about God, because with the you know, I’m using your own code book, you know, there’s a Bible there is a guideline, not just in the Bible, but the code of like, he, he created you. So and he created these other persons. So when you see people who are using their their faith weaponizing it against other people, LGBTQ, etc. Other people of other faiths, like, does that sadden you? Or does you know, is it like you’re not representing? That’s not the way to do this?
Minda Hearts 35:49
Oh, yeah, it pisses me off. I hate that people have weaponized, I feel like God gets the worst, or Jesus gets like the worst PR from like, his worst followers, right? This isn’t what we want, you know. So I don’t like how certain parties have tried to weaponize this and make it because if God is love, then we shouldn’t be treating each other this way. So I don’t like it. And I often even cringe even saying sometimes using the word Christian, because I do get lumped in to like you said, you don’t feel like you should be sitting at this table. Yes, we all might check the Christian box here at the event, but we all don’t believe in the same God. Right. So I think there’s nuances even to like an evangelical versus, you know, someone who’s nondenominational. And I think that that’s the thing I hope that we can also explore at some point is why do we lump all Christians together? So now I’m fearful to say it because you’re gonna think I’m like, on the Ted Cruz train or something, you know?
Arlan Hamilton 36:46
Right? Yeah. We just watched the eyes of Tammy Faye to Jessica Chastain now. Yeah, that was so good. And I watched that with, like, I’m glad that I can watch that and not think oh, that’s how everybody is. I don’t lump everybody together, because I don’t want them to do the same to me. We’ll close out with is there anything that you wanted to ask me? Or, you know, from your perspective?
Minda Hearts 37:16
Yeah, I wanted to ask you, you’re married to someone who does have faith? How does that work in your household? Does she want you to pray? Does she want you to go to Mass? I’m just wondering, how has that been? Like a crux?
Arlan Hamilton 37:27
That’s an interesting question, so no, no, we have an interesting relationship in general. Like, it’s different than a lot of our friends, most people that I know. And I’ll give an example. One is that I did a survey on Twitter, because I was so curious about this, like, we do not eat together, we don’t eat meals together. We don’t plan our meals around who’s gonna be where. We don’t, you know, think of it that way. And we have a very individual, like two individuals who are coming together as partners. So it would be out of the ordinary in general, for her for me to try to put our beliefs on the other person. But when it comes to this, she, I, again, I would want to talk to her a little bit more to make sure that I’m framing it the right way. But I believe that she’s just like, you know, you, I can understand why you believe that. I can understand it, you know, because that’s your lived experience of what you believe. And thankfully, you know, speaking as Anna, thankfully, I, as Anna, have something that I have faith in. And I, I remember we were in, we were in Berlin, it was August of 2018. And I just remember that because it was right before Fast Company came out and I it’s like, BFC whatever. Anyway, I remember we were walking for like hours and across bridges and all these picturesque places, and we’re just talking about life and spirituality and religion. It was really, it was a year before we got married. And it was just, I knew in that moment that I could be my full self. And she was I was certainly wanting her to be her full self. And so a good example is she lives in Los Angeles with me, you know she is here. But her mother said to me before we get married, if she has to be with me for Easter, like that’s non negotiable. She has to be with me for Easter. Everything else was very pleasant, but that was the thing. And so Anna and I, will move mountains to get back to Germany for Easter for that week for that moment with her family. And I think she’ll do that for the rest of her life. And I went once with my mother to their Easter to various to their Easter events. And of course, we, we celebrate it with them, the things that we, I mean, I did the things I wanted to my mom was all into it, of course she. So we could share it with each other. And I know that she would come with me if, if there were, unfortunately, the only thing I could think of was a funeral. That’s why it would be at a church. But there a funeral or something like that. And Mississippi or Texas, she would constantly come with me, even though she probably isn’t thinking the exact same thing. So I just think we respect each other, we love each other. And we both know that if we were trying to force a thought or belief on each other, they would just be it would be for naught. It would just not work out. And we know we watched. Have you seen the cartoon soul? Habit? No, I think you would like it, I think you would like I mean, there are some problematic things. A couple couple things, but I think you would like it. And I actually the two of us found a level playing ground that we found that something that we could relate to there, because it it just speaks to spirituality. It speaks to the sort of middle. And I think that’s where we found common ground as what I was trying to say, found common.
Minda Hearts 41:27
I love that so much. Thank you for sharing that. Because I think a lot of couples, they may not identify, like spiritually the same way. But sometimes that becomes like the thorn in people’s side because they are trying to pray that away or pray it away, or that sort of thing. But I do want to ask you one last question that I have for you is when you’re doing business with people, and you find out that they’re like, churchy, or really, I mean, does that make you not want to engage? Because you have somebody?
