I am among the millions who were enthralled by gymnast Gabrielle Douglas's recent performances at the Olympics. Most of us were already captivated by her during the team event, when the newly dubbed Fab Five took gold.
During the medal ceremony, all five took the top pedestal, but Miss Douglas frowned throughout the playing of the National Anthem. I wondered at her apparent discontent in part because her expression was in such stark relief to her four teammates, each of whom were clearly moved by the playing of their country's anthem.
But then when Miss Douglas was back on the podium two days later for her individual gold, she was all smiles. Curious.
When I shared this story with a friend, she suggested the possibility that Douglas might be a Jehovah's Witness. It made me recall opening every Hartford Symphony season with the Star Spangled Banner, and how one member of the orchestra always asked to be excused from playing it, for religious reasons. (Every year, I granted the request.)
Which made me wonder -- surely there has been a gold medalist in Olympic history who espouses to the beliefs of Jehovah's Witnesses, and how would that person have handled such a predicament?
Not unlike that Chariots of Fire star who would not run on sabbath.
Or the San Francisco Symphony during the tenure of Herbert Blomstedt, a Seventh Day Adventist who would not conduct on Friday evenings.