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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. instant critic

    He hates the show now that he's in a position financially to do so. If he gave all his ill gotten money away maybe he'd clear his conscience but we know that won't happen. I've known of several Christians who have done all manner of horrible things (more so than be on a poorly written sitcom) and flit off to church secure in the idea that they're "forgiven", they also have no problem casting judgement on other people who they deem to have committed sins in their eyes. They care little about the huge wake of destruction they've left behind them because Jebus forgives all. It's one of the worst tenets of this religion because they use it as an escape clause to commit all manner of horrible behaviour only to clear their conscience later with no reparation for those they've done wrong.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Rob

      Respect his beliefs, terminate his contract and let's see him react to merely living on his residuals. I seriously doubt anyone else in television will offer him another job.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  2. veep

    Boycott 2 1/2 Kids.

    He's right it's trash.

    But he is part of it and refuses to walk away without his money.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  3. D. Taylor

    Write it into the show script!

    November 30, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  4. BoogerFree

    I don't agree that the show is 'filth', but it's always been crap.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Ortho Stice

      My sentiments exactly. Isn't it interesting that CBS's dramas all seem to be of high quality and all the networks sitcoms are mindless?

      November 30, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • TheBIGmanonCampus

      The show has been crap since Chuck Lorre couldn't swallow his pride and let Charlie continue as the star. Chuck Lorre created a monster in Charlie Sheen and when that monster bit back he fired him. I'm not a fan of Charlie Sheen at all. It took a friend to convince me to watch the show years after it came on. I loved it. Still didn't like Charlie Sheen personally but I thought the show was great. I never liked any of Charlies work either until this show. Can't stand it now. It got weird in the first season. Almost like the writers couldn't figure out what they were doing.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  5. mildev

    What do I have in common with him? We wear the same patch on our shoulder, the only difference is that he's an actor and I earned mine in Afghanistan. lol.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  6. Bible Clown©

    It's sad to watch this kid self-destruct in the name of religion. We all know he's going to hate himself in a year and this church will be nowhere in sight. If he was saying "I'm going to settle down and live a quiet life" instead of this wild ranting, nobody would be worried, but this is obviously a bad move.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  7. Horus

    It is provably possible to live a purposeful, moral life without invoking any God.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      "It is provably possible to live a purposeful, moral life without invoking any God." Well, except Horus. Can't leave Him out.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Horus

      @BC – well I suppose that's true since without Horus (or Ra) piloting the Sun across the Horizon each day, and battling Set each night we would have no light.... 😉

      November 30, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  8. Mike H.

    Hey Angus,
    I have a highly ethical, GOD-fearing job flipping burgers and it pays great money too: $23/hour.
    Wanna swap?

    November 30, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  9. Nietodarwin

    ALL cultures throughout history have evolved with some sort of religion (or philosophy depending on "definitions") People who know evolution to be a fact must then explain this from the point of view of evolutionary biology. Richard Dawkins does a fine job of this. Religion has been very beneficial to our species at times it the past. I don't believe it is so NOW, but it has served it's purpose. Even if you ARE a believer in some religion, I don't believe the devil will take your soul and give you a shiny fiddle made of gold if you read some evolutionary biology. Try "The god Delusion" and "The Blind Watchmaker" It's really brilliant work.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Don

      Here here. Love me some Dawkins ))

      November 30, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • Warofattrition

      Devide and conquer is the motto,stop listening to the pharasees this brood of vipers,god is real and they know it,he is in his 7 th day of creation,resting and as yeshua said, be prepared when the master returns and find that his servants have not been keeping his world together.a day to god is as a thousand years to us,he is the uncreated god,you are the created product,he does not hate,for we are the blinded filled with hatred,being led into a ditch by an apostasy in the nations and the satanic Zionist media.if you don't believ that's fine I love you as a living creation as you are from the father,in time you will have no choice in the matter,and I'm sorry to say,but how the foolish will see...they will try to hide their foolishness but it will remain clear...preachers are not exempt,god is not a religion,yeshua is not a religion, religion is the fallible establishment.the church is a house of prayer not lecture..truth is not our enemy but the lie we befriend. Please give consideration to the facts.in other words think for yourself and run far from this websites garbage.....god bless the USA. The land of free slaves.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  10. Troy

    This show jumped the shark 3 years ago. Time to bury this thing and release the hounds. In any event, this dude should donate the bulk of his fortunes to his Church / religion and walk away. Ranting about past experiences and corrupt morals on a TV program written and produced by non-Christians only illuminates his immaturity and mis-direction.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Josh

      The fact that the show lost is long-time time slot on Mondays at 9pm, is a major hint that the show is considered by the network to be on its last legs.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  11. J.Jardine

    He so against it....give back the money. I don't see him giving his fortune to charity. Suck it up and stop whining.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Aezel

      Yeah. Amazing how he's keeping all the "filthy" money. Typical crazy Christian.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  12. kenstanek

    "Jones poses a hard question, encountered by all who believe in a supreme being, Miller said."
    Your very own editorialized statement proves that this "ordeal" is not "universal". It *may* be very very common to "all those who believe in a supreme being", but giving the option of not believing in a supreme being immediately proves that this is not universal. You guys are such horrible writers. It's not just TV that's dumbing down our society. CNN itself is stooping to the lowest common denominator with thoughts like these.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " It's not just TV that's dumbing down our society. CNN itself is stooping to the lowest common denominator with thoughts like these." Be fair, they knock this stuff out in minutes. Hard to be profound when you're in a hurry. Although some people on these comment boards manage . . .

