The Christian Science Monitor Weekly

Vol 106 / Issue 8

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L Grammar advice – on sale cheap after holidays! awyers, one hears, are frequently room at Grandma's on her own, or wants asked for legal advice at dinner parcompany – will understand that sentence. ties. And presumably auto mechanics Yet it illustrates beautifully a rule of gramout celebrating over the holidays were ocmar: "A personal pronoun is in the objective casionally entertained by fellow guests who case when it is a subject of the infnitive." gave impressions of the funny noises their There's no need to memorize the rule. If vehicles are making, à la "Car Talk," and you have "Do you want me to go with you?" then asked for a diagnosis. in mind, you will not say And so it is with editors. things like "Do you want The holiday period exposed for Jim and I to pick you us wordsmiths to all sorts up at the airport?" of queries about usage, plus Now, I want to keep a the occasional ventilation sense of proportion here: of a pet peeve or two. There are worse offenses by Ruth Walker So let me offer a little known to humanity. But post-holiday bonus, a sort constructions like "for of principle for keeping your grammatical Jim and I to pick you up" drive many of us wits about you without getting dragged into up the wall. complex rules or terminology. Another example: Have you ever cringed Here it is: If there's a grammar issue that at hearing someone say, "I feel really badly you continually have trouble with, fnd a about what happened"? sample sentence that both demonstrates corThe word needed there is "bad." "Feel" is rect usage and also sounds right. Etch that the verb, and verbs are often followed by adsentence in your thought. Then it can serve verbs ("Someone was talking loudly beneath as a model for resolving trickier instances of his window"). But some verbs, known as that same issue. linking or link verbs, take adjectives instead. For example: "Do you want me to go with That's what's going on here. What's needed you?" There's nothing hard about that. A is the adjective, bad. small child – being asked by a parent, for inWe hear "I feel badly" often enough, stance, whether she's OK fnding the powder though, that it doesn't quite set off alarm verbal energy The great art of listening Our society pays attention to people who speak up. People who speak in a loud, clear voice can persuade; they explain things; they outline choices. That's also true of many biblical figures. But my favorite Bible characters are the listeners. There are so many! I'm especially drawn to the ones who are willing to listen to unexpected spiritual intuitions. There is Abraham listening to the unlikely advice to leave his homeland, and the surprise alternative to the sacrifice of his son. Moses listens and – after a few objections, "Really? Who, me?" – accepts the idea of leading a spiritually based mass migration. Then there is Elijah, who is roused from despair to listen through the earthquake, wind, and fire for what he recognizes as the "still small voice" of God. The message: Return to the kingdom he has just escaped. Elijah listens, returns, and mentors a new generation of prophets. Centuries later, St. Paul paid close attention to the spiritual intuitions he received (see Acts 9:1-43); he took on a new life mission and carried bells. So let's look for another model sentence: "I feel really sad about what happened." The adverb sadly does exist, but no one would say, "I feel really sadly...." So this "sad" example is a good model to keep you from "feeling badly." A third example is in "help" constructions: "I couldn't help but laugh." Not every authority feels equally energized on this one, but quite a number I've encountered say this usage just isn't "on." One of them was an English teacher I had who offered "I could but laugh" as an alternative. But people who talk like that get beaten up on the playground. My model for this one is, "I couldn't help laughing," which is correct and also sounds right. As a postscript, I'd note that it doesn't, er, help that this is a sort of double-negative construction in which "help" essentially means "keep from" – go fgure, as they say. It's what they call an "idiomatic expression." Idiomatic is rooted in a Greek word meaning "one's own." Idiosyncrasy is a fancy Greek word that means essentially a personal quirk. So when we say something is "idiomatic," that's a grammarian's way of saying, "That's just the way it is." Christianity throughout many lands. We would have been crazy not to stay. But one What's involved in hearing the messages evening when I really listened, it became clear to from God, divine Mind? One way to improve our me that we should leave, move back nearer our listening is to stop talking. A good metaphor is families. Much good followed from that move. a walkie-talkie, which allows you to communiBlessings come from hearing divinely incate by being in either "send" mode or "receive" spired ideas and following them. Sometimes we mode. As long as you are sending, there is no hear the message but have excuses as to why we way to receive. One way to get ready to receive shouldn't follow. (The prophet Jonah comes to inspiration is to get quiet. At the same time, we mind; hearing that he is to go in one direction, can become conscious of the power of divine but taking a ship in the opposite direction.) Love. A psalm puts it: Humility helps – not "Be still, and know that I to be quite so sure that A ChristiAn sCienCe am God" (46:10). we know what the right Then the challenge thing is, to be ready to perspeCtive is to recognize spiritual yield, to be open to unintuition right among expected ideas and the the many needs, small and large, that are float- good that comes from following them. ing around, from what to cook for dinner tonight Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy described to how to have a healing effect on poverty, dis- the mind-set this way: "Willingness to become ease, and war (like the earthquake, wind, and fire as a little child and to leave the old for the new, that crashed and flamed around Elijah). What is renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. the still small voice telling us? Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to Once our family had a big decision to make. see them disappear, – this disposition helps to We were living in a beautiful city. My husband precipitate the ultimate harmony" ("Science and and I had good jobs and supportive friends, Health with Key to the Scriptures," pp. 323-324). – Janell Fiarman and our children were in an excellent school. the ChristiAn sCienCe Monitor Weekly | January 13, 2014 47

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