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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. Joe

    The kid is not wrong. The show is filth. But, people enjoy watching this type of stuff. And there is nothing wrong with that. Where he was wrong was in telling people not to watch it. If he truly believed that, then he should quit or he is a hypocrite.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  2. Deborah Parker

    It fortified me about their future to see what they watch if you turn to the cartoons, they use hate words, shut up, silly stupid things, just anything goes, and is but fair to these children to nut have God moral sites for them to watch that are fun and interesting, but NOT demeaning and hurtful to their souls. It is because there are too many atheists running TV these days and are are the mighty

    November 30, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      Please put down The Babble and pick up a book about English, and use it, so that we may better understand your drivel before we inform you you are full of shit.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • sybaris

      Please list the Atheists running TV these days

      November 30, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • sam stone

      What makes you think you know what is damaging to people's "souls"?

      Do you seriously think that atheists have no morals?

      Can you be any more pompous?

      November 30, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  3. M

    The answer for Mr. Miller, would be in a better education than is provided by hanging around Charlie Sheen most of the week. Hit the books, kid. You'll find yourself enlightened in no time... No mythical sky creature worship necessary.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  4. Joe

    I know one person who had ZERO ethical concerns about their job, despite sucking businesses dry and putting people out of work and despite the fact that this person is also supposedly very religious. Can anyone guess who?

    November 30, 2012 at 9:27 am |
    • Richad J.

      Bush 43?

      November 30, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  5. mattski

    Kids his age see things in black and white – no grey area. He'll grow up and realize the world ain't perfect for anyone and it won't be for him either. He'll learn to pick his battles more wisely and save his rage for important things..

    November 30, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  6. Deborah Parker

    You are right Angus T. Jones!! The "good" has gone from the world in most lines of work and it is a struggle for all believers in God, the Almighty Heavenly Father. You are not alone in your feelings and I am proud to see someone with the guts to stand up to Hollywood and tell it like it is. I absolutely agree with you about TV becoming a horrible place for our young children to grow up watching such nonsense as most of the shows today are..I am not saying anything bad about any one particular show out there, it's most all of them. I an a young grandmother of two, 6 and a6 month old baby

    November 30, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • richunix

      Remeber TV is a "mirror" of what is happening around the world. What was your GODS name again? I was thinking you were talking about the God of the pencil sharpner? Here is a repost of a better 10 Commandments:

      From Colin
      Exactly. Teach them the following 10 Commandments..

      1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must.

      2. DO NOT think that claims about magic, miracles and the supernatural are more likely true because they are written in old books. That makes them less likely true.

      3. DO analyze claims about religion with the same critical eye that you would claims about money, political positions or social issues.

      4. DO NOT accept it when religious leaders tell you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself. It never is. Only those selling junk cars want to prohibit you from looking under the hood.

      5. DO decouple morality from a belief in the supernatural, in any of its formulations (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc.). One can be moral without believing in gods, ghosts and ghouls and believing in any of them does not make one moral.

      6. DO a bit of independent research into whatever book you were brought up to believe in. Who are its authors and why should you believe them in what they say? How many translations has it gone through? Do we have originals, or only edited copies of copies of copies– the latter is certainly true for every single book in the Bible.

      7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?

      8. DO NOT be an apologist or accept the explanation “your mind is too small to understand the greatness of God,” “God is outside the Universe” or “God moves in mysterious ways” when you come upon logical inconsistencies in your belief. A retreat to mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered wrong.

      9. DO understand where your religion came from and how it evolved from earlier beliefs to the point you were taught it. Are you lucky enough to be living at that one point in history where we “got it right”?

      10. DO educate yourself on the natural Universe, human history and the history of life on Earth, so as to be able to properly evaluate claims that a benevolent, mind-reading god is behind the whole thing.

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      November 30, 2012 at 9:34 am |
    • sybaris

      You poor delusional woman.

      Of course you believe "good" is gone. Religion requires passive persecution to perpetuate or else it would lose it's attractiveness.

