A little tight on dough? Sell your soul!

A while back, I read about Walter Scott, a New Zealand man who decided to sell his soul to the highest bidder. After his online auction was taken down, he was contacted by Hell Pizza, a New Zealand pizza chain. Recognizing the publicity value that could be gleaned by this stunt, the chain offered Scott $3,800 for his soul. He agreed, and his soul now belongs to Hell (Pizza, Inc.).

This isn't the first time that a soul has gone up for sale on an internet auction site. In 2001, Adam Burtle, a student at the University of Washington, received a $400 bid for his soul before eBay yanked his listing. A few years later, Hermant Mehta offered his soul for sale, again on eBay. Basically, he agreed to visit whichever church the winner chose. Ultimately, Jim Henderson, a minister from Washington state, won the auction with a $504 bid. Mehta donated the money to the Secular Student Alliance and wrote up his soul-selling experiences in a book, I Sold My Soul on eBay.
There are numerous (if contradictory) sites that offer advice on how to sell one's everlasting soul. EHow outlines an arcane rite for joining the Church of Satan, while a British Satanism site argues that the eHow suggestion is actually an elaborate joke. The Online Satanic Pact seems to go along with this playful perspective; in spite of the cool black and red color scheme and the sincere tone, it seems a little cheesy. In addition to offering a frameable soul-selling certificate for three dollars, it also lists its address as Teaneck, New Jersey. No offense to the fine folk of Teaneck, but any Satan worth his salt would, presumably, have a Park Avenue address.

Another site, We Want Your Soul, purports to offer cash for souls, but actually seems to be an elaborate satire of big business. Claiming to represent an international consortium of major companies, it offers to evaluate and buy souls. The "letters from satisfied customers" section is particularly funny.

While I don't believe that it's actually possible to sell one's soul, my heavy-duty early childhood religious education makes me seriously disinclined to test that hypothesis. That having been said, I am somewhat disturbed by the fact that people are letting their souls go for ridiculously small sums. After all, Robert Johnson famously sold his soul for an unparalleled musical talent, while Faust traded his soul for forbidden knowledge. I can't justify soul selling, but I'd have to admit that Johnson and Faust at least got something valuable. By comparison, trading one's soul for a few hundred dollars seems like a particularly bad deal.

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. He isn't interested in selling his soul, but he's been thinking about getting into the buying end of the business...
Read Full Story