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. not/afraid/to/say

    The Bible tells me so. I would rather stand my ground for what I believe in and come out on top, than keep feeding my desires and seeing it end. Jesus died for our sins and we all can be forgiven, and His promise to you is everlasting life. Amen to this young man who has received the greatest gift ever!

    November 29, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Your soul belongs to me, and I will watch you burn for all eternity. You think some god "loves" you if you kiss its sphincter properly? You're a fool.

      P.T. Barnum was right.

      November 29, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Feeding your desires will be judged by society .. but in the end .. it will still end.

      November 29, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  2. Pete

    Boo! Another non-thinking sheep for the cult flock!

    November 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  3. Glenn

    He needs to talk with Barry Sanders!

    November 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  4. fissels

    He's right ,the show is filth. His faith is his business, no one should be judging it.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • Blasphemy

      What he said about a public part of his life was public and the public will judge.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Religious faith is a very personal matter ... and should be kept that way.
      When you open your mouth about it you invite the opinion of others. Way too many people seem to feel that religion is off limits unless they are of course the ones spouting off about it.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  5. Catherine

    Religion aside Angus is correct about the quality of his show. It's horrible and I'm surprised it has been on the sir for this long. Also, why is he wearing a Army uniform int he photo? Is he supposed to be JROTC? Cause that uniform is ate the hell up.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  6. Andy Christensen

    God be with you, Angus, as you embark on this new journey.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Sorry Andy... no gods. No allah, buddha, yaweh, jesus, thor, zeus, etc. However, we do have manipulative greedy zealots that will be happy to take away Angus's root of all evil... his money. All of it. Soon you'll be able to see him on reruns and at the mission for dinner, once the "holy" ones have extracted everything he has of any value.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  7. Sinclair

    Give back the money you earned creating that filth then, you winey little hypocrite. I won't hold my breathe......

    November 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • DustyOnes

      Darn....I wanted to see you turn blue.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  8. trl

    give the kid 5 shots of rum and a thick line of coke and he'll forget about his conscious

    November 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • conrad

      Very sad cynical comment. Get help ...

      November 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Name*

      True...bwahahaha, snort-snort.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Name*

      Yeah Tri, you need help.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Common Sense

      You mean conscience?

      November 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
  9. HelloTampa

    Never mix work and religion. This kid may have dug his own career to the grave. Hollywood will never give him work again. Just another child actor who will be forgotten.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Name*


      November 29, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  10. ChulkChes

    Good for him. He is just at the beginning of his life adventure. Maybe he will dedicate his life and finances to help the world be a better place.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      If this "life adventure" takes him to the point of actually studying and comparing religious beliefs historically and worldwide he will most likely end up embracing Atheism .. the only true freedom there is. The freedom to be a moral, ethical, loving and self aware human being by choice without the threat of eternal punishment of fire & brimstone.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  11. steve-o

    I turn to cnn.com for news on the economy, the wars or anything serious and I keep getting the twits on this stupid show I have never seen. Get a life you idiots-stop watching this crap–it is turning your lumpy minds to mush

    November 29, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • NoOne22

      Steve-o: you know what the best thing about the Internet is? You don't have to click and read articles that you are not interested in! I know, amazing right? So in the future, click on economic, war, and other serious articles and you won't have this problem. No need for thanks, that is free advice.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • upinmaine

      It's a great place to turn Left for the "News" Hey where did Aaron Brown go ?

      November 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Exactly... look what it did to Angus...turned him into a mindless zealot.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  12. Your Mom

    We were unaware of 2.5 Men until Charlie Sheen went off. It was then we discovered what a complete piece of cr*p the show was and that it was rated at or near #1.

    We always thought that this kid might come out of the experience damaged, and evidently we were correct.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  13. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    I've found that most "religious awakenings" tend to awaken their inner arrogance .. case in point, see above article.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      I second this...

      November 29, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  14. Mike

    So... does Miley Cyrus look like Justin Beiber with boobs, or does Justin Beiber look like Miley Cyrus without boobs? Discuss...

    November 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • boulderbubblemomblog

      The former, and this kid-actor is CRAZY town...

      November 29, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  15. Shanikkaui

    Why is miley in 2 and a 1/2 men?

