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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. christine Jacobson

    Angus is right..it is a filthy show that should not be prime time. Hopefully he will use his millions some day to help others. He is not to blame. It's the F...ing adults who put him in the show that hold all the blame. The pressure now, from adults,is mounting to make him recant (for lack of a better word). He may cave in but someday he will speak out boldly and not be afraid of the adults who, up until now, have controlled him. Does he not have parents?? What the F are THEY doing?? They don't deserve to be parents.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Ol' Yeller

      You are sooo right.... It is a filthy F... show. I'm a F....ing Christian, too and this sh..t is just f...ing filthy.

      Really... You do realize God can read and he knows everything, so you are not fooling him by leaving the blanks. (my 10 y/o would know what you meant). I'm not actually a believer, but you apparently are so that being said.... Hypocritical... as always.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  2. TomGI

    Judging from the pic we are suppose to believe this "Angus" person is in the Army and Miley Cyrus is his half naked girlfriend? I wouldn't watch this show because it's "filth", I wouldn't watch it because it's baloney.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • TomGI

      If I was the EP I would kill him off in Afghanistan in the very next episode. He could be replaced with Aston's smokin' hot girlfriend (Mila) and Angus would be a distant memory.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  3. fg18

    one thing that bothers me about his new found "meaning of life" is why not just give up all of his earnings to some kind of charity ? I think that is somewhere in the bible.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  4. Mr. Know it

    He's probably gay and now using god to help turn himself straight!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • DaveLake

      Gay bashing-not cool!

      November 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  5. Thomas

    It's not just spiritual values at odds, moral and ethical values are a struggle at work. In my experience I've never found work anywhere that I thought was worthy of the public's trust or mine. I think most businesses have achieved an extreme level of disconnect from their employees' and customer's moral and ethical values. Businesses make people do things that are against their values all the time. If you've called a call center for customer service some poor schmuck has had to tell you something to pacify you even if they know it not to be true or at the very least they suspect it's not from their own experiences. The money involved is too great for the aggressive people who own and run businesses not to force people to lie and cheat for them and dupe us all out of our money. That's the way it is, and most likely will stay that way, because most of us are cowards. Few if any would stand next to someone who is telling it like it is, when it's against the status quo, no matter how corrupt it is.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  6. Kelley

    The idiot should quite the show and give all the FILTH MONEY to his church if it offends him so much and stop trying to tell other people what to do. Typical religious morons always telling other people what is right and wrong. Most of them are Sunday saints, go to church on Sunday but don't live the life the other six days a week.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
  7. Lisa

    Funny how he found religion AFTER getting rich and famous on "filth."

    November 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Eric

      He's a kid

      November 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  8. Martin Angell

    I hope this young man stays resolute in his convictions.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  9. Danny

    And the brainwashing continues. A mind is a terrible thing to waste..., on religion.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • clinky

      ....on tv sitcoms.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  10. Ol' Yeller

    So, he should quit. Don't make videos condemning the show, turn around and apologize, then keep doing what you were doing and taking the money. That's not truly Christian... unless you count by today's standards and then he is 100% Christian... Hypocritical and money hungry.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Eric

      Who isn't hypocritical? We all do things that go against our values and standards. It's not a character trait distinct to Christians. He's a 19 year old kid that is trying to find his way. He should be encouraged.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  11. Belseth

    This isn't an ethical issue it's religious extremism verses rational thought. The kid got rich off the show and signed a new contract. Now he gets mixed up in a cult and acts up. I don't watch the show because it's stupid not because it's filth. I think Toddlers and Tiaras is more disgusting because it's a show for pedophiles, it serves no other purpose. This "rally round religion" movement is dangerous. It's what created the Iran we all know and love. Just because it's power hungry Christians doesn't mean in the end it'll be any different than the Muslim extremist nations of the world, this country the religious right wants to create. It's not about religion it's about power and control and in the end it'll be about taking away the rights of the masses to centralize power.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • clinky

      So... you're saying Two and a Half Men is "rational thought"?

      November 29, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  12. Pinchshot

    Hmmm. Should have had a set and walked away ... before the money.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  13. JOEY

    GAY TWINK army BOI and a LESBIAN on a sofa...so not the rea WORLD .....!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Sane Person

      Of course. In the real world, gays and lesbians dont use sofas.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  14. DaveLake

    I feel very sorry for him-at his age his brain has not reached maturity thus he has not developed the adult critical thinking skills needed to reflect on issues and contradictions in his culture. Einstein at an early age was religious. When he was twelve years old (out of the norm for brain maturity-critical thinking skills) his intellect allowed him to freely question beliefs. This allowed him to conduct thought analysis of the belief system he so enjoyed before age ten. As he massaged what he learned with critical thinking skills he quickly realized that what he was taught in religion class was not true. Thus a 19 year old can be easily connected to a religion before the thinking skills required to analyze what he is taught kick in. This of course assumes his intellect will power those processes. Example: Why did Jesus/god decide not to spread the word in an area with a larger population? Why did Jesus rely on then present technology-when he could have easily created items to enable him to better send his message or conquer evil? Why did not Jesus talk about the marvels of the universe-stars-planets and galaxies? It is because he was human just like the rest of us!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • SDA.and.Proud

      Have you ever read the Bible man? for one to answer your questions you must understand why Jesus came to this earth in the first place. He came to DIE. thats right He came to die for your sins and for mine. that means everything you have done wrong, every little lie to test youve cheated to the worst thing you could have ever done, and all the things your still to do HE DIED for that. He came so we would be able to live and go to Heaven. If that was His main mission, what good would it have been if He took a moment to talk about the stars? what good would it have been for Him to invent some sort of machine that would help Him send His message across?

