When the Good Life Goes Bad: The Seven Deadly Sins in the Trump Era

“The moral challenge in 21st century for most Americans of faith is a realization that the attainment of the good life is no longer focused on the need to get right with God but to reduce our actions and assumptions to whatever cultivates our options and opportunities for success at all costs. Put another way, "When the Good Life Goes Bad" is epitomized by the notion that if it feels good, then it must be right. ”

Team Members/Contributors

Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas Vanderbilt University Divinity School Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

Using the 45th United States President, Donald J. Trump as an avatar of American morality and civil religion backed by the white evangelical appeal of the privileged and the prosperity gospel of the oppressed, this book-length project examines how the innermost workings of US society are informed and ultimately beholden to its capital vices and moral blunders. "When the Good Life Goes Bad" is a theo-ethical examination of what has been most classically referenced as the “seven deadly sins”—pride, envy, gluttony, sloth, wrath, lust, and greed—and how these transgressive principles actually have shaped the moral character and sociopolitical condition of what is considered the good life in American society and culture in an effort to reclaim the classic virtues as a viable option. Rather than ruminating over apocalyptic omens or the moral outrage of a generation judging its successors harshly due to anecdotal evidence, this book strives to provide an ethical analysis of America’s transmutation of these sins beyond individual temptations in personal affairs to become institutional impact in the public sphere. Despite the great majority of religious believers in American society—both Christian and non-Christian alike— who have moral principles within their various faith traditions to govern their best practices and right relationships, there are a myriad of ways in which they also find themselves very much at ease with the ubiquity of the seven deadly sins within American popular culture as the gateway to the American Dream. After unmasking, debunking and demystifying the sin-filled veneer of American good life through its case studies of Trump as a living embodiment of these vices, the text in the final analysis seeks to construct a liberative ethic that points to the good news of confessing the nation’s sin as the conscientization necessary to reclaiming the classic virtues as necessary antidotes for its vices.