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. Michael

    I'm a farmer. I grow wheat & barley. My job only empowers my conscience.

    November 30, 2012 at 5:20 am |
  2. Thor

    So here we go again. We need a religion to tell us how to treat people and what is right or wrong. It is such a statement that we, as a religious based government, need to be told what to do to be "right" by churchgoers!

    November 30, 2012 at 4:32 am |
  3. MoMO

    JUST LEAVE YOUR JOB THEN..............



    November 30, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • Thor

      I feel that the headlines would "bear witness" more to the "Christian" method if they read something like: "Boy actor throws off the yoke of Hollywood, declares 2.5 Men the work of Satan, and donates all of his wealth to poor black women."

      November 30, 2012 at 4:43 am |
  4. Faithislife

    I think it's too bad he tries to do something good and is slammed for it. He's 19 give him a break he is in the middle of life trying to figure things out and if finding god helps him become a happier person than good for him.

    November 30, 2012 at 3:37 am |
    • It's Like This

      He retracted his remarks. Money talked louder than God.

      November 30, 2012 at 3:44 am |
    • Faithislife

      He didn't retract his remarks he just clarified that he was not aiming his remarks at the network or his coworkers. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBraHI5DwJ0

      November 30, 2012 at 3:56 am |
    • Thor

      Money governs religion.

      November 30, 2012 at 4:33 am |
  5. small 'c' christian

    Why go public with it at all? Honestly, if the young man is genuine about his newfound faith, then that is a private matter, not one for the publicity-seeking blogger who actually flew out to California strictly for the purpose of taping Mr Jones; "rant".

    Self-serving pronouncements of this type just do not mesh with the beliefs espoused. If Angus is serious, he should simply leave the show. Period.

    November 30, 2012 at 3:29 am |
    • JimiJoni

      Since your feeling this way, I'll be happy to take a few millions of that "filth money" off your hands.

      November 30, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • LT. Dan

      Stupid is as stupid says.

      November 30, 2012 at 3:37 am |
  6. Maximus

    Make a statement.
    You lack the courage of your convictions, boy...

    (I care about as much what an actor has to say than I do their opinions on politics....who effin CARES?!)

    November 30, 2012 at 3:22 am |
  7. kevin

    Look at the idiot he's getting advise from. PEOPLE LIKE HER MAKE PEOPLE LIKE US LOOK GOOD.

    November 30, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  8. Eddie Munster

    I personally prefer child actors to turn into newsworthy trainwrecks like Danny Boniduce and Lindsay Lohan.

    November 30, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • sam stone

      don't forget dana plato

      November 30, 2012 at 3:11 am |
  9. Mortimer " Tiger Blood" Mumbleslouch, Accountant

    I prefer Charlie Sheen's version much better. This kid lacks smokin' hotties and mercury surfboards and all the weird color Charlie Sheen pained on the same basic idea.

    I would much rather hang out with Sheen and watch his warped weirdness than hang out with a new-born cultist.

    November 30, 2012 at 2:37 am |
  10. LA

    Good article. Thank you for it. Glad to see some common sense and compassion displayed instead of the knee-jerk judgment that always appears in the CNN comments section about anything remotely close to religion. Good point that so many of us go through what he's going through in different ways.

    November 30, 2012 at 2:36 am |
    • Michael Martinez

      Great Article!!

      November 30, 2012 at 3:33 am |
    • Garrulous

      I agree.

      November 30, 2012 at 6:10 am |
  11. tallulah13

    I don't have anything in common with this kid except that we are the same species. Sorry.

    November 30, 2012 at 2:00 am |
  12. sugarloveandjesus

    This is an excellent step and I just pray that he doesn't get lured back in to the Hollywood life. I am glad that he's established a relationship with God and learning the Word enough to know that there is no compromise. We need more young people to champion for the Lord. I'm not particularly concerned with the religion that he's adapted because frankly if he's really seeking God, whatever false prophet teachings he gets involved in will be weeded out. Thank God that he's at least made the first step and was courageous enough to make his faith and conviction known. Amen!

    November 30, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • chrishug

      Religious nuts like you sicken me -_-

      November 30, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • sam stone

      Does the lord need someone to champion for him?

      November 30, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • Meekmok

      Ah yes, he's courageous enough to find god, but not courageous enough to give up making 300+ grand per episode! What a hypocrite.

      November 30, 2012 at 2:26 am |
    • Faithislife

      I agree with you. Good for Angus.

