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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. gager

    Religion claims another victim.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  2. Nietodarwin

    (For old fans only) Remember when Charlie was banging the devil worshiping witch, who had Jake praying to "the horned one" and then Alan sent him to his room (Angus would have been 10-11, early show) He complained and yelled at his dad, "I'm old enough to choose my own religion." Might be the same episode, Jake sneezes, somebody says, "God bless you" and Jake says "He'd better I sent him FIVE BUCKS!!!" because he had sent money to some charlatan TV preacher. Oh the irony of this news.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:23 pm |
  3. Clark

    Yea, like most of the post. He is young and dumb and just found a new toy. Religion. What a big P*****. He has know nothing but money with a cake job. If he every has to work hard to get money, he may reconsider. Give me Hollywood and ton of money, all of it's great sins and you will not hear me whine. They need to fire his a** for bad mouthing his employer.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  4. longtooth

    Give Angus a break. He's a young man who is embracing his spirituality. He's being impetuous and reckless, but that is the job description of a 19 year old man. He's already said he's sorry. Let him find his own relationship with God. Haven't any of you commenters been a teenager?

    November 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  5. Arnold

    That's 3rd ID patch on his right shoulder would indicate his character did a combat tour....the producers need to move the patch to his left shoulder.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  6. RDT

    God hasn't watched since Charlie left. So I think your safe kid.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  7. Paul

    It's bizarre to see a picture of Jones with Miley Cyrus. Here's a young man experiencing an awakening while in Hollywood, and going upward spiritually. Beside him is a girl who quoted Scripture on Oprah, but has taken a downward spiral in her spiritual life.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  8. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    If this kid really felt his show was "filth" he wouldn't draw attention to it by speaking out publicly ... he's really just saying .. God(s) look at me! Give me brownie points!

    If he truly wanted to "do God(s) work and make God(s) happy" he would've simply quit and hoped it hasten the shows demise. But no, his true intention was public self admiration.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Matt

      i agree that's a possibility, but to say it's a certainty is something you cannot do unless you know this guy. You're just taking a stereotype of celebrities speaking out and running with it. Don't make false claims

      November 29, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Matt .. it's an opinion and I'm sure you know that.
      But for you to say "with certainty" that I'm stereotyping and saying it's a "false claim" IS in fact a stereotype and false claim.

      November 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Matt

      i agree with that statement, i am stereotyping that you're like the people on here and judging someone you don't personally share a relationship with...sorry, i ddin't know you knew him....

      November 29, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  9. Ricke1949

    Most of the programs on TV are junk. Heroin for warped minds. They fail to elevate the good and rejoice in the bad.
    Our culture is sick and dying. Stay tuned.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  10. Matt

    while you're all quite vulgar and unarticulated, i'm getting the impression that people feel like he should have not said anything at all in a video, let alone one that gone on YouTube. When did freedom of speech become bad in this country. Just because he makes more money than most of us doesn't mean he doesn't have a right to voice his opinion. His hypocracy is evident, but it's amazing how many of you are so hypocritical to judge someone whose moral values conflict with their behaviors. mindless fools

    November 29, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Lilith

      WE are "unarticulated" LOL ... how very articulate of you, but my joints work fine thank you.

      November 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Matt,

      the problem here is not that Angus T. Jones found religion.

      The problem is that Christopher Hudson used him. He may well have destroyed the career of a child actor all in aid of some cheap propaganda for the Seventh Day Adventists.

      Child actors are surrounded by parasites. Usually by the normal Hollywood crowd. This young man has traded in one set of parasites for another.

      November 29, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Matt

      lilith:)...dammit my tendancy to misconstrue words...i should have said nothing at all!!!! hahaha

      as for the GOPer, you sound like you have a better understanding of the situation as i don't know Christopher Hudson or his affiliations with church. I'm standing up for freedom of speech and people who feel that others should be silenced because they hold differing opinions. It is the exact opposite how people should respond. Analysis yes, but to void his opinion, no. We all share the same world, learn to live with opinions that oppose yours (when i say you, it means the public in general, not you GOPer

      November 29, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Matt

      shouldn't*

      November 29, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  11. Nietodarwin

    A man`s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
    Albert Einstein

    November 29, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  12. William

    Universal?? What a Joke.

