- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Morgan Jones knew she had a hit on her hands when downloads of “All In,” the podcast she hosts for LDS Living magazine, surpassed the 8.6 million mark.

After all, in an industry where 9,000 downloads are enough to put a podcast in a category’s top 5%, it was clear that Ms. Jones‘ Mormon-themed program had a reach beyond the 6.7 million U.S. members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

On the podcast, Ms. Jones interviews those who are LDS Church members and some who aren’t, such as contemporary Christian singer Lauren Daigle, actress Kristin Chenoweth, and “The Chosen” creator Dallas Jenkins, and concludes each session with a question: “What does it mean to be ‘all in’ the gospel of Jesus Christ?”

The answers ranged across a spectrum of Christian attitudes and beliefs but proved so popular with listeners that these digital snapshots ended up being captured and compiled in a decidedly analog manner, Ms. Jones said in an interview from Salt Lake City.

“We started getting emails from people saying that they were taking all of the ‘all in’ answers from the end of each podcast episode, and compiling them themselves,” she said.

Ms. Jones, 32, said she reasoned “if this is something that people are doing on their own, maybe we just make it easier on them and compile them all ourselves.” The resulting book, “All In,” is available Friday from Deseret Books, which also owns the magazine where Ms. Jones works.

That task, she explained, was easier said than done, she added.

“When when I started working on it, though, what I found was when you don’t have the prior 35, to 40 minutes of the interview, then sometimes that last answer doesn’t pack as much of a punch, and kind of lost something when you just isolate that one answer,” Ms. Jones said.

The answer to that lack of context, Ms. Jones said, was for her to do “a lot more work” in writing introductions and explanations to the book’s sections. “I didn’t plan on writing as much as I did,” she admitted.

“The whole time, I kept thinking, ‘If this never gets published, I’ll be glad that I took the time to write down the things that I was learning and experiencing,’” Ms. Jones said. “Someday, I hope to have kids and be able to give them this and say, ‘This is what I worked on, these are the things that I learned and I experienced and this is why I believe the things that I believe because of this very formative period of my life,’” she added.

She said the process taught her that approaching faith can be as individual as each follower.

“Our goal, from the very beginning, was to show that there wasn’t just one way to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ, that it could be different for different people that it could be different for the same person on a different day, depending on what you’re going through,” she said. “I think that because different people are going to have different episodes that resonate with them, and different people that they connect to more than others,” Ms. Jones added.

Those differences among LDS Church members and those of other faiths in how they approach belief give people “a sense of belonging and feeling like there’s room for everybody,” she said.

Steve Carlston, who operates a network TV-owned station in Los Angeles and is a member of the LDS Church, said the book conveys Ms. Jones’ personality alongside its message of faith and acceptance.

In the podcast interviews, he said, Ms. Jones “comes away with a wonder and a joy, and shares that wonder and joy in the book.”

Mr. Carlston said the book’s accounts of former “Good Morning America” co-host Jane Clayson Johnson’s struggles with depression, or Utah resident Bre Lasley who survived a 2015 home invasion and stabbing, demonstrate “the fight for joy, the search for light, opening the windows of heaven for answers are universal and for all people.”

• Mark A. Kellner can be reached at mkellner@washingtontimes.com.

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