Robert M. Price, an extremely smart evangelical-turned-atheist Bible scholar (and crafter of many Lovecraftian fantasy stories), answers an interesting question about the "metaphysics of presence", a concept in use by some theologians, but out of the deconstructionist playbook of Jacques Derrida, who himself took it from Martin Heidegger.
Huffduffers really ought to subscribe to Dr. Price’s excellent show: he releases five or six five minute answers to questions Biblical, theological and philosophical every week. The feed is at http://recordings.talkshoe.com/rss60712.xml
The question posed by ErikInAthens follows: This isn’t a direct Bible question, but I was curious about something I occasionally hear you mention with regards to church services and ‘witnessing’ etc. Specifically I have heard you reference the concept "metaphysics of presence" which I believe is attributable to Derrida with origins in Heidegger. I have Googled around for a full explanation of the term but am only more confused. The way it is explained seems to reference the ideas of ‘logocentrism’ and ‘privileging of presence over absence’ specifically regarding philosophy and literature. My un-educated paraphrase would be that Western philosophy believes ‘meaning’ exists and is attainable through Aristotelian logic.
However the way you used the term with reference to church services seemed to suggest that it was a kind of covert psychological function. Again, an uneducated paraphrase: "If we are all doing these rituals and praising the Lord, etc there has to be SOMETHING to it."
Can you please talk more about this concept and clarify. I think it is a fascinating subject which colors the way we respond to everything from office meetings to political rallies.