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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. John Ti

    I struggle with a pacifist belief system where I believe that to choose not to fight is the hardest battle. Yet I settled for a good paycheck working for the Department of Defense and the Army. I compromised and said to myself, there are violent men in the world and one must have a strong defense against them. Still doesnt make me happy though when we wage war to push that national defense objective.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  2. Jay

    So... His 3rd ID patch is on wrong, his hair is way to long for being in a class C uniform [his hair is touching his ears] ... is he apart of the 3rd ID or has he just deployed under them... also, if the report is about faith, why is he wearing an American Military uniform..? Under the regs your faith is 2nd to your mission... You know.. I'm just gunna send a nasty E-mail to the editors for the photo they used.. Man... You guys just pulled a Fox news... /you facepalm

    November 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • M I Snow

      Hey you goof... if you are so observant about his uniform you'd notice his name tag says "HARPER".... he's obviously wearing the uniform for some plot on the show...

      November 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  3. vinster76

    Hey folks! gotta go make me a nice BLT – but before I go,please let me leave you with one thought" Psalm 53 – the fool says in his heart, there is no God....................... shoe fits, wear it................................

    November 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  4. Susan

    Ah... That's your problem Angus, you are God Fearing. There is an answer but it has mislead you. Don't fear God. In fact, don't believe in Him. But don't give up hope, belief, your values, and purpose. Put your belief in the Universe. It is just as scary but far more logical to then understand all that is going on with mankind and why. Good continued luck to you. Enjoy the fun you should be having with 'Two-and-a-half Men' for as long as you can.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  5. mr. butters

    If it is a filthy as he claims, he should donate the millions he has made to a charity. Cleanse himself of the filth by giving up the lifestyle the filth has given him. He can keep a modest house and $500,000 which is still a far better situation than most of the world enjoys.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • bbig

      Exactly. It's easy to play the holier than thou card now that he's lines his pockets with millions.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • lol??

      Socialists, they're everywhere. Thanky you Athena and the educratists.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  6. DaveB-AZ

    Chuck Lowry, I'll take his place anyday! Call or email. I'm waiting for the call.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  7. scrollblog

    He has done the work so of course he gets paid. The question is what he will (or will not) be doing in the future. My guess is that this ends his career.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  8. Crashing the parrrrtyyyy

    Atheist give the rest of the 95% of us who believe in a supreme being , heart burn.

    Go play with yourself somewhere else.

    Jews, Christians, Hindu, Muslims and others just want you to know, GOD us something special for you.

    Dust.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • shawnpatrickx

      You sir, are a nitwit. Whether or not there is a god, the obvious fact is, that we are all born the same, live the same, and die the same. Simple logic dictates we are all of the same stuff, and with many of the religions you mention (and many others) the believe that "theirs" is the only way, and the rest go to hell. So, as I said, your statement makes you look like a nitwit.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Jeff

      Well, except that your numbers are way off. The number of people who consider themselves "religious" is declining rapidly in this country. The number of people who do not associate with any religion is now over 20% and the number of people who 'regularly' attend church is less than 10%. Intellect is slowly overtaking religion in this country...

      November 29, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  9. jamesnyc

    as a person who has worked both as an creative person and a technologist, I sense that a lot of creative people like this kid and even maybe Lohan just haven't developed their left brains at all. They have no common sense and no logic. In this kid's case, the only structure he sees is this religion that he has just picked up. It gives him boundaries that he hasn't had before. I have dealt with some creative types that have been violent and I think that is just that they don't know how to manage the left brain.
    I mean I hate this show. Sheen in a lot of ways played the straight guy to Cryer's pathetic character but now the show is just one juvenile fart joke after another and Kutcher's visual humor can only go so far.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Gary

      Why is this jerk wearing a US Army uniform?

      November 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  10. bbig

    As someone who despises how cheesy and hacky the show is to begin with, i can't help but be annoyed with this 19 year old, and his false sense of self-awareness.

    "Well now that i've made all of this money, time to hedge my bets and do an about face to appease the almighty. Now i can sit back on my stack of money and cast judgment from my mansion. Am i doing good Jesus?"

    November 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • lol??

      That's some mighty bbbbig awareness you have. Is it self speaking?

      November 29, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  11. Cody

    So many judges. It is interesting, the minute someone speaks the truth, everyone hates him. Exactly what Christ said would happen if you claim His grace, mercy, and love. Thanks for continuing to fullfil His prophecies. 🙂

    November 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  12. PJ

    Dump him. The last thing we need is another fundamentalist mouthing off. The majority of Americans disagree with him and he has no right trying to impose his values on the rest of the country. Furthermore, he has been transformed from a "cute" kid to a less than attractive teen. Dump him and bring on a real kid. He is no longer a "half"

    November 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • lol??

      You've developed a certain fondness for demobocracy I see.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  13. John-117

    Since he's under contract and that contract was made when he was a minor, he has to have his parents and a judge agree to let him break contract. For those calling him a hypocrite, he is trying to get out of the show.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  14. DaveLake

    Test

    November 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  15. Greg Faith

    Well good for him! We need more young people to have morals. I hope he does well after this show runs its' course and I will watch whatever media he is seen in in the future.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  16. Billsf

    I'm sure his new church will help him find ways to use his millions to serve "God"!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  17. larry

    The program is risque and deals with issues that could offend someone with a religious world view. This is a funny adult show and Jones was a kid going thru this insanity. Hopefully the producers will use this coming of age moral dilema and play with the character vs. punishing him for being outspoken. Imagine the possibilities.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • mr. butters

      And yet his new found religion has nothing to do with the show. He found it while trying to deal with his parents divorce. After he tried drugs.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  18. MagicPanties

    oh, the writers are going to have so much fun killing his character off

    November 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  19. Norm

    Again, another story about how people of faith are unable to express themselves because of a corporate structure. I couldn't care less about the show. I don't care about his religious views. But please don't patronize me with the idea that he is being forced to compromise his beliefs or he will be forced out of the industry.

    He chose to recant. There is no integrity there. He continues to work on and support a show that doesn't reflect his moral views. There is no integrity there. Yet he is being held as an example of moral integrity and the pretense of him not being able to express his beliefs is being used to somehow portray the industry of Hollywood as an exclusive club where you toe the party line or are excluded.

    If I don't agree with abortion, no one forces me to work in an abortion clinic. If he disagrees with this show, he could leave. Another actor on the show managed to get himself removed so the potential is there. If he despises Hollywood, he could leave. If he wants to change it, he could open his own studio and make films/shows that reflect his beliefs above all else. Yet he doesn't. Economically it probably isn't a viable solution. There are a limited number of people who wish to be preached to. Though it appears that economics are the only reason he stays.

    He remains, apologizes, and cashes another check.

    Why is it that a person's choices are said to restricted when they themselves could walk away. No one is telling him he can't work on the show because of his beliefs. From what I've heard, his description is probably correct, it is most likely indeed filth. Yet filth that he supports.

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

    Is that Miley in the photo? She's smokin!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:19 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.