A Dear and Valued Friend
Agnes' last words to Paul Gregory when they met for what was to be the final time in New York City were "Religion softens the edges." After I returned from the long visit to the farm, where I was favored by Margery and Vic Stover's original interview regarding Agnes, Margery sent me the following:
Here are some notes Agnes wrote on Bible Study (not necessarily original):
The Bible was intended to be more than a handbook of Divinity. True believers hold that all Bible doctrines are of men, but constitute the positive thinking of God, himself. The mind of man must be indwelt by the Holy Spirit or the contents cannot be discerned or understood. The truly wise man does not criticize the Bible, but lets the Bible criticize him. It seems to be that latter day Christians have taken to believing that it is by grammar and commentary that they can understand the New Testament. Nothing is understood without direct spiritual illumination. The true believer prays, "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law." Ps. 119:18.
A Christian should have complete faith and trust in his Saviour, his God. Faith is the assurance of things hoped for - the evidence of things not seen. Tears of sincere grief over sin lead to a saving trust in God. Without faith repentance recedes into indifference.
The Old Testament is the covenant of God made with man about his salvation before Christ came.
The New Testament is the agreement God made with man about his salvation after Christ came.
In the Old Testament we find the covenant of law.
In the New Testament we find the covenant of Grace, which came through Jesus Christ. One led to the other.
I am a Bible searcher because I am a Christian. I believe the Bible. I am a searcher also in that I must continue to search my own mind on whether I have interpreted properly the true meaning of the scriptures. One revelation leads to another. Many religions and churches have their own interpreters and interpretations. One must never be led from the true word. One must only search to understand the true word. Romans 6:17-20 (cite) and Matthew 24:55 - "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall never pass away."
Say to yourself, "I am here not to be a teacher or to preach but only to witness." Become a searcher!
The record of God stands in spite of the vicious attacks against it through the ages. The Holy Scripture is indestructible. Ps. 12:6-7.
Saving faith is believing with the heart. Heart in the Bible stands for feeling, thought and will.
Saving faith is our need for salvation, and earnest desire to be saved. Faith that He died for our sins brings pardon.
Faith that He rose again brings deliverance from sin's power. This, too, must be heartfelt faith and heart-full faith.
Results of faith? We are saved through faith. Salvation is a free gift. Faith appropriates to itself this gift freely offered to all. God's love is a blank check. We are free to fill in the amount.
God's inscrutable judgement is deeper than can be penetrated by man. Paul says that those who raise themselves above the heavens in their reasonings utterly forget who and what they are. Therefore man is made to set himself above God. It is intolerable to man that God's power and word exceed the capacity of his own mind. He will grant to an equal his mind and judgement. We cannot question God or examine Him.
Other books are soon out of date but the Bible spans the centuries. Most books have to be adapted to age, but old and young alike love this book.
The Bible was written by God through good and wise men. Bad men could not have written it, for the Bible is a good book. And, as we know, fresh waters do not come from a salt fountain. Bad men would not have written it, for it condemns sin and sinners. Wicked men would not condemn themselves. Good men would not have written it and then said, 'God wrote it.' They would not then have been good men. It was not written by good men for deception, for good men do not deceive. Hence the only one left who could have written it was God.
The best and wisest people (not necessarily intelligent) of the world have always believed it.
Further proof: It is a pre-written history of a nation, the Jews. None but god could have written such an accurate history years, and in some cases, hundreds of years before the events happened.
The Bible describes exactly, precisely with uncanny exactitude the Jewish people as they are today.
Right things are the best things to pursue and do, by the nature of their being. A thing is right to do because it contributes the most constructive possibility. It is right because the consensus of the best authorities have endorsed it. It is the right course because it is the most spiritually remunerative of any possibility. Therefore, knowing the right, there isn't any alternative because right is that which is most spiritually advantageous and all souls seek betterment. The purpose of life on earth is that the soul shall grow. So - grow by doing what is right.
These thoughts are so much proof of her deep and abiding faith, that all who read them cannot help but find the desire for a more sincere search of their own beliefs, and of where they are going in today's world. My own deep faith is what gave Agnes and myself another channel of communication. Her faith helps sustain me through the grief of losing her in my own life, I have been much enriched and fulfilled by her love and friendship. Perhaps this is what God wants our life to be-one friend to another. It may be that the death of a friend and loved one, only makes us better understand what one person can do for another. That you can enrich and expand your own life by accepting love and friendship as well as giving it. Accepting what others give with deep appreciation, and accepting them and understanding them as they really are and of course, hoping they will do the same with you. When we lose someone we always wonder why him or her, when there is so much evil still left in the world? We always plan on a tomorrow instead of living each day as though it were our last. When there is no tomorrow for a loved one we are shocked into realizing we had better come to terms with the fact we don't know and aren't meant to know when our last day will be. I truly believe God's purpose in bringing Agnes into our lives was to help make us better by her example. The fact that she accomplished this is further proof to us. Perhaps we were sent to her when she needed faith restored in the honesty and reliability of people after so many delusions and setbacks in her plans for expansion of the Farm. We can only hope that we helped fulfill a dream, and gave love and friendship as we had received in turn.
