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What we may have in common with 'Two and a Half Men' actor
Angus T. Jones, left, in an episode of "Two and a Half Men."
November 29th, 2012
03:12 PM ET

What we may have in common with 'Two and a Half Men' actor

By Michael Martinez, CNN

Hollywood, California (CNN) –In the introduction to the TV sitcom "Two and a Half Men," actor Angus T. Jones morphs from boy to teen before our eyes. Now we're watching the actor venture into adulthood and the complicated moral questions that come with it.

This week in posted Internet videos, Jones announced his ethical and religious awakening by condemning as "filth" the CBS show that made him rich and famous.

Jones isn't alone in facing his crisis of conscience. His experience, though dramatic, is universal in how many job holders struggle to reconcile work and spiritual values, experts say.

"At some level, all of us, probably not publicly, ask the hard question that he's asking," said David Miller, director of Princeton University's Faith & Work Initiative.

"What is the honor and dignity and meaning and purpose of (our) work? Is our work for making a good buck and has no ethical or moral or societal value, or should our work have a more noble dimension to it?" Miller said. "As we look at him afar, he's doing a service by raising the same question."

Clearly, we all can't make such loud declarations about our jobs. But Jones enjoys privileges.

‘Two and a Half Men’ actor’s criticism of show shines light on Seventh-day Adventists

He's a millionaire Hollywood figure on one of television's most successful shows. And he's only 19 years old.

"What he's displaying is the kind of passion that commonly infects the newly converted or those that have just found religion," said Paul Root Wolpe, director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University. "It's also a very easy thing to do in that he's already become wealthy and famous for how long now - nine years."

The hard question

Jones poses a hard question, encountered by all who believe in a supreme being, Miller said.

"Instead of saying, 'What do I want to do with my life?' he's asking, 'What would be pleasing to God?' And that's a very different metric," Miller said.

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Such moral conflicts play out in many professions, with physicians and abortions, pharmacists and the morning-after pill, and financiers and greedy strategies, say ethicists and other experts. In Jones' case, the actor seems at odds with the "artificial environment of show business," Wolpe said.

The answers fall across a spectrum.

"So what do you do?" said Miller, who, before joining academia, was a business and finance executive. "Do you walk away from the question mark, or do you stay and try to change within the question mark?

"Maybe he'll stay in Hollywood and try to find work more in line with his values. Or will Hollywood spit him out?" Miller said.

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The actor has apologized for any offense to the cast and crew of "Two and a Half Men," where he's worked since 2003.

He said in a statement: "I apologize if my remarks reflect me showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed. I never intended that."

But in an online video earlier this week, Jones repeatedly urges viewers not to watch the show, in which he plays an only child growing up amid male adult antics in a Malibu beachfront house.

"I'm on 'Two and a Half Men,' and I don't want to be on it," he said. "You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can't. I'm not OK with what I'm learning, what the Bible says, and being on that television show. You go all or nothing."

Jones also references "the enemy's" deception, an apparent allusion to the devil, and asserts "There's no playing around when it comes to eternity."

Seventh-day Adventist

In June, Jones joined the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a Protestant faith with 1.1 million members in North America. The church says it's not involved with Jones' online testimonials nor with video host Christopher Hudson of the Forerunner Chronicles, whose website emphasizes Judgment Day and the Bible's Book of Revelation. Hudson couldn't be reached for comment.

It's too early to discern what impact Jones' testimonial will have on the sitcom and his career. Jones won't appear in the two remaining episodes now being taped before the holiday break, sources close to production told CNN. His absence was scripted well before the videos' release Monday, the sources said.

Almost two years ago, "Two and a Half Men" was embroiled in another controversy centered on a prominent cast member: Charlie Sheen, who was fired after public rants that included invectives against producer Chuck Lorre.

Wolpe wonders if Jones went too far.

"Interestingly, that show plays on exactly the kind of immaturity he plays on," Wolpe said. "The show itself has an adolescent, prurient sense of humor.

"This show is deeply kind of misogynistic and very male - it's like a fraternity in there with a revolving door of women," he said. "So it's not surprising that he expresses dissatisfaction and estrangement from the show in a way that was equally immature.

"I don't know if he can recover from this or not," Wolpe added.

Jones' passion reflects how ethics vary among the faithful.

"You have to keep in mind that it really means different things to different people," said Diana Cates, a University of Iowa professor of religious ethics. "Even within a given religious tradition, there's so much diversity. There are people on the edges who identify with one tradition or blend traditions."

Frequently, a conversion or awakening such as Jones' renounces the past.

