Q. In your column on Soft Porn you wrote, "We are more disturbed by the subliminal messages these magazines send than the graphics." I agree.

And then you send a subliminal message I find equally objectionable and in many ways dangerous. You say, "This is something you will want to talk to your son about, not as a preacher, but as one human being to another."

What are you telling t, s mother? That clergymen ("preachers" in the vernacular) are not human beings? That ministers can't discuss sexual matters with the same non-judgmental attitude as clinical psychologists?

As the daughter, sister, sister-in-law and wife of ministers whom I have known to counsel, console, serve with love and concern the hundreds of troubled people who came to them, I resent with fierce anger the picture much too often given by the media of the hell-fire and damnation, self-righteous, condemnatory "preacher" with no understanding and compassion for human fraility.

So let's watch those subliminal messages, shall we?

A. This is a letter that bothers us a lot, since to our way of thinking, ministers are ministers, while preachers are all those folks who exhort, advise and harangue - often without request - always talking a lot longer than they listen. These preachers come in all ages and all jobs, including, alas, lady columnists.

The troubling aspect of your letter is the way it mirrors all the misunderstandings that crop up when one person talks to another, whether with his body or his words.

At least one study has shown that problems of communication cause more divorces than anything else. And if it can reach that point with adults, it doesn't take much imagination to see how easy it is to misunderstand children, especially since their vocabulary is so limited.

Each person talks and acts with a certain image in mind, which is bound to be interpreted in a slightly different way by everyone else. No one's perceptions are the same, for no two people can have the same background and the same frame of reference, even parent and child.

You may think the child who grumps when you ask her to sweep the carport is angry at you, but she is actually angry at herself. The request only emphasizes what she already feels: She's not worth much.

Her two best friends are away - and haven't written; the phone hasn't rung all morning and she's not good for anything better than sweeping out a dumb carport. The grumpiness has much more to do with the child than the mother.

It's a lesson every parent must learn all over again, every day, this squeezing of feet into a child's small shoes.

And that's absolutely all the preaching we're going to do today.