By Charlie Ritch, InSpero board member, poet, teacher at the Westminster School in Birmingham
“Entertainment” gets a bad rap when confused with “amusement.” Amusement is literally activity done “without the Muses” — that is, mindlessly. There is a time and place for that kind of amusing, Netflix-surfing vegetative state we go to when we need a break from the realities of life.
Entertainment has a more nuanced meaning. “To entertain” means to show hospitality or to consider something in the mind. In one case you are receiving someone into your home; in the other, you are receiving an idea into your mind. In our homes, we cook, converse, and connect; in our minds, we consider and contemplate. In both, the receiving is purposeful and involved, but also delightful and edifying.
In college my roommate and I hosted a regular gathering of friends we called “A Listening.” The principle was simple: invite a dozen or so undergrads to bring one song; stuff them into a dorm room that barely held the persons and effects of two people; power up the roommate’s classic component-based sound system; and spend the next 90 minutes quietly listening to other people’s music. The response to our first Listening was surprisingly enthusiastic, with music ranging from Chemical Brothers to Dave Brubek. The act of sharing our favorite songs allowed us to tap into something very personal. The evening had a cathartic quality as the attendees felt that they had been vulnerable, but respected. Entertainment forged a bond between us.
What happened at our Listenings (and what entertainment in its highest form is capable of delivering) is self-expansion, what C. S. Lewis calls the “enlargement of our being.”
Great entertainment makes us more than we were. It does not merely ameliorate our stress; it stretches our souls. Without it, we shrink into ourselves, listening, reading, viewing only to soften the pain or reaffirm the self we already know.
At InSpero’s Magic City Storytellers on May 12, we hope you’ll find this kind of “enlarging” entertainment as you welcome the beauty and truth of storytellers into your soul. You’ll encounter songs, stories, poems, and ideas that will bring you out of your world and into the world of local essayists, songwriters, poets, and novelists
Entertainment that invites you into beauty and story. Entertainment that stretches your soul. Entertainment that connects you to the heart of Birmingham. Link here for information and to secure your ticket to Magic City Storytellers. Seating is limited.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to InSpero, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization.
Mail checks to
246 Marwood Drive, Birmingham, AL 35244
or make a credit card donation at our website at www.inspero.org.