...Re-Envisioning the Sacred as an Agent of Evolution


A Naturalistic, Evolutionary and Monastic View of Theology, the Sacred and Religion

Comparison of two landscape paintings of Mont Sainte-Victoire by Paul Cezanne
Comparison of two landscape paintings of Mont Sainte-Victoire by Paul Cezanne

Experienced hikers are very conscious of landscapes and the subtle differences between them. One of the joys of hiking is the sensual consciousness of passing through a variety of landscapes. In terms of space and time, each landscape offers a particular geography, geology, flora, fauna, and other elements all of which exist in an interdependent relationship with each other. Those of us who take the time to investigate the world around us on or off the trail, aided by guide books, interpretation by knowledgeable people, our own past experiences, and a keen desire for new discoveries, find our sense of awareness, understanding, and connection to life's landscapes richly altered and expanded.


Our physical surrounding is but one of many landscapes in which we live out our lives: psychological, social, political, economic, geographical, and spiritual, to name a few. Some of us wander around these landscapes so absorbed in self-concern that we pay little attention to where we are. Some of us spend most or all of our lives trying to stay in familiar landscapes with little curiosity or knowledge of what lies beyond the territory we know. There are others of us who are born with a curiosity and appetite for exploring every inch of all the landscapes we encounter and for discovering whatever new information they may contain.


Those for whom the horizon stirs a calling for the adventure to begin; where the jagged crumbling lip of a towering precipice is an opportunity to reconnoiter; where curiosity and imagination urge them to go even farther: these are Trekkers.


We know the names of some of the great Trekkers who committed their lives to the exploration of one or more of the landscapes in which they lived: Lao Tsu, Thales of Miletus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Yeshua ben Yosef, Paul of Tarsus, Di Vinci, Siddhartha Gautama, Hypatia of Alexandria, Muhammad, Copernicus, Francesco di Bernardone, Voltaire, Michelangelo, Galileo, Gandhi, Marx, Newton, Elizabeth Anscombe, Bach, Mozart, Van Gogh, Einstein, Simone de Beauvoir, ML King, Alan Watts, and the Dalai Lama to name but a few. Each of these Trekkers, packing all their gifts and foibles, stepped out into unknown territory, answering that call to seek more, learn more, love more, share more, and be more. We also know that these Trekkers journeyed in community. They began where others ended their journey and with the knowledge and equipment they inherited. Even when physically alone, they were enabled by others. Trekking is an altruistic activity. It is done for the education and edification of everyone. They invited others to join them in order to enrich everyone's experience and to be more effective in their combined mission and commitment to the common good.


For more than fifty years, I have been a theological trekker (theotrekker), exploring the landscape of the human need to make meaning; those things in which we find our reason for being. I have been committed to the principle that this exploration must be informed by what we know from our ongoing journeys through all the other landscapes of human experience. During much of this trek, I've been in the company of my friend and fellow theologian, Pat Genereux.


It is the job of the theologian to critically examine how we humans make meaning; our behavior in relationship to those things in which we invest our trust (faith) and which in return provide our lives with significance and purpose (gods). This is done as part of the ongoing effort to understand and live life with as much emotional and intellectual honesty, authenticity and integrity as possible.


I view life in general as an ongoing trek of discovery. It is my experience that knowledge and understanding, including the meaning we make of them, are always incomplete. While on this journey, we all have the opportunity to encounter and celebrate a wide array of new discoveries about ourselves and our world, some of which are frightening because they don't fit into our established conceptions. If we have the courage to honestly investigate them, these discoveries can take us to new and habitable places beyond the edges of our social, cultural, political, and religious maps.


Theotrekking has led me to evolve a spirituality that I call Opthē.  Opthē provides an authentic basis for meaning in my life that is more believable and significant than any spiritual model I have previously experienced. I hold that any spirituality that is durable must be founded upon the widest and most rational understanding of human knowledge and experience possible.


I invite you to explore this site and the experiences, discoveries, and ongoing theological explorations recorded here. If what you find on this site moves you to want to comment or engage in the conversation, please let me know. I'm eager to hear from you.


Bill Papineau

Innovative Theologian




The content of this site is intended for the theologically curious and those who seek meaning for their lives that they have not been able to find in what is offered in our culture. It is NOT for the theologically dogmatic. If you find the questioning of commonly held beliefs, especially about God or the existence of the supernatural, to be offensive or threatening, please exit this site immediately; it is not intended for you.