Saturday, February 22, 2014

No, that sentence about getting the man we dress for is not okay.

This post is a response to one blogger's response to some of the responses to this article by Elder Tad R. Callister, found on p. 45 of the March 2014 Ensign.

Here, I am responding to the blog post referenced above:

Usually I applaud efforts to calm the firestorm after a controversial statement by a political or religious leader. I don't approve of vilifying our leaders - or anyone - over stray remarks, and I welcome interpretations of such statements that keep in mind the benefit of the doubt.

So I appreciate much of what you have written. In particular, I share your concern that overblown "rape culture" accusations distract us from the real rape culture problems in our society.

But I cannot let your defense of the following sentence stand:

        In the end, most women will get the type of man they dress for.

Because it's not true. It's embarrassing, it's offensive, and I'm too troubled by it to make a clever joke showing how ridiculous it is. (If anyone's interested in that sort of witty comment, you can find plenty of them here.)

For the moment, let's set aside the question of whether it's appropriate for a male ecclesiastical leader to counsel women about how to "dress for" men. Let's also set aside the question of whether a woman's clothing really is a reliable predictor of the type of man she "gets." Let's go straight to the implicit victim shaming, the angle that I find most offensive.

I think that I can see what Elder Callister was trying to get at here, and I believe that there is some merit in the concept. He wants to encourage women to dress modestly so that they will attract attention from the good guys, not the shallow, objectifying type.

But, at best, the claim that most women get the type of man they dress for is naively optimistic. At worst, it's a slap in the face to the legions of women who do not end up happily married to a righteous priesthood holder. And that's about half of the Mormon women I know.

Did the women who have been sexually assaulted get the type of man they dressed for? Did the women whose husbands abused or abandoned them get the men they dressed for? Do the accomplished, intelligent single women who have never had the chance to marry fail to dress right? What about the women who date men who manipulate them and mistreat them? None of these circumstances is exceptional. Put together, these groups probably comprise roughly a third to a half of the women in my ward. 

Please don't defend this statement by pointing to the word "most." Even if, hypothetically, his strategy for finding the right guy works more than 50% of the time - technically most of the time - the women for which it fails are too numerous to write off as tragic exceptions. And for the women who do find happiness, it suggests that the relationship is a reward for dressing correctly.

And, yes, we can argue about the best way to interpret the statement. Maybe get the man or dress for or most women mean something different to Elder Callister than they do to me. Certainly, he didn't intend to hurt or demean. But the sentence is vague, and that's part of the problem. It leaves far too much room for interpretations that have no proper place in our teachings about modesty and sexuality. 

Surely, Elder Callister could have dug a little deeper and found a productive way to say what he meant. The sentence that he came up with does not meet what should be basic standards of thoughtfulness and helpfulness. It lowers the level of discourse, and I'm disappointed that it found its way into an official publication of the Church.

Leaders who make careless remarks like this need thoughtful, measured push-back from the church members who sustain them. As I see it, that's one way that the body of the church, lay members and general authorities alike, will learn to reject the harmful words that we can't afford to harbor.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Deborah: Another verse for a primary song.

The Mormon children's song, "Follow the Prophet," has nine verses. There are verses for the prophets Moses, Daniel, and Noah, even one for Jonah. For a long time, I have thought that we should have a verse for Deborah. Here's my attempt to write one:

               Deborah was a prophet; she judged Is-ra-el.
               She went up to battle and Canaan's army fell
               Deborah helped her people by listening to the Lord.
               Israel was delivered from Sisera's sharp sword.

Celebrating Deborah did not come easily for me. I still remember how much the story of this Old Testament prophetess confused me as a young woman. I had heard so many lessons about women's exalted roles as wives and mothers, that Deborah's roles as military adviser, judge, and prophet seemed to be at odds with my understanding of gender in God's plan. Her story didn't fit into what I thought was a clear-cut hierarchy of priesthood authority and stewardship that God had laid out for His people.

I was in my late 20s before I was able to admit to myself that Deborah's story thrilled me. When I first said it out loud (during a conversation with the man who would later become my husband), it felt like a significant moment of self-awareness. Claiming Deborah meant admitting that I wanted to be valued - not only in my secular life, but in my spiritual community as well - for more than my wife/mother potential. It meant admitting that seeing women in strong leadership positions was important to me. It meant acknowledging that I wanted God to use all of me: not just my tenderness and kindness, but also my bravery, my cleverness, my ability to lead. It meant recognizing that my heart leaped for joy at the thought of God speaking to His people through a woman.

