About Christopher Carlisle

Meet Christopher Carlisle

The Author​

Like the street priest in his inaugural novel, For Theirs is the Kingdom , CarlisleChristoper Carlisle
descends from a Royal Navy admiral and the Anglican bishop of Montreal. The story revolves around a dramatic project under his grandfather’s cathedral. A plan to construct an underground shopping mall, metro stop and office tower, provides the historical artifact for the fictionalized account. Melding fiction and fact, Carlisle pursues the hypocritical greed of the church, and through the lens of his privilege, paradoxically discovers that the truth always lies on the margins.

Carlisle’s second novel, Pickett’s Dream, was first written thirty years ago, and thanks to the vicissitudes of publishing, was accepted and never published. The story recalls the “Go-Go 1980s,” and the heyday of Yuppie culture, as the forgotten seed that was destined to produce the mayhem we now find ourselves in. Impossible romance, ill-fated dreams, memory, and hope, conspire to tell the story of our time, if not to foretell our future.

A self-confessed contradiction, Carlisle portrays the conundrum of his generation—how to navigate the lures of the world toward a lasting transcendent vision. As an unabashed lover of beautiful things (and most of all, beautiful cars), he’s spent the last ten years working with the homeless amid the poverty of the street. So, his protagonist, John Pickett, replies to the narrator’s offer to avert his bankruptcy: “Thank you, Brooke. But it isn’t the money. It was never the money.”

Carlisle also authored The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Intelligent Design, which grew out of his God and Science Project noted in The New York Times. Asked to write a “fair-handed” treatment of the religious controversy, he was caught in the crossfire between conservative Christians and liberal evolutionists. In the end, he concluded that both sides had missed the point, deferring to the wisdom of Einstein: “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

Carlisle earned his undergraduate degree from Columbia University and graduate theological degrees from Harvard and Yale, and is a regular commentator on New England Public Radio. He lives in western Massachusetts, spending as much time as he can in Montreal and the South of France. He is married with four children.

Christopher Carlisle - Beyond the Author

Beyond the Author...

Supporter of Veterans

Awakened to the harsh realities of soldiers who come home from battle—to depression, social isolation, and heightened risk of suicide—Carlisle launched the Building Bridges Veterans Initiative, focused on healing the psychological and moral injuries of war. Gathering a thousand veterans each month, they break bread together as comrades, engaging in the work of mutual healing from the wounds they continue to suffer. Employing forms of spiritual healing with indigenous veteran leaders, the initiative continues to expand and innovate in its fifteen communities.

Religious 'Heretic'

Christopher Carlisle is an Episcopal priest who takes “heresy” at its word—from the Greek, hairesis: or literally, “free to choose for oneself.” Still surprised that he became a priest in the straitjacket of the church, he has spent his life walking the line between religious faith and rebellion. As one who never liked “going to church,” and loves the secular world, his art explores the romantic affair between God and humankind.

Former Chaplain

As the Episcopal Chaplain of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, he created an innovative sanctuary that incorporated scholarship, contemplative worship, service-learning, and the arts. Open to students, faculty, and local residents, the center served to reimagine God across a spectrum of disciplines—from biology and physics, to poetry and music, to artificial intelligence—and as featured in The Boston Globe, to working with the homeless on the hardscrabble streets of inner-city Boston. Believing the church has spectacularly failed the intrepid adventures of Jesus, he says that only by moving beyond the institution can we apprehend God in our time.

Romantic Explorer

Carlisle launched Street Stories with film company, Visionaries, Inc.—composed of stories told by ordinary people, sharing extraordinary wisdom. Introduced by Sam Waterston and rendered as a short documentary in 2019, Street Stories was aired on local PBS stations around the country. So inspired his first novel, For Theirs is the Kingdom, in which a young Boston lawyer meets a renegade street priest and former tribal shaman. 

An inveterate traveler, he continues to seek and listen to others’ stories, in the hope of becoming part of their stories, and that they will become part of his own. 

Christopher Carlisle - Chaplain
"Everyone has a story to tell. Whether a novel, a letter, or by a fleeting conversation with a passerby on the street, every story is a critical part of God’s unfolding story. Every voice matters, because without it, the story is incomplete...."
Christopher Carlisle

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