Most people have never heard of AE Hotchner which may be a pity because he lived a very colourful life as the trusted friend of interesting people.
Latterly he was the partner of the late Paul Newman in the marketing of culinary sauces which were sold in the film star’s name, and at the end of every financial year, the two friends would sit and work out how to distribute the very significant profits to charity; something like 350m dollars found their way to good causes in this way, so Mr Hotchner did a lot of good.
He was also a companion of Ernest Hemingway, and in his auto biography tells of a rather splendid story of their “hell raising” days together, when they were friends of the Bull Fighting fraternity.
After drinking with two of Spain’s finest matadors one night, they hatched a plot to smuggle Hotchner into the bull fighters’ entourage and send him into the grand parade of matadors before a prestigious corrida. They appreciated that making a mockery of this great Spanish institution was risky in the Spain of General Franco, but high spirits prevailed.
The following morning, Hotchner was dressed in a “suit of lights” and took his place as the 2nd reserve bullfighter and was soon hugely enjoying the joke and the adulation of the crowd as he entered the ring and took his place on the bench.
It was only at the entry of the bull that the full precariousness of his position came to mind.
If the bull killed the greatest matador in the world, it was the reserve bull fighter’s job to finish the job.
If the bull despatched the two greatest bullfighters in the world, the time would have come for Hotchner to make his bull fighting debut.
It is perhaps as well that this all took place before Leicester City defied the 5000/1 odds against winning the English Premier League.
This anecdote came to Brother Ivo’s mind as he heard US commentators opining that the effective winning of the Republican Presidential nomination meant a ” shoe-in” for Hillary Clinton to become the next US President.
Frankly, Brother Ivo is not greatly enamoured of either candidate, but he tries to be objective and “interesting” and it is worth pausing to consider Mrs Clinton’s position if she eventually shakes off the dogged campaign of Senator Sanders, who has made her expected ( and significantly engineered ) coronation a less comfortable process than the party bosses planned.
As she takes the plaudits before the adoring Convention might she too have her ” Ed Hotchner moment”?
Might she reflect that having beaten Mr Sanders with some some difficulty, she will next be facing a man whose brutal political populism has relatively effortlessly despatched, not one unknown Senator, but sixteen highly resourced opponents, several with significant records of years of hard campaigning and executive experience?
Campaigning, andtaking part in a grand procession is one thing; delivering the final performance is a very different proposition, and all of us in greater or lesser degree have experienced that “Ed Hotchner moment”.
A curate securing her first living, the newly qualified doctor approaching his first shift in A&E , even the newly elected member of General Synod preparing to make the maiden speech – we all have such doubts and reminders of our own fallibilities.
Many Churches will be having their own collective ” Ed Hotchner ” moments as they hear another call to evangelism , and consider the exhortations to follow Christ’s great commission to make disciples of all the world. We will all feel inadequate to the task ahead.
Some may doubt their strength, others their technique. Many will feel their own faith incomplete – few of us have all the answers – but Jesus was ahead of us, telling is not to worry what we will say, he will give us the words if only we get alongside people like ourselves and start the conversation.
But there is yet another reason to set aside our fears in such circumstances.
Our Archbishops Justin and John have launched an online video not simply calling upon us to prepare to evangelise the nation, but giving us the watch word that will enable us to fulfil our part in the great commission,
it is encompassed in two small words that might have served A E Hotchner well as he confronted his doubts and fears in that bull ring all those many years ago – Just Pray