When I mentioned Deborah in the young women's class that I taught recently, none of the girls knew anything about her. They were surprised, as I had been when I was their age, that a woman could do the things that Deborah did. So I was particularly pleased when I saw that the March 2014 Ensign includes Deborah in an article by Faith Watson describing exemplary women of the Old Testament. A search of led me to another Ensign article, this one from 1990, that goes into greater depth about Deborah and mentions other prophetesses of the Bible.

I do not wish to cast a shadow on my sincere appreciation for Faith Watson's work, but there is one sentence in the article that I feel needs careful unpacking:

           In her role as prophetess, Deborah did not hold the priesthood or possess ecclesiastical 
          keys but enjoyed the gift of prophecy in a more general sense (see Revelation 19:10)*.

I read this sentence as a clarification meant to a) distinguish Deborah's role as prophet(ess) from the office of president/prophet of our church today and b) square her prophet status with our current teaching that only men may hold the priesthood. The text of that sentence is fine. My concern is that the subtext might diminish Deborah's prophetic role. What the article fails to point out is that prophecy was not generally associated with priesthood in the Old Testament; Deborah's lack of priesthood authority does not change her status as prophet. Downplaying Deborah's prophetic role might make it easier to maintain traditional, simplistic notions of gender differences and church hierarchy, but it does a disservice both to Deborah and to those who want to learn from her story.

The referenced scripture, Revelations 19:10, teaches us that "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." The idea that every follower of Christ can have the spirit of prophecy, i.e. can receive revelation from God, is powerful and beautiful. But it is important to acknowledge that Deborah's prophetic gifts were unusual and that they reached beyond the stewardships that we normally assign to women in the Church. The divine revelation given to Deborah in Judges 4 was not meant for her personal life, or her family life, or for the women in her congregation. Her revelation led the people of Israel - her people - to deliverance from their oppressor.


*The author includes a footnote here referencing  James E. Talmage's  The Articles of Faith, 12th ed. (1924), pp. 228-29.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Griping about Downton Abbey.

Yes, I am writing an entire blog post about a soap opera.

Downton Abbey still has me. Probably the fashion and furniture alone would tempt me, but I'm also endlessly fascinated by the upstairs-downstairs dynamics in the great houses of the English aristocracy. I guess I'm typically American that way.

Still, there's no denying that Downton has descended into some full-blown cheesiness. Here are some of my latest gripes:

1. Edith's Bad Luck

In the most recent episode of Season 4, Edith confides that she sometimes thinks God doesn't want her to be happy. I can see her point: so far nothing has worked out for her.

Let's review the people she has loved/liked/lusted after. Besides Matthew Crawley, whom Edith flirts with unsuccessfully while Mary's still snubbing him, we have the following: the (real) Crawley cousin who dies on the Titanic and never loved Edith anyway; the disfigured pretend-cousin-Crawley with fake reverse amnesia who disappears from their lives when his ploy doesn't work; the married farmer with whom Edith has a brief fling; the aged Anthony Strallan who jilts her at the altar; and now Michael Gregson. This latest heartthrob is a) married, b) unable so far to divorce his insane wife, c) missing in Germany, and d) the father of Edith's unborn, illegitimate child.

Edith, it's not God who wants you unhappy. It's the writers.

2. Everyone's Confusion at Edith's Distress

Edith is obviously in love with Michael Gregson, and then he disappears without a trace in Germany. Everybody in the family knows this! Yet they all are unaccountably astonished when they notice that she is moping, as if they've forgotten for the moment that her boyfriend is missing and possibly dead. Or perhaps they don't think that's reason enough to be preoccupied.

Probably the repeated expressions of, "Edith darling, what's wrong?" are written into the story to underscore the fact that the family doesn't know about her pregnancy. But they really don't make sense, and they contribute to my feeling that the writers are not taking as much care with the characters as they ought to.

3. Mary's Suitors

I'm not opposed to a good love triangle, but does everybody need to fall in love with Mary? It irks me when she tells Charles Blake that she doesn't want to add him to the "list of men" she's disappointed. Really, Mary? You're starting to have qualms about the length of your list?

