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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. Coach Finstock

    Filthy Rich. Sounds like a bitter actor who's been out of the limelight the entire show's run.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  2. Tina

    Good for him. It takes boldness and integrity to say that and a lot of self reflection. Praise God.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  3. Josh

    I feel sorry for him. Poor kid was pulled into showbiz at a young age and has probably never experienced the world in a way that anybody around him has. While that isn't inherently bad, it can be very confusing and isolating and I think we're seeing the affects of him beginning to realize this. It's easy to sit back and criticise him for doing the show, wanting to be religious or whatever but consider that maybe he really doesn't know any better, consider yourself luck and try to show a little compassion.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  4. Mata piricuaco

    The guy has been working since he was a kid making tons of money. He is older and fed up with his current job, what's the big deal. It is like getting mad at Adam Sandler, Billy Crystal, Judd Hirsch and Mel Brooks because they only act in Jewish roles. They are Jewish in real life and that is what comes out of their ass to work in.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  5. Nietodarwin

    "This show is deeply kind of misogynistic and very male – it's like a fraternity in there with a revolving door of women," Well, Jesus had a cure for that, Angus, get your bible open What personal sacrifice for "the kingdom of heaven" was Jesus talking about when he told his disciples, "He that is able to receive it, let him receive it"? CASTRATE YOURSELF (Matthew 19:11-12)

    November 29, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  6. SurelyUjest

    I don't get why some people choose to look at this clearly moral issue in a religious light at all. Rather than asking "what will please God?" why wouldnt someone just ask "What does my work do for mankind and our society in general?" To make these obvious moral questions in to a Religious issue is disingenuous to our nature and our self respect as sentient beings. I work in a plant that makes guidance systems for Nuclear Missles. I am a pacifist, but I am able to understand that even though I abhore war and hope one day we will not need these weapons. I know that days has not come yet and to protect my family and our country this is necessary. Even though it goes against my treehugging, peace loving, we are all one people core beliefs. This guy is making a fortune at a show that people can decide NOT to watch if they feel it is filth or what ever. He should get off his religious sucking butt and see the truth and cope with how he fits in or Quit his job NOT whine.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  7. Trueview

    This kid is a pure nut case. To make his million dollar salery all he has to do is show up and have his A$$ kissed for a few hours a day. For this he gets more attention than anyone deserves. He needs to give his millions to the church and take a job serving fast food if he is so upset. He is more stupid than the charactor he plays!!!!!!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  8. David

    You want the truth? The whole Capitalist world is filth. Then again, that is the one that suits the human race the most, coz human race is Filth!@

    November 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  9. The Doug

    Who ares about the kid. Miley Cyrus is looking good there.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Sniffit

      Meh. The Annie Lennox harido has got to go.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  10. mixymac

    Wow, a younger person actually shows some form of moral compass and stands up for what he believes in and gets crucified for it – oh yeah, he wasn't the only one crucified for speaking truth.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  11. Nietodarwin

    THE BEST thing about all this is all the atheists and people of reason can now come out and speak about how foolish and delusional religion is without fear of being murdered by "good" christians who want to kill you to prove there IS a "god" (THIS , in their minds, is the ONLY surefire way to PROVE to you THERE IS A GOD, send you there directly. I guess in their minds, it's a "scientific method."

    November 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
  12. Rob

    Fu****** hypocrite! Fu****** fake F****** phony... Go F** Yourself

    November 29, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • mixymac

      Why is he a hypocrite???? A hypocrite would believe the content on the show was wrong and yet continue to profit from it – he is walking away from it due to his beliefs ... some might call that brave and noble

      November 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • vinster76

      Wow! did you see "ROB" have a meltdown!!!! Us Christians must be getting to him with the truth about how he was created for something better than showing off his brilliant intellect with his vulgar rant.......with that mouth he can audition for most of the shows on TV!!! You go, Rob!

      November 29, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  13. Joe

    Why is Angus sitting next to Justin Bieber?

