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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. Bob

    Sorry I like the show and these God people can keep their religious feak nonsense to themselves I don't need there mouth, advise or anything else. I will make up my OWN mind on what I watch. Fire the fool and thank you.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  2. Charlie

    Its why all the ge'ews* in show biz change their names!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  3. John C

    Most workers don't make $300,000 a week.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  4. Joe P

    If he doesn't want to be on the show, then he should quit.

    The fact that he doesn't makes him a hypocrit

    November 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  5. MagicPanties

    My invisible pink unicorn loves filth and just wants her own reality tv show.
    For a mere 350K per episode, she is yours.
    Checks payable to me (her agent).

    November 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  6. Y_NO

    It is called "acting"

    November 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  7. Grady

    Seriously...who could they replace him with...maybe a younger cousin who is not so self righteous.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  8. JOEY

    This male actor looks like a gay twink and she looks like a cancer victim in this picture.....this is not REALITY!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  9. John

    The contributions to a sustainable society for many, many workers is nil. The best of us can do is reduce our negative impact on the world which is a far cry from the goal have having a postive impact on our world. We learned so much over the past century regarding pollution and sustainable living. Now it is time to put that knowledge to work.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
  10. Jesus

    This article is too preachy for me- must be a slow news day! Who the F cares....

    November 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  11. zippy

    He's only 19.
    Cut him a break, he's just trying to figure things out.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Joe P

      The point is, if that is how he feels, he should leave the show

      November 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  12. gstlab3

    These are the same people that voted for Obama.,we must remember this at all times.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • shamsky24

      You have no idea who "these people" voted for, but we must remember at all times that you're an idiot.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
  13. jack

    why is he in a military uniform with wrong name on it?

    November 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  14. Help is on its way

    Amazing how quickly the anti-god groups get their two cents in on the FAITH blog. Just shows how stupid they really are.

    Everyone knows they don't believe in anything but themselves.

    Can't they go pound sand somewhere else?

    Idiots

    November 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Bring'em young

      First off...it is the BELIEF blog, (see I can go all caps too)
      Second, name calling only detracts from anything you might have to say that is pertinent, which you never do.
      Third, there is much more filth in that ungodly, man-made creation that is the bible than this show ever put on.
      You take that religious ridiculousness far too seriously. At least the show knows it isn't real.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Crashing the parrrrtyyyy

      @bring

      KMLWA

      November 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  15. Calvin

    ""I apologize if...." IF?

    November 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  16. Richard

    This boy needs to learn what it's like to actually work for a living. Then, he can thank God for that opportunity, since he doesn't seem to appreciate the opportunity he has already been given.

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

      He does work for a living. And he cashes a paycheck of $350,000 per episode. I'm sure it pains him every time, given how "filthy" the show is. Yeah, right.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  17. Charlie

    If more people knew the truth about show business they would completely understand and agree. And the rating would drop so drastically- CNN would spiral downward in such a panic it would create another super storm making Sandy look like a Spring rain, but they wouldn't be able to cover it!
    Basic slogan of the wholesale human tragedy machine: "If it bleeds it reads". And we all know who or what sect of vile more or less owns the media- along with the banks they wash their money through. But the dreidel will keep on spinning!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  18. ChasingKendra

    People who believe in a god can't think for themselves and must resort to letting a fictional figure guide them...they are better off letting their lives be led by a cartoon character...just as fictional as a god, but more entertaining and interesting.

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

      You don't believe in God? Draw a picture of a honey bee. Make it as detailed as you can and take as much time as you need. Then take that wonderful work of art of yours and put it in the middle of an apple orchard. Then go away and come back to see how many apples you can harvest with YOUR picture of a honey bee. . After all YOUR hard work all you have is a worthless copy of one of the most complicated insects on planet earth. And it makes honey while producing apples. Then tell me again there is no God or creator

      November 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • shamsky24

      Congratulations, Joseph. You've successfully proved that we are not honey bees.

      There is still no God, however.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  19. maureen

    So, does that mean he does not cash the checks!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  20. eugenepowers

    I sense another firing coming up!!!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:16 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.