    November 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  16. dirtyhobo

    It is tough these days to believe in God. You get nothing but criticism and insult. Atheists are hollow humans with nothing to live for. That;s why they try to bring Christians down, so that they can satisfy their sadistic outlook on reality.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      LOL .. "tough these days to believe in God. You get nothing but criticism and insult" .. Immediately followed by .. "Atheists are hollow humans with nothing to live for." LOL your arrogance is only outdone by your hypocrisy.

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

      Ha Ha. Those pesky atheists with nothing to live for (except life, love, kids, fun)

      November 29, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Frank Mondana

      I've found that it is the "true believer" who has the warped sense of reality. For instance-
      – White Bigots who use the Bible to rationalize hatred of blacks, Jews, and other races despite the Bible lacking any white people and all the heroes are Jewish.
      -People who hand-wring about the coming apocalypse and live in constant fear of "God's wrath".
      -The holiest city for the big 3 religions is under constant threat of attack, suffers almost daily violence, and breeds even more hatred as they point fingers and claim the other is evil. It seems that one of those 3 interpretations of God would step in and get rid of the other 2.
      -There is a church that blames gay people for everything and do their best to ruin the funerals of those who died serving the country. Talk about angry closed minds.

      Atheists are wrongly portrayed as grumpy people who hate everything. We just dislike religion and usually get grumpy when otherwise intelligent folks fall for the oldest scam in the book – devotion to some deity. Otherwise most of us are actually quite content and live pretty decent lives. We also get to sleep in on Sunday (or Saturday, or Friday night, or whatever holy day you might observe).

      I actually think it's quite funny that so many believe that God started the world in a tiny little part of the planet and that the rest of the world had to be introduced to the Judea-Christian-Muslim God many centuries after the fact. By people. Where were the choirs of Angels swooping in to all all those pesky Asians, Eastern Europeans, Africans, South Americans, North Americans and other civilizations about the one true God?

      November 29, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Hadit

      It is not hard to believe in God, just keep it to yourself and stop preaching to others.

      November 29, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  17. enrazo75

    Miley is definitely hot enough to pull off that hair, but just the fact that she knows it makes her extremely annoying.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  18. History Bear

    Spiritual values willl not pay the mortgage, feed the bulldog or allow you to do much other than feel good. If you spiritual values are that important to you, then live them. QUIT Jones, you are already a hasbeen and if you do then I will believe you are true to your values and appalud you. Keep the job and be seen as a hypocrite as so many others are.

    November 29, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  19. old soldier

    ...Not sure if I'm cool with him wearing the uniform...

    November 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • History Bear

      What do you expect when in the name of "free Speech" the courts let you lie about your awards in the military, even if you haven't served. Just be happy that a real recruit with his characters "intellignece" and actions wouldn't even make it to basic.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
  20. John

    What does religion have to do with realizing you are a human on a planet that has degnerated moral values. That you yourself are pushing hate, discrimination, abuse everyday you go to work? Once you are smart enough to realize that you and everyone around you controls their own destiny, you also realize that you and everyone else around you is behaving like a brain dead troglodyte. But you need to get to the next level and realize you are doing this because you are FREE to do it. Freedom is a plague. If bees and ants were free there wouldn't be any bee and ant colonies, they'd all be out partying and getting drunk. It's been our choice to be free. We make up rules that we think are making for a better society but they infact give us riots, hate and bloodshed. Like why would I have a speed limit of 65mph but I allow car manufacturers to build cars that can go 120mph? It's a rigged system rigged by the people at the top that laugh and call all the rest of us monkeys. Then again that's all we are, just talking monkeys. I believe in Freedom but I shouldn't be allowed to buy a gun and shoot someone tomorrow if I got mad that they wouldn't let me graduate from college or wouldn't renew my drivers license, or I got fired from a job, my wife broke my corvette, my neighbors dog crapped on my lawn. But people are somehow free to buy guns everyday. It's ridiculous. My father told me I'm going to get shot for beeping my horn! What in the world is going on that I would have to worry about getting shot for beeping my horn! Troglodytes troglodytes can't live with them can't live without them.

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

      You, sir, need to seriously consider some therapy.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:37 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.