When I first heard of the shooting at the Crystal Cathedral by a distraught fifty year old male employee I could not for the life of me think of anyone who worked there other than my boss who is no where close to fifty. My brain just could not focus but as the evening progressed I had a feeling I knew who had barricaded himself in the maze of offices under the Cathedral.

I cannot tell you how sad I am to read this morning that Johnnie Carl, the Crystal Cathedral orchestra director ended his own life despite the efforts of family, friends and the police. Death is never a satisfactory outcome but for some reason this feels heavier to me. It feels tragic.

There are a lot of people who work for the Cathedral but there are only a handful who are entrusted with managing the Sunday morning services. The montly group is made up of persons who are truly gifted in their area of expertise and Johnnie’s was orchestra. I’ve been around him long enough to know that while he may have been talking to you and carrying on a conversation a good part of his mind was arranging music. A few times he would break our discussion and start humming as if he had just snapped a final arrangement puzzle piece together. Each and every Sunday morning Johnnie was in front and to the left conducting the orchestra in his tuxedo.

Not being musically inclined I just observed his genius at work but there was something to Johnnie that I could easily identify with, his appreciation for the Macintosh. On a campus that is overwhelmingly PC based Johnnie stood out with his Dual G4 (mirror door) and large studio display. It was hooked up to a lot of beefy audio gear that I could not begin to recount in much detail except that it all had a ton of knobs, lights and meters. Despite all the technology, always scattered around his desk were arrangements and written notes on large sheet music. It always reminded me of scenes from the movie Amadeus.

The last time I saw Johnnie was only a few days before I left the Cathedral back in August. He needed help installing a new network printer and the guys in MIS, of course, didn’t know how to do that on a Mac. As we clicked around to make things work, we both gave the MIS guy a hard time for making people use PCs.

And as I write this I just can’t believe he’s gone, not that we were close friends, it’s just so sad to see someone so talented take their own life and suddenly disappear.

God Bless Johnnie Carl and his family.