      November 29, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Lizzy10

      What I was getting at in my later post was to say that at 19, kids jump into things with their whole heart. That what they believe is so important to them, there is no half measure. Time tends to temper their first unbridled enthusiasm, let them find a more subdued way of expressing themselves. That's not to say there is anything wrong with believing in God, even some pretty good critical thinkers did and do.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  15. vwart

    Easy Angus, give the money back or donate what you made to Sandy storm victims...

    November 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  16. bostontola

    I'd keep an eye on the money, a big chunk could end up with this church. Churchs shouldn't teach people to bite the hand that feeds them, especially when it's all in fun. This show is clearly an extreme take off on male behavior, certainly not advocating it.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
    • SDA.and.Proud

      haha being SDA i know he wouldnt do that, he might try or might ask to do that as offering to the church but i doubt the church would let him. I know one time when a lady at my church won the lottery and wanted to give some of that money to the church and they didnt accept it, they refused that money because she got it while gambling and the Bible speaks against gambling. Im not a pastor and wouldnt know how to handle that situation but i do know that with or without the money, the church wouldnt care, God owns everything and is the God of EVERYTHING, if the church needed money they wouldnt ask for donations from famous people or rich people but they would pray and ask GOD and HE would deliver

      November 29, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  17. Brendan J

    Put your money where your mouth is and give it all up. A real christian wouldn't be gloating. He would have gave his money up and moved on with his life.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • SDA.and.Proud

      His obviously not gloating, have you even seen the interviews? Seems to me as a kid who became converted and is proud and happy about it and wants to tell it to the whole world so they can find the joy and happiness he found

      November 29, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
  18. Robin Bray

    Don't mix ethics with a PR stunt.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  19. vinster76

    as a former agnostic, I remember walking into a fast food restaurant where about 8 people were studying the Bible out loud. I was so revulsed by the idea of them worshipping a deity that i wanted to approach them and curse them for their display of (in my opinion) stupidity for belief in God. Fast forward two decades later: I did some research -actually quite a bit of research into what Christians believed in and why – ( I will give you a hint – Jesus), and I came to the conclusion that Jesus was exactly who He said He was – the son of God, and the ONLY hope for mankind to be saved. Now, please dont get on here and curse me, Ok? Just do the research, humble yourself and see what happens. As someone else has posted on here earlier, you pretend to be tolerant folk, just so long as we keep Jesus and christianity out of the conversation.....Your hypocrisy is truly something to behold!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Johnny Anonymous

      curse curse curse

      November 29, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Ol' Yeller

      Well, I'm agnostic and have never once felt like cursing people for their beliefs, but then I didn't go and do some 'research' and do a 180 either... I did the research first and that is how I became an agnostic. Sounds like you are a bit of a lost soul looking for something... first you curse one side, then you condemn the other.... if I were you, I might consider getting some professional help, not because you are now religious, but you obviously have issues. I actually bow my head and pray when I'm among others who do this, just like I would stand during a ceremony at a Catholic Church, should I be in attendance. It is about respect for others, not us against them....

      November 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • tuffby

      I don't know what research you are referring to. To my knowledge...there is nothing on this earth that will help us draw any kind of rational conclusions regarding any supernatural life forms (I'll exclude any government cover-ups along the lines of Area 51). I think that is an undeniable truth for anyone. So that means....any amount of research is going to provide no evidence of anything. An agnostic conclusion is the only rational one. If you have somehow decided that the book is true...and decided to believe in Jesus...that is a choice on your part. I went to church for 15 years, listened to the sermons on sunday, went to vacation bible school, went to youth group meetings, went to sunday school, went to retreats. Never once has anyone given me any information that would suggest anyone is doing anything but choosing to have faith in something completely with no proof. So, if you do the research...and find something that soothes your soul...something that a makes you happy, then great. But call it what it is...You need this for some reason...it makes you happy to belong to it, to believe in it. But you have no evidence of anything. In fact, your religion would deny scientific evidence in favor of supernatural intervention. This is a choice...not a conclusion. Ironic actually given how anti choice the church tends to be.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  20. Chris Hogan

    "Instead of asking, 'what should I do with my life,' we should be asking, 'What is pleasing to God.'"

    Uh, with all due respect, this "god" who enjoyed human and animal sacrifices, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of people for the "crime" of not believing in him, and who voeyeristically obsesses over everything I do in my bedroom has outlived his usefullness. I DO believe in a Supreme Being, however, I just think He is concerned about more important things, and we should not only work to enrich our own lives, but the lives of those around us, starting with taking better care of the planet He gave us. And celebrating rather then condeming the coming together of souls who love each other, straight or gay.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Wow.

      Weird.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • SDA.and.Proud

      Did you ever read the Bible? For one God never asked for Human sacrifices and for two, the animal sacrifices he did ask for he never enjoyed. He never slaughter people for not believing in HIM, Its as plain as in the Bible that He did it for the greater good and He did it reluctantly because HE hates when people die. His hopes are for everyone in the whole wide world to be saved. He cant make us believe in Him but He wants us to because once you fully do and understand Him your life becomes so enriched! He wants us to take care of our planet, He wants us to live Healthy fulfilling lifes, He wants the best for us, If it werent so, he would have not come down to this puny unsignificant planet called Earth and died for us

      November 29, 2012 at 6:09 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.