Historical questions lead writer down Christ’s paths
By linda denicola
FREEHOLD –– In his nonfiction book Trailing Jesus, author James Campion writes about his trip to Israel where he endeavored to "unravel the mystery of faith lost in the fog of history."
Subtitled "A Holy Land Journal," Campion’s ambitious quest led him on a personal and spiritual journey to see the place he said was like Oz to him since he was a child. It drew him because it is "one of the most volatile sociopolitical and religious areas on the globe."
Campion, a former resident of Freehold Township, said, "For a writer, it made sense. For a person often mired in the unanswerable questions and endless debates on the meaning of this mess called existence, it was a natural [choice]."
Campion said in his author’s note in the book that although he has no faith in religion of any kind, he is a big fan of Jesus:
"... For me, no historical figure or classic character of literature can claim a greater influence on Western thought than Jesus of Nazareth.
"The important question to ask when investigating someone of Jesus Christ’s caliber in an historic sense is why did this nobody from an impoverished and oppressed society survive all this time? How did his memory last two years, much less 2,000? And what are we missing when we aim to discover him?"
Sprinkled with Biblical references, Campion’s book, published by Gueem Books, his own publishing company, is a 585-page attempt at understanding how a poor Jewish peasant became the man behind a worldwide religious movement. Campion traveled the path it is believed Jesus trod on his spiritual journey. His conclusions are as complex as the questions.
Campion went to Israel in 1996 when he was 33 years old, the same age that Jesus is reputed to have been when he entered Jerusalem. Copyrighted in 2002, Trailing Jesus was six years in the making. Campion writes that the terrible events of 9/11 and the political and cultural tensions in Israel reawakened the emotions of his journey.
"There is not a day that goes by in which I fail to think of the people I met while I was there, and the places I was fortunate enough to see under a relative, if not tenuous, peace," he said.
Campion, who now lives in the Highland Lakes section of Vernon Township, Sussex County, was born in The Bronx, N.Y., to what he calls a devoutly Catholic Italian-Irish family. His family eventually moved to Freehold Township where he attended middle school and high school. According to a press release, Campion recently visited the area for a book signing at the Freehold Township Barnes & Noble and spoke at Freehold Township High School.
A freelance writer, he contributes to various publications including a weekly pop culture column. He also performs media consultation for his company Vincary Media. Trailing Jesus is Campion’s third book and the first to be published by his own publishing company.
"My hope is that Gueem Books will allow struggling writers to find a voice in independent publishing," he said. "It’s all the rage with film, why not literature?"
Campion’s previous works include Deep Tank Jersey — One Man’s Journey Into the Soul of a New Jersey Club Band and Fear No Art — Observations on the Death of the American Century.