Tech can help or hinder faith of today’s young adults, authors say

By Allan F. Wright

“Detached: Put Your Phone in Its Place” by T.J. Burdick. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2019). 140 pp., $16.95.

“Off the Hook: God, Love, Dating and Marriage in a Hookup World” by Timothy P. O’Malley. Ave Marie Press (Notre Dame, Indiana, 2019). 123 pp., $15.95.

With “Detached,” T.J. Burdick writes an extremely practical book for today’s generation where people are attached to some form of technology 24/7. It’s not about the smartphone or technology, although they are the engine that drives the book, nor is it the excessive attachment to these devices. The focus of the book is having Jesus be the Lord of our lives.

“Should we throw away the smartphone and all technology?” Of course not, Burdick says. However, drawing from Scripture, the wisdom of multiple saints, the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and his own addictive behavior, Burdick makes a solid case and offers a sensible plan for limiting the use of smartphones and their dominance in our lives.


The beauty of the book is that he lays out an effective plan and rationale for limiting the time on these devices in a systematic way that is sensible and attainable. “Remember, this is a retreat not an exodus,” he states, “and the end goal is our happiness.”

This book is highly recommended for anyone who has a smartphone and the reader will be evangelized along the way, which makes it an extremely attractive read.

Timothy O’Malley, author of “Off the Hook,” spends much of his time on the campus of the University of Notre Dame as an associate professor and academic director for Notre Dame’s Center for Liturgy, which allows him to have his hand on the pulse of young adults and the current culture.

While the modern “hookup culture” is the focus of his book, “Off the Hook” has four specific audiences in mind. First, he addresses “young adults interested in examining an alternative culture to hooking up.” Second, he focuses on young couples preparing for marriage and the final two audiences are couples in mature marriages whose children and grandchildren are dealing with the hookup culture and those who work in marriage formation at the parish and diocesan level.

O’Malley had an epiphany when his once secular view of marriage changed to an understanding that “marriage was actually about the renewal of the world.” His thoughtful book has excellent references from Scripture and he relies on his personal experience in diagnosing the reasons that our culture devalues sexual monogamy and leaves the human person unsatisfied and damaged.

This short book provides the reader with the tools to discuss the Christian view of marriage and the beauty of God’s plan for marriage. It is an excellent resource especially for those involved in marriage preparation because the overwhelming majority of those who still seek marriage within the church are sexually active and have little or no idea about the nature, purpose and meaning of marriage within the church. It also would be eye-opening for older Catholics who are looking to understanding the culture in which young people are immersed.

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Also of interest: “Don’t Let the Culture Raise Your Kids” by Marcia Segelstein. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2019) 172 pp., $18.95.

Road Signs for Catholic Teens,” edited by Jennessa Terraccino. Our Sunday Visitor (Huntington, Indiana, 2019). 199 pp., $21.95.

Allan F. Wright is principal of Koinonia Academy, adjunct professor at Seton Hall University and former academic dean for evangelization in the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey.

Author: Catholic News Service

Catholic News Service is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ news and information service.

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