    Those of us that took the Mark of the Obamanation .. (say 50% of the US voters) have no conflicts whatsoever.
    No accountability, no moral duties, just whatever any individual chooses is RIGHT!
    I feel no guilt or shame ....

    November 29, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  13. Jo

    Amen!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
  14. bman

    Smash your TV, Burn your alter, give away your money and move to the ghetto!

    November 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  15. Jo

    I love 2 1/2 men for the way it reveals male immaturity !!! Great script and acting!!!! I would not have let my son be on the show as a young kid!!!!! No way !!! I am not a Born again Christian!!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  16. Stacy

    Angus T. Jones is young and it's easy to feel passionate about a new faith at that age. What will probably happen is what happens with many of the newly converted, for a couple years they are dazzled by their newfound faith and the sense of community they feel they are getting out of it, then it gradually become tiresome and he will quietly distance himself from that faith. Often people turn to faith when they feel something lacking inside themselves and they want to be MORE. No religion in the world can fill that void if you can;t get it figured out for yourself. It's fine to have faith in a higher power, but you need to have faith in yourself first.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Yup something like........"Most people don't even want to stay in church for a whole hour, who would want to spend eternity in someplace that resembles it" (Mark Twain) (I may have missed or added some little word but that's the gist)

      November 29, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • gera

      There you go again, egocentric. Until we acknowledge we are messed up people and need a savior we are always going to do what we feel and not what is right.

      November 29, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
  17. Jackie

    First of all kid, do you remember how things worked out for Charlie Sheen when he started trash talking the execs & show? Secondly, there is a very simple solution to all of this..if the show is filth and you don't want to be on it, why don't you just quit? Oh that's right because the show is making you nearly 8 and a half million a year. Put your money where your mouth is kiddo.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • SDA.and.Proud

      He cant quit, he is under contract my dear, he has made motions about not wanting to be in this show anymore but with any luck, they might just fire him, think a little outside the box next time you try to talk trash about someone

      November 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  18. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Gotta love a rich 19 year old telling the rest of us what life's about. My kids all thought they knew better at that age too .. problem here is he's rich & his "fame" lol makes him feel superior so he won't bother to listen & learn.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • Stacy

      Isn't it funny that the older we get, the less we know.

      November 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • SDA.and.Proud

      Have you not read anything about what this kid has been saying this whole time? He is saying that he is NOW learning about what is important in life ... i cant believe your trashing about him and thinking him a lower man for making this decision. He became an actor on that show when he was around 10 years old, now he is 19 and felt a void in his life that he found out could be filled by GOD. Do you not realize that he actually wants to leave that whole lifestyle and follow his heart to become an SDA?

      November 29, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      SDA .. then he's worse off than I originally thought!
      It's too bad he choose to fill that "void" with religion. That void is best filled with self awareness .. but filling it with religion first rarely leaves room for that.

      November 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • SDA.and.Proud

      @ If horses... just get a clue, what in the lifestyle of believing in God and following the Bible are you against at? what is your ideal lifestyle without God... can you enlighten me?

      November 29, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      SDA ... Reality, that's ideal.
      If I must be against it I guess I would be against the hypocrisy and righteous indignation.
      Are you enlightened yet?

      November 29, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  19. Stephen Colbert

    These people who are so conflicted with their spiritual values and their work are the biggest hypocrites and have what I call situational ethics. They have no qualms getting rich by doing things they would preach other people not to do and then say, "Oh I have my spiritual awakening".

    Angus T Jones would have an ounce of credibility if he gave away all his money and then start over. Let us see how quick he shuts up.

    November 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Bogdan

      agreed.... he's like a whistle blower who decided to bite off the hand that was feeding him.

      November 29, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
  20. gman tello

    please support our troops

    http://www.airsplat.com/support-gi-troops.htm

    November 29, 2012 at 7:06 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.