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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. martiniano

    Why would anyone in their right mind cast an evangelical fundamentalist is a TV show, ANY TV show? The fact they are fundamentalists is proof they are unstable.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Your comment is proof that you are clueless.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Your Mom

      I never rely on adults with invisible friends. I use them, but I would never count on them, my experience is that they can get a bit hysterical and flaky in the crunch.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  2. sneekas

    Lovely. A bad show with bad examples in exchange for a religious nut. Is one really better than the other?

    November 29, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  3. Matt

    Angus denounces it as filth where Miley embraces the filth after so many years of squeaky clean image.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      But yet we deny there are spiritual forces (good and bad) at work in the world.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  4. Roberto

    Get over yourself, kid!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      He did. He got over himself and on to Jesus.

      "He must increase, but I must decrease."
      John 3:30

      November 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  5. Mike

    He needs to loose that 3rd Infantry Division Combat Patch or go earn one.. hooah

    November 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • J Hol

      Thank you. That was my first thought when I saw that patch on his sleeve too. I get tired of Hollywood portraying young kids who choose the military as underachievers with few prospects. The writers sending this rude, crude and lazy character off to the military to get rid of him is another example of that not so subtle message. Showing him wearing this 3ID patch is completely wrong.

      April 29, 2013 at 10:53 am |
  6. Ryan

    i agree with the kid... the show is pure trash for people with extremely low values... i watched part of an episode way back several years ago when sheen was on the show and was disgusted by the trashy humor... i applaud the kid for speaking the truth... the show is trashy... but once the gates of hell opened and the pressure mounted he folded... and began to speak out of the other side of his mouth... why? i can't say without speaking to him... but i'm sure money had something to do with it. i pray that someday he will mature into a true convert who will proudly say i'm proud to be a follower of Jesus and repent for having ever been on that trashy show...

    November 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Johan S

      If I made money off of filth, I would give all I had left of it to charity. Calling it filth just sounds like he still wants the benefits of it and maybe some publicity. Why doesn't he give his money ..and all of it to undoing the supposed filth it unleashed?

      November 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  7. Michael J.

    He didn't find religion. He was just stoned.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  8. Trueview

    I would believe in god if I had his job!!!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Gregory

      It sounds like you would believe in money 😉

      November 29, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  9. Gregory

    "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Jesus never came to please anyone, he came to bring the truth into a hurting world.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Amen, Brother. People like him are counted as weirdos. Rest assured, before it's all said and done, everybody will have the same revelation.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  10. Van S

    ns

    November 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  11. clinky

    The guy is 19 years old, a young adult. He's made this big moment for his career by declaring his principles are at odds with the show. Can't he say something more articulate than "a show like that"? What on earth is he talking about? Is he saying something political, feminist, religious, artistic, what exactly? It's a free country. Speak your mind candidly so we can understand where you're coming from. After reading the article, I don't have a single idea what Jones' objection is.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Gregory

      It sounds a bit like he got talked into making this decision by his older peers.. which I believe is a bible study / church of some sort in Texas.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Why are you speculating? He told you what happened. He was baptised in the Holy Spirit. You won't understand until it happens to you. Then, you will 🙂

      November 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • imajan

      Clinky makes a good point. What's the problem, Angus? I don't like or watch the show, but filth? That's a bizarre comment for a show that justs follows the usual lines of sitcom tomfoolery.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • was blind, but now I see

      Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

      1 john 2:-15-17

      November 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  12. Hollywood jokes on you

    Time to change the channel or just off the boob tube all together.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  13. Some dude that went to catholic school

    so this guy should be replaced ala charlie sheen for being the total opposite of charlie, a nutless wonder.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  14. DZA

    Angus...Angus...poor little Angus. Listen up, little man – Here's a little reality for you: You're a freakin' millionaire because of this show. Show a little appreciation and don't bite the hand that feeds you...ESPECIALLY when your acting is pretty lousy to begin with. I would have thought that with a little experience (oh, say, 9+ years) with Jon Cryer and Charlie Sheen (and now Ashton) you would have picked up *some* skills, like delivery and really owning the character. You didn't – at least not recently. You carry your character quite weakly now. That leaves me feeling that you're awful at acting and I'm highly doubtful that you'll find other acting work. Now if that's your goal (to not work on-screen again), then more power to you. But show a little respect if you're going to make statements about your castmates and crew. Even more power to you if you are more involved in your church – glad to see that you're finding something that interests you and might be a positive influence on your life, but don't shove it down anyone's throats, okay?
    *Hops off soapbox* Deuces.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Michael J.

      Shut up, DZA. Like he's really reading this right now. Grow up.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  15. jvance

    It's not unusual to have this experience in a job, and it's not restricted to the dilemma of serving God and Mammon at the same time. One can have a non-religious crisis of conscience that makes their work into a moral purgatory. You either learn to live with it or move on to a more comfortable place. You always have a choice of what means the most to you.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  16. jj

    Anguses case is a little extreme. He had to kiss Miley Cyrus. Blechhhh

    November 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  17. Saraswati

    I had ethical problems with a turn my company took this spring. I quit rather than staying on and making videos. But I'm not 19. Adults don't like to tell kids how much things change in the teens and early 20s, both because you don't want to stiffle someone's growth and because you don't want to remember how dumb you were. But given how easy it is for a young person today – any young person, not just the famous – to ruin a career in seconds, I think we really need to get accross to young people how likely their ideas are to change and how cautious they need to be.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  18. deeceeuci

    People just searching for ignorant answers when the only question, sadly, one needs to ask is, "Am I doing everything that I want to do and that brings me happiness?"

    Answer that you solve 99% of your problems. "Finding god" is no where near as fun or enlightening than actually finding oneself. Plus how do you find something that might not even exist whereas you most certainly do?

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

      You know what they call a person who performs disreputable acts for money? Of course you do. Anybody can get out of a contract Could you be sued? Sure. But once again we are talking about money; not a gun to the head, but money. So we are back to my original point. Sorry Angus, you get no sympathy from me. I'm sure you have more than enough money to live on if Hollywood blacklists you for doing the right thing. BUT, will you do the right thing. Probably not because you are all talk.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  19. The Puget Sound and The Fury

    "Angus T. Jones, left, in an episode of 'Two and a Half Men.'"

    I love the fact that they felt the need to clarify which of the two people in that picture is a dude.

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

    More thinking before talking is required. Twice as much thinking before talking on air, on social media. That's the problem.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:38 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.