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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)
  1. theresa

    He was too young to really have made an informed choice when he got on the show. So he's made millions... not his fault, it's the fault of the people who watch that crappy show. It's nice to see he's striving for change & not following Sheen's path to becoming some sort of intoxicated loser. Maybe he's learned something from growing up in the Hollywood world. Let the kid grow, I say; maybe if the show's producers want to keep it on the air & relevant, they should start growing up too.

    November 30, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • Joe Prov

      He was a child when he was signed on to that show, he didn’t have free choice back then. Now he is an adult and is able to make decisions for himself. I have no problem with him not wanting to participate in the show or publicize it – but if his morals demand that he publically defame it and attempt to harm those who choose to be a part of the show by trying to bring it down then he crosses the line. If he is truly that believes in his conviction that much then he must first give the dirty money he earned away and reject it as ill gotten – or he is just a paper moralist like most people.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • David

      Right, Sheen's a loser. We should all be so lucky...

      November 30, 2012 at 8:48 am |
  2. The Master

    I stopped reading after 3 paragraphs. All I have to say is; BOO HOO!! STFU!

    November 30, 2012 at 8:13 am |
  3. Milton

    So he just labeled himself a huge hypocrite then? Don't watch the filth that I generate. I'm independently wealthy but can't bear to wean myself from the cash? What's the message here? Do as I say, not as I do? On the other hand, eternity may very well be a a dirt nap with no afterlife. In this case, you were handed a golden egg. Don't make an omelet with it.

    November 30, 2012 at 8:11 am |
  4. David

    Teen angst. What a load of crap. The world is not so complicated that one cannot decipher between good and "evil" after watching this stuff. To lose the comedy because one has "morals" and "dignity" is simply laughable.

    November 30, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  5. Hannah230

    I say three cheers for Jones!!!! People are over reacting about this. Yes I understand that it is a big show that people all over around the world, but JUST GET OVER IT!!!! It is not the end of the world.

    November 30, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • jdk

      2 words.... hipster doofus. 'nuf said.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • rudolph the red

      that was six words

      November 30, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  6. OBAMA PHONE

    LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I'D LIKE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO THIS GENERATION'S KIRK CAMERON!

    November 30, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • MontanaTrace

      Big diff. Kirk was intelligent.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Who?

      November 30, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • sam stone

      montana: based on what?

      November 30, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  7. totoytigas

    i watch the show sometimes, his role in the show is non-essential anyways, before being stupid was cute, now that hes grown ...... how about a gas explosion while hes cooking, or getting run over by a C130, or kidnapped by north koreans, that would take care of his character.

    November 30, 2012 at 7:30 am |
  8. MontanaTrace

    Angus was obviously type cast for the part in 2 & 1/2.

    November 30, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  9. Ed Brock

    Nice to top this article with a picture of Hannah Montana showing a lot of leg.

    November 30, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Is there a problem? Are you a breast man?

      November 30, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Ed Brock

      Oh, no, no problem at all. Not to say that breasts would be bad, of course.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Thanks. Good to know all is good.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    November 30, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • Tactical Turtleneck

      So does eating tomato soup. It makes me full and warm inside. I'll stick with the soup.

      November 30, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Chadism can create delusions.

      Avert your eyes.

      November 30, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • Prayer changes jack squat

      It doesn't seem to change your idiotic posts!!

      November 30, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Religious dogma makes people mindless slaves to ridiculous fairy tales!

      If your ridiculous sky daddy really exists, let him strike me down immediately!!!......no.....still here!

      November 30, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • Religious dogma makes people mindless slaves to ridiculous fairy tales!

      and other living things.... isn't your disneyland land in the sky only reserved for believers of your own particular form of god-written book?

      November 30, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "John 3:16" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert" is the degenerate.

      This troll is not a christian.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      Has it changed your diaper yet?

      November 30, 2012 at 10:07 am |
  11. All the same

    I sit and read these comments and most of you are ranting against Angus in the same immature way that he talked about the show. I find that a great majority of our society has become useless when it comes to mature conversations about what is right and wrong.

    November 30, 2012 at 6:59 am |
  12. woodie

    I'm reminded of that saying 'Don't burn your bridges'. You accepted a job, then you burn the people that trusted you. You shouldn't use Christianity as an excuse to hurt others.

    November 30, 2012 at 6:51 am |
  13. TampaMel

    Is this a real article or is this another one from 'The Onion'.

    November 30, 2012 at 6:42 am |
  14. Kirar

    make something of ourselves

    November 30, 2012 at 6:37 am |
  15. ChrisT

    Well apparently from the picture he's never looked at AR 670-1 The wear and appearance of uniform. His unit patch is on the wrong arm.

    November 30, 2012 at 6:24 am |
    • Former NCO

      Yeah it drives me crazy too but all films/TV shows have something wrong with the uniform so the actor does not impersonate a military member. Like Denzel Washington wearing a Signal Officer cap (Orange band) with his dress blues when he plays an Artillery Officer (Yellow band) in "Courage Under Fire" – awards are going to be out of order, patches on the wrong shoulder, etc... I'm an obsessive compulsive individual when it comes to AR 670-1

      November 30, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • Craiger45

      Back over ten years ago when a uniform was on TV or a movie, there was no name tag. Since then name tags have come back.

      November 30, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • Tundra_Yet_Again

      Could be a combat vet that they just forgot to mention during the show. You know the 12 months he was stationed at a forward OP, happened to be between seasons and nobody bothered mentioning it. Come to think of it his acting out could be PTSD. Don't you feel bad now?

      November 30, 2012 at 8:08 am |
  16. Interesting

    So, is he going to return the millions that he has made? If he is going down this path, it would be the right thing to do...

    November 30, 2012 at 6:16 am |
  17. Louis

    You've complicated the issue. Money or morals? Money always wins. Notice the kid didn't break his contract and quit.

    November 30, 2012 at 6:14 am |
  18. S Grossman

    Umm...quit.

    For that matter why didn't he quit BEFORE he made is latest set of millions?

    November 30, 2012 at 6:13 am |
  19. Motownvoice

    What utter crap this is.

    Anyone who can view this kids' temper tantrum and see anything but self a involved ingrate is as delusional as they are ignorant.

    Religious people have a tendency to see the bull*** in a situation. The rest of us see through it all.

    November 30, 2012 at 6:12 am |
  20. Caspar Mulders

    Why are we giving this whiny cultist so much attention? America, the country where every idiot can make something of himself, providing he feigns religiosity.

    November 30, 2012 at 5:33 am |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.