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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. artmanintoronto

    What a little hypocrite. First, give away all your money. Then display your moral and ethical outrage.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  2. bandjammer

    What took you so long, Angus? Had to make $5 million first? Now, you'll never have to work again, unless you give all your money to the church.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  3. talleytone

    Please next story ...this is not news it is another over indulged celebrity spouting off like a their opinion is of some note.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  4. yikes!

    The solution is very simple Angus – quit. When my husband was told to fire 3 disabled men at an Illinois Target retail store – his ethics required that he speak up for these men. The store insisted they be trained as cashiers when they were only hired as cart attendants. The idea was that when they could not pass the tests required of them to be cashiers he was supposed to fire all 3 of them. His ethics stood in the way – he refused to fire them and spoke up very loudly – even sending a letter to the the VP of Human Rresources in Minnesota. End result – my husband was fired for not firing them. He lost his job but felt he had done the right thing – that is what ethics is about – facing adversity for what you believe in.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • malsings07

      Can I get an AMEN!!

      November 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • clinky

      Thanks for sharing your story of your husband's courage. I hope he can use the experience on a resume in a positive way, and get a job with a better company.

      November 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  5. Mr. Know it

    I love people who find god, then tell the rest of us that we are living filthy disgusting lives. Go believe in your imaginary man in the sky, but don't take away the fun for me because I believe in logic! Also take off that uniform you poser!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  6. Mammy

    I'd hit that! From behind, too.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  7. BurnNotice

    Where were his parents when he was sucked into this hogwash?

    Where,( if you'll pardon the expression ), the hell were his parents?

    Are they completely clueless, SoCal, sururban, ciphers?

    This kid has never been to a real school, much less college, has had his butt constantly kissed for the past ten years, and doesn't know diddly-squat about the real world.

    Too bad ... some predatory preacher will siphon off his millions in record time.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Your Mom

      He fits the profile of another supernaturalistic ritual abuse victim, the forever two year inside scared of the dark and the boogeyman. Parents are usually the perpetrators in this type of child abuse.

      November 29, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  8. erin andrews perky breasts

    is he banging miley cyrus?

    November 29, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  9. malsings07

    The fact that he discourages viewers from watching the show is pretty immature if his personal faith is spilling over the television screen then maybe he should find work on the Christian channel let's see how far he goes preaching the gospel and standing up for what he believes without a fat pay check.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  10. PK

    If this is really a problem for him I have an idea. Why doesn't he donate all his money to the church, or better yet donate it to help people who haven't had his opportunities and privilege, and come down to earh with the rest of us. Does he even know that there are people out here who could use money for food and housing and clothing and education?

    November 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  11. Nick

    If that show is such filth he should give up his money to the church or to some charity bottom line hes made good off this filth and lives bettter than most give up the cash.. so easy for him to preach like that when hes got the mulla already. what a dumb kid

    November 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  12. akis lak

    so donating all his earnings from the show, as an act of repentance, should be in order. right?

    November 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
  13. billybob

    Poor kid lost all sense of reality... it is a tv show, just about as real as the Bible is.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  14. GenericMan

    He should have did the Ashley Simpson dance following his remarks, I feel like it would be appropriate.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  15. JACK

    GAY

    November 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  16. Dastreagus Letobeiter

    Miley Cyrus, mmm mmm mmmm

    November 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • clinky

      Dang

      November 29, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  17. r lewis

    why is our flag upside down....??...!!!!

    November 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Dastreagus Letobeiter

      because you are drunk

      November 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Gregory

      its not.. whoever edited the photo for this website flipped it horizontally.. so he'd be on the left and Miley on the right.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • GenericMan

      It's always like that to, supposedly simulate charging into battle, and not retreating. As seen from your POV its flapping in the wind as if soldier charges.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • usmc1999

      first, it is not upside down, it is backwards. second, that is how it is worn in those uniforms. the idea is that the soldier is moving forward and if the flag were on a pole moving in the direction of the soldier, that is how the flag would be flapping. it is completely correct the way he is wearing it in uniform.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • mikeylee

      The flag is not upside. It is portrayed correctly on his uniform. What is not correct is the lack of a unit patch on his left shoulder.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • billybob

      Adjust your monitor, the stars are on the top moron. The flag on the uniform appears as if the soldier is moving forward so the stripes go to the rear.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  18. mark

    First of all I find it disturbing that a "top" American university even has something called "Princeton University's Faith & Work Initiative". Why is a so called top university wasting time and funds on something so stupid? Second, this actor clown is a dunce, just like the character he portrays. The show needs to just get rid of him.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • clinky

      Let's see, the same university that publishes translations of Kierkegaard. And all the Bollingen Foundation studies of Eastern religions.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  19. AgentM

    Who cares what an overpaid, unattractive TV actor has to say about anything? He should just be grateful that his awful show got picked up at all and shut his immature mouth.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  20. A

    I can relate. I'm an atheist working for a religious organization. Gotta pay the bills though.

    November 29, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Gregory

      what bugs you the most about your job?

      November 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • A

      Seeing the concept that our jobs are "ministry" used to manipulate employees into staying late, working weekends, holidays, being on call 24/7 because it's the Lord's work.

      November 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Lala

      @A I am in the same boat

      November 29, 2012 at 5:56 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.