(Unlike my previous attempt, this might actually be something resembling a thesis proposal. Comments and advice are very welcome.)
The key anthropological insight of mimetic theory is that human identity is received and constituted by patterns of desire that originate externally. Thus humans are naturally caught up in and shaped by patterns of communal desire, particularly conflictual patterns of rivalry and unifying patterns of scandal and scapegoating.
Mimetic ecclesiology is an ecclesiology “from below” that applies this key anthropological insight to the identity, mission, and constitutive practices of the church. It understands the church as the community of persons who receive their identity from Jesus Christ (to whom their desires are directed by the Holy Spirit, and who in turn models desire for and identity received from the Father) and renounce rivalry and unification by scandal and scapegoating. Mimetic ecclesiology provides an explanatory and normative framework that connects traditional ecclesiological language with the concrete experience of church, and assesses church practices as authentic and constitutive based on the degree to which they neutralize and dismantle violent patterns of rivalry and scapegoating, and support the emergence of new, nonviolent patterns of desire, identity, and unity in Christ.
Informed by systematic, concrete, and practice-based ecclesiology, this paper will draw on mimetic interpretations of theology, particularly in the work of James Alison, to construct a mimetic ecclesiology; demonstrate its application to the important contemporary issue of polarization and conflict within the church; and examine its consistency with the Roman Catholic document Lumen Gentium and the ecumenical document Called to be One Church.