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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. Famous

    Another Kirk Cameron.....dis the biz that made you rich after the fact. Losers and BS'rs, they fed well from the filth, and now they are righteous. How about they both go to hell.

    November 30, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  2. One and a half men

    Kudos Angus! Hypocrisy and the church go hand and hand! Well played.

    November 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  3. idoubt

    so is he gonna give all his "filthy" money back to society?

    November 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  4. Lola

    Good for you Angus!!

    It is very mature of him to step up and open up on his beliefs and morals. We live in a very corrupted world and for him to have the guts to be true to himself when he's constantly under the magnifying glass takes lots of courage. Yes the show has made him a millionaire at a very young age, but that does not mean he should sell himself to Hollywood just to keep them happy. If he continues being true to himself he will succeed in many levels that no amount of money can ever achieve.

    November 30, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
  5. Gomer

    So he found a hot religious gal and she's pured the p u d d y all over him and now he's a puppet to this chick. Ahhh. Being young.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  6. Ramil

    I think it only makes sense for him to return ALL the money he made from the show because it is against his belief to earn money in such a filthy manner... He shoudl return all the money or donate and never take any more from this show... Only then he can avoid the sin ...

    November 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
  7. Educated

    Why is nobody making more of this comment: "What he's displaying is the kind of passion that commonly infects the newly converted or those that have just found religion,"? Last I checked, religion wasn't something with which you were infected.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
    • Angus T. Firefly

      Um, actually that's exactly what it's like.

      November 30, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  8. sjajr

    Isn't organized religion a wonderfull thing? The judging, the criticism, the hatred. Yes peacefull loving religion.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
    • Rev

      If he truly feels that way, he should return all the money they've paid to him. But somehow, I don't think he will. I'll further bet that he continues to take that salary after this.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
  9. cecilsimpson

    to be honest the show is filty but i love it,he should leave the show and dont condem it ,that"s what make him filty rich.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  10. Ordinary Average American

    Angus, you seriously need to rethink the church you "joined." You don't have to belong to a church in order to be a good person with high morals and churches are all about MONEY and they want YOURS! Do your own thinking!

    November 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
    • Honey Badger Dont Care

      There is nothing done by the religious that cant be done by purely secular means. And usually better.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Just Dave

      He is doing his own thinking. He chooses to believe. Jeeze, no reason to bash the church. You dont even know where he goes. You just make generalized statements about all churches. That makes you look rediculous.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Mara

      Dave, evidently you didn't read the article. We *DO* know what church he goes to. Jones goes to The Voice of Prophecy Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is where he met his mentor – a whack-a-doodle nutjob name Chris Hudson. Hudson teaches us that JZ is a Freemason shilling for Satan, that NY's Hurricane Sandy gas shortages are going to lead to 'your baby lookin' like a chicken wing' and that Obama's 'pro-gay agenda' is no different from Hitlers ( I'm guessing he's ignorant on what actually happened to gay people in Nazi Germany, but I digress...)

      And Ordinary American didn't "make generalized statements about all churches". The statement was that Jones should rethink THIS church...this ONE, PARTICULAR church, not ALL churches. And s/he wasn't even 'bashing' church, simply pointing out (truthfully) that membership in a congregation is not necessary for one to be a kind and decent person.

      frankly, your knee-jerk whining about 'church bashing' makes you look *far* more rediculous than OAA suggesting Jones find a new religious home.

      November 30, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  11. Charles Gannon

    He is only a Actor, that same "hard question" is ask everyday by our people in the military who are actually doing something worth while.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • hypatia

      who are you to say what is or is not worthwhile? do try to remember that you are not your so-called deity.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  12. Rob

    Oh, and I used to watch The Office until they made fun of this kid on that show. Now my family and I refuse to watch that crap as well...

    November 30, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • sam

      Sounds like you just need to get rid of your TV, since it takes so little to bother you.

      November 30, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  13. Rob

    Kudos for this kid!! Stating his beliefs, his personal faith and how he is struggling with working in this type of environment. It takes guts to stand up for your personal morals, faith and ethics. We need more like this guy!!! Keep going dude!

    November 30, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • louisianamatt

      You sir, suck. Commending a kid on bad-mouthing his bosses, the people who are directly responsible for his success. This is mind-blowing to me that he hasn't been fired yet. Probably has something to do with "his religious beliefs," which I guess is understandable. On another note, these sheep sure love "trying" to follow their "shepherd"...

      November 30, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  14. gardnerj

    It would be nice if they could at least get the patch correct on the uniform. It's on the wrong side, I could care less about the story......

    November 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • Allie

      Re: The patch on the wrong side - look again, the whole flag is backwards. The negative was flipped when they printed this still.

      November 30, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Melanie Bush

      Actually Allie the flag is right, it always looks like that. The patch, however, is on the wrong sleeve–you shouldn't talk about something you know nothing about.

      November 30, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Chris

      The flag isn't backwards. The stars face battle, i.e. flipped on uniforms. Just an fyi.

      November 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm |
    • GatorSean99

      The flag is on the correct side– the wearer's right; the right side being the place of honor. Also, it is in the correct position... The flag looks as a waving flag would look as the soldier is running forward. If it were to be placed in the reverse (that is the stars in the upper left corner as looking at the picture) that would indicate the soldier was running backwards.

      November 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Chris

      As for the patch, that's a combat patch. Which of course I'm assuming in the show he didn't go to combat, and he's missing his unit patch (which goes on the left). So yes, you're right about the patch.

      November 30, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  15. cb

    If he doesn't get fired, will he have the guts to walk away from all that money? Should we take bets? I bet his parents are setting him straight... will his faith feed his family?

    November 30, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  16. Ben Thare

    Notice to actors: Shut up and act. We don't care about your opinions or endorsements.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I might listen to Mayim Bialik on Prader–Willi syndrome, but yeah, pretty much not for anyone else.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
  17. KGB

    Though you want to be different and have your own opinion and jugde his stance, this makes you all just like him.

    November 30, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  18. Miriam

    People have changes of heart; really, he's just a kid. At that age, we all did stuff we thought was for the best (hey, I voted for Nixon!). Most of us don't have the high profile this guy has, so nothing happened to us.

    I hope whatever his life holds, that it makes him happy.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Saraswati

      I would put the criticism on the parents and managers who didn't warn him to avoid making public statements at this age.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Patrick

      He is 19. Young yes. Kid, no.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I guess it depends on your definition of kid. The frontal lobes don't finish developing until 24 or 25 so developmentally he's still growing. If you cut off at puberty, no he's not a kid. If you go by legal traditions shtill represented by the drinking age, yes he is. I tend to think of anyone under about 25 as a kid...did even when I was that age.

      November 30, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  19. hoosierwolf

    He can just quit and not take any more of the millions they are paying him. Pretty simple answer really.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Tarra

      Hear, hear!

      November 30, 2012 at 12:11 pm |
  20. irock

    Much like rock stars and their political views Angus needs to either keep his mouth shut and do his job or quit. We dont want to hear his views on right or wrong. He is not all that. Just a lucky punk kid.

    November 30, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • RickInPA

      I do...

      November 30, 2012 at 12:57 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.