Dreams. Nightmares. Religion. Revolution. Divinity. Evil. Temptation.
Hope. Murder. Mysticism. Faith. Oppression. Memories. Visions.
Passion. History. Lies. Truth. Forgiveness.
What happens when a man follows his ghosts into the cauldron of the mystic?
In the spring of 1996, James Campion, author of the underground sensation, "Deep Tank Jersey" (1996) and the explosive follow-up, "Fear No Art" (2000) immersed himself in the mad pursuit of truth beyond the mists of legend. Intrigued by the teachings of philosophical and spiritual leaders over the centuries and fueled by a questioning of his Catholic background lead Campion to a natural exploration of the visage of Jesus Christ from revolutionary vagabond to religious icon.
Carving out images from his own past and passionately delving into gospel lore prompted his tireless journey to the Holy Land. Across the desert, in the footsteps of the mysterious, inside the mind and out of the heart, the results of Campion’s trek are found in the introspective and controversial pages of "Trailing Jesus".
Six years in the making, "Trailing Jesus" is more than a true story of self-discovery and Biblical revelations. It is literally a lifetime dissected in a single trip, while also being an emotional investigation of one of the most enigmatic social and political pioneers in the pantheon of human experience. "Trailing Jesus" is a stirring view of Jesus of Nazareth, the peasant messiah whose spiritual revolution still breathes today beneath centuries of dogma and religion.
The Greatest Story Ever Told is understood quite differently through the eyes of an author in search of spirit and wonder in a violently cold world. Campion’s discovery of a latter 20th century Israel struggling to find its own center is the backdrop to this wildly introspective tale of a faith questioned and then renewed.
"Trailing Jesus" is a major work for the 21st century. It topples icons, punctures dogma and resuscitates the memory of a movement so influential it has spanned two millennium of speculation and debate, superstition and worship, war and bigotry, power and compassion.
"Trailing Jesus" is not the voice of a scholar or a theologian or even a religious apologist, just the brutal honesty of a man in search of a revolutionary mystic from a time seemingly so far away, yet so very close to the marrow of human kind.
James Campion's third book, "Trailing Jesus - A Holy Journal" is a must read for the faithful, the doubtful, and the just plain curious.
Barnes & Noble.com
Inside Trailing Jesus
The reflection from the blue cloud-peppered sky speaks volumes about the gospel writers on the day my legs carry me up the stone steps of this tall mountain stretch. They tell of the Son of Man riding through the double-arched Golden Gate on a donkey, heralded as the Messiah, straight from the heart of their own tortured history. Today I see only the horizon tumble into earth with every step above the curve of this hill, grass and mortar, stone and dirt spreading out like a regal carpet. Beyond the glare of the streaming rays of sun, which bathe my sweating forehead, are the tips of cathedrals and a skyline of golden, gray domes and gothic structures. The city, set upon the rigid landscape as a glimmering pearl, penetrates the blue and white canvas before me. It stretches westward out over the desert. Gripped in an embrace of brick upon brick, it has been built and rebuilt by centuries of war and peace, hate and love. Its sprawling magnificence rolls over inclines and dips beneath valleys across the sands of time and space. Birds flutter in gaggles down into the deep drop below, and out over hundreds upon thousands of rooftops. The miles of houses, huts and streets, hidden shadows and clenched fingers, clutch at beggars and kings; warriors all, for the soul. Cast over the eons from atop this Mount of Olives, cascading down past the sea of grave stones and olive trees, is the jewel of the Near East, some three thousand years removed from toil and worship, bloodshed and pilgrimage. My mind can only sip what these eyes lap with veracious will. Here is Jerusalem, it says to me in silent order, as if it is a destined love waiting for me to complete its psalm.
My fervent rapture does not allow for the sounds of the converging crowd of travelers, gradually appearing as if holographic angels floating by in numbing awe. Their fluid passage is oddly sensual and forms a wistful alliance with the young Arab women playing flute and tapping tambourines. They spin between the ascending throng in breezy robes and flowing, bright blouses. Their mountain song mixes with the people’s sighs and gasps. Bending to a knee in unison, they begin to pray, some silently, others aloud. One woman sings in Latin, another wails like a child, and the rest grope for their cameras. I follow, clicking...clicking. I want to hold onto this moment, bottle it, like the fleeting seconds at dawn in the Galilee. Never again will I see this small group of pilgrims sharing in my unnerving joy. I will not know their names, nor they, mine; but we shall never forget the collective thrill of this mountain today.
"Dance," says the beautiful Arab woman from behind an albescent veil. She grabs my hand and I am suddenly encircled by her sinuous guise as we glide through the crowd. I can see her smile gleaming beneath the sheath of mesh. As the music gets louder, her eyes accentuate the rhythm by darting playfully from side to side. The old men in turbans clap their hands. Off to the side, another begins to stomp his feet and wave his arms wildly. Still another begins to sing, his voice rising and rising and rising. The woman holds tightly to my forearm, letting her hand slip toward my elbow. She begins swinging us into a tortuous spin. Throwing back her head, revealing a smooth, ebony neck, her mouth opens slowly to let an infectious laugh escape. It bounces off the valley below, mixing with the mystic rhythms. Beads of sweat pulse from my spine, but the cutting wind dries them immediately. I notice the people, a mere gaggle moments ago, now numbering in the hundreds. They cross through my sight line of the city, festively milling about. Tour guides effusively gesture out across the steps, their megaphones a distorted blare, while stoic priests and rabbis sit quietly by. Below, the Old City appears as a peaceful shrine to the past teeming with the noises of the present. It is a centerpiece to this desert mound, a beacon to the night creatures hovering for warmth. Tents bulging with archeological digs and cranes tearing into the earth infiltrate the walls, majestic in their miles of decay. They can hardly keep its twentieth century pulse from searching for the secret cocoons of the dead. To my left is the original city which once crested Mount Ophel, and beyond it, Mount Zion. Inside this cradle of stone rests Islam’s jewel, the Dome of the Rock, with its magnificent golden sphere glistening in the midday sun. Further west is the darkly impressive gray dome of the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulcher and to the south, the Western Wall, the holiest place in Jewish tradition. Surrounding their Biblical lore is the modern, familiar metropolis of the present, a testament to its great twentieth century life’s blood. Today Jerusalem is alive.