Saturday, August 02, 2008

You Can't get to heaven without Gluten...

No, I don't believe it.
But, the woman who was going door to door trying to recruit for a new religious movement does. Or did. I'm not sure if I convinced her.

You see, I like to be nice to these people. I suppose that's the problem. They knock, offer to discuss theology and I smile and say I only have a minute but, sure, why not? I'm up front with the fact that I am a believer and not planning to convert. I know, I know...I present them with a challenge.

But I never walked away hurting before.

Today's evangelist is convinced that there is a Mother God in addition to (or perhaps combined with?) the well known "Father" God. I followed her reasoning, smiled and said I'd pray on it. Who am I to argue with a belief? I keep an open mind, and do my praying in private.

Then she asked if I realized that I couldn't get to heaven without taking part in Passover or Communion under the Mother God.

Um, what?

She went on, some scare tactics blanketed in a loving, concerned tone. She asked if I had ever taken part in a Passover or Communion. And her question shook me back to reality enough to sputter that I had a medical condition which prevented me from ingesting gluten grains.

Yes, even holy ones. They cause digestive damage.

"But, oh, you poor, then you can't..." the horror danced over her face, tears swam in her eyes, surely there was some way...but, just a little, it clearly states right here in Revelation that you must partake of the body and blood of Christ in order to gain entrance to heaven. You've never participated? Confusion, compassion, concern. Is this a heathen? Who can quote the bible back to me?

I was suddenly aware that my daughter was watching with wide eyes. I pulled my dignity around my shoulders like a cloaked, asked for the right words and managed to say in an even tone that if God saw fit to allow me this condition, known as Celiac Disease, then surely he wouldn't banish me from Heaven for not choosing to suffer the consequences.

She grasped my forearm, and gave me that "look". One you might give to someone you know isn't going to survive but there's nothing more you can do. And left.

Communion has been a sore spot with me for years. I wondered why my first Communion sat so uncomfortably in my stomach, and why I felt so nauseous after Communion Sundays. I quit going up front, at times I requested just the blessing.

Was God trying to tell me something?

I married a man who is half Jewish. In the Jewish culture, the Passover is celebrated with the drinking of wine and the ingesting of Matzoh. There's more to the celebration, much more, but those are the relevant points for food allergies.

Every year, around spring, the question of whether Matzoh is safe for Celiac patients comes up somewhere. And every so often, during my more reflective states, I notice the concern surrounding communion. Jesus broke bread, at the last supper (Which may or may not have been a proper Passover Seder) and instructed his disciples to break bread together, to share wine together, to eat and drink in remembrance of the sacrifice He made.

What happens when a true believer can't take and eat, or drink?

The Catholic Church has struggled with the answer, as have Rabbis. Surely God doesn't want his children to suffer intestinal damage simply for taking part in a religious ritual. And yet, what does that mean? Will he heal them for acting in faith? Or do we need to have faith that he will forgive us for abstaining?

It seems to me that the right route is often the harder one. And I doubt this case is any different. Just more emotional, because it's about devout believers debating their health versus eternal life.

I choose both. If suicide is a sin, then surely choosing to damage the body God gave you is one.

I'm not ashamed of that decision. But, the look I was given earlier continues to haunt me.
Another reminder that food is an integral part of our society. And when there is a restriction, it can impact you in the least expected ways.

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