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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. Justin

    People still watch this show?

    November 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  2. Mary

    I believe everyone should worship whoever they want. I do not agree with people of influence preaching to me over social media. I find this 19 year old man very immature. He obviously is an intelligent person, however, he needed a different kind of guidance to deliver his message regarding his religious feelings. He is extremely rich, and therefore has nothing to fear with regards to financial support probably for the rest of his life. After 9 years, his interpretation of the show is filth, others perceive it as comedy. Can you image the trauma the crew went through with the Charlie Sheen situation. I think he used that as a forum for his own platform. He could have not signed in on the next contract. He doesnt look overlying appealing for too many spots, he found god, and he let it all hang out. By the time he is about 25, he is going to look back on that day, after his spiritual feelings have come down to earth, and applied in a more appropriate manner, he will regret his words. You cannot tell people not to watch something in the name of religion. The church said they had nothing to do with it, however, nothing like media to get out the word. Repent sinners! New tea party Jr. comming up.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • paulronco

      This story is far too unimportant for you to devote so much time into analyzing it like that.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  3. Scott

    He's growing up well at the age of 19 which unfortunately, many that are much older never will.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Baalzabarber

      Thats NOT growing up. Thats BRAINWASHING.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  4. Consequence

    In an age where few stand for anything, but self interest, it is refreshing to see a young man who risks his career to be honest about his views.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Phorcys

      ...and then quickly takes it all back in fear of losing out on the profits yet to be collected

      November 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Baalzabarber

      The show is almost done. He made $5 million last year. He's not risking anything

      November 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  5. paulronco

    If the show was filth, then he should give all of the money he made on it to those who chose a more righteous path and earned holy poverty for it. He can start with me. 'Till then, he's just another privileged white guy mouthing words that he thinks will get him into Heaven some day.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • James

      VERY GOOD POINT! He is full of B.S. And like I said, he is slamming the show but it's "convenient " for him to keep the money. Another Christain fraud.

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

      Thanks James. I usually make good points. Being twice this kid's age and having had a significant spiritual conversion myself at around his age, I think I speak from experience.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • shan

      Couldnt have said that better myself!

      November 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  6. Richard

    ""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.

    Well, I'm laughing at him for being over nine years old and still having an imaginary friend and caring what his imaginary friend thinks about anything. I consider him about as ridiculous as Kirk Cameron.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • BozoOfBritain

      haha – my "imaginary friend" said YOU were going to die SCREAMING – let's see if that comes true.

      November 30, 2012 at 7:23 am |
  7. PP

    I am a reality producer and have struggled many times when my faith contradicts the job I am paid to do. This kid is not alone.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  8. BostonBruins02125

    "The true mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible"

    – Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

    November 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • BozoOfBritain

      That was in the stoneage – now we found out there are lots on invisible things – and MORE mysteries.

      November 30, 2012 at 7:36 am |
  9. Baalzabarber

    TWIT! If he cashed the checks, he's not conflicted. Just ungrateful and not very smart. I'm sure his church loves his donations too. Lorie should send him packing and replace him

    November 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  10. Melissa

    What a jerk. If he is so God fearing pass that filthy money my way. He can read the Bible and have his religious beliefs but you better donate all that cash.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  11. Andrew

    Us atheists and agnostics have moral convictions and constantly question things we do daily. Don't think for a second just becaue we don't follow a popular faith with its on common guidelines doesn't mean we have our own. There is always the question "why am I doing this?" Even when it is a mundane task such as going to work or working on an education. It sometimes because more difficult for us when you really think of how we live on average around 70 years. The world is 4 billion years old. Humans have been around for 20,000 or so years. That is a tiny fraction of the age of the planet let alone the universe which is at least 14 billion years old.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • vinster76

      where did society get an idea of "moral convictions"? If we came out of the soup, or from primates, at what stage did we get a sense of morality? Right and wrong and morality comes elsewhere.......not from DNA

      November 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  12. Slappy_McGiggles

    Funny how he found God after he made his millions.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • Doug Lynn

      Why do you assume making millions and finding God have anything to do with each other? The writer is correct. Selecting a worldview in our teens is true for the vast majority of us.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Shawn

      He was put into the show as a child, and then after he matured, he realized that he would rather serve God. Come on, give the guy a break. I am not religious by any means, but I can surely understand, why can't others that he had an awakening, good for him. I am sure that there are a lot of people out there just like him, who gain a mind of their own and a conscience, most children end up growing up to make their own decisions, I think (sarcasm).

      November 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  13. BostonBruins02125

    Ugh!

