In his lightning-brief career as White House communications director, Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci magnified the Trump administration’s reputation for disarray. But he also bequeathed a valuable biblical lesson that President Trump must learn soon for our country’s benefit.
First, the Mooch and the Bible. In a profanity-laced interview, Scaramucci compared his relationship with Reince Priebus, then-White House chief of staff, to that between the Bible’s Cain and Abel, because, in his words: “We’re rough on each other.”
Political pundits chuckled at the comparison: Did the Mooch know that Cain wasn’t just “rough” with his brother, Abel? He killed the poor guy. Apparently, the Mooch did know: Priebus was so brutally terminated that Scaramucci’s reference to “rough” became the only understatement of his bluster-filled White House career — a career that ended a few days after it started. Hence another figurative parallel to Cain and Abel …
An angry God banishes Cain the murderer to wander the Earth and literally brands him with a lifelong mark of shame for all to see. Analogously, Scaramucci too was banished, with White House chief of staff John Kelly playing the role of God’s avenging angel. And Scaramucci will bear his own Cain-like mark of shame, destined to be mocked as trivia quiz fodder: “What White House official had the shortest tenure ever?”
Both Scaramucci and President Donald Trump can learn lessons from this Genesis story. Cain acted out of anger in killing his brother, just as Scaramucci doomed his career with a furious tirade to a journalist. Let’s hope a chastened Scaramucci will learn that intemperate action usually has bad consequences; let’s hope that our president finally learns that impulsive Twitter rants do him and our country more harm than good.
But Trump can heed an even more profound lesson from Genesis. One of its core messages becomes clear a few chapters after the Cain story, when the arrogant inhabitants of Shinar resolve “to make a name for ourselves,” as Genesis puts it. They decide to do so by undertaking a huge, world-class, really great real estate project, its centerpiece a “tower that reaches to the heavens.”
That Tower of Babel was never completed, for God was so angry at these overweening, haughty people that he scattered them around the Earth. Their unfinished tower became a monument to their own folly.
See, they were doomed by their desire for adulation and their self-absorption. They mistakenly thought that the world revolved around them. Their core ambition was not to make Shinar great again but to make themselves famous and the constant center of attention. Many of the Genesis stories have similar messages. Cain was driven to murderous rage by his pride and envy. Adam and Eve ate the apple in their desire to become God-like.
All these stories are intended to remind us humans, whether we are mighty presidents or anyone else: It’s not our world, we didn’t create it, and it doesn’t revolve around us and our ego needs. It’s God’s world, and we are mere stewards of God’s plan for a just world, that is, a world where every human has what’s needed for true human flourishing: a decent education, good health care, a fair playing field with opportunities to get ahead, and respect for one’s dignity, no matter one’s race, religion or immigration status.
Thanks, Mr. Scaramucci, for reminding us that those Genesis stories still have parallels and lessons for us today. May all of us, from those who till the soil like Cain to those who sit in the White House, heed those lessons.
— Chris Lowney is the author of “Everyone Leads: How to Revitalize the Catholic Church.”