Humanarium

Sometimes, the real church is taking place out on the front steps

Question: Which side of the door is the church on?…

Humanarium: Creating a Space for Authentic Relationship

On a recent Monday, I was listening to Dr. John Coe talking about honesty being the meta-virtue which is the basis for all the spiritual disciplines.

Did you catch that?

The basis of all the spiritual disciplines, and the highest virtue of them all, is honesty.


That is a profound thought because even though we know honesty is a good policy and has all this moral weight attached to it, we don’t often associate it with the oughtness that comes along with anything religious. Religion, for many, becomes all about what “should” be the case and becomes strictly rule-governed, and pretentious, and all that stuff that makes people bristle at the very word–religious.

Before listening to this lecture, I was talking with a professor about moments in which we see through the mask that people normally wear and really seeing someone, down to their very soul, and feeling a connection with that person if only for a moment. Putting these two ideas together, the word hit me….

Humanarium– n. an abstract space created by the suspension of regular human defense mechanisms and devices in which two or more people can truly encounter each other and feel they are sharing their true selves. 

This is the goal of all good therapeutic relationships, the goal in true friendships, and the goal of a true church. Church isn’t just about people getting together for corporate worship. It is about people coming together as they are and opening themselves up to the Spirit of God for healing and responding to God’s call on each and every individual. Then the true worship response flows out of that.

Eukalyptus / Pixabay

This is why the true church happens on the steps outside the door, or in someone’s living room, or some other place where it is less expected. Ideally it would happen in some designated sanctuary, but while God has always been a seeker and a provider of authenticity and humility, human beings tend to be better at systematically sterilizing everything and turning to false humility. We just do.

I want to be a humanarium builder

I want to see more of these places exist–if it is something I can help create. I want to help create spaces where people are reminded of how fragile and yet significant they are, and they can put their pretenses and preoccupations aside long enough to restore faith in each other, and restore faith in the one who gave them that longing.

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