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Cnr of Park Rd and MacMahon St, Hurstville Sundays at 9:30 am and 6:30 pm

The squeezebox

I encountered a busker recently whose performance seriously put me in two minds. One mind, to reward his effort with sympathy and charity, which action my wife encouraged and my heart agreed. The other was to withhold my money on the grounds that the man should have been arrested for disturbing the peace, and that to have made any donation would have been, on a charge of noise pollution, to become an accessory to the fact.

The Book records an occasion when Jesus encountered some religious buskers who chided him for not giving to their cause. In describing them, Jesus said: “They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling out to each other: ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not cry.’” His opponents were trying to get him to dance to their tune, and when he wouldn’t drop a few coins in their skullcaps, they doubled their efforts to run him out of town.

Not much has changed in two thousand years. The buskers of this world still ask the church to accommodate and agree to their script and score, and get most offended when the church resolves to hold to its own ethic and creed. But such is the criticism, and such is the cost, and such is the calling: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould,” says the Book, but keep your soul for the Singer, and your eyes on the Prize.

DM 5th July 2022

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