I Sold My Soul on the School Bus March 2, 2009

I Sold My Soul on the School Bus

Good evening, Ron Gold here:

I finally got around to reading Hemant’s book, I Sold My Soul on eBay (a good read, you can buy it on the sidebar). Even though Hemant didn’t actually sell his soul, only his attendance in different churches, the book has still inspired me to share the story of when I tried to sell my soul.

I was around 11 or 12 at the time, but even at that young age, I had a variety of reasons for wanting to sell my soul. I had a burgeoning awareness that not believing in God made me different than most of my classmates, and my instincts told me to take advantage of this fact for monetary gain. Also, I must have been influenced by the episode of The Simpsons where Bart sells his soul. But mostly, it was a way to get some badly needed pog money.

Since selling my soul could only be done once, I had the brilliant idea of dividing it into 100 shares that could be individually purchased at a bargain price. I advertised my deal on the school bus, that great elementary bazaar.

Unfortunately, business was not very successful. Maybe two or three of my friends who thought it was funny bought a share of my soul, but I soon realized there was no fortune to be made. When I gave up, I had made maybe $1, though on the bright side, I retained majority possession of my soul. Realistically, I was probably destined to fail, because 6th graders just don’t have much money.

Although my disbelief in the concept of a soul continues, I don’t think I would sell my soul today unless it was for some obscene amount of money. It’s not that I see anything wrong with the selling of souls, it just seems like it’s a way of rubbing one’s disbelief into the face of believers. And God knows that I don’t like it when religious people push their faith onto me.

If everyone out there doesn’t mind sharing, I’m wondering what all of your opinions are on the ethics of soul selling. Those who don’t believe in souls, would you, hypothetically, be willing to sell yours? And those who do believe in souls, does this concept offend you at all? And finally, what kind of person would want to buy a soul?

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  • My only hesitation about selling my soul would be the concern that I was committing fraud, guilty of false advertising, something along these lines.

    The issue in general reminds me of all the controversy and anger surrounding Mormon baptism of the dead, particularly of Holocaust survivors. It is outrageous and rude, but I always wondered: if you’re Jewish and don’t believe that baptism is a meaningful rite, why would you really care if someone baptizes you by proxy? Getting upset about the act seems to concede its religious significance.

  • HP

    I think I’d buy a soul — or a share thereof — solely for the dubious pleasure of tormenting the superstitious. I’d probably put in a little box (.mp3) and carry it around with me.

    When I was in college, I was playing pool with a believer friend. I suck at pool, so I began to call upon the powers of infernal darkness to help my pool playing — “Oh, Lucifer and all his dark minions! Heed this, the call of your humble servant: Send thy nefarious aid to sink the three ball unto the side pocket! In the name of all that is foul and evil, I so compel you!”

    And he was all, “Man, you shouldn’t fool around with that stuff.”

  • Nicole

    I don’t believe in souls but the idea of selling one, mine or some else’s, still gives me the creeps. If we take souls metaphorically as the essence of a person, it’s cheapening (I can’t believe that’s a word). If we take them literally, it’s a form a validification (not a word).

  • No different than selling my Chakra or Chi. Or auctioning off the title and deed to Russels teapot. Sure it is unethical to scam the guilible but ….

  • Miko

    If souls did exist, I suspect they would be inalienable. There’s a rather powerful passage at the end of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus (Scene 14), where Faustus faces up to the consequences of trading away his soul:

    FIRST SCHOLAR: What ails Faustus?
    FAUSTUS: A surfeit of deadly sin that hath damned both body and soul.
    SECOND SCHOLAR: Yet, Faustus, look up to heaven. Remember God’s mercies are infinite.
    FAUSTUS: But Faustus’ offence can ne’er be pardoned. The serpent that tempted Eve may be saved, but not Faustus. […] And what wonders I have done, all Germany can witness, yea, all the world, for which Faustus hath lost both Germany and the world, yea, heaven itself–heaven, the seat of God, the throne of the blessed, the kingdom of joy–and must remain in hell for ever. Hell, ah, hell for ever! Sweet friends, what shall become of Faustus, being in hell for ever?
    THIRD SCHOLAR: Yet, Faustus, call on God.
    FAUSTUS: On God, whom Faustus has abjured? On God, whom Faustus hath blasphemed? Ah, my God, I would weep, but the devil draws in my tears. Gush forth blood instead of tears, yea, life and soul. O, he stays my tongue! I would lift up my hands, but see, they hold them, they hold them.
    ALL: Who, Faustus?
    FAUSTUS: Lucifer and Mephistopheles. Ah, gentlemen! I gave them my soul for my cunning.
    ALL: God forbid!
    FAUSTUS: God forbade it indeed, but Faustus hath done it. For vain pleasure of four-and-twenty years hath Faustus lost eternal joy and felicity. I write them a bill with mine own blood. The date is expired, the time will come, and he will fetch me. […] [T]he devil threatened to tear me in pieces if I named God, to fetch both body and soul if I once gave ear to divinity. […] Gentlemen, farewell. If I live till morning, I’ll visit you; if not, Faustus is gone to hell.

