I'm amused (because it is hilarious, in a dark way), but I'm also appalled. Quinalt said, "If your faith can't survive the possibility that the gluten in the lamb can cause damage to a celiac, then *your* faith isn't very strong." Well said.
I have the impression that the very idea of Celiac disease has thrown people for a loop in Orthodoxy. Made them doubt their theology. And they respond (if they respond at all, rather than ignoring any queries) by doubling down on a very literalistic interpretation of the Eucharist. Orthodoxy Herself calls it a mystery, but to protect their theology, others insist on drawing a road map.
Orthodoxy has yet to grapple with it, and in the confusion, bizarre ideas are circulating. When good men, educated men, fail to take the lead, the cranks take over. When otherwise good pastors, such as Fr. Peter Preble and the pastor of my local Orthodox church (the one who said "How could the body and blood of Jesus Christ do any harm?) say such things, it opens the door to them.
I think they are busy men and are simply speaking off-the-cuff. Celiac disease is still a relatively new and rare phenomenon. Like most people, they haven't studied it. (And yet they ask celiac people to trust those who haven't even educated themselves about it?) Fr. Peter sounds like he is responding in irritation to the germ-phobics -- I don't blame him for his irritation -- not realizing that it's a totally different thing. It's more like a peanut allergy than a germ phobia.
I also think that celiacs are being slapped with secondhand anger towards those converts who love the Orthodox church, the icons, smells and bells, etc., yet their first impulse upon joining is to try to change it. Bring in women priests, etc. That's unfair.
I don't know if, on this thread, this topic has merely brought trolls out of the woodwork -- sadists who delight in causing uproar -- or if there really is room in Orthodoxy for such backwards medieval ideas as have been expressed. Yes, there are nutcases and cranks in every religion (and, to put it more charitably, insecure people who desperately need everything to be nailed-down and all uncertainty removed) but it boggles the mind to witness the cruelty this has enabled.
I mean, forget converts, and the dilemma it poses to us. Forget the fact that a door is being closed in the face of any potential convert who isn't suicidal; who doesn't wish to soil themselves in public, spend the rest of the night doubled over in pain, and know they swallowed cancer larvae. We're talking innocent babies here.
The mere fact that this is still going on, with full awareness that it's at the price of a starving baby, screaming in pain ... words fail me. What would Jesus think of this?
Quinalt, God bless you. I'm so sorry you're facing this dilemma. I think you know what you have to do.