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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. Rich

    Who cares? This guy has already earned enough money from his "sinful life" to retire at 19. This sounds more like teenage egotistical showboating than some "spiritual showboating.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • buster

      when he realizes his innocent guilt, huh duh, look what he's sitting next. I see an Angus n MIley grownup type fling when there like 22 yo.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • Reason on it

      And just maybe he'd like to – once his Contract ends. What does any one here spouting the hatefulness toward him know? Maybe he will... maybe he won't. But he didn't earn the money while believing this. Man, people reading this are just playing dumb – or the world is in trouble with this level of reasoning. I must sign off before I realize this is the level of thinking of the average human. Sad, just sad...

      November 29, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
  2. Chris

    That show is filth, lowbrow humor for people that lack intelligence.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  3. Laurie

    If only we had more actors/actresses stand up and say "enough of this filth."

    November 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  4. IH

    If you dont want to do particular work, don't. I imagine another person will be happy to have steady employment as an actor.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • Reason on it

      His CONTRACT may not allow that. They have those in Hollywood, you know. And if the "show" won't allow him to change his speech or actions in the character to fit his NEW found beliefs, he may feel stuck. He should be admired for speaking his mind rather than chastised for it – especially when that mind is aspiring to a cleaner, nicer way of life. If he's sincere, and the "show" cooperates with and accomodates his beliefs, you'll see his character change or be written in less and less. Then, when his CONTRACT expires, he'll be out.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
  5. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    What a difference a picture of Miley Cyrus makes!

    In the 27 or so hours since yesterday's posting on what is essentially the same topic there were 450 posts.
    https://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/28/two-and-a-half-men-actors-criticism-of-show-shines-light-on-seventh-day-adventists/

    With a picture of Miley, and in about three hours, there are already 346 posts here (and that's with all the churn on the Pat Robertson thread).

    Amazing.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  6. Lizzy10

    He is 19 yrs old, still searching for meaning in his life. Let's not be to judgmental, he's a kid.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • DaveLake

      If you read my earlier post Lizzy10-I agree. I just hope critical thinking skills set in.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  7. matt

    I bet he's got about 20 more million than he needs....PRAISE JESUS!

    November 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  8. kinglywarrior

    All I noticed was the best picture of Miley Cyrus I have ever seen.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      She does look good except for that wart on her right side, oh wait, that's Jones.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  9. patty

    I think this kid is an ungrateful brat who no one would even know if he wasn't on the show give all the money made back and break your contract if you dont wanna be on the show no one is forsing you to cash your check!

    November 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Babs

      AMEN

      November 29, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  10. Walker

    Hilarious! NOW it's filth. I've never seen the show, and have no clue who Angus Jones is, except for what I've read here. Is there ANY part of religious belief left that isn't steeped in hypocrisy?

    November 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Reason on it

      Yes, NOW it's filth (in his eyes) because NOW he has CHANGED his beliefs! How many people on here are so illogical and unreasoning that they cannot get that from his own words? He clearly states this is NEW belief for him. So, yes, now that he feels his eyes have been opened, he views the show as filth – NOW. How difficult is that to comprehend. Should he go back and erase the first 19 years of his life because he changed his belief? Good grief how many people would just have to do away with themselves if that was the case. Can't a person CHANGE? Apparently not – and be understood. Maybe his way of handling it wasn't the best. But that does NOT make him less sincere. People are just becoming less thinking and reasoning than the ignorant nowadays!

      November 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  11. Tom

    Why doesn't he continue working and earning his gigantic salary and donate it to his precious church?

    November 29, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  12. Kamal David

    First, why would someone be named Angus? Screwy parents, maybe?

    Jokes apart, this is a huge dilemma for most Americans. Look at the our culture; womanizing, cheating, gambling, alcohol/drug use, etc., is very common. It happens at the very top as well as the bottom of this society. Then comes the religious fundamentalists trying to correct that's already embedded in the American culture. The show caters to the masses. Otherwise, how could it be so popular?

