I grew up in Utah County during the early 1990s, in a typical "Utah County in the early 1990s" family. My dad spent his career at BYU while my mom stayed home to bake bread and sew dresses for my five sisters while reminding my brother and me to mow the lawn before Sunday.
We didn't watch The Simpson's (would you have that on if Jesus came to visit?) or drink Postum (avoid the appearance of evil!) and we didn't spend any money at 7-Eleven.
That last rule wasn't obvious to me, either, until one spring afternoon when I took a detour after school to buy a Pepsi. With caffeine. It was delicious and completely verboten, and when I relieved my conscience that night my parents told me that drinking caffeine wasn't great, but shopping at 7-Eleven was worse.
"7-Eleven is open on Sundays!" my dad explained. "If you give your money to businesses that don't share Mormon values, you need to think about whose cause your money is helping."
I fell asleep that night wondering how the Devil would spend my 75 cents.
By Mormons For Mormons
The 7-Eleven debacle of 1991 marked the beginning of my senselessly complicated relationship with caffeinated soda, and it changed the way I looked at local businesses. Everywhere I went, I looked for those two words that represented my inherited and unexamined values: Closed Sundays.
Deseret Book and Mr. Mac were obvious. As was ZCMI, the original "by Mormons for Mormons" business, which, as far as I knew, was where stake presidents and other wealthy Mormons went to buy expensive shoes. Eventually, I noticed network marketing companies like Nuskin seemed particularly successful in Utah's fertile Mormon soil, and more recently, so were of the dozens of soda shacks with weekday-morning lines that could rival Seattle's busiest Starbucks location.
I counted five of these soda shacks as I drove through Utah County one morning to meet Kristin Hodson, a licensed therapist, and founder of The Healing Group. We met in Draper at a coffee shop, which, curse my upbringing, I felt I had to acknowledge.
"Is it weird for a man in his forties to think so much about what this means?" I ask, gesturing toward my latte.
"I'm pretty sure if it is weird, we're all weird," she answers. "And if we're all weird, that sort of means we're all normal, doesn't it?"
Ms. Hodson has a kind of calm-but-engaged vibe that makes it hard to imagine her as anything other than a therapist--and hard for a writer to want to call her by her last name, even for a...