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. InFormed

    Repent...And hand back the $millions you made from your 'vile' show. Sometimes putting your money where your mouth is can be the only true demonstration of your convictions. Pathetic.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  2. Torgo23

    We all make our choices about what it more important to us.

    Sympathy denied.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  3. Phorcys

    there is no God and "Two And A Half Men" sucks

    November 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Pete

      That means you would have to be all knowing which you are not. Sorry

      November 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Phorcys

      What makes you so sure there, Pete?

      November 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Smeegan

      Pete's argument is more valid than yours. Claiming there is "no God" is equally flawed as saying there is a God. You're relying on faith, that there is no God.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  4. Eric

    Complete idiot! He is as stupid in real life as he is on the show. Nothing wrong with God and believing, but I think at the end of the day God would forgive him if he asked for for it

    November 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • beatstockpromotersdotcom

      This is absurd. Cults are taking over. Religions are cults whether anyone wants to admit it or not.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Shawn

      I don't understand why people have to call him an idiot or any other name. There are thousands of people that have a change of heart when they join a religion. Look at Ann Rice. After she converted to Catholicism, she said the same basic things about her books and regretted having ever written them. Not much different here. I am not religious, but I support his decision no matter how much money he has gained from the show, and I love Two and a half men. I also think he should not be judged for keeping his money. It is his and he earned it. I hope he is not judged too harshly by Chuck Lorre or anyone else, but since his contract ends this season, I am sure he will no longer be on the show.. Good for you for sticking to your guns even though it probably was hard to do.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
  5. FatSean

    Hypocrite. If you're going to make your opinion public like that, you should quit. Hypocrite.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  6. DC

    Funny how they have to ID him (LEFT) in this pic.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Awesome

      That's because Miley looks like a man.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Noticer

      Yes, funny that.

      (also, Miley Cyrus, for being such a cute teenager, sure didn't turn out to be very good looking, did she? maybe she got tired of being 'cute', and decided to go overboard with 'harsh' and 'bizarre' - but she is not all that attractive anymore)

      November 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  7. Good Point

    No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  8. Chris

    What would Triangle Woman say about this?

    November 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  9. woodie

    I believe this kid was bamboozled into believing he has to make moral decisions. He needs to rewind his misconceptions and come back to earth.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • FatSean

      Jesus lets children be born with birth defects all the time. His daddy ordered the ancient Hebrews to commit genocide.

      Some "morality".

      November 29, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • J-Pap

      Boy is he gonna be mad when he realizes there is no god and he just tossed away a potential career in hollywood.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  10. heyimjason

    He's got a lot of gall to be an ingrate AND a lousy actor. If his silly beliefs are that strong, he should just walk away from the show and deal with the lawsuit.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
  11. Daverelentless

    Keep featuring Bucktoothed Hillbillies who cannot act, yeah that's the ticket. The rubes will rush to see this idiocy.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  12. MrApplesauce

    It's easy to take a moral stance when you've already made millions off your job.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  13. blogo

    Spiritual awakening? More like a doze of bullshift!

    November 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  14. DaveinOhio

    If the show offends his "moral conscience" so much, he should donate all the money he recieved from it to charity. Maybe it'll make him feel better.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  15. Robert Stresnak

    My biggest problem with this now is seeing this fool in the same uniform which i still wear and serve in. He is wearing a combat patch and no unit insignia. Get it right and quit disrespecting those who still proudly wear the uniform and have earned that right.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • InFormed

      He does not have a unit insignia because his 'service' is fake, just like his convictions.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  16. ajac09

    he also apologized lol but I think he just wants out before Ashton kills it

    November 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  17. Mr Beardsley

    "What he's displaying is the kind of passion that commonly infects the newly converted or those that have just found religion"

    I'm sorry but you're confusing "passion" with ignorance and an inability to appreciate where he came from.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  18. Drew

    All I noticed was for all the money that show spends, they still managed to put his unit patch on the wrong shoulder.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  19. Linden Brown

    So is he going to give back all the money he made off of the "filth"?

    November 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  20. rshanks66

    He has a right to his opinion… but he really knows how to bite the hand that feeds him. Let’s face it, this guy is NOT a good actor. Whatever slack anyone was willing to cut him as a kid is long gone now that he’s an adult. And the verdict is…. LOUSY ACTOR.

    November 29, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • tmavenger

      And furthermore:

      That patch on his right shoulder indicates he's been in combat with the ed ID, but is not currently assigned to a unit (left shoulder bare).

      Come on Hollywood! A little attention to detail.

      Apologies to the 621 other people who probably already pointed this out.

      November 29, 2012 at 10:34 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.