Bill Bennett is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is also the author of the new book, The Last Man at the Inn, which explores the unique perspective of the last man at the inn in Bethlehem before Mary and Joseph were turned away. It is a story of man's journey of continuous conversion to Christ. In this week's episode, All in host Morgan Jones talks with Bennett about his own conversion story and the many people that helped him along the way.
Read an excerpt from their conversation below or click here to listen to the whole episode. You can also read a full transcript of the interview here.
Note: This article has been edited for clarity and length.
Bill Bennett: I was in high school and to my knowledge, we had—I wouldn't even have known to look at the time—but looking back I don't think we had any, any members of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints in our high school. And I had a friend, a school friend—it wasn't an out of school friend, but a guy I got to know pretty well who played in our football team. And we were in math class together and so I got to know him a little bit. And we were signing your books at the end of senior year and of course, everybody had their picture and had a bunch of stuff that they had printed beneath their picture that years later, they all wish they hadn't put in there.
Morgan Jones: Right.
BB: Names of people they dated, and—
MJ: "Why did I put that quote as my favorite quote?"
BB: Yeah. And under his, he had this reference—it said "D&C" with a reference after it. And I'd been looking at that and thinking, "Donna and Carol? I mean, I know who he dated, I can't think who that was." And so when we're signing I said, "Jim, what does that mean?"
And he said, "Oh that's from the scriptures in my church."
And I said, "What church is that?"
And he said, "Well, we're Mormon".
I said, "Oh, you're the seagull people, right?"
And he said, "Yeah, I guess you could look at it that way."
And I said, "Well, what does this mean?"
And he said, "Well, it's just about going on a mission, and I'm going to be going on a mission." My father had been an FBI agent so when he said that, I thought, "That's exciting. He's going to, you know, go to anti-terrorist work in some country." And I asked him what it was, and he said, "No, I'm going to go to some other place and teach the gospel for a couple of years." And, you know, kids our age, 18 years old, getting us to come out and do an hour of service in our church youth groups is hard. And this guy was going to go and give up two years of his life? I was blown away. So that just sort of added to this picture that's beginning to form. And it's now a few years later and I'm home from college and it's summertime and I had a job cleaning swimming pools. And so I was at this house, one of my spots I was supposed to go, and I'm cleaning this pool—and this is in Stamford, Connecticut now, my family had moved to Connecticut. And this young woman, about my age, comes out and is just being friendly and we got talking and found out she was a mother's helper who actually lived in Utah and was living with this family for the summer helping them with their children and they happened to be this LDS family. And so we were just chatting and then she sort of got a little nervous and she said, "Well, do you know anything about the Mormon church?"
I said, "Well, I do actually. I got this friend named Jim Clawson who's doing some mission for you guys someplace."
She said, "Oh, I know the Clawson's, they attend the ward I attend out here." And she asked me if I would like to know any more about it. You know, I didn't really give that a lot of thought and I said, "Yeah, sure, I guess." So she ran inside and got one of those old, light blue missionary copies of the Book of Mormon and opened it up and highlighted a few verses for me. And we had been talking about life and what people were like, and I was explaining how, you know, I just appreciated people that love life, that really, every day was a great experience, and you should be positive about every day. And she opened to the scripture said, "Men are that they might have joy." And, I thought, "Wow, that's what I feel, right in there on the page, whatever." And so I kept that Book of Mormon, she wrote her name in the front and I kept it.