      November 30, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  13. AverageJoe76

    It's like he's the lone assassin character in some movie that suddenly grows a heart and decides to protect a child that was his next intended target. THEN.... the agency he works for decides to kill their number one employee for the betrayal. In the final scene, the assassin still protecting the child/ target, is cornered by the agency. The assassin seeing his error in judgement by siding with the target, turns around and drives a knife through the child's heart, ending the chase and the movie.

    ..... that is not the typical hollywood ending, but it seems to happen all the time. That money will give you Romnesia everytime.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  14. Catori

    He's a teenager, that has been pretty sheltered. He's expressing his views according the only way he knows how.

    Leaving aside religion and hyperbole, I can't say he's wrong. This is a terrible, unfunny, show that promotes behavior none of you would accept from your family members.

    I just spent 2 years foster-mom to my niece, after her mom passed away & I learned what it's really like to raise a teenager (and I didn't have the preceding years to practice). There in nothing in this show that provides a growth experience. You end up a poorer human being, than before you saw it.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Aezel

      It's a sitcom. Perhaps you need a lesson in distinguising reality vs fantasy. It's not supposed to educate you or make you a better person. If you are relying on pop culture TV for your moral guidance you lead a pi$$-poor existence.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Buddy

      Catori, seems there are many on this board that need more growth experience (not you). Glad you were able to help your neice.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  15. Aezel

    So basically, the kid went emo, joined a whacko extremist church, and then started ranting about how his job and everyone he knows is "evil."

    Yeah. Nothing to see here people other than an ingrateful little 19 year old brat who thinks he suddenly figured it all out.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Susie

      Ungrateful, not ingrateful lol

      November 30, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Jared

      Atleast he's trying to figure it out unlike you Aezel.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Aezel

      Actually Susie, ingrateful has been an accepted alternate form of the word for quite some time in the Webster canon. Thanks for playing.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  16. AverageJoe76

    Ahhhh...... the young man's nose is open to the hypocrisies before himself and answered with his heart. Wait until he actually reads the book.... that'll blow his mind sky-high.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  17. Jody White

    Not very religious here, a believer but not a holy roller. It's amazing how this young man's statement has created such a havoc. We all have the right to our opinion, the show has made him quite a rich man, perhaps it's time he's found another career. I imagine this statement will help with that.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " We all have the right to our opinion," Really? In my opinion, guys named Jody White ought to be sent to Gitmo. See any flaws in your theory yet? Come on, plenty of opinions are horrifying and cause fights. They are like anuses; everybody has one but they are all full of crap.

      November 30, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  18. BDM

    When a show becomes so cliche that it actors start behaving this way or like one of its previous memebers, then you have to ask whether is still has any entertainment value. If you don't like the premise of the show then don't watch it (I sure don't), and if your reason for working on it contradicts your values then quit. Insulting your coworkers while still enjoying a paycheck from their work is just hypocritical.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  19. Bleh64

    I'm not uber religious, however, i do not judge those who believe or do not believe. Here's my question: If it's a morality issue with this young man and he doesn't feel comfortable with his role on this show and wants out of his contract, how about he give all the money back he earned or donate it to a worthy charity? That would show me that he is truly "converted".

    November 30, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • AmericanJack

      There you go.....he is rich at 19, loves God so give it away to people that need it like the folks in NJ and NY that have no heat, no food or no home. His money would be greatly appreciated plus he could actually go there and work with the other volunteers from all over the country that are there now and don't have a national platform to show their good work. This would truly be a selfless act that we could all understand. I understand his what he going through, it's called growing up, most of us do it with family and friends not on national TV, I wish him well.

      November 30, 2012 at 10:39 am |
  20. Michael Sawyer

    Every day, tens of thousands of well trained, hardworking, deserving actors are turned down for roles and parts, never mind the even greater number of bad actors that are turned away. He has a role that hundreds of thousands of would be actors would kill a kitten to get. He makes money that hundreds of millions of Americans will never see in their lifetime. If he cannot be grateful for what he has, he needs to end his contract and let someone else who might be appreciative get the role. I am sure Kirk Cameron needs a partner doing whatever the hell it is he does now.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Deborah Parker

      True, I'm just trying to english everyone to try to be more like God, even those millionaites who have it better than all of us, they are nut happy with ask of that money and the pour man is not happy either not is the middle earning either, so I'm dating, st least try to make your soul be happy, what do you day people, give it a try...I'm not happy every day, but I try to be our try to find something to be happy about, money will never do it, I had a few million once, my x squandered away, I live more happy now with a few dollars and God than I have ever been

      November 30, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Sigh

      Deborah Parker – "Hooked on Phonic's" much or should we call the paramedics??

      November 30, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Bible Clown©

      " I am sure Kirk Cameron needs a partner doing whatever the hell it is he does now." He explains bananas, but he already has a partner and they seem VERY happy.

      November 30, 2012 at 4:58 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.