A few months ago I was browsing through the poetry section at Barnes and Noble in the Prudential Center in downtown Boston when I was approached by a couple of missionaries. No, not ours, rather, they were from a Bible study group of some kind in Watertown. (I realize this sounds vague, but it is all I managed to get out of them. When pressed, they finally coughed up a post-it note with the address and time of their study meetings, but they did not even give me a name. Come to that, why were they proselytizing downtown when their group only meets in Watertown? Definitely “less effective,” but I digress…)

They were a young couple, indeterminately Asian, twenty-something, dressed all in black – not in a fanatical or “churchy” way, normal clothes, they just happened to be black — soft-spoken, and polite. They carried Bibles under their arms, but other than that, nothing else gave them away as missionaries, certainly nothing that screamed “crazy sign-wielding street evangelist” or anything. The woman was obviously the senior companion and got right to the point, asking: “Are you familiar with the concept of a feminine god?”

A little surprised and somewhat intrigued, I responded in the affirmative and even added that I believed in the idea. They asked me to elaborate. Unfortunately, I was on my way to an interview and did not have the time to get into a long discussion (at which point I began the arduous task of getting any meaningful information out of them about their affiliation — I always do this, every time I find a Community of Christ Church, for example, I fill out a referral card… though I have yet to be contacted). Anyway, before we parted ways, they bore their testimony of the importance of the feminine deity to the Bible, our salvation, and the end of days (or something).

I have since seen them in the same Barnes and Noble — yea, verily, even in the poetry section — every other time I have been there since (twice). Both of those times they were already deep in conversation with other unsuspecting poetry enthusiasts, so I did not get the chance to pick up where we left off — which is a pity as I remain extremely curious about these Watertown woman worshipers (shame on me for that alliteration).

At any rate, this was without a doubt the most interesting approach I had come across since I got my hands on a Jehovah’s Witness missionary guide during my mission. Has anyone else had any experiences with this or a similar group? If so, care to enlighten us?

Most importantly, though, what makes these people so attached to Barnes and Noble? Somehow I suspect that if LDS missionaries used any section of a bookstore as a habitual stomping ground, they would soon be asked to leave and never come back. Yet even if that were not an issue, why the poetry section? What about their esoteric Bible study habits makes poetry readers their target demographic? Does interest in a particular volume make one a better potential contact? (I do not remember what book I was holding specifically, but that day it might have been Camões, Burgess, Elizabeth Bishop, Anthony Hecht, James Wright, or Fernando Pessoa — do any of those reveal anything about my susceptibility to evangelization?) Is there some recondite correlation between reading poetry and a belief in the divine feminine? Or is the poetry section just a good place to corner people?

I guess what I am really asking is which section of a bookstore counts the highest ratio of wheat to tares among its browsing public? Literary contacting could be the next big thing in MTC pedagogy.