    On another note, lets take science for instance; how does a budding young scientist reconcile his beliefs and the real science that's out there? The earth is less than 10k old? Come on, really? No wonder, Asia and Europe are far ahead of us in getting youngsters into the sciences. The kids going to be confused, who to believe; the parent holding a book written 2000 years back or the professor with scientific data to share today?

    Angus will eventually come out of it.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • SDA.and.Proud

      Scientists are wrong all the time. At one point they thought the world was flat and look at it now. They thought the atom was the smallest thing in the universe until they decided to split it open and a bunch of crap came out. (haha) but anyhow, whos to say that the scientists today with what the knowledge and wisdom they have isnt going to change in 5 to 10 years? Your right that the Bible was written over 2000+ years ago and thats the beauty of it. Its been around so long and it makes accurate predictions about the world today and it never changes. Its always constant, and to top it all off, unlike the predictions that most people who claim to know the future or can predict things are 60% of the time right at best, the Bible has been right 100% of time? what can you say to that now?

      November 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @SDA.adn.Proud

      That you're a liar, the bible is indeed wrong often, and has changed multiple times over the thousands of years it's been written into.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  13. Yum

    Miley looks incredible!!!!!!!!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  14. iceolate

    I am not a christian or religious but when I was younger (and a forced brainwashed southern baptist) I do recall jesus saying in the bible that he wasn't too fond of rich people... Matthew 19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Religions of all colors are full of s**t but it amuses me when they publibly display their hypocrisy such as this tool. It is so easy to believe in a god when you are rich and have nothing to worry about.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Yeah fvckhead geez us was full of all kinds of good advice there in Mathew. What personal sacrifice for "the kingdom of heaven" was Jesus talking about when he told his disciples, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it"? Castrate yourself. (Matthew 19:11-12)
      Glad you got out of the brainwashing.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Me too, but catholic, yours may have been even worse. ) (Glad I wasn't a "victim" of a preist". These religious people need to be STOPPED

      November 29, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Reason on it

      Problem with your statement is the assumption that he has ALWAYS believed this way and now is, suddenly and without merit, jumping on a religious bandwagon. He clearly states that "NOW" that he IS LEARNING (Active, present tense) the Bible, he sees the work he is involved in as filth. He's just 19. And in Hollywood. When before this was he to find his own way? He started this show at 10 years old! Unless he parents clearly taught him differently, he probably just believe the same as every adult around him. Now that he is a young man, not a child, he is seeking his own way. Whether you agree with his way or not, he is CHANGING his way of believing and NOW finds the show filth. That fact that he became a millionaire FIRST has absolutley NOTHING to do with the whole argument and premise here. That fact the MOST people posting here make it as if money is THE issue shows jealously and immaturity and lacking of reasoning on the statements at hand, for the most part. Why not let him be without being hateful and accept that, now that he is on his own, he is actually making decisions on his own and forming a moral base – whether it agrees with yours or not? Why is that so difficult for so many? SMH....

      November 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Double R

      @ iceolate

      I don't feel you understand Jesus' meaning in that passage. Before he spoke those words he was approached by a young rich man who asked him, "Teacher, what do I have to do to gain salvation." And because Jesus knew that this young man's heart truly lied with his money and not gaining true salvation, he tested him. He told him, "Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor and then follow me." The young man basically told him, "Say what now? Sell what?" And he walked away. Jesus' point want that MOST rich people, not all, but most have their sights set on their personal gain, their money, and not on gaining the true blessings of salvation. And therefore it makes it harder for them to genuinely receive it. There's nothing at all wrong with having money, or being rich, as long as you're heart is in the right place. As long as you're not bowing down to the greenbacks instead of truly worshiping the One who provided those resources to you. Obviously money is not the issue with Angus because I'm sure he's smart enough to know that his comments may alienate him in Hollywood. Although I agree with his comments, I also know there is a more respectful way of going about it.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  15. Blacksheep5150

    Don't bite the hand that feeds you.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Fernando

      so..you are a dog? we are humans... we can feed ourselves... he can jump to another work anytime...dont you?

