Top 10 Reasons I would be a Lousy Bishop.

I use profanity. A lot. I’m not making up what I’m about to write. I was in a monthly clergy gathering talking about stewardship. What else, right? And I just blurted out (this is pre-resignation and pre-lithium) in pretty good earshot of everyone, including my then bishop who I think had brought up the subject. Go figure. I said something to the effect of, “You know, I didn’t go to seminary to learn how to run a fucking stewardship program.” Something along those lines. It surprised me that I said that. But I did mean it. It was close to the end of my professional church career as I recall. Nobody said anything in response to my statement.
I’ve always had a problem with profanity. I even wrote a blog about titled the Pedagogy of Profanity. Profanity has a way of communicating things in a way that the King’s English can’t get done. Had I become bishop, I would have really tried hard to be careful. I’ve gotten better with it, but, I can assure you, it would have come out. Then I’d have been up shit creek.

As a young person, exiting fundamentalism and considering the priesthood, I spent much time at Camp Galilee, Nevada’s Episcopal church camp on Lake Tahoe. The first week of my first year of being a camp counselor, the chaplain for the week tells me the following joke, prefacing it by saying that Bishop Wes Frensdorf, had first told him it.

A postal worker who had had the same route for many years announced his retirement to the customers he had served well. Hearing the news, a particular woman, a customer he grew fond of, invited him into her home where she prepared a lovely lunch for him. Following the meal, she took him upstairs and made passionate love to the mailman. Then, before he left her home to return to his route, she presented him with crisp dollar bill-never been folded. The mail carrier left the home somewhat puzzled.

A few weeks passed. The two continued to see each other on a daily basis, exchange mail pleasantries, but never spoke of the curious afternoon. Finally, on the last day of his route and career, the mailman approached the home of the woman, knocked upon her door, and handed her mail to her. He then managed to ask her about what had happened.
“Ma’am, I will have to say that our afternoon a few weeks back has puzzled me. You made me a lovely lunch, took me upstairs and made passionate love to me, then gave me a new dollar bill. I, am, he said, a little perplexed.”
The woman smiled,and told him just what he needed to know.
“Well, I asked my husband one morning” she said as she blushed, “What to do for your retirement. He simply told me, ‘Fuck him. Give him a dollar.’ The lunch was my idea.”

Top 10 Reasons I would be a Lousy Bishop.

#9 I have visible tattoos

A friend once told me you should get a tattoo every twenty-five years. I decided to do that and told my bishop as much. He was pretty cool about it. For my first tattoo, I got me a Celtic Cross/Lotus Flower combo. Not long after that, I got a road-runner, my spirit animal and one of my totems. I know of a bishop back east who required his clergy with tattoos to cover them up when officiating liturgically. Had I become a bishop, I can just imagine the inevitable drama that would have occurred when a mother of a 13-yr old acolyte crosier-reams for encouraging her adolescent to tattoo up because of my body art. Here’s the my imagined conversation:
Mad Mom: Bishop Polley, my 13 year-old daughter, Brandi, has just come home with a large tattoo in the middle of her back, she refers to as her ‘tramp stamp.’
Bishop Polley: No shit? Who was the artist? You know, I’ve always wanted my ink in a place where I can see it, so I haven’t gone for the back or calf or that. Interesting. Do you know what it cost her? Tell her to keep an eye on it. I’ve had some problems with the healing. I’ve got holy oil if you think that might help.

Top 10 Reasons I would be a Lousy Bishop

Reason # 10.
Too Hard to Remember How to Write my Name

Some Episcopal clergy practice a interesting tradition when writing out their name, especially on formal documents like marriage licenses and baptismal certificates, letters of admonition, or rejection letters to aspiring bishops. If one is a priest, then one places a small cross after their name (I hope I am getting this right), eg. Seth Polley + . If one is a bishop, then one places a small cross before their name, + Seth Polley. If one is a deacon, I don’t know where they place the cross. My mother has been a deacon for a many, many years. I don’t think she has placed a cross anywhere in her name. She has lived with Christ in her heart for many years, however.
I would have never remembered where to put the damn thing, the small cross. I get confused, especially when I’m in a rush. That’s why I have a tortoise tattooed on my right wrist, to help me to remember patience. I think its working.