Arlan Hamilton 41:55
Let me tell you, and we didn’t talk about this during this conversation, because I imagine I will, a lot. So absolutely not like if someone is, is religious, spiritual. Any of that as long as certainly they’re not trying to tell me what to do. What does have bearing is a line in the sand that I have for cults. And we can probably argue all day long what a cult is and what isn’t. But in my opinion, again, here we go. Like I do all kinds of legal before, but in my opinion, Jehovah’s Witnesses because I grew up in it, I saw it firsthand is a cult, in my opinion. And in my opinion, Scientology is a cult and many other people’s opinion, Scientology is a cult, and I think they’re just as bad as each other. There’s so much of the same thing going on. So what I have not experienced is someone tells me that they they believe in God, and they’re talking about God and thing, and that upsets me. No, let’s talk more about it. What do you know, we’ve seen apps and different things that are about the Bible and different things and, and I certainly bring in Chacho or someone else who I know comes from a world where he can actually diligence it, because he has faith and I want that, you know, business mind to see it. But what has happened is someone reveals that they’re a Scientologist, or a Jehovah’s Witness. And in fact, this is going even further. Serena Williams is a Jehovah’s Witness. And we’ve done a co investment at least one coin but maybe more than that. And we have never talked about it, but I would love to talk to her about it. I don’t think she will. But I would love to. And just like Handmaid’s Tale, you know, I think that everyone in these cults for the most part are victims. So I’m not over there, you know, railing against them. But I do have concerns grave concern. Yeah, so I have often thought about because I’ve been in situations where because I live in Los Angeles, and I am doing a lot of media stuff. I always think what happens if Elizabeth what’s her last name from Handmaid’s Tale? Oh, right. Yes. You know, I’m talking about. Yes, she is a Scientologist. I love her work. And it’s such a strange thing to me that she can be in that show and not see it. But I often think what if, because I was I was next to her to two times at an event where I thought maybe one day we were working on a podcast together, TV show together, because I’m doing all this producing. What if I’m faced with that? And I would probably have to have I’d have to figure that out. And it would probably affect business. Because although I think of her as a victim in this again, this is my opinion. This is all like just me talking on a podcast. I know that there’s harm there. So that’s when it becomes where it’s like a problem. It’s never a problem when I think someone believes in a higher power. And as an individual, they’re doing no harm to others in that belief, we’re always going to be good. You know, and in fact, not only in business, but you got to think about, like, I employ 24 people at this point, and it’ll be in, it’ll be in the 1000s. When you think about runner, and you think about my recruiting company. But 24 People today, at 4050 in the past, everybody has different views and opinions. And I, I have often thought, what if somebody comes to me who is qualified, but they’re a Jehovah’s Witness? What do I do? Because I can’t I don’t know if I can physically even now I have a physical reaction to that. Because it was so traumatizing. So yeah, I think in general, I’m going to be a cool person. I’m not going to be like, Oh, get out of here. You love God. We wouldn’t. But I would have, I would have grave concern, probably the same grave concern that someone who has deep faith feels for me for not believing.
Minda Hearts 46:16
Yeah, that that makes sense. I appreciate that. I hope you do get a chance to have a conversation with Elizabeth answering that. I would every time I see Handmaid’s Tale I always I’m like, I can’t believe you’re a Scientologist not going through Gilead the way that you are, but it’s one of those things that you want to kind of know the science behind it.
Arlan Hamilton 46:33
I have to know because I was in a room once where she was, like, three feet away from and she was going to interview. And she’s so rounded and saying in and saying a nd saying and intelligent, but you just can’t read Leah Remini books or documentaries
Minda Hearts 47:02
Yeah, that’s, a good point. Because I often wonder if people like probably growing up, if you knew me, you might have thought I was in some kind of cult because you know, some of the things that happen in black churches, you know, because you just never know. And so now then you watch as an adult, you’re watching these things like the Scientology documentaries and things you’re like, how could they not know? How could they not know, but when you’re growing up, that way, you don’t always grew up.
Arlan Hamilton 47:29
That’s what you were supposed to do, I remember being a Jehovah’s Witness, as a child, and going to school so young, and looking around at everyone and just feeling oh, my God, you’re gonna die, you’re gonna die, you’re going to go to hell you’re going to go to, you’re not going to make it to heaven or not heaven, but you’re not going to make it to heaven on earth, which is the belief, oh, my God, and I was, and I would go around like five years old. And I would say, please find God like, please. Because that was just taught that they are worldly, they are wrong. They don’t know how wrong they are. They know not what they do. And we are the own for some reason. And that was the only thing that started, you know, me, I’m, I’m kind of the same person I was, you know, like, now, like, picture me as a 10 year old. And I’m like, wait a second. Why are we the only ones who know the truth? Why are these only very specific people? And why is everyone in charge of a white man, I don’t understand, like, so I started doing a little bit of investigation. But I could completely understand why my mother was drawn to it. At an age where I essentially she would have been just slightly younger than I am. Because this is when I started questioning life. And this is when a lot of people start questioning, she had just lost her father. She was raising two children alone, and not doing very well financially has always been the case up until recently. And this very friendly woman came up to her and while she was doing her laundry, and said, you know, in a public laundry place and said, We can help you, with your children. We can help you with daycare, we can help you. You don’t have to worry about not making rent. And you don’t have to worry about you know, it takes a village we have the village and that’s what brought her in. And I remember they remember being really young and just looking up, you know, noticing that every Thursday or Tuesday. I think it was Thursday, when we would have all these meetings every week. I remember thinking, okay, there’s a lot of content here again, I’m 10, 11, 12 right. Now the content here, okay, I can dig it. I can dig it. But every single week somebody comes up and tells us how much we’re in the red that we need this amount of money to make the building so that we don’t have leaks in the roof. How many leaks can you have any year that was really great. it down. And then things got really bad and serious. And when it came to sexual assaults and all sorts of things within the religion, and thankfully, I felt very good that I could think for myself and make this determination. But I completely understand how someone either who was born into it Oh, my goodness, or comes into it, like Leah did. Leah Remini did that right. And it is what they say it is for a few years. And until it’s not, and that’s what happened with the witnesses. That’s what’s probably happened with many people in Scientology. And then you’re and you’ve told them all these secrets, you’ve given them all this money, so you feel foolish, and you want to get out, but you’re afraid, because they’ve told you that just like any bully, they’ve told you that if you try to get out, it’s held, it’s going all wrong. There’s an incredible amount there. And I am very curious. Yeah, I’m curious about a lot of things. But it’s probably good that I have this now.
