Katherine Marshall gives us some questions to ponder

By Rachel Revelle

KMarsh-300x225I am out of the office this week, and so was not able to attend this week’s Religions and Public Life lecture.  But, I had one of those serendipitous connections when you learn about someone and then see their name more than once in the same brief period. This week’s speaker was Katherine Marshall, currently at Georgetown’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. Meanwhile a mentor had just shared with me a magazine published by Yale Divinity School about confronting poverty, in which Katherine Marshall’s was the leading essay.

I’ll have to wait for the video to be posted on the Religions and Public Life resource page to compare Marshall’s talk to the article I read, but I’m sure that it was inspiring. Her article made me reflect on the importance of the RPLI collaboration.  She talks about poverty being among the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, and that if we are going to name certain rights for all people as equal human beings, then there is the responsibility to do the best we can to “translate that into something real.” With her focus on development, she is aware of what a vast and complex issue poverty is amongst many other global complexities. How do we balance aid versus trade? How much do we allow for and respect local initiatives? And so these global complexities require collaboration.

The intent of the Religions and Public Life initiative is to “examine the paradoxes that abound at the nexus where faith, citizenship, and capitalism intersect with processes of globalization in order to produce new forms and reconfigurations of the public sphere.” Based on what I have read, it seems Katherine Marshall is right in line, and I hope that she was able to make a meaningful contribution to the RPLI graduate seminar group. She ends the article I read by asking some key questions about the ends of development in general: “What kind of global society do we want to build? What common values should and could it be founded on? How to do this while respecting and encouraging the rich diversity of human cultures and their faiths?”  She says these are things for UN leaders to ponder, and I think they are also for us to ponder here at Kenan, and as individual global citizens.