More Than A Feeling: Creating A Sustainable and Whole Life View of Health


Program Description:

From children’s literature to pop music, from ancient religious writings to contemporary poetry, the theme of “health” and what it means to be healthy makes its way into nearly every aspect of daily life. The pursuit of a life worth living, relationships that are dynamic and passionate, work that is satisfying, physical comfort and vitality, the ability to reach personal potential, these are the values that are embedded in our culture. Simultaneously, the ability to actualize these values is often thwarted by the very systems and practices that constitute American society and daily life. In a land of plenty, a disproportionate number of citizens are obese, while 1 in 5 children go to bed hungry on a regular basis. With some of the most advanced medical facilities in the world, 43 million Americans remain without adequate health care. In an age filled with countless opportunities to create social networks, increasing numbers report feeling isolated and disconnected. In light of these current incongruities, it is time to reexamine what we mean by “health,” in a materialistic, industrialized, and highly developed nation, and seek to eradicate the non-sustainable practices that allow for these unacceptable discrepancies, and challenge the paradigm that continues to promote individualism at the expense of community, and personal fulfillment as somehow disconnected from the whole.


Mary Westfall

The Rev. Dr. Mary E. Westfall is currently Senior Minister at the Community Church of Durham, United Church of Christ, an open and inclusive Christian congregation in the heart of Durham. She is also a University of New Hampshire Chaplain and teaches in the Philosophy Department. With a background in world religions, theology, and contemporary spiritual practices, Mary's interest in the emerging dialogue between religion and science led her to pursue a doctorate at UNH in the Natural Resources Program, completed in 2001. Her commitment to environmental sustainability has been a major focus of her academic, pastoral and personal life and most of her work is very inter-disciplinary. She lives in Lee, NH with her partner and two children, enjoys reading, biking, nearly anything out of doors, people with a good sense of humor, music, and meditation. Her dislikes include complainers, computer failures, and pineapple.

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