    Religion is one of those lifestyles that causes so many problems and for so many.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • vinautomatic

      Religion is the downfall of humanity and this country. Believing and fighting over things that don't exist.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Doug Lynn

      You are correct, but we must take the good with the bad. Regular church goers give more to help the poor, donate more time to charity and adopt more orphaned children by far than non-church goers. When was the last time a group of atheists drilled wells for poor people in Africa? Where are the Mother Teresa's of the atheist world? Where is the Samaritans Purse run by atheists? Where is the atheist version of Compassion that helps feed, clothe and pays to educate many thousands of third world children? Where is the atheist organization that takes in abandoned street children like Christians do in Cairo Egypt?

      November 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Valking5

      I would argue that our problems today stem from society's lack of a moral compass. Part of the trouble some have with the word 'religion' is the lack of understanding in what it really means.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  14. Jack Preet

    Angus is as good an actor as any kid can be. What he said about the show he is in was the truth. It is a stupid 20-minutes of disgusting depravity and although I watched it a few times with my kids, who are adults, I didn't find it interesting, and neither did they. I always felt sorry for Angus, particularly back in 2003-4 when I had watched the show. It was distasteful then and apparently even more crude and distasteful now, 9 years later. So what if Angus is 'dissed' by the hollywood set? The majority of them are lost souls anyway, who don't have any idea about how to behave ethically or that there is such a thing as 'absolute truth'. Angus was a kid when he started on the show, what did he know about who HE was? Now he is seeing more clearly, becoming a young man of integrity. Good for him! He doesn't need the show, the show needed him. Anyway it's not much without Charlie Sheen. Mr. Sheen is better off without that show, and Angus will be too. Acting is nothing but being a parrot, very few tv/movie stars are worth emulating, and what they do for a living is meaningless in the real world, anyway. Stand fast, Angus, GOD loves you!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • lynn

      We stopped watching Two and Half Men yrs ago and now will stop watching Mike & Milly. They are cute at first to suck you in, then become x-rated.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Richard

      "Stand fast, Angus, GOD loves you!"

      I'm always amused whenever I see anyone pretend to speak for their imaginary friend – no matter what they're saying.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  15. ja

    the majority of american tv has evolved to filth, you got the honey baby show, how i met your mother,every netwiork has a reality show, the list is endless

    November 29, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • J-Pap

      Honey boo boo and How I met your mother are not in the same league of filth. Boo boo is the goo that seeps from garbage. Garbage juice.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  16. Paul

    right, because calling those who don't believe like he does, is very Christian, yeah.
    It's simple, this guy is an idlot who considers others as being inferior to him .. say thank you Bible, you have created one more bigot. Of course, he made money .. so he can spit on friendship.
    If he was a bit smarter at least he would simply say, I changed my vision on life and values, I no longer do what I did and made me so much money, I will now return all my dollars.
    \Of course he doesn't .. $$ after all aren't that filthy ...

    November 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Jack Preet

      Angus 19 years old. He is still maturing. He is far from an idiot though he portrayed an idiot on that show. He is courageous, and thoughtful, and spoke from his heart. I like him. I hope he gets to keep the money he earned on that show and that his managers and/or parents don't steal it from him, like has happened to so many other child stars. Blessings on him!

      November 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  17. vinster76

    most of tv these days is remiscent of America: crude, lewd, immoral, anti-God, – fill in the blank......

    November 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • J-Pap

      19 kids and counting. Pro God. Still filth.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
  18. Janice

    I think he should donate all the money he made from the show to charity as penance.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Jack Preet

      That was a particularly stupid remark.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  19. buffalo

    Let me help you with your problems: Number 1: Turn off your television and think for yourself. Number 2: Throw that silly little book, filled with childish pie-in-the-sky nonsense, into the fire and...wait for it!...Think for yourself!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Mork

      Without a firm foundation of an ability to objectively analyze "any" concept, people are susceptible to believe "anything". This is why extremism is so popular. It answers all the questions people inherently have. But dig a bit beneath the surface, and it is all smoke and mirrors. True substance is hard to find. 3 rules to live by:
      1. Be kind.
      2. Be realistic
      3. Be strong.

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

      I'm with you. You said it all in a compelling style.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  20. J-Pap

    We all ask ourselves whether or not our jobs are meaningful. I know I do, but I'll tell you what, I sure as h ell don't rant about it publicly and bash my clients. That's just career suicide. Burning bridges is the worst thing you can do in a career where reputation is for front. It strikes me yet again, that those who seem to find God can't seem to get their morals in line. Just cause you found a new meaning doesn't mean you should step on everyone who got you to where you are. That's just being a jacka$$. I guess now you are a religious jacka$$. Good luck getting hired again Angus, as no one will want to risk your mouth running. When Charley left the show, he had a career behind him. Angus has nothing, but money. And if he's as smart with his money as he is with his mouth, the church will suck him dry and he'll be a bum in 5 years.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:01 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.