So I asked myself, "do you go on when you die?". Of course I already knew that the physical body in this world does not go on, I even had talked with Mummy about how Daddy was cremated rather than buried. I wanted to know if the conscious mind went on, that seemed a different question and it still does. Since those days I have expressed my opinions on the quantum physics in 40 odd pages of pure mathematics, and it still does. For your modern physics does not, like its classical counterparts, postulate a universe with only one kind of thing in it, the fundamental particles. It postulates a universe with two kinds of thing: the particles, which are observed, and the conscious minds which do the observing. This dichotomy between the observer and the observed underlies the whole of the quantum physics. Quantum physics is a bit like a dualistic religion in that respect, you must have observers to do it and you must have the observed. They are not the same. They are complementary. You need them both. That the observed physical body presently falls apart is one thing; but what happens to the observer? And by the way, which came first, the observer or the observed? The particles or a conscious mind?
And so at 49 years old I consider myself quite right at 12 years old, to have felt there was no cheap answer to my question, "do you go on when you die?". But as time went on, I had a definite opinion. I reckoned you did go on when you died. The survival of the conscious mind, and the survival of the physical body, seemed to be two such different things. I reckoned, you went on. And this answer satisfied me, for a few days. I had not been twelve for long.
But soon, like smoke, another thought floated in to my mind quite unbidden and disturbed my I've-cracked-it sense of satisfaction. If, as I surmised, one was an immortal being, why then, what one does is significant. Surely then, if I was right in my thoughts so far, I ought - as an immortal and responsible person - to do the right thing..... And so, at twelve years old, I set myself to do the right thing. At 49 years old, I have to say this seems to me to be not without its funny side, a twelve year old solemnly trying to do the right thing. But I was quite sincere. At least, reasonably sincere. At least......
A few days later I was approaching the school tuck shop. I was not yet interested in girls, but I was very interested in sweets. There was a boy ahead of me in the queue for the tuck shop. He was smaller than me, so I pushed him out of my way, and got myself sweets from the shop.
And on the way home from school that day I experienced what I later found is called the classical Christian conviction of sin. I knew that pushing the smaller boy out of the way was wrong. I knew that the business of shoving other people out of my way was not just an aberration but a central heart attitude. Left to my own devices, I would spend a whole lifetime shoving other people - preferably smaller than myself - out of my way. And this was terrible. But somehow it was not the sort of terror for tears. Again I locked the experience inside myself, wondering what to do about it. And about ten days later I found the answer.
I went to City of London school and went home on the London Underground. I changed trains from the Northern to the Piccadilly line that day, at Leicester Square station. As I walked between the platforms I was still sad, still convicted of my sin. But as I entered the train and sat down - Piccadilly line Northbound - I was filled with joy, and I knew that I was forgiven. It may be - I'm not sure - that only then did I realise that I had been having a conversation with Someone from the start. I said something like "Thank you God" or "Thank you Jesus" (I was brought up Anglican) and burst in to tears. While I was guilty there were no tears, but when I knew I was forgiven, immediately there were tears. The Underground carriage was empty except for me, you don't get sleepy afternoon underground carriages like that any more. So I was not embarrassed to cry. But I was filled with joy. I am bemused to this day by those who think religious experiences should happen in beautiful surroundings. Nothing specially beautiful about Leicester square Tube station. But what happened there - ah! - that was really beautiful. More seriously, I reckon the salvation of the awful, grotty inhabitants of Planet Moron is very urgent. We shouldn't wait for nice surroundings before expecting the Lord to move among them.
Afterwards I had to clothe my new found faith with theology. There is just one faith which really takes sin and forgiveness fully seriously, and that is Christianity. And what did I know at that stage, except that my sins were forgiven? So I didn't have to change my basic allegiance. Figuring out the details of what I believed took longer though and is still ongoing. For example, once exposed to a variety of Christian opinion at university, I soon concluded that to be obedient to Jesus I ought to be really baptised - i.e. dunked! - in water. That was done a year or two later, in a swimming pool in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. But I really found that He who had fed me the right questions from the beginning, also fed me answers.
God Bless you, I hope that you find answers as I did. I strongly urge you to seek the truth as a researcher, not trusting anyone else to do your basic investigations for you. That's right, Jesus is the Way. But you have to find that out for yourself. For those who seek find, but those who can't be bothered, or who think they're too cool, end in a very dark place. It won't be cool in Hell.
- Charles Read.
Also available: Charles Read's first encounter with Christian healing.