After we leave the chapel, I follow McGreevey down the path to the library. And we come upon—the librarian! Love her! And while it’s mutual, she does stop him to say he still owes a copy of a book (The God of Faith and Reason). “I can’t believe she remembered that,” he says. Retreating to the fancy French pastry shop on the corner, we discuss the paperback he’s got with him, The Perennial Philosophy, Aldous Huxley’s cross-cultural study of the meaning of the sacred, until he spots the school’s chaplain walking by and bangs on the window—“One of my dearest friends!”—inviting him in.
While in law school, McGreevey says, he considered the priesthood, but the Jesuits “told me no,” saying it was clear he was not yet ready to surrender his will to God. “After I resigned,” he says, a friend told him to “look at this as a gift. ‘If you could do anything in your life, what would you do?’ ” At General, a dean suggested he work with people just out of prison. “I began to listen to their stories and hear the horrific circumstances of their lives, how they were abused. And I began to realize how there is such a great commonality in human experience.” He sees himself in the women: “We are no different,” he says. “I was a drug addict and a criminal,” one woman tells him in the documentary. “I’m gay and stepped down as governor,” McGreevey responds. “Okay, you win,” she says.
“For many of these women, their lives have had not much of the sacred,” he tells me. “Their lives have been profane, violent, ugly, and brutal. I have the women say, every day, ‘I am a precious and valuable child of God.’ To try to rekindle the sense of their integral worth as part of creation.”