And then there's the rivalry between Blake and Gillingham. It would be so much more interesting if they could each put a different spin on their Mary infatuation. But, in fact, they have nearly identical conversations with Mary, which can be summed up as follows:

   Blake/Gillingham: I can't stop thinking about you.

   Mary: I'm flattered, but I'm not on the market.

   B/G: I'm not giving up!

   M: Well, okay then. Pursue me if you must.

If this were real life, I would have no idea as to which suitor, if any, would ultimately prevail. However, this is not real life. This is TV-life, where you usually end up in love with the person you most disliked at the start. Clearly Blake has the upper hand here.

4. Mr. Bates

I once liked Mr. Bates a great deal, but my feelings for him have been in decline ever since we saw Bates and Anna smiling at each other under the sheets on their wedding night. After two seasons of waiting for Anna and Bates to get together, the writers made a misguided decision to give us a happy peek into their marital bed. It was supposed to be sweet, I guess, but it really, really did not work for me. Thank goodness we only saw them from the shoulders up.

After the prison ordeal ended, the cutesy picture of married life we got seemed a bit forced and dull, and I was losing interest in the Anna/Bates relationship. Still, I liked Bates and wished him well.

But I have now lost all patience with Mr. Bates. The moment he learns that Anna has been raped, he decides that the best course of action would be to go murder her rapist. Not helpful, Mr. Bates! Anna is traumatized. She needs love and healing, not endless worry about what her husband might do to ruin their lives. I appreciate Bates's anger and pain, but . . . control yourself, man! This was the moment for Bates to step up to the plate for the woman he loves and see her through the misery. Instead, he indulges himself in a murderous obsession and adds to his wife's grief when she needs him the most.

I am emotionally letting go of this character. Good-bye, Mr. Bates. It was fun while your moral compass was still in place, but I'm done now.

5.  Daisy's Age

I love this character, but how old is she supposed to be? It's been ten years since the story began, so Daisy is probably in her late 20s by now, and she is still treated like a teenager. It's time for her to be a woman, not a girl.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Duplo elevator operated with yarn.

Owen and Johnny made a working Lego elevator operated with a primitive yarn pulley.

Here's a 10 second video with Johnny pulling the string and Ezekiel shouting, "Stop, Boy, stop!"

The second video, this time with Owen working the lift, is pretty staid in comparison.

Here are some photos of the construction details:
First, the tower without the elevator attached yet. It needed to be fairly strong, as Duplo towers go, in order to withstand the string-pulling that came later. The Mega Block is there so that the elevator doesn't attach itself to the bottom plate every time it lands. A piece of cardboard could serve the same purpose.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Losing fundamentalism and finding Noah.

Illustration from The Ark, Arthur Geisert, 1988

In an earlier post, I wrote briefly about my struggle - and ultimate failure - to accept a literal, historical interpretation of parts of the Bible and the story of Noah in particular. For many years, the story of the flood was a painful blow to my faith. Slowly I learned that I could read that story (and others) as something else -- a parable perhaps, an allegory, or even an incomplete historical account -- while remaining a faithful Mormon. Feeling I had permission to abandon my attempt at Biblical fundamentalism was, not surprisingly, a relief.

But what did surprise me was how rich and meaningful those first stories of the Bible became after I stopped worrying about reconciling them with science and let go of the false dichotomy between literalism and apostasy. In Genesis, God has something to say, and listening with my science-vs.-religion ears, I couldn't hear it. I don't understand everything that God is trying to tell us, but I have come to understand that His message in Genesis is not nearly so much about ancient history as it is about our relationship with Him.

So back to Noah.

When Noah steps off the ark, God tells him to bring the animals out of the ark so that they may, "be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth" (Genesis 8:17). This is rather an odd command, if you think about it. After spending over a hundred years building this enormous ark, and then gathering the animals, and living with them in a boat for more than a year, was Noah considering . . . just leaving the animals in there? I mean, of course he was going to take them out of the ark with him. Why would he need that particular instruction from God? Why would the Bible need to spell out for us that every beast, after their kinds, went forth from the ark? From a literary standpoint, it seems to be an intentional echo of the creation story in Genesis 1, when both the animals and the new humans are given the godly edict to be fruitful and multiply.