People are so easily forgotten as the years go by, but here, she shall always live. We cannot go through a single day without feeling her presence. How thankful we are that we let her know how much we loved her and thought of her, even though she had won fame and fortune she let us come inside her very private person and we hope she was the better for it.
Perhaps, unknowingly, Agnes has brought us all into new friendships.
One of the favorite utterances I came across regarding religion that I know was a favorite of Agnes' was "Anyone who contends that God is dead only confirms that He existed."
She used to say often, "I cannot conceive of a life devoid of His Presence. My love for others, my fellowmen I trace to my friendship with God. We are all part of the 'main' as John Donne said. God taught me this. I sing his praises forever." Just as she was able to discuss her faith with persons all throughout this land and others, I came across a note from a friend in San Francisco after her final visit there with the Gigi cast. It was not signed. It said, "I was particularly delighted when you told me yesterday religion was the only motivation for carrying on your work as you had done. Thank you, too, for your words, 'We owe a duty to our Creator to work hard to make His grand provisions for mankind available to all under our free enterprise system.' I am fortunate to have been able to talk with you and be inspired by you."
I believe I omitted the fact she always drank Sanka. This was part of her discipline and dedication to using her fullest faculties. If she ever smoked, she had long since dropped it as not suitable for her philosophy and religion. She was ever concerned about young people, whom she felt were "tending too much toward self-destruction. Their sit-ins, dropouts, copouts and love-ins were nauseating demonstrations" in her book. This no-nonsense attitude permeated her whole way of life whether at work, at Villa Agnese, or on the farm.
As I have been rethinking our long conversations regarding religion and her personal philosophy, I just recalled something that Cesar Romero shared with me but I had neglected to mention. He said that Agnes called him long distance the day that our men first set foot on the moon. He said she was visibly agitated. He wondered at the time as I have since, if this was a premonition on her part of the troubles about to descend on us with Vietnam, the presidency, and the recession. Or was it an uneasiness prompted by her conservative religious beliefs that somehow this was not perhaps necessarily in the best Biblical tradition? (For my part, I will never forget the reading of the astronaut from Psalms as he beheld the universe from a position never before trod by mankind.)
Inside her front door she kept a constant supply of fan pictures for handing out to the steady stream of visitors who would ask for such. It was her firm belief in importance of fans that prompted this. She said, "It is the principle that led me to idolize Dame Ellen Terry, the famed English actress whose theatrical life spanned sixty years. While I was in my teens I wrote to Ms. Terry. I still treasure her letter and the picture she sent me. Her thoughtfulness added to my incentive to go on the stage. You see, I can understand and appreciate fans because I, too, was a fan."
Shirley Eder wrote in her new book Not This Time, Cary Grant (Bantam, 1974) of being able to watch Ginger Rogers in a rehearsal in Detroit of Pink Jungle, produced by Paul Gregory, because Agnes Moorehead, "whom I knew," was kind enough to arrange the visitation.
Harris Vincent of Salt Lake City told me at Castle Hot Springs, Arizona, that he listened to Agnes give a dramatic reading on Art Linkletter's House Party somewhere back around 1971-72. What was extra fascinating was that the reading was from the Beatles' song "Eleanor Rigby." Harris said, "I shall never forget her interpretation and insight of her reading. Even it was drama at its finest."
Although I have previously mentioned Joseph Cotten's interview, I was thrilled the night he appeared on television recently for a special award to Orson Welles. Cotten said, "Orson practically forced us onto radio via the Mercury Theater of the Air. Orson literally pushed us onto the stage via famed Mercury Players. But most of all, he shanghaied us [himself, Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins] off to Hollywood to make Citizen Kane."
Agnes and I shared two very positive ideas. Agnes said: "No matter what our profession, our vocal ability plays an important part." And "The purpose of theater is to entertain. Acting ought to be to amuse with contentment. It ought to excite with a capital X. To have great theater, it must be from the heart."
Agnes personified and exemplified her philosophy whether on stage, screen, radio, readings, recordings, or what. Her heart and her head, her body and her soul made her the entertainer extraordinary.
Lucille Ball lived diagonally across from, and down the street in the same block with, Villa Agnese. I have mentioned elsewhere that Lucille and Agnes were often Scrabble partners. Miss Ball wrote me a note which I think is the finest way to conclude this book.
Agnes was a dear and valued friend - an elusive one because she was forever helping someone in our business. She was one of the greatest dramatic teachers and comedy advisers in our profession. Her timing was impeccable. One of the greatest things she gave her pupils and friends was the knowledge of the discipline needed to pursue any phase of our beloved show biz. I admired her greatly and miss her every day.
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