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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. Glenn Howell

    I watched the episode pictured with the article. He wasn't so worried about the filth when he portrayed a soldier AWOL to sleep with his girlfriend out of wedlock. Please just take the money and shut up.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Robert

      You're definately not biased, are you? (Mega-sarcasm intended.) Didn't it ever occur to you that perhaps his conversion occurred after this episode? But you're probably just not intelligent enough to figure that one out.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  2. Penny Wright

    Science flies you to the moon.

    Religion flies you into buildings.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Clausen

      Ya, that was too far.

      Did you come up with that all by your self?

      November 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • Roberto

      Even religion needs science: They used airplanes!

      November 29, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Bill

      Science also creates weapons that kill millions while religion helps reduce poverty and injustice in the world. It's not as black and white as you think.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Your Mom

      The world's oldest confidence scheme has been recognized as such even before Chistianity took off. Seneca would have recognized the co-option of a existing Sun God into the Son of God immediately had he seen it. It's really no different that the Catholic Church taking over the "Rome" brand later on.

      "Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and the rulers as useful."
      – Seneca the Elder (ca. 54 BCE – ca. 39 CE) Roman rhetorician

      November 29, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
  3. ReasonableXX

    Child stars...too much, too young...when they crack it's either drugs or jesus. 2 sides of the same coin.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  4. El Flaco

    The work I do for the global corporation who employs me is totally meaningless.

    We cheat our customers.

    I have no respect for our management. They are cheating their employees.

    It's the best job I've ever had.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  5. jakku

    what an hypocrite. He becomes a millionaire because of the show and then calls the guys who feed him filth. It might be filth but trying to be self-righteous when you are not is greater filth. Give up all the wealth, break the contract and then say that. I bet he will not do that.. God comes second to money, I guess.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Mark

      I think we are all thinking the same thing. If he is really convicted by this show and wants to make this public stand for his faith, he needs to donate the money to help people. Cut your ties with the studio, and give away all this 'blood money' or shut your mouth. Otherwise this is just more hypocrisy.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  6. Tim

    Who cares?? Is this really news?

    November 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • steve

      No its not news worthy, but CNN like to troll the atheist and religious folk. They come out with something to stir the pot every week. And then all the ayn rand kids and the walmarts shoppers go to war here.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Morgan

      He is cute!!

      November 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Douglas J. Dahlberg

      Fictional television programs depict what we don't want to be (like all in the family if you are old enough to remember), what we are (insert your own preference-fictional reality), and what we aspire to be (any investigation show where the bad guy always gets busted). Can't all three types of programs be of value? Sometimes I need to be reminded what I don't want to become, glad I'm not, and how to improve.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • fubar

      He should put his money where his mouth is and donate every penny he made from the show to a worthwhile charity. I bet thats not gonna happen.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  7. James

    Please. How many times have we seen Christians compromise their so called morals when it's convenient. I don't buy any of this B.S. Heard it all before.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • James

      It's a lot easier to walk away from a job that has put millions in your bank account and has set you up for your entire life than a job that is barely putting food on the table. This kid is no hero but Christians everywhere will worship him.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Merb

      ...but the point is to recognize when people sacrifice when it is inconvenient. Or are you conveniently forgetting to include that?

      November 29, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  8. Daverelentless

    Angus, Move on to pushing Thin Mints. They are more your style.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  9. Chuck

    He's recanted already.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  10. Portland tony

    When a teen starts giving sage advice, especially about religion, my eyes just glaze over.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It does feel strange from my own experience. At 19 I even planned to hold off voting until I was 25 when I hoped I might have gathered adequate information...I was doing well in a good college and still just assumed I was ignorant (I admi, btw, I broke that pledge and did vote). Of course, much older now 25 seems a long, innocent time ago, but still I'd rather be on record saying the things I said at 25 than the dumb stuff I said at 19. Thank goodness we didn't have the internet back then.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • vad

      Well he was right about one thing, the show is filth. I thought it was funny a while back but now every show is about Waldon's big package and Alan is a leech. I quit watching it.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Merb

      Matthew 21:16

      November 29, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  11. Doc Vestibule

    I bet Ray Comfort got a stiffy when he heard about this kid.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  12. jeffision

    This kid is experiencing all this turmoil because he walked into a man-made hallucinatory story about a fictional god and now fears this fictional god. He made this hallucinatory story his own story and now is terrorized by it. It's just a story. We don't have to believe everything we think. People are so easily brainwashed...

    November 29, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • Tanner

      The thing is, though, that there is a God and that he was put into that environment before he found out and learned about God. Now he's familiar with God and has learned some Christian values that show a better path than that which offers empty promises of happiness, or "hallucinatory" promises, if you like.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • Merb

      Yeah. All of those people at Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, Duke, BC, Georgetown, Notre Dame, etc are just brainwashed. Don't they know theology is stupid? They are such morons

      November 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Former Christian

      Theology is the STUDY OF RELIGION. It doesn't mean one believes in any gods.

      November 29, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  13. Orygun Duck

    He is telling like it is. And most jobs we do compromise something.

    November 29, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  14. Lenny Pincus

    Like Kirk Cameron, Angus will spend the rest of his life making idiotic statements and appearing in bad movies.

    November 29, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • johnCRoberts

      Yes because Hollywoood is so accepting of people with faith, morals, or a conservative bent.

      Tolerant is as tolerant does.

      stupid hypocrits

      November 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  15. Please Grow Up

    There are no doubt many who have disgraceful jobs and who hang on to them to pay the bills. It is nearly impossible to walk away from a paycheck as large as this young man's. So he has feelings off camera – so what? I know a guy who appeared in several Broadway shows and finally quit acting because he said he was ashamed to be doing it, but it took real guts to find another profession. Leave the kid alone.

    November 29, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  16. W.

    The worse actor on vomit video has the courage to bite the hand that offerers him a lottery ticket each month? His spiritual advisor should push in his "stool."

    November 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  17. Lisa

    It's so nice to see a man who grew up around such dysfunction on set and such adult themes come into his own with such spirit and faith. It's very difficult to do what he did, call out his show while still on it. He could have taken the easy road and waited until his contract ended this year and then made his statements, but he's speaking his heart and he's sharing his conflict with everyone and that takes a lot of courage. It's beautiful when anyone finds faith (much nicer than when people are turned away from it for the wrong reasons).

    November 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • ReigionIsBS

      How could you possibly write any of that drivel knowing that he recanted his statement and will continue acting on the show? Some courage.

      November 29, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Cindy

      The show is funny, but it is also pure filth.

      November 29, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
    • DC

      Wouldn't be the first person in this country to stick their foot in their mouth before thinking and dealing with the repercussion of losing their job.

      Drug addict to religion nut to unemployeed. Unfortunate it happened to a young 19 year old man who had a lot going for him. Hopefully he will learn to listen to himself and not drugs and others around him with their own agenda at hand.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Michael John Anthony

      Which is more pleasing? The fact of his conversion or his adoption of a lifestyle that more closely matches your own ideals? If he had converted into a religion that embraced polygamy, for example, would you be less heraldic in your approval?

      November 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  18. Leonard

    Kirk Cameron for this generation...

    November 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Akira

      Yep.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  19. Reality

    Since he makes $350,000/show, Angus will make a fast retreat from his comments.

    November 29, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  20. Hans

    Not only is Angus T. Jones an Adventist, but so is the chaplain of the United States Senate, Rear Adm. Barry Black USN (Retired).

    November 29, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Angus G. Bones

      LOL

      Rear Admiral.

      November 29, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • FatSean

      Sharia law 😦

      November 29, 2012 at 5:04 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.