A follow up post to the first post.
Cheryl shares a further explanation and context for understanding her post about the story on the local news that haunts her. She quotes Brueggemann* that “another world is possible”.

What’s a preacher to do?

Well first always understand there is there is more to the story.  There is text, context and sub-text and sub-version

The text is the story as presented: woman from Flat Rock so wanting to do good she empties her bank account to do it; and the widow who puts all she has into the “collection.”  If the observer stops there all things seem right with the world, these women are to be admired and we can be comforted by the examples of good in the world. But is comfort the job of the preacher?

The context is the unseen system of domination that advantages the rich and oppresses the poor.  A temple tax in Jesus’ day and a society in our day that what? that says the market place and violence (remember the guns!) is the answer to every problem.

The sub-context is the dominate narrative that permeates our world. A narrative that preaches rugged individualism, fear of the other, and greed – all undergirded by a “myth of scarcity” and racism.

Then there is the Sub-version. This is Walter Brueggemann’s term and it is the version of the Kingdom that Jesus preached – something learned from his mother – where the lowly are raised up and the rich sent away empty – a sub-versive text indeed!

What to do?

Brueggemann writes* – Another world is possible—we imagine—in public policy, for we do not doubt that the small deed—here and there—ripples into reallocated funds, redirected vision, reassigned power that issues in caring health, in mercy as policy, in peace that overrides war, in hope that overcomes poverty. This is not often possible, however, because of the stubbornness of Caesar and the intransigence of corporate wealth. But we have enough public access because we are no longer contained in old tired refusals.

We listen and we answer.

If we are Black enough, we may say “Amen” and “my, my”;

if we are Episcopal, we may say “ummmm”;

if we are frozen Calvinists, we may not answer,

but only ponder and then act.


In all our several ways of answering, we calculate the possibilities and move to the sub-version—sometimes as tough as nails. We refuse dominant versions of reality, seeing the flow of newness and acknowledging the chance.

We are indeed a sub-people … sub-versive, sub-verted, sub-verting, sub rosa, subtle. We are on the ground, underneath official versions. Our sub-ness is rooted, in our pain, because you cannot fool pain; in our hope, because hope comes without our permission.  But after our pain and after our hope, the rootage of our sub is in God’s holiness, a holiness we have seen and trusted, whose name we know, a holiness untamed, thick, abrasive—newness unashamed.

What’s a preacher to do?

* Preaching as Sub-Version

Cheryl Liske, OP


Cheryl Liske, OP