    November 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Stinky pants

      The Biebs is maturing into a fine woman.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • jj

      LOL

      November 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  14. Stinky pants

    Sounds like the boy needs to be pooped on.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
  15. Jonas Smith

    "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.

    All you have to do is pray about it. If "Jesus" (A.K.A. your conscience) tells you it's okay than do it. If when you pray about it you feel guilty, don't do it. Simple really. Ahh...the magic of prayer.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • mixymac

      I believe that my prayers for you will be heard and that Jesus would give you sight.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Jonas Smith

      @mixymac – thanks for the gesture, though I can see just fine. I would say to you, if prayer makes you feel better and you feel like "Jesus" is listening – good for you. However, your belief in that does not actually make it reality. The brain is capable of such wondrous imagination.

      I used that imagination to interact with all sorts of fictional beings as a child. Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Jesus. Then sadly, one day I grew up and these fictional characters no longer existed. Good for you though. I hope Santa brings you lots of nice presents. 🙂

      November 29, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  16. Sarah

    I find it amazing how people that don't believe in God scream for Christians to be tolerant, but show no tolerance themselves. I have the right to believe what I want, Angus has the right to believe he wants, and people that don't believe in God have the right to believe how they want. I am a Christian, and I don't shove my beliefs on people (most Christians don't), so stop calling us morons with an imaginary friend. If you want tolerance and respect, then show it to others!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Crashing the parrrrtyyyy

      AMEN!

      R E S P E C T, try a little RESPECT.

      The mankind is hurting enough.

      The spec in my eye doesn't let me notice the logs in others eyes. Got enough of my own faults to push the atheist buttons. Won't matter anyway, hard hearts and spiritually blind keep them from hearing you.

      But, nice try.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      "...and I don't shove my beliefs on people (most Christians don't)" You are right, Sarah. The other day a Jehovah's Witness woman approached me and kindly and briefly offered me some reading material, and went her way. It's usually like this with Mormons, Baptists, and others. In atheist parlance, these unassuming people are "cramming their religion down my throat." Yet the same atheists will turn on the TV and watch adverts, violence, and others' bed scenes all evening.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • beerndrums

      maybe he should've read the script first
      don't cash a check then go "WTH...this isn't me"
      what a bunch of phony people we have here

      November 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  17. Dan

    I am proud of Angus for sharing his spiritual views. This is what integrity is all about. I am also proud of him
    for apologizing to his "extended family" at the show. These kinds of issues are a lot more complicated than a
    quick soundbite or headline. I think this young man has a good head on his shoulders and I look forward to
    seeing his future. This article was also well written. Good Job Editors!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  18. Jrad

    Who cares? This show has turned to crap since Sheen left. It is only going to last one more season, tops.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  19. TooBad

    Sounds like this kid has been grabbed by the religious wackos. Most likely they are after his money. My advice to him is to beware of these religious types. Religion is a double edge sword. It has the potential to do just as much harm as good.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • bill

      i think people who are non religious and dont believe in anything wackos...how can anyone be a athiest and not believe in anything..thats crazy if you ask me..there is so much proof that a creator exists..but athiests have no proof that their is no god...except they say so.??...evry athiest i have ever met is just a very bitter and angry and very lonely human being....i bet there will not be any athiests on there deathbed...they are such a joke and so starved for attention...way to go angus...im very proud of you..!!!..keep standing up for god..!!...god is really taking a beating these days from all of the idiots....

      November 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • OG

      Really? He quit, how can the director fire him?

      November 29, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  20. Ron

    Spoiled ungrateful BRAT. $350K per episode (which is way more than each of the dozens of behind-the-scenes people make in several years!) and he goes and tries to sabotage not only the hand that feeds him but the lives and livlihoods of those people? shame shame shame on him. If I was a showrunner, he would NEVER work on any of my shows again! I hope Lorre fires his unappreciative adolescent butt immediately.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:25 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.