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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. GimmieaBrake

    You are all giving this idiot WAY too much credit!! He's not religious he's not having moral dilemmas or conscious issues, he barely even qualifies as stupid.
    He's just another worthless actor that thinks money replaces brains and gives him the right to act holier than thou over something he heard that he thinks makes sense. I can almost guarantee he never has and never will EARN a high school diploma and just seeing anything someone like this says even get noticed all makes me queasy (unless it's me of course).
    And yes, I'm totally jealous of their money but I truly despise any of these morons who talk about anything other than acting to the public since they are not qualified on anything else and dumber than anyone listening.
    this kiss a$$ "please notice me" writer is just as bad trying to make this into something it's not but I guess that's his or her job...
    Someone just needs to slap this kid in the head and move on, now if everyone could just be more like me...

    November 30, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  2. carolb

    I like Angus. I don't watch the show on a regular basis, and hardly ever these days, but I've enjoyed watching him grow up over the years. He sounds like a nineteen-year-old to me. I wish him the best in both his career and his faith. I'm sure he'll figure it out.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:48 am |
  3. poor kid

    Thought he was a JW when I first heard it. Amazing parallels between JW and 7th day adventist faiths. But they both grew out of the same 19th century movement.

    Anyway, I hope someone sends this kid to a college with a heavy science curriculum. That will hopefully restore some rationality to his still developing mind. And no cop out "evolution is against my faith" exemptions. Too much "i'm not going to use this in my career" exceptions taking place in college.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  4. bla

    ...But he'll continue to take their money for making "filth". So give him his "wish" and kick him off the show. See how fast he begs to come back.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  5. julieann

    "the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word and it becomes unfruitful."

    November 30, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  6. Mike

    Kirk Cameron 2.0, with much less talent though.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  7. Mike

    He's a hypocrite if he doesn't give all his money back then.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:39 am |
  8. freddy

    its one thing to not agree with the principals of your job, but another to direct your believe on everyone else. Its great he is proud to be who he is now, but dont bite the hand that feeds you. He should quietly behind the scenes hire an attorny and get out of his contract if that is what he so chooses. Dont try and convince everyone not to watch the show. That is not fair to everyone eles on the show itself. They have to make a living too.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  9. Eva Slade

    In a few years when he's broke..We'll read about him going over a bridge in his car, the last thing that wasn't repossessed.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:33 am |
    • Teacher

      You are sick in the head

      November 30, 2012 at 11:51 am |
  10. roger watson

    the kid has got god disease which is when religion becomes the all consuming passion in your life. i hope he has some good people around him to keep him from giving the church all his money.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  11. OBAMA PHONE

    Angus Jones = Kirk Cameron

    November 30, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Mateo

      Yes - another young, impressionable actor who got caught up in the craziness of young hollywood fame, and instead of being accountable for his actions, decided to blame it on the devil and become a crazy born-again.

      I hope he never sees work again - if it was really that big of a moral dilemma, then he would stop collecting his paycheck and leave

      November 30, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  12. Shaggy

    He's an overnight religious extremist. There have been plenty of cases of minor actors like this joining cults and ruining their careers. Hope the cult, or "religious advisor" in this case, doesn't take all of his cash before he wises up and gets out.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  13. RocketJL

    Here we go again. This kids has had religion all day and now he is trying to tell everyone else what to do. Bottom line seems to be that if you watch this show or have ever watched it, you are not a good christian. Tell you the truth, the message gets a little mixed. His view for the show seems to be OK with being a soldier that may have to take human life, but a show about guys and girls making out is bad. Well, what will he say next month or soon there after, when he starts to get older and a pretty girl bats her eyes at him. Then, it will be OK?????

    November 30, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  14. ZMEEKER

    Just another idealistic youth whose perception has been clouded by a peer group? Possibly. Or, just another affluent religious kook? Also possible. One thing is for sure, apologies ring hollow in these days of video evidence. Give him his wish and knock him off the back of his cash cow.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • Peach

      Just because someone has strong religious beliefs does not mean he is a "nut". The kid is right, the show is trash. Much like the American's morals........

      November 30, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Jesus

      @Peach

      Then why is he still on it and collecting his huge paychecks?

      November 30, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Totallyamazed

      Save your breath Peach. You have little support on these types of blogs.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  15. delores e jones

    You grow where planted - or not, depends on the person. Our friend is wilted, he needs his ends cut for fresh water for nourishment. I haven't seen the show, TV is a downer, you're looking at boobs and boobs looking at boobs, same with female journalists, either looking at boobs or your picture taken. I haven't had a TV for years, no loss.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  16. Sheila

    The show has gone downhill since before Charlie left. What was, at first, clever innuendo and double entendres became outright potty mouth. It's time to go.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:12 am |
  17. crowded

    I give it 4 yrs before we see him in a mugshot strung out on drugs, or arrested for some bizarre case of domestic abuse. Honestly, I've seen this kind of 'conversion' among my own friends and it ends badly.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:04 am |
  18. Ortho Stice

    Angus, I have two words for you: Kirk Cameron. I think he's a nutbar, but I respect his conviction in turning his back on a lucrative career.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:02 am |
  19. Ray

    oh no....yet another right wing freak! If he is so devout, he should quit and not accept the hundreds of thousands he makes from the show. HYPOCRITE!!!!

    November 30, 2012 at 11:01 am |
    • Guy

      Why do you assume he's right wing? Because he's (as he claims) religious? Are you REALLY going to say there's not a single devout Christian/ Jew/ Muslim that votes Democratic? Maybe you should rethink what you say before you say it.

      November 30, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  20. ralph gilbert

    I totally agree that the time for this show to go is now...he's grown up as a cute little kid with growing up and when with Charlie Sheen the show depicted him as a loser with no place to go, I quit watching the show just prior to Ashton Kutcher taking over...it's hard for a show to rebound as soon as it's prime star leaves...it's been done in the past and failed so I see no rebounding for this show either...trying to hang onto a show for ratings that just aren't there should tell everyone...TIME TO GO.

    November 30, 2012 at 10:57 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.