      November 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  16. Christina

    Someone in Hollywood finally figured out that there was something wrong with Hollywood!

    November 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • SkepticalOne

      There is something wrong with Angus Jones. Hollywood if fine.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  17. Carl

    "'What would be pleasing to God?' And that's a very different metric," Miller said."

    It's different because it requires you to make up complete BS as the answer.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Reason on it

      Not true, man. Simply not true. Yes, some religious people – many in fact – us lack of reason in their "faith." But without reasoning, it's not really faith – not if Bible believers accept the Bible's definition of faith as the one they use in their life and worship. Have you ever heard a "professional" of any form give you a load of you-know-what (say, why it's going to cost so much to fix your electrical issues) about anything? Yeah, peopel from ALL walks of life and ALL backgrounds, professions and, yes, religions are quite capable of saying whatever they think will win them the hand at the time. Doesn't make the Bible wrong. Just shows that person up for what they really are.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  18. ccw

    he signed the contract renewal after joining the church knowing what this religion was all about? in just about any occupation if you bad mouth your employer as bad as he has done...you would be shown the door. ship him off

    November 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • brown eyed girl

      So true, it's ok that he's found the Lord and all but he needed to get off of the show long ago, if that's how he felt and he won't be having the issue next time the contract signing time comes along-–he'd be long gone if he worked for me......oh well, he's still bad mouthing the series while he's got his tongue down Miley Cirus's throat.....

      November 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  19. bkblueye456

    It just amazing that this kid is complaining about the show. It made him he will never do as good ,and their are people who kill for what he gets an episode. Just quit you big whiner. Send me the money.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Reason on it

      Ummm – have you ever heard of "Contract"? Yeah, he probably has one of those. You see, in higher-paying professions and positions, "Contracts" PREVENT people from 'just walking away.' Maybe, just maybe, he's tried to get out of it. Maybe the power-that-be won't allow that. SO now he may be struggling with what his Contract requires him to do – be a part of a show that he disapproves of NOW – and how to live with himself while fulfilling his Contract.

      If you know much about Hollywood history, those who DO really, truly change their beliefs, do find ways to work around it, albeit rarely at a young age – such as no longer carrying guns, no more cursing for their character, no more "bedroom" scenes, etc. All of these have been modifications to assist an actor out of a Contract without either party being seriously "injured." No lawsuits. But if the show won't allow it, he may be struggling with how to handle it at his age – the only young one there – and thus letting his emotions out in this way. Who knows? On the other hand, this may be knee-jerk and he gives it up in 6 mos. How about wait and see? Der...

      November 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  20. jj

    If he truly regrets having been on this "filth." He should also return the money made from it. 100% USDA Hypocrite.

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

      And how, exactly, do you know that he isn't already in the process of giving the money to those who need it (a step better than 'returning' it to the wealthy producers)? And yes, there's a reason that he wouldn't just announce that he was giving his money away: "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men." (Matthew 6:2). I'm not saying that he definitely isn't keeping it. But I am saying that you slap labels on other people too quickly.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • Reason on it

      Must agree with rudesoup. Also, the money was earned BEFORE he learned what he now believes – is still learning, by his own words. He did not say he was keeping it – or not. What he's saying is that, NOW that he has learned a different way, he believes it is the better way and that the things he and his co-workers do on TV are not acceptable for a Christian. And, he is correct, according to the Bible. He might use the money in other ways to reach out. Only time will tell. Hold your judgements until then. K?

      November 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • jj

      He just needs to say that he's not keeping it. He doesn't have to announce that he is giving it to the needy. Also, just because I bought something on craigslist that was later found to be stolen does not mean that I don't have to give it back. According to Angus, he made his money through ill-gotten means. Therefore, he should relinquish the money. Sorry, if I truly believed that the money was evil and/or received through ill-gotten means, I would get rid of it ASAP. Sh&t, I would burn it.

      What's worse, he's denouncing the show that is continuing to provide income for many other people. Good job.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:42 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.