    For all of his talk of doomed inevitability, it’s worth noting that the scholars repeatedly call upon him to seek God’s mercy and each time he refuses to do so. Assuming that a god really exists within the play world, I have to suspect that the contract to sell the soul was in fact invalid and that the threats “to fetch both body and soul” are to stop Faustus from realizing this.

    If souls really exist, I find the idea that they even could be sold, under any circumstances whatsoever, to be rather implausible. It’s quite similar to how one could never sell or give away one’s liberty since one’s private thoughts and ability to change one’s mind could never be taken, and any text on a contract to the contrary is just meaningless verbiage.

  • HP

    By the way, you should really click on the .mp3 link in my previous comment. It’s relevant, and it’s a sound clip of the late, lamented Übergeek and unrepentant atheist Forrest J. Ackerman in the low-budget horror film Hard to Die.

  • Tom

    rofl pogs

  • Kayla

    I own three souls. Two of a pair of twin sisters (what a deal!) that I got sometime in middle school. Both were dumb. Both desperately needed my counseling/conflicting resolving services, and that was my price. (Keeping in mind that I was an atheist even then.)

    The second is that of my little half-sister. I have no recollection as to what I gave her for it, but I’m assuming it was food or some-such.

  • Sandra

    I would be willing to sell my soul…to raise money for the atheist bus ads here in the Denver area! 😉

  • gribblethemunchkin

    Since the whole concept seems silly for me, and since money can be exchanged of rgoods and services that i desire, if i found someone who was willing to give me cash for my soul, i’d happily sell it. In fact if i found multiple such persons, i’d happily sell it multiple times.

    If the sum of money was truly huge i’d probably ask for some kind of contract to cover me legally. But if someone approached me and offered me £10 for my soul, i’d jump at the chance.

  • Vincent

    Can I sell the remainder of my soul while retaining a life estate?

    Next time someone asks me if I’ve been saved I think I’ll just say “No, but if you want to buy my soul and send it to heaven you can have it for $1,000.”

    Honestly, soul selling is another of those things that makes no sense in Christianity. If you can sell your soul to Satan, why can’t you sell it to Michael the Archangel?
    You sell your soul to Satan, then no matter what kind of life you lead you go to Hell, so if you sell your soul the an angel, no matter what life you lead you go to Heaven, right?

    Churches should stop trying to proselytize and just start buying souls.

  • Santiago

    One of my cousins “bought” the soul of a friend for a laugh (both are/were theists). My cousin then proceeded to rub this in his friend’s face every time something bad happened to him, “you failed your test because you sold your soul dude”, “you lost that money because God is angry at you” etc. Eventually, my cousin starting telling his friend, after ribbing him about his “heresy”, that he could buy his soul back, at a higher price than what he originally sold it for, of course. His friend eventually relented and bought his soul back, and my cousin made a tidy profit.

  • Kristin

    I have absolutely no qualms about selling my soul. I believe people can have consciences, but I don’t believe in souls. If someone is silly enough to actually pay me money to give them absolutely nothing, I would do it in a heartbeat. And, it’s one of those things that I can sell over and over and over again, provided no one finds out I’ve sold it already. I win in every way!

  • I don’t believe there’s a soul, which would make it just as unethical to attempt to sell it as it would be to sell anything else which I don’t actually possess.

    So, because I don’t believe there’s a soul, I would not sell it anymore than I’d sell magic cancer-curing pixie dust from my kid’s sandpit.

  • Vincent

    You could quit-claim deed it though.
    That is a transaction whereby you sell “all my interest” in something, whether you ultimately are found to have any interest at all.

  • I’m not quite sure what I believe overall (agnostic I guess then), but I’m pretty convinced that if we have souls then we can’t sell them in the way we sell goods etc. I don’t think you can just give it to someone and walk off in the other direction leaving them with 2 souls (if they had one in the first place). I think a soul is very much a part of who we are in this world – so if we were to “sell” it to someone, that would basically be submitting to become their slave and do whatever they wanted us to do. I don’t think soul & body can be separated this side of death.
    But then, what do I know? Not much…

  • It looks like there is no concensus on if it’s ethical or not. Maybe I’ll try a compromise, and try to sell my soul again some day, but give the money to charity.

  • Wendy

    “Also, I must have been influenced by the episode of The Simpsons where Bart sells his soul. But mostly, it was a way to get some badly needed pog money.”

    That’s what Milhouse did after buying Bart’s soul! Resold it for pog money. Remember Alf? He’s back! In pog form!

    I think I tried to sell my soul once too, around the same age, because of the same episode… No such luck.

    It’s definitely okay to sell one’s “soul”. It’s no different than scamming believers with “psychic (cold) readings”… It’s slimy as hell, but if somebody’s gonna be that gullible, they’re fair game. Rubes!

  • Amazing, Wendy, you’re right; I had forgotten about that part of the Simpsons completely! That’s funny how you were also motivated by the episode.

    But like I said, that Simpsons episode really did have a big influence on me, and pogs were really big at the time. And yes, the small profit I made selling my soul did go towards pogs. Of course, I didn’t want any stupid Alf pogs, the ones I wanted had cool 8-balls and skulls and stuff.

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