I always thought I got what the Bible was saying here: Noah and his wife were the new Adam and Eve. Every human on the earth today is a descendant of not just Adam, but Noah as well. (Old Me: But . . . science! Gaaaahhhh.) But when I read the story again, this time without the old fear of science/religion incompatibility, I got something more. This wasn't a genealogy or a history lesson; this was a lesson about something truer, something better. This was a story about our covenant relationship with God.

"But with thee will I establish my covenant, and thou shalt come into the ark," said God to Noah. So Noah took refuge in this ark that he built but that God shut, took refuge in this covenant that he made with God. And he was not destroyed, and the earth, that fallen, cursed earth was covered with water, and then the waters receded.

And Noah stepped off the ark as the new Adam. He brought forth the animals from the ark so that they could be fruitful and multiply, an echo of the commandment given to Adam and Eve before the fall. As if creation were new again. Not that the fall hadn't happened, but that Noah was protected from the fall, that this covenant that God wrought with him overcame it.

Early Mormon leaders taught that the flood was a kind of baptism of the earth. In the past, whenever I came across that idea, my inner monologue went something like this: Oh, here we go again. How could water really cover the entire earth?And does the earth really have to get baptized like it's a person?And why do Mormons have to be so doctrinally innovative anyway? No wonder people think we're weird.

But now, with non-literal meanings open to me, I love the way the baptismal ordinance ties in with the flood story. I see the story of Noah as a beckoning to the people of the earth, to become the people of God. To take refuge in His covenant, to be baptized and renewed and reborn, as fresh and new as Adam and Eve on the morning of creation. For me, that is as meaningful as just about anything that I read in the scriptures.

And today, after a pretty spectacular parenting failure, which came after a succession of moral and mental failures that goes back as far as I can remember and goes on as far into the future as I can see, that image of Noah stepping off the ark under a rainbow sky onto an earth that had been washed clean was in my mind. And, finally, finally, I was ready to shout, "Hallelujah!" at the thought of it.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A dinner conversation jar.


A couple of years ago, I put some questions on little pieces of paper and put them all in a big jar. This was an attempt to improve our dinner conversation, which at that time consisted mainly of tense exchanges between my husband and me about our home renovation project, while our three-year-old and newborn made unhappy noises.

So we started using the dinner conversation jar, and by "jar," I mean, "old plastic Lego container that came from the thrift store." Usually, it was our three-year-old's job to choose the question from the jar, then one of us would read it out loud, and we all tried to answer the question. Unless we didn't like the question. We always had the option to "pass."

It worked. 

The Dinner Conversation Jar
We don't use our dinner conversation jar every day, and there are no hard-and-fast rules. We can draw as many or as few questions as we want during the meal. We're allowed to fish around until we find a question we like. We can make up our own question. And if we get sidetracked on another, tangentially related topic, well, the conversation jar has accomplished its purpose.

I recently replenished the jar with new questions. Some of the old ones were duds. Also, I wanted to more-or-less standardize the size of the paper strips, so that the little ones weren't always getting lost down at the bottom, while the big ones hogged the conversation space.

You can see my new set of questions toward the end of the post, and you can get the pdf here. This collection of questions that I pulled from my mind could surely be made more thoughtful and balanced. For example, the topics of fantasy/time travel and food might be a bit overrepresented, and I'm probably leaving out an entire category of rich questioning, because I just didn't think of it. (If you have suggestions, feel free to include them in the comments section.)

But speaking of time travel, our five-year-old got this question the other day:

His answer? He'd like to go back in time to see Martin Luther King. YES! All that MLK Day celebrating we did paid off, and for that one moment, I felt like a successful parent.

So, here are the questions:

  • If you could travel back in time, what time and place would you choose to visit? What would you do there?
  • If you could have a day to do whatever you wanted, wherever you wanted, what would you do?
  • If you could have any dessert right now, what would you choose?
  • What was the best part of your day today?
  • Imagine that you are an expert robotics engineer. Describe the robot that you would design and build.
  • What is your favorite part of today’s dinner?
  • Is there a flavor of ice cream that you’ve never tried, that looks delicious? Or a flavor you’d like to invent?
  • If you could jump into a book and be a part of the story, what book would you choose, and what would you do?
  • Is there anybody that you’d like to invite to our house for dinner soon?
  • What is your favorite holiday food? What is your favorite holiday tradition?
  • What do you like best about this time of year?
  • Is there anybody you know that needs some cheering up? What do you think our family can do to help?
  • Name an ancestor that you would like to meet. What would you say to him/her? What would you do together?
  • Is there something that you’ve never done, or haven’t done in a long time, that you’d like to try?
  • If you were stranded on a desert island and you could bring anything, as long as it all fits in a backpack, what items would you bring?
  • If you could visit any country in the world, which would you choose? (Imagine an all-expenses-paid trip.)
  • What is your favorite room in our house? Why? What do you like best about our house?
  • Did you see somebody do something kind today? What was it?
  • Is there a hobby that you’d like to spend more time on?
  • Is there a book that you’ve been wanting to read?
  • If you could build anything you wanted, what would it be?
  • Are there any trips that you think our family ought to go on this year?
  • What was the hardest thing you did today?
  • Did anything weird or surprising happen today?
  • Is there a movie that you’ve been wanting to see?
  • If you suddenly had one hundred million dollars, what would you do with it?
  • Do you have any projects that you daydream about for our house or yard? Ex: a gazebo, a tree-house, a mural
  • What natural wonder of the world would you like to visit? Would you like to visit the North Pole? The bottom of the ocean? Would you like to go into space?
  • What famous moment in history would you like to witness?
  • What superpower would you choose to have?
  • Imagine that you could be any animal you want for one day. Which animal would you like to be?
  • Say something that you appreciate about a member of our family.
  • Do you have any good ideas for a party? What would you do? Where would it be? Whom would you invite?
  • What famous person would you most like to have a conversation with? What would you talk about?
  • Would you want to be famous? Why or why not? What would you most want to be famous for?
  • What sort of Magic Schoolbus trip would you most want to go on with Miss Frizzle?
  • Is there a skill that you’d like to learn, or a trait that you’d like to develop?
  • If you were to start a club or an organization, what would it be? What would you do together?

An aside about two-year-olds: When we first started the conversation jar, our younger son, who was a newborn at the time, did not join in the conversation. Now he's two, and we don't have any special toddler-oriented questions. We sometimes ask him a simpler, related question, and he's allowed to take a turn drawing the question from the jar, regardless of whether he understands the words on the paper. So far, the most fun that he has ever had with the conversation jar was when I let him cut up the old questions into tiny pieces before I threw them away.

UPDATE: My husband reminded me that the idea for our conversation jar was sparked by The Food Nanny, a show on byutv.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Making mini-books for beginning readers, with no tape, glue, or staples.

When Johnny could read only words of three letters, plus a few sight words, I made a half-dozen of these mini-books out of a single sheet of paper without using any glue, tape, or staples.

Fold the paper into eighths, starting with one lengthwise fold, then making three crosswise folds.

Johnny made one of his own. It's another story about his Dad, Owen. This time Owen heroically moves boulders that had rolled into our yard. Johnny suggested that Owen read it whenever he feels depressed about himself.

Here's a little bit of Johnny's book: 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fancy paper valentines.

This was my year to make fancy valentines using construction paper, scissors, and a glue stick.

I like to make several folds in the paper and cut out lots of tiny shapes.
Step 1. Construction paper and sharp scissors.

Step 2. Small shapes cut along the center fold.
Step 3. A second fold and more cut-outs.
Step 3. A third fold and a few more cut-outs.

Here you can see the results of cutting along three distinct folds.
Step 4. I wanted more empty space, so I made yet another fold . . .
and cut out more shapes.

Step 5. One final fold . . .
a few more cut-outs . . .

and here is the unfolded heart.
Step 6. I glued it onto white paper. Be sure to use a high quality glue stick.
Steps 7&8. I added a tiny red paper heart and cut the whole thing out.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Sunday School class and not reading Noah literally.

As a Mormon, I participate each week in a one hour adult Sunday School class. This is pretty much expected of active adult members. Honestly, Sunday School has sometimes felt like a drag, and I have not always been mentally or spiritually engaged in the class.

But something has been happening in our ward, which is Mormon for congregation. I have noticed a growing depth and purpose to our Sunday School classes. Perhaps I am the one who has changed. The current Sunday School teachers are diligent and effective, but no more so than teachers in years past. In the Mormon church, teachers are unpaid amateurs. They usually only hold the position for a year or two, and they aren't selected on the basis of scriptural expertise. They facilitate discussion. They ask questions. They usually aren't Biblical scholars, and they don't have all the answers.