      November 30, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • Thor

      Funny how some need the "word of God" to show off our goodness!

      November 30, 2012 at 4:36 am |
  13. Name*Chedar

    Angus Jones don't mixed up what is not real to be real. That is one thing wrong about religion. What you are doing in 2-1/2 men is fantasy. What you are doing in Seventh day Adventist is more unreal. He are delusional as an actor and you are delusional in real life as well.

    November 30, 2012 at 1:11 am |
  14. Reality

    Angus is not too bright considering the following:

    "The Seventh-day Adventist Church[2][3] (The Great Disappointment) is a Protestant Christian[4] denomination distinguished by its observance of Saturday,[5] the original seventh day of the Judeo-Christian week, as the Sabbath, and by its emphasis on the imminent second coming (advent) of Jesus Christ.

    Much of the theology of the Seventh-day Adventist Church corresponds to Protestant Christian teachings such as the Trinity and the infallibility of Scripture. Distinctive teachings include the unconscious state of the dead and the doctrine of an investigative judgment.

    The Seventh-day Adventist Church formed out of the movement known today as the Millerites. In 1831, a Baptist convert, William Miller (until then a Deist), was asked by a Baptist to preach in their church and began to preach that the Second Advent of Jesus would occur somewhere between March 1843 and March 1844, based on his interpretation of Daniel 8:14. A following gathered around Miller that included many from the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Christian Connection churches. In the summer of 1844, some of Miller's followers promoted the date of October 22. They linked the cleansing of the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 with the Jewish Day of Atonement, believed to be October 22 that year. By 1844, over 100,000 people were anticipating what Miller had called the "Blessed Hope". On October 22 many of the believers were up late into the night watching, waiting for Christ to return and found themselves bitterly disappointed when both sunset and midnight passed with their expectations unfulfilled. This event later became known as the Great Disappointment."

    November 30, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • lolubadumad

      Reality: The "Great Dissapointment" only included about a thousand people, which is a tiny portion of what was Adventists and Millerites. Its hillarious to see you try and pin the entire organization with that in such a dishonest fashion. I dont even like adventism but you, you're something else.

      November 30, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • Thor

      The numbers may be off but........ the reality of this religion is telling. And we didn't like Romney because he was ........ what? (And all of those responses are different from "Christianity" how?) Yes...... right......... and I NEED a religion to tell me what is right or wrong?

      November 30, 2012 at 4:39 am |
    • Reality

      One more time:

      "By 1844, over 100,000 people were anticipating what Miller had called the "Blessed Hope". On October 22 many of the believers were up late into the night watching, waiting for Christ to return and found themselves bitterly disappointed when both sunset and midnight passed with their expectations unfulfilled. This event later became known as the Great Disappointment."

      November 30, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  15. mmi16

    Boy thinks he has the answers – Hasn't even been presented with the REAL questions.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:38 am |
  16. Joel

    So glad we have this guy to tell us what to think of a TV show. I mean, we certainly couldn't come to our own conclusions, could we? Thank you so much, Angus, for sharing your wisdom with us and enlightening us. We never would have known that today's TV is crap without you.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  17. Michael

    Ah Angus, now your conscience bothers you, does it? Best to either shut up and do what you get paid lots of money to do or quit the show and give away all the dough you made to a worthwhile charity. We don't want anyone to think that the "T" in Angus T. Jones stands for TWOFACE, now do we ?

    November 30, 2012 at 12:31 am |
  18. Name*david williams

    Would be a good time for him to grow on the show too.
    He could go through the same journey as in real life. The reactions of his co-stars would be priceless.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  19. Erik

    Was going to say Kirk Cameron will give him a call, but then I flipped to the show tonight (used to LOVE it b4 Sheen burned out) and literally the first dialog uttered was this kid's character saying, "Good news Dad, my girlfriend gave me the 'clap'!" Well, he's right, it's filth, but don't forget to shut up about it. You're an actor (kind of). Anyone that takes you seriously, shouldn't be taken seriously.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  20. whatev

    Well if the kid feels this way, then he should donate every cent he ever made from the show to his church. Don't just talk the talk, walk the walk.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • whatev

      No he shouldn't – that would be stupid... he earned his money as a sinner, seperated from God...

      November 30, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • GABC

      Well said! I wonder how one could have a mid life crisis at 19? Personally, I think the show (before he grew up and Charlie left) was the funniest show I've ever seen. The writers should take most of the credit.

      November 30, 2012 at 3:22 am |
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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.