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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. religion is a fable

    You know your made up character jesus whats his name would have probably given all of the money he has earned from such a filthy job as a way to cleanse his soul. Perhaps you should start giving away all your money so you can live like this made up fable. There. Are. No. Gods! And you know it!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Eden Outpost

      And who should he give his money to .... YOU? God, our Creator, is very real and that is why you have life in you and are able to rant and rave against others you don't even know personally.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Bring'em young

      Eden Outpost
      Just because you believe in your book of fairy tales does not make it real. There is little truth in the bible, most of it is extremely va gue...it was created that way by men for people like you to threaten them into behaving. Put the bible down, and see if you still experience this "god". I bet you don't even though you will continue to attribute anything you don't understand to it (your "god")

      November 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Nobody "created " you, we evolved over billions of years Forcing a child into RELIGION IS CHILD ABUSE.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  2. J-Pap

    Prediction:

    Next episode Jake gets hit by a train in Paris. Alan doesn't have to pay child support anymore and is saddened but flush with money.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  3. Billsf

    Maybe he'd be happier if he quit the show and stood at the corner of Hollywood and Vine with placard that says, "the end is near! repent!".

    November 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Eden Outpost

      Good idea. But who would really listen. "When the Son of Man cometh will He find faith on the earth?" The skepticism of today is one of the signs the end of this present world is near. For those whose trust is in Jesus the Creator there is an eternity to look forward to. Scripture is the way to truth and each one must search for himself or herself.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  4. Penny Wright

    The first clegyman was the first rascal that met the first fool.
    – Voltaire

    November 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      yes, my invisible pink unicorn tells me to quit my job but until she puts food on the table, I ain't listening

      November 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  5. Pete

    MONEY ALWAYS TRUMPS ETHICS! If this dude were serious he would not be there. Plain and simple!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • John-117

      He'd have to break contract.

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

      "Breaking contract" is an easy thing. Especially if the studio feels he is a liability to the economics of the show. Charlie Sheen didn't have to concern himself with his contract when he was removed from the show.

      And this young man has clearly and loudly proclaimed that people should not watch, nor support it. He is not being coerced to stay by anything other than his own greed.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • John-117

      Not in his case. The contract was made when he was a minor. His parents and a judge have to approve before he can just break contract.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • John-117

      Don't get mad at him just because he's already made more money than you and your descendants combined will ever make in the next 300 years.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  6. gkingii

    You don't have to be a Seventh Day Adventist, or in fact even religious to know that tthat show and several others tend toward anti=social behavior and a form of failure to follow moral social norms. Welcome to the "progressive" world we live in now.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  7. Mork

    I agree, most TV shows entertain via filth. That's what sells. Just like blood and gore on the 24 h news media. Pure garbage.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Bring'em young

      There is much more filth in the bible. Biggest problem here is people think the bible is real, but this show knows it is fiction.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  8. Janice

    Jack,

    It is not stupid because if he is so sorry for what he did he needs to repent –. That is according to most religions, anyway. Why is he acting so religious if he does not want to repent?

    November 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  9. Billsf

    The hardest thing for a Christian is deciding which of the 31,000 forms of Christianity fits you best.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • KingHippo

      Where did you get that number? I think it's a little low myself.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  10. Eden Outpost

    Congratulations Angus. Stand firm for truth as you are able to learn it and don't be discouraged by big changes in life. God is more real than any skeptic and in the long run the only ones left standing will be those that have genuine faith in God and His word. Let the world rant and rave and call you names. They have no future outside of surrender to Christ Jesus. We all must choose eternal life or eternal death. The choice for me is simple ... I choose life and I personally love being a Christian and a Seventh-day Adventist. Life is full of hope when God is on your side. Eternity is a long, unending time and I plan to enjoy it to the fullest. Angus you are on the right path and it will surely bring great rewards in the end.

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

      Eden Outpost you got some serious issues sweety, you need to get a grip and a nice strong dose of reality.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  11. easye46

    Filth or not, he rode the money train.. so it just smells like a bunch of hypocrite bs to me.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • John-117

      I think the real problem you have with all this is that you wish you had what was in his bank account. Its common and perfectly normal to envy others who have more than you.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • DM158

      Exactly. Do you think he will return all the money he made, because he only made it by making "filth"?

      November 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  12. beatstockpromotersdotcom

    This is crazy. Religion = cult. Plain and simple.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • John-117

      hmm, I suggest you buy a dictionary.

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

    Is not a form of hypocrisy to have a job that contradicts you religious views?

    November 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • John-117

      I think he's under contract, my friend.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  14. 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 5:12 pm |
  15. John-117

    Lol, all the people on here angry someone is a Christian.

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

      Its not anger. It 2012.....religion is fantasy and has no place in the public forum.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • John-117

      John without the 117, you are a perfect example of the people on here angry someone is a Christian. That basically what you just said.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  16. At the end of the day

    The main issue is that the show is not funny anymore, hasn't been for years.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  17. beatstockpromotersdotcom

    Test

    November 29, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  18. Sotzume

    What a bunch of stuff and nonsense. This man is making $350.000 an episode and taking the money quite happily. He is talentless and ugly to boot and should be grateful to have a job. Another self centered moron who takes up with some ridiculous religion and instantly hates what has made him wealthy and famous. Foolishness of the highest order. If he hates his own show, let him quit instantly then. But I see how quickly he "recovered" and tried to make good when he probably realized that the lack of his enormous paycheck meant a little more to him than all his religious mumbo jumbo.

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

      Likely cooked his own goose in "hollywood" People paying kids silly money don't need this baloney. Religion?

      November 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Shawn

      How do you know he is taking it happily? Maybe he is donating the money he makes after his conversion and up to his contract ends to a charity. Anything he earned before he deserves to keep and should not be encouraged to get rid of in any sense.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  19. VON

    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."

    I AM THRILLED!! THIS SHOW IS DISTURBING AND I'VE ALWAYS HATED EVERYTHING IT REPRESENTS!! I AM SO GLAD FOR THIS KID, I WAS WORRIED ABOUT HIM, BUT GOD IS GOOD!!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  20. Billsf

    At 19, the last thing I wanted to do was to become a Jesus freak!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:11 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.