 Whatever the reason, my feeling is that all of us, teacher and students, seem to be reading the scriptures deeply, asking searching questions, and looking for answers with both our hearts and minds, to a greater extent than I have experienced in the past. Class participation is high; a majority of members make substantial contributions to the discussion. Men and women of different ages, races, and backgrounds are sharing insights, speculations, opinions, experiences, and firm convictions. As we express our occasionally divergent views, I feel united with members of the class in our search for a better understanding of God. As we seek God together, I am coming to know my ward members better. This is a new way for me to feel like I am part of a community of saints. For me, this is what Sunday School should be.

It has been years since I have read the lesson (the text to be studied that week) ahead of class. But after a particularly meaty lesson yesterday, I decided to look in the student manual and prepare myself for next week's lesson by reading the text.

And . . . it's a Noah lesson. As in Noah and the Ark.

For years, I agonized over the Noah story. There was just no possible way that I could believe that he managed to collect representatives of every species of animal and put them on his ark. Nor could I believe that the entire planet - up to the mountaintops - was literally covered with water. It seemed to be one of the stories that kept me from being a fully believing Latter-day Saint.

Official church publications talk of a literal, global flood. Here is an article from the Ensign (the monthly magazine for adults that is published by the church) that leaves no room for anything other than a strictly literal interpretation of the Genesis account. That issue of the Ensign was published when I was a student at Brigham Young University. I distinctly remember reading the article with a sinking feeling. I even wrote a short paper for one of my university classes on my inability to reconcile the scriptural account of the flood with my understanding of science.

Noah and his ark have bothered me so much that for a long time I avoided Noah's ark themed books, toys, and puzzles for my children. It always amazed me when parents would blithely teach their children the story of the animals boarding the ark two-by-two. Inside I was screaming, "But there are tens of thousands of animal species on Earth. And that's not counting the invertebrates!"

Gradually, I have moved on from my all-or-nothing fundamentalism. I never could believe in the "all," and I didn't want to be left with nothing. I gave myself permission to believe in a local flood and in the incompleteness, fallibility, and sometimes figurative nature of scripture (including the account in Moses), and still be a good Mormon. This approach, of course, has implications beyond Noah and the ark. Some Mormons would probably consider my views on scripture to be unorthodox at best and heretical at worst. But for now, this is where I am, and I don't know where else to be.

If you're interested, here is a collection of statements made by church leaders about the flood. Included are references to the theory, which I do not discuss here, that the flood was a kind of baptism of the earth.

UPDATE: This post from Times and Seasons discusses ways in which the Biblical text itself might prefer a non-literal reading and cautions against arguing from a scientific standpoint. I got there by following a link I found on this interesting blog which is devoted to commentary on the Gospel Doctrine Old Testament lessons.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Call me pedantic if you must, but here's my grammar pet peeve.

I'm no grammar guru, but there is one grammatical error that really bothers me: incorrectly writing, "So-and-so and I," instead of, "So-and-so and me." I'll take it's/its, their/there, or you're/your any day over "and I" when it should be "and me."

I suspect that my feelings about the incorrect use of "and I" are similar to the way some people feel about using comic sans serif.

The good news is that there is an easy way to get it right, and you don't have to understand the difference between objective and subjective pronouns. When deciding between, "Johnny and I," and "Johnny and me," mentally delete the words Johnny and. You'll instinctively know whether I or me makes sense. Then put the deleted words back in.

Example: Which is correct?

a)  Thank you for listening so carefully to Johnny and I.
b)  Thank you for listening so carefully to Johnny and me.


Mentally delete the words Johnny and.

a)  Thank you for listening so carefully to Johnny and I.
b)  Thank you for listening so carefully to Johnny and me.
"Listening carefully to I," doesn't sound right. (That's because I is a subjective pronoun being used as the object of a preposition. What's needed is the objective pronoun me.) "Listening carefully to me," sounds fine. So (b) is correct.

Which of the following is correct?

a) Many people helped Owen and I with our move last year.
b) Many people helped Owen and me with our move last year.

The answer is (b).

Another approach is to decide whether it makes more sense to replace,"Johnny and I/me" with we or with us. The subjective pronoun we corresponds to, "Johnny and I," while us corresponds to, "Johnny and me."

Which of the following is correct?

a) I can't believe I just told you my secret! Let's keep it between you and I.
b) I can't believe I just told you my secret! Let's keep it between you and me.

The answer is (b).