The LDS Living All In podcast hosted by Morgan Pearson (formerly Morgan Jones) has a simple premise: What does it mean to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ? It’s a relevant question in the internet age where questions about Joseph Smith swirl and religious values increasingly conflict with social norms.
Who is Morgan Pearson and how did she become host of the All In podcast?
Thanks so much for the opportunity! I worked for Deseret News for four and a half years and during that time wrote faith feature stories. At one point in 2017, our opinion editor at the time, Hal Boyd, approached me and said that he had a great idea for a podcast.
He said he felt we hear a lot about why people are leaving the Church but we don’t hear as much about why people stay and he said “I would argue the decision to stay is just as thoughtful and deliberate, we just aren’t hearing those stories.” I told him I thought it was a really great idea and he should totally do it and he said, “I think you need to host it.”
I had no experience in broadcast. So, I was like “What? No, not me.”
And Hal said “You’ve been interviewing people for years, it’s just that no one has heard them.” I always say I’m so grateful for him because he believed in me and when someone believes in you, you want to prove them right.
The podcast we were going to do wasn’t going to be called All In. And the question at the end was going to be, “Why do you stay?”
It never saw the light of day but when I got to Deseret Book, they asked if I had any interest in hosting a podcast. And because Hal had believed in me, I decided to give it another shot.
What was the original intent of Morgan Pearson’s LDS Living podcast? Has it changed over time?
When I came to Deseret Book, we started brainstorming ideas for a podcast and at some point the idea of “All In” came up. At first we thought of the question, “Why are you ‘all in’ the gospel of Jesus Christ?” But we felt that would likely lend itself to self-righteous answers and that it could potentially make people feel like they had to have it all together to be all in.
Still, we kept coming back to the idea of ‘all in.’ Someone suggested “What does it mean to you to be all in the gospel of Jesus Christ?” I think that changed everything.
In the beginning, I think my biggest thing was wanting people everywhere to feel connected to their faith. But we have come to feel really strongly that a big purpose of this podcast is to show that there is room for all in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Introduce All In: Exploring What It Means to Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The All In podcast book started out as just a desire to compile all of the answers to that final question on the podcast. It felt easy and kind of like a no-brainer but instead this book ended up being a bit of a heartfelt journey for me into what I’ve learned from hosting this podcast.
It’s broken up into topics with an intro to each chapter that I’ve written and then quotes from the podcast to support each intro.
How do you hope the book version of the All In podcast further enriches listeners?
I hope this book helps people remember what we’ve learned together. But, even more than that, I hope it can serve as a friend in times of need.
A few years ago, a friend gave me Patricia Holland’s book, A Quiet Heart. That book has been a friend to me over and over again. The beauty of a good book is that it is always there and I hope this book will be that for someone.
How do you select people to interview for the All In podcast?
I always keep my eyes and ears open for a great story. I also have a list of topics I’d like to tackle and am always mindful of who might be a good fit to address those specific topics.
We don’t take self-submissions.
And since the first year, we’ve had a “no repeat guest” rule that I think has helped maintain the integrity of the show.
You’ve tackled some difficult subjects on the All In podcast. Are there ever times where you feel like it’s the right moment to discuss a certain topic?
Yes. The book talks about our experience with choosing to do an episode on loss of Church membership but there are definitely other examples of that. One recent example was an episode about sexual abuse with Sage Williams who had helped organize a symposium at Harvard. That episode I feel was really important and it took one phone call with Sage to know she was the perfect person to speak to it.
How does McArthur Krishna define being “all in”?
McArthur’s answer to this question is one of my very favorites. She talks about being all in the gospel of Jesus Christ means that all of her is welcome in the gospel of Jesus Christ—faults, weaknesses, strengths, triumphs, etc.
Why is “wrestling with the Lord” a gift treasured by Wendy Ulrich?
Wendy Ulrich said this on our podcast and I think it is so profound: “He’s not just withholding something from us out of meanness, spite, or judgment; but sometimes when He’s holding something back, it’s because the wrestle is part of our growth.”
I recently heard someone say that we would never ask for the things that God knows we need. We certainly would never ask for these wrestles, but I think when we come out on the other side, we’d never trade the wrestle.
How has your understanding of being “all in” evolved?
The book outlines a lot of ways my understanding of what this means has evolved, but I would say the most impactful way has been a deeper understanding of covenants. I have marveled to think that our Heavenly Father invites us, imperfect as we are, to make covenants or promises to Him knowing that while He is a perfect promise keeper, we will fall short and we will make mistakes despite our best efforts.
That’s the whole reason He sent His Son.
Those covenants are able to offer a ton of hope in a world that needs hope and I’m grateful that He gives us the chance to make and keep covenants because to me that is the epitome of being all in.
If you could leave readers today with a final message of hope and belonging, what would it be?
Recently, I’ve thought a lot about how different our Heavenly Father’s plan is from Satan’s plan. I believe Satan thrives in an anxiety-filled world—he loves to make us feel like we have to have everything figured out right now. Meanwhile, our Heavenly Father’s plan is one of eternal progression.
Satan loves a troubled sea.
The Savior says to that troubled sea, “Peace, be still.”
To those who have experienced sleepless nights because you cannot rest, the Savior invites, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
So, if you feel anxious, or there are things bothering you, know that Heavenly Father says you have time to figure it out—and everything is going to be okay.
About the author
Morgan Jones Pearson is the host of the All In podcast and the author of All In: Exploring What It Means to Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Prior to joining Deseret Book as manager of audience engagement, she wrote for the Deseret News.