      There is good everywhere, you just don't need religion to find it.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  7. Culpepper

    Hey Angus ... if the show is so disgusting, are you gonna give back all the money you've made off it for the past 8 years ?

    November 30, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  8. D. Mama

    I have always taught my kids. .....Becareful what you say or it will come back and bite you in the butt! His great life may have just hit the dust !!!!

    November 30, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  9. n222s

    The problem with Judeo/Christian religion isn't a denial of science or a belief in a deity or anything else. It is our unwillingness to live by the tenets of our faith. "They will know we are Christians by our love". (And here comes the left and atheists slamming THAT statement). How many of us compromise our beliefs for person gain or pleasure? (I say us because yeah, I sure have compromised) Frankly, if we all lived by a Judeo/Christian code, even if we didn't believe in a supreme being, would the world be better or worse? Atheists love to ridicule beliefs when they should be asking people to live their faith. Who cares how old the earth is if you treat people with kindness and respect? If you believe a lifestyle is sinful, who cares if you treat people with love?

    That said, let us all stop pretending there is no evil in the world. For example, I saw where the Elmo puppeteer was absolved by many of his involvement with teens in the past. "A long time ago". "It was consenting". No. Involvement like that between a teenager and adult is wrong. Not because of orientation. Because it is wrong REGARDLESS of orientation. When we compromise on such basic areas of right and wrong because Clash is gay, we open the door to acceptance of such behavior of people with ANY orientation.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:20 am |
    • sybaris

      The tenets of your faith are not unique. Get over yourself. Typical christo-centric BS

      November 30, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  10. Josh

    ' "I'm on 'Two and a Half Men,' and I don't want to be on it," he said. '

    Maybe Angus should have thought of that before he jumped in on signing his $14M contract last year?

    Angus doesn't like the show, but definitely loves the money.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  11. Big Ginge

    The show is simply a hilarious portrayal of a rich amoral Malibu alcoholic (Charlie) and his family. It does not promote this life style, it just displays it. I would no more judge this show for it's moral ethics or try to emulate it than I would Al Pacino in Scarface. It's just entertainment. If it's to rich for you then change the channel. Agnus, who sits a famous millionaire from this show and trashes it is probably too young to label a hypocrite. Just young, foolish and easily manipulated.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  12. mcp123

    I see the Seventh Day cult is already warping his mind....

    November 30, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • sybaris

      No different than any other religion

      November 30, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "No different than any other religion" Really? Google the "Millerites." You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll fall down. It will change your life.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • sybaris

      @ Bible Clown

      all religions warp minds

      November 30, 2012 at 9:43 am |
  13. Mark

    He waited until he was filthy rich then he got religion. Take the money then run.

    November 30, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Arbogast

      Well, if he's born again, then there's not telling when that will happen. Plus, he's a kid, and his sense of timing and tact are underdeveloped. We'll see what happens. It kind of looks like his role in the show was diminishing anyway. Rumor has it that if the show is renewed for another season next year, he will not return, at least as a regular cast member.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  14. Paul

    It annoys me to no end when then uniform is not worn properly. Just out of curiousity CNN, out of the millions of screen shots that could have been used for a religous peice on this young man, why choose one where he is wearing a US Army uniform? And to the producers of the show that put the uniform on the young man, why does he not have on a unit patch?????

    November 30, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • sybaris

      Relax, it's just pretend.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • Manuel J.

      @ mcp123.... you have obviously not served. The so-called unit patch you refer to is the 3rd ID on his right sleeve.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Manuel J.

      correction @ Paul regarding the 3rd ID

      November 30, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Ted

      Paul... I believe that the Military does not allow the uniform to be worn properly on any movie or TV show. There is always something amiss in any uniform worn in entertainment. As a 20-year veteran, I don't have a problem with the wearing of the uniform, just as long as it's a respectful wearing.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Mike

      Actually Hollywood is legally bond not to accurately depict real uniforms and military insignia.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • Rick