Minda Hearts 51:06
I’m glad we could have this conversation, I’ll be glued to wait to hear about that Is your mom still a Jehovah’s Witness,
Arlan Hamilton 51:11
She’s not she left shortly after I did. I left as a teenager, she left shortly after I did. She told me at the time. That she got into it for me to save my soul. And if I wasn’t going to be in it, she didn’t care enough about herself at the time she said about her soul to stay in it against me. And my brother just kind of followed because he’s like, Oh, I don’t have to wear suits, you know, three, four, five times a week. But my mom is absolutely a woman of faith. She grew up, you know, for the first 40 years, she was for 35 years, she was Episcopalian. She grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, had, you know, went to church went to a school that a nuns, his teachers, and all sorts of interesting, weird stuff going on in the south there. And, you know, it took a few years for her to find what she was after that, but I would say the past 15-20 years or 15 or so years, she’s certainly been, you know, she’ll go to church, if she wants to she is. She respects my beliefs. But she doesn’t want me to say take make light of God. So I can’t make light, even though in a joking kind of way. She’s like, No, that’s not, we’re not going to do that. But she draws her line line, and you’re not going to make fun of, you know, even if it’s like talking about people going to church on where, where they’re wearing those big hats, and we’re gonna do that, like, this is an institution that I care about. But at the same time, she’s given me complete, like, leeway of what she would actually believe. Because she didn’t have to go through that with me more than once. She had to go through that when I left the religion that she believed in her friends. These are her friends, even if they were flawed, like everybody, they were her village. And she left that village because I said, so at 14 or something, right? She didn’t have to go through it again. When I had 15, she realized that I was gay. And, and this is 25 years ago, where she has to really stand up for me in most of her circles. And then again, when we kind of settle in on what who she is as a woman who she is as a person, what she gets to believe in this new world, and what I am as an adult, and now it’s okay, now we can just both look at each other and say, Okay, you have your beliefs, I have my beliefs. And same with my brother, the same person I said earlier in this conversation, who would just tell me go into the prayer closet and fans will be pleased. And he used to tell me, he used to scare the heck out of me, because he would say that if he got shot, God would protect him from that. And I was like that this how it can’t work like that. I know, it doesn’t work like that. Right? So today is a man in his 30s with children and, you know, a grown man. He’s had a bit of a transformation where he’s like, he absolutely believes in God. He absolutely has a faith. And I really, you know, I smile when I say that. I love that for them. But he is no longer interested in trying to change me. Because he now knows that there is more to life than that. There is a lot more nuance and color than just You’re wrong. I’m right.
Minda Hearts 54:35
I love that. That’s like the greatest Mic drop.
Arlan Hamilton 54:38
Hey, well, that’s a good place for us to stop for now. No, we’ll be picking this back up again. I’ve just loved this conversation. I think it’s exactly what I was hoping to kind of open up with right. And the topics to touch on without worry in a safe space, if you will. It’s So I appreciate that how do people continue the conversation with you? How do they find you online?
Minda Hearts 55:06
Yeah, thank you for having this. This was good for my soul to find me most active on Twitter at Minda hearts.
Arlan Hamilton 55:12
Minda hearts. Yes author speaker, mic dropper she’s has 45 books that are coming out next year. I’m gonna take a case she’s man not a bag left unturned. I mean get your book deal girl like make it easy to get a book deal to begin with. And you have three books coming out or three books right either have been out or coming out as the memo right within and the do talk about the third book or is am I…
Minda Hearts 55:43
So April 5, “You are more than Magic”. It’s my first what what yellow book and so I’m excited about that
Arlan Hamilton 55:48
Incredible incredible Okay, so fantastic. Get yourself the package. Get yourself the package of that, and we’ll be talking again and I will bring back some some interesting people on to talk. Alright, thank you. Thank you.
Demystifying Faith is executive produced that Arlen Hamilton and co-produced by Annika and heard podcasts original theme music by learning more at demystifyingfaith.com.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai