By: Br. Joe Ruiz, O.S.A.
I must admit my favorite fruit is pear, especially pear sorbet! Anyhow, as the story goes Augustine finds himself among a band of friends who went off to a nearby orchard and shook down a pear tree of all its fruit. Augustine and his buddies had no intention of eating the fruit, which they found distasteful; rather they took a large quantity of pears and threw them to the pigs.
This particular narrative in Augustine's Confessions, although very short, is a great example of peer pressure and a great entrance into the topic of morality. In the Pear Story, Augustine finds pleasure in the act of doing something that was forbidden, namely stealing. Yes, little Augie and his buddies broke one of the Ten Commandments!
As a Theology teacher at St. Rita of Cascia High School, there is no better place to examine the Pear Story than in a freshmen Theology class titled: Introduction to Catholicism. I think that Augustine's story has a lot to offer to young people, in light of the topic
of peer pressure, or, as I would like to call it, for the sake of play on the word peer, "Pear" Pressure.
Every one of us, at one time or another has had the experience of being peer pressured. Nowadays, with social media, our young people are much more visually enticed to engage in harmful activity. So, I asked myself, how can I visually engage my freshmen on the topic of peer pressure? My answer: find a BIG fake pear somewhere, bring it to class, and title the lesson "Pear" Pressure! Thanks Hobby Lobby!
After reading the Pear Story in Augustine's Confessions, I brought the BIG fake pear out, wrote on it "Pear" Pressure and introduced it to my students. The biggest question I was asked about the pear was, "Is it real?" I said, "Yes, take a bite." Immediately my students were engaged, I carried the BIG fake pear in my hands, and asked them, "Have you ever been "Pear" pressured?" After my question, I said boldly, "Don't be a pear head!" They responded, "Ah, yeah! I get it! Cool, Bro Joe! I like the play on words!"