Doxa is a term used in sociology to contend with belief and orthodoxy without reducing either to behavior or cognition. It explores disposition and embodied belief—the gut sense of the world which is acquired through practice rather than discourse.
Luke states with exquisite and unmistakable clarity that God will not hesitate to silence those with power, and give a bullhorn to those without power, even ensuring that—if need be—the creation itself will speak justice into the world.
On the one hand, there is in the foreground “a land flowing with milk and honey.” On the other hand, as one reads the text with modern eyes and ears, the problematic language of inheritance, possession, and settlement the chapter begins with rightly alarms readers concerned about occupation of stolen lands using theologically justifying language.
The primacy of the inner type of freedom can produce a withdrawal from the world or an attitude of passivity towards its frustrating circumstances, particularly when the believer searches for real freedom exclusively inside the self irrespective of the conditions that exist in the broader socio-political environment.
Jesus’s followers seek a “prophet” who serves human desires for control and vengeance: the power his followers think is essential in order to defeat their human oppressors. They forget that the prophet only ever serves the Divine will, which has a vision wider than the cosmos, concerned with re-establishing the harmony that was written into the fabric of creation from its very beginning.
The tendencies of any group of human beings to normalize power and hide harm are themselves, then, subject to the process Matthew’s gospel is describing. The frankness of communication, of subsidiarity mediation and conflict negotiation, the expectation of honest and mutual accountability described here should also be applied, as healthily and faithfully as possible, to the workings of authority, relationship, and power system within the community.
The introduction of radically liberative political concepts has profound implications for how communities understand punishment and vengeance. This particular political moment allows for a reconceptualization of power with regard to racism and scripture.
Without a sustained focus on material inequalities and repressive state power, the conversation on Islamophobia too easily slips into a mealy-mouthed appeal to diversity and tolerance.