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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. Nietodarwin

    I have nothing against this 19 year old kid, he's been a hoot for years and years, (remember him "The Rookie" with Dennis Quaid,???? Wow TWO CHILD STARS messed up as adults after being in movies with Dennis Quaid, Angus and Lindsay Lohan ha ha )
    I have EVERYTHING AGAINST THESE RELIGIOUS FVCKHEADS BRAINWASHING KIDS. They are no different than people putting heroin in the veins of teenagers.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  2. Harrison

    I must admit my greatest fear as a christian is that God simply does not exist...

    November 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Bring'em young

      I'm sure it would be a lot more frightening if it did exist. Fortunately mythical creatures remain mythical.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Harrison, seriously, no cussing or joking on my part. Quitting the church and reading and opening your mind to the VERY HIGH PROBABALITY that there is no "god" might be the greatest "spiritual" ????(for lack of a better word) AWAKENING in your life.
      I would suggest immediately that you go visit Freedom From Religion Foundation FFRF.org Get the books of Dr. Steven Pinker, "The Language Instinct" and "How the Mind Works" among others, and get God is not Great (Hitchens I think) and the books of the big heavy hitting atheist these days, Richard Dawkins, who wrote "The God Delusion" and "The Blind Watchmaker" (which Dr. Pinker said was one of his favorite books) You will be happier methinks. Cheers.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Eric

      Then, have no fear.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  3. Victor

    The 3rd ID combat patch is on backwards.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  4. mark

    Whos the girl?

    November 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • Bring'em young

      miley cyrus

      November 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
    • Justyn Kase

      That's Miley Cyrus aka Hannah Montana

      November 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • mark

      I thought mycyrus was like 13 with brown hair.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Bring'em young

      She grew up, chopped and died the locks, but it is her. I prefer the long hair, but I'm sure it'll grow out in time.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
  5. Aaron

    He already said he was sorry, said he loves the cast and loves the show. Why is CNN so late on this.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  6. What a loser

    Of course, he's made millions and now the show is "filth," Well if he was TRULY a christian, he'd actually walk the walk. Maybe quit his acting job and use his millions to do some good in the world and perhaps change it for the better. But like most christians he will just bad mouth everyone who does not share his views.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  7. retards

    Brainwashed by idiots

    November 29, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  8. Jack

    Trust me, money outweighs religion. Those that say otherwise, don't practice what they preach.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
    • cleareye1

      Anyone that thinks otherwise should Google Schuller, Bakker, Crouch, Swaggart, Elmer Gantry, etc, among thousands of others

      November 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  9. jimmy

    oh yeah, btw...remember david koresh and the waco freaks? splitters from the seventh-day adventists.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  10. professorredhed

    I take care of patients in a tertiary care hospital. So I have no qualms about my job

    November 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  11. Babs

    Who cares? I stopped watching this show when what's his name lost his mind and starting telling how wonderful he was and how all the other people in hollywood could kiss his a$$.
    I don't know why it's still on the air.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  12. jimmy

    the seventh-day adventists believe (like the jehovah's witnesses) that only 144,000 people will make it into heaven. the seventh-day adventists have 1,100,000 members. math, anyone? in a world full of weird bizarre pseudo-religions, this is one of the dumbest.

    most likely angus jones is a vulnerable kid who got "convinced" by someone close to him...and most likely this is just a phase he will grow out of.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Frankie

      Jimmy: Seventh-day Adventist do not believe as Jehova's Witnesses! They certainly DO NOT believe that only 144,000 will go to heaven. This is a very erroneous statement. Study them out, you will be pleasantly surprised and blessed.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Adventist pastor

      Actually, Adventists believe that there is no limit to the number of people in heaven. That is good news!

      November 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  13. mark

    Who's the broad?

    November 29, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Bring'em young

      miley cyrus

      November 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
    • cleareye1

      She looks like the freak's sister.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • ET

      Yeah, who is the broad? I clicked on this link only because of her.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Bring'em young

      no really...it is Miley Cyrus

      November 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
  14. Nietodarwin

    VERY WELL PUT Gambling and womanizing in not child abuse. Some alcoholics are guilty of child abuse. Everyone who has ever been guilty of dragging their kids to church and forcing a child into a RELIGION IS CHILD ABUSE. They are also doing harm to our test scores. How the fvck is a kid supposed to pass a basic biology class if they have been raised "creationist:
    I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED BILL NYE, but I was very happy he said what he said a few months ago. We are a SECULAR nation, and these xstian "Talibangelicals' are E N E M I E S of our country and our nation's intellectual and technological (security) health.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • trl

      go back to your video games.... is better you live in a pretend world.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  15. Kenny

    Get ready to get struck by lightning!

    November 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  16. jimmy

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

    I find this statement condescending for all those who do not belief in a supreme being.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  17. Jessica

    That 3ID combat patch is on backward.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
  18. Kevin

    This article goes way overboard. Most Americans don't face such a dilemma and most are not so patently hypocritical. The author's claim that we most Americans do face this dilemma is truly offensive and lets a spoiled, incredibly lucky child totally off the hook, despite comments like, "I don't know if he can recover from this." Angus should be canned immediately. He could be a casualty of war, which would really make for an exciting episode. And his apology was not an apology, which would've gone something like, "I'm truly sorry for the unbelievably stupid and offensive stuff I said..."

    November 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  19. mitsu

    so all of sudden he finds religion, after he kiss miley's lips. boy what a prude.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  20. patrickharris

    who cares about your stupid religious / /cult or whatever fairy tale your following now... do you job, act / amuse me and shut your effin hole you idiot

    November 29, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • butterscotch dandy faps

      this coomment be for funnies

      November 29, 2012 at 6:25 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.