      Regarding the "unit patch". The uniform in the photo displays the patch of the 3rd Infantry Division on the right sleeve, which is commonly referred to as a combat patch. The correct term is Shoulder Sleeve Insignia-Former Wartime Service (SSI-FWTS). What Paul is saying, and correctly so, is that the uniform lacks a shoulder sleeve insignia on the LEFT sleeve, which indicates the current unit of assignment. I find inaccurate uniforms annoying as well. Finding out how to correctly display a uniform is too easy for movie and TV producers. I would place this role in production at the costume designer/wardrobe department, however.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:26 am |
    • Ian

      Mike – That is not true. Any time a Marine Corps Unfirm is displayed it must be worn as if the person was actually int he Corps. Several services dont care but i know for a fact the marine corps does not allow the uniform to be displayed on TV if it is not worn properly.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Richad J.

      FYI: The military encourages film and TV to be as accurate as possible. Doing my 20 years I did a hitch with the Navy PR department that provided advice and logistics support to film and TV. They are not required to contact us, but that is why we are there. All the services have them.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  15. katedrewthis

    The writer is correct about this being a universal thing. I think it goes beyond people of faith, though. I would guess that at some point, everyone finds a conflict between a belief they hold that is bigger than themselves (be it based in religion, politics, morals) and what they do for a living.

    Someone has a passion for helping the environment, yet works for a company that manufacturs SUVs. Someone's politics lean right, but the job that they enjoy and do well is for a company that leans left.

    Heck, I was at a wedding in New York, and the drinking glasses had the Yankees logo on them. As a dyed-in-the-wool Sox fan, I didn't know if I could use them! Go head and laugh...my husband did...but I was seriously conflicted!

    What makes this situation different is the attention it gets.

    November 30, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • Brad

      What also makes this different is he slammed his own show, the one that made him rich instead of quitting if he didn't like what the show was. I guess faith ends at the paycheck. Just another Christian hypocrite.

      November 30, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " I would guess that at some point, everyone finds a conflict between a belief they hold that is bigger than themselves (be it based in religion, politics, morals) and what they do for a living. "
      Your guess would be wrong. I've worked for some really crooked people, and I didn't like enriching them by my success, but the end result helped people in several ways. Mainly I made sure a thousand people had food every day, and that's not wrong or unethical. In my personal life, I'm a faithful husband and father and good steward of the things entrusted to me.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:17 am |
  16. Bill D.

    If he was black instead of white, would that make him a Black Angus?

    November 30, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • katedrewthis

      I laughed at this more than I should have. 🙂

      November 30, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  17. ml

    And religion ruins another life. How long until the Adventists take all his money and toss him aside?

    November 30, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  18. jenny

    here is a picture of two cute child stars, and now both are no longer cute and no longer funny or whitty...putting her on the show was just as bad as trying to make the show work after charlie...LET IT GO.....its not funny, its just stupid, and desperate.....let the kid have his cute funny past on reruns....and let him grow up now....in real lfe....hopefully not influenced by "all the blackl people he likes to be around"....thanks tom cruise...reined another kid.....

    November 30, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • XACTOMUNDO

      You and me are like peas and carrots, Jen-ny, because carrots are also stupid and uninformed.

      November 30, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  19. Reality

    In case you missed this on p. 19:

    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 8:35 am |
    • mcp123

      Saturday? Awww the hell if I will be spending my Saturday in hot stuffy clothes... lets not even mention Sunday!

      November 30, 2012 at 9:06 am |
    • Josh

      I guess that means they take off on Fridays to mow their lawns, but go to work on Sundays mornings.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  20. artichokes

    An actor expresses his opinion. That is his choice. A bit hypocritical at best, however since he recants. It's all about the money!
    To quote Newton N. Minow, FCC chairman circa 1061
    "When television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better.
    But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite each of you to sit down in front of your own television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland."

    November 30, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • artichokes

      Coorection. To quote Newton N. Minow, FCC chairman circa 1961

      November 30, 2012 at 8:29 am |
    • sam stone

      The boat on Gilligan's Island was named after him

      November 30, 2012 at 10:12 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.