"In terms of radical conversion experiences, the life that one has immediately, previously led is often denied or criticized severely," said Joseph Price, a professor of religious studies at Whittier College in California. "The life itself is not denied - but the lifestyle is," he added. "It often results from a crisis of conscience or a perceived revelation of some kind."

Price likened actors to athletes and recalled how baseball player Billy Sunday was a "rabble rouser and carouser" around the turn of the 20th century. Then, after a religious experience, Sunday quit baseball and became a preacher who fought to make alcoholic beverages illegal, he said.

"When persons find authenticity in a lifestyle that embraces the good, it often prompts them to make shifts in their own lives in profound ways," Price said. "If that's the case here, we'll be able to see how it affects the long run of his nonacting life and his presence in the series and in television itself."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Money & Faith • TV • Work

soundoff (1,088 Responses)
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  3. Emmanuel

    Well I'm 18 and I've been attracted to every race but my own lol black. my first bnryfieod was caucasian and my recent bnryfieod is. i love him and there's a stronger bond that comes from being from different backgrounds. You beat all the criticism and odds that say you'll never make it.

    December 13, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
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    December 10, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  5. curious

    I might respect his opinion if he gives all his money to the poor and actually tries to follow jesus's example rather than simply making a lot of meanngless noise.

    December 4, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
  6. Bill Deacon

    I haven't owned or watched a television in three years. Recently, at a relatives, I saw an episode of the show. Jones is right, it is filth.

    December 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • Bring'em young

      The bible is filled with more filth. The difference is the show knows it is fiction.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  7. Mickey1313

    Jones is an ungrateful little sh1t. He is weak of mind. He has allowed theistic sycophants to brainwash him, so sad.

    December 2, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • lol??

      Well dude, americult has psycho donkeys and psycho elephants as told to us by psycho holywood.

      December 2, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • S Frees

      I am responding to all the posts who have called this young man names as well as basically call him an idiot for his beliefs. Is there any area, other than religion, that people freely bash those who believe in God? Why is this not prejudice and racism against a group of people who believe in God? I believe it is. All Christians are categorized as right-wing Christian crazies. Normally, this would be called prejudice. The name calling would be called racism.
      This young man stood up for what he believes to be true. Whatever your personal opinion of his actions, trashing him for his personal belief is wrong. In a country that promotes diversity, I believe we should have respect for all points of view without name calling. In my experience, most people who denounce the bible have never read the entire book. Normally, a critic has to read the work before criticism. Or bash the idea of spirituality when they have never experienced it. As a Christian, I am tired of being stereotyped. I am a life-long democrat. I don't agree with many things that are promoted by some religious leaders. Right or wrong, this young man deserves the respect of all of us in making statements to an unwelcoming public. I have seen this show a few times. The main character is a heavy drinking, womanizing man. Any parents out there aspire their son to grow up and behave like this? This is a hugely popular show with a negative message.

      December 3, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      So religion is a race in your mind? That's just hilarious!

      December 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  8. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    Angus obviously believes in things like the Trinity, the resurrection, unconscious state of the dead (how does that work?), and the investigative judgment, a unique Seventh-day Adventist doctrine, which asserts that a divine judgment of professed Christians has been in progress since 1844.

    All of this is absurd making Angus even dumber than his character Jake on Two and 1/2 Men.

    December 2, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • lol??

      "Sorry! The word "unconscious" doesn't occur in the KJV.".......""seared" AND "conscience"
      occurs in 1 verse in the KJV "

      December 2, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  9. d

    It's amazing how studies have shown how promiscuity on TV influences teens in real life (i.e. http://www.eastside-online.org/opinions/promiscuous-television-should-be-censored-influencing-teen-population/) in so many ways. Furthermore, it is clear as CRYSTAL that the ratings for movies have changed over the years so that what was at one time rated R is now rated PG-13, and what was at one time rated PG-13 is now rated PG. Nevertheless, when a young man, Angus T. Jones, comes out and states what is well-known by people with any sensibility of right and wrong he is labelled as being "brainwashed" by a church. This isn't a meltdown by any stretch of the imagination. This is a young man who has finally had his eyes open to reality, and he is trying to warn others of the dangers of so much "filth" on TV. The only reason he is being bashed is because Hollywood is fearful of losing viewers and money so they want to bash anybody who goes against their VERY EVIL agenda. Furthermore, it's a shame that even his own mother, who should be thankful that he is making some positive decisions, would even dare suggest that he's being brainwashed just because he has the audacity to speak what is well-known to be the truth. The reason I know he's speaking the truth is because almost (Please note. I said "almost".) every parent who cares about their children being taught clean morals of virginity till marriage, staying away from drugs and alcohol, and doing well in school, REGARDLESS OF DENOMINATION, would have to agree with what Angus said if they were honest. PEOPLE ARE JUST MAD BECAUSE THIS HOLLYWOOD INSIDER SPOKE THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH HURTS. MY OPINION IS THAT PEOPLE NEED TO GET OVER IT. BILL GATES DOESN'T EVEN ALLOW HIS CHILDREN TO WATCH HARDLY ANY, IF ANY, TV. PRES. OBAMA DOESN'T EVEN ALLOW HIS GIRLS TO WATCH TV, EXCEPT ON THE WEEKENDS, AND THE TV THEY WATCH IS ON THE KIDS CHANNELS (http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20336292,00.html). Since when did our culture get so distorted that we praise "rolling stones" and people who glorify vice, while we bash, harass, and treat like a dog someone who is standing up for what is right. The Bible said it would be like this in 2 Timothy 3:3 when it said that one of the signs of the "last days" is that there will be "...despisers of those that are good." I have the utmost respect for Angus Jones because he was willing to put his career on the line by saying what he did, and HE HAS NOT RETRACTED IT. He may have apologized to the staff if his words came across like he was unappreciative, but HE NEVER APOLOGIZED FOR WHAT HE SAID. I doubt you will ever read this Angus, but if you do I am praying that you don't turn back from your commitment to following Jesus Christ. The world may hate, but they hated Jesus Christ for the same things. He lived and said the truth.

    December 2, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • EvolvedDNA

      D.. what exactly did jesus teach that was not known before he arrived? love existed long before, and was manifest in more ancient religions.. with older gods. As for the bible prophesies they are nothing but generalities that could be applied to any time in history.....do you think the good old days were that good? If the bible were newly published today it would likely have a adult rating.. so much incest, violence , murder, genocide.. and ghosts.

      December 2, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • der

      d. God bless you

      December 2, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • Bible Clown©

      ". I doubt you will ever read this Angus, but if you do I am praying that you don't turn back from your commitment to following Jesus Christ. " His church thinks your church is all going to hell for worshiping incorrectly. Do him a favor and advise him to think for himself.

      December 3, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  10. heaven bound

    For the Son of Man in his day[d] will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.

    ----------

    “It is as hard to explain how this sunlit land was different from the old Narnia as it would be to tell you how the fruits of that country taste. Perhaps you will get some idea of it if you think like this. You may have been in a room in which there was a window that looked out on a lovely bay of the sea or a green valley that wound away among mountains. And in the wall of that room opposite to the window there may have been a looking-glass. And as you turned away from the window you suddenly caught sight of that sea or that valley, all over again, in the looking glass. And the sea in the mirror, or the valley in the mirror, were in one sense just the same as the real ones: yet at the same time they were somehow different – deeper, more wonderful, more like places in a story: in a story you have never heard but very much want to know. The difference between the old Narnia and the new Narnia was like that. The new one was a deeper country: every rock and flower and blade of grass looked as if it meant more.”
    ― C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia

    December 1, 2012 at 11:51 pm |
  11. Nietodarwin

    This kid is so young and has all that money. I'm old and "poor as a church mouse" ha ha, and I feel SO sorry for him,because the religious sickos got him, and I'm a happy atheist.

    December 1, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  12. Nietodarwin

    RELIGION IS NOT PATRIOTIC

    “Countries with a high percentage of nonbelievers are among the freest, most stable, best-educated, and healthiest nations on earth. When nations are ranked according to a human-development index, which measures such factors as life expectancy, literacy rates, and educational attainment, the five highest-ranked countries - Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands - all have high degrees of nonbelief. Of the fifty countires at the bottom of the index, all are intensly religious. The nations with the highest homicide rates tend to be more religious; those with the greatest levels of gender equality are the least religious. These associations say nothing about whether atheism leads to positive social indicators or the other way around. But the idea that atheists are somehow less moral, honest, or trustworthy have been disproven by study after study.”
    _ Greg Graffin

    December 1, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • lol??

      Plenty of nations conned unca sugar into defending em.

      December 2, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  13. Nietodarwin

    “Shake off all fears of servile prejudices, under which weak minds are servilely crouched. Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call on her tribunal for every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God, because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”
    _ Thomas Jefferson

    December 1, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
    • lol??

      tribunal? How 'bout giving me the three names of this her?

      December 2, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.