Saturday, September 30, 2017

Book Review: Lost in Faith and poetry

I have just finished reading the book "Lost in Faith and poetry" by author Mary Sayler. The book contains over 70 poems focused on God, faith, spirituality, praise and the soul's struggles. These poems are easy and rich in meaning. One can contemplate on each poem during quiet time or meditate on the words during prayer.  One poem that spoke to me was this one which goes:

Child, Child,
If God didn’t love you, no eyes, no ears
would weave into your gut, no
heart would arch into the inner soles
of your shoes, showing you where to go...

These short but reflective poems bring about deep reflection.   As a former atheist, being "lost in faith" is something that has occurred to me and still does.  Faith is a heavy topic which can exhaust the mind, body, and soul. Mary Sayler's book does not mask this.  She keeps it real in her poems which will touch the mind and heart.  I recommend getting this book which will help you in your spirituality and private prayer life. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Bronx Gay/Bi Student Stabs & Kills Alleged Bully at PS 67

This post is so tragic that I am having trouble organizing it.  It hits so close to home.

Yesterday, 18 year old Abel Cedeno stabbed and killed a 15 year old classmate named Matthew McCree and injured a 16 year old named Ariane Laboy as well at a Bronx school, PS 67.  A neighbor of mine in my old Bronx neighborhood used to work at this school. He is now retired in Florida.

The events that led to the stabbing are unclear. One story says that Cedeno slapped a girl and that the boy he stabbed defended her two weeks ago. The tension was still alive among them and boiled up to the stabbing. Another version says that the boys bullied and harassed Abel Cedeno because of his effeminate demeanor and Hispanic heritage. I am still trying to sort the facts out.  In any event, the media is painting the tragedy as a gay victim of bullying who snapped. Cedeno is said to have been bullied by others since the start of the school year.

According to police, the two boys threw pencils at Cedeno during third period history class. They argued and Cedeno went to the bathroom.  He returned and the pencils flew again at his direction. Cedeno was upset and said something to McCree.  McCree stood up and walked to Cedeno and punched him. This then led to things getting physical with Cedeno pulling out a 3 inch switchblade and stabbing McCree in the chest, as well as, Laboy as he tried to intervene and defend his friend.  Cedeno then calmly walked out into the hallway and handed the blade to a counselor and walked to the principal's office where he waited for police. Cedeno was arrested and told the police what happened. He was later arraigned and charged with murder, attempted murder, manslaughter, attempted manslaughter, assault and criminal possession of a weapon.  Cedeno's mother is stuck in Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria and is not aware of her son's situation in the mainland. His brother has stood in as guardian.

Outside, parents were ready to riot pushing each other and upset with officials. They were not kept up to date on what was happening and were not given access to their children.  PS 67 houses an elementary, middle school and high school. The setup for this school is a bit odd since usually bigger kids are kept away from smaller ones. Uneek Valentin, a parent of a student at the school stated to reporters that weeks before, a student brought a weapon to school. Calls to install metal detectors then were ignored, according to Valentin. Other parents are upset that it took this tragedy for the school to finally install metal detectors.

Abel Cedeno is said to have identified as bisexual, according to his close friends. Savannah Hornback, a family friend who is transsexual stated that Cendeo also struggled with mental illness.  Hornback declined to be more specific.  According to Hornback, Cedeno was a homebody. He loved video games and often remained at home. Hornback also claims that Cedeno's mother complained to school officials about the bullying that her son face. Her pleas went to deaf ears.  The school took no action, according to Hornback.

Matthew McCree, 15 deceased
Teachers present during the altercation are said to have done nothing. They just stood there and did absolutely nothing, according to 16 year old Frankie Santiago.  School officials declined to comment on this.  He claims that Cedeno was not bullied by his friend McCree and that Cedeno was looking to fight. At court, Cedeno signed an order of protection promising to avoid Laboy who is still at St. Barnabas Hospital. His lawyer also ordered that he go under a psychological evaluation.  He was sent to jail without bail.

PS 67 has a history of being an under performing school, according to Board of Education records. Parents have long complained about the mixing of younger students with older ones.  They have also complained about the lack of security via metal detectors. Apparently, the school has also ignored complaints of bullying. One parent, Kayesha McIntosh, 32, told officials at the school that students were pulling the hair of her daughter. McIntosh claims that the school told her to change her daughter's hairstyle to that of a bun. Another parent and former PTA president, Jovanna Russell said that she took her daughter out of the elementary school after a high school student flashed his genitals to her at a stairwell.  The school did nothing about the incident.  Many wonder why Cedeno is 18 and still in high school with 15 and 16 year old classmates.  Apparently, Cedeno did not have enough credits to graduate in June.  He was held over.

The whole scenario is just tragic. I know the school well and walked by there so many times as a kid and now as a young adult. Nearby, is the parish of St. Thomas which welcomed me as an atheist into the Catholic Church.  There is also Tremont Avenue, where I often shopped at for food, school supplies and toys as a kid. I did not attend PS 67, but remember it was used as a triage for victims of the "Happy Land" club fire. The bodies of those injured and deceased were brought to the school. The building has seen its share of tragedies.  I cannot say that anyone in this recent tragedy was "right."  Abel Cedeno was apparently bullied and is said to have snapped. Whether this is true or not is yet to be determined. We still need to see the evidence that support the alleged facts.  In any case, we must analyze many things here.  Schools are not doing enough against bullying and the safety of students.  My own nephew has faced some incidents as well while in elementary school and now in middle school. While not as a grave as the case at PS 67, it is, nevertheless, troubling. School officials never take reports seriously.  They excuse it as "kids being kids," "that is how society is," or just plainly ignore it.  This is extremely troubling.  The teacher's union has a big role in this nonchalance. Teachers are not allowed to get involved during a fight.  In my day, teachers quickly got in the middle to separate students.  Today, they just stand and watch while waiting for security to come.

If that is not bad enough, incidents of bullying witnessed by staff must be reported; however, many times they are not.  Children are treated as cattle being rounded up.  They are not "people," so to speak.  This is sad indeed.  While the public school is not perfect, in my day, it was much better. Those days are days gone bye. While there were fist fights here and there, it never escalated to anything involving weapons or death.  Today, it is much different.  I believe this has to do with the break down of the family.  Kids grow up in single parent homes, some in absent parent home.  What I mean by this is that the parent(s) is never around.  Moreover, there is no moral instruction of children.  Families are abandoning values and letting the media raise their kids. These ideas of stabbing, fighting, premarital sex, hedonism all come from the music and media kids are exposed to.  We as Catholics must take back society. We must restore the values that America was known for.  If we do not, we will continue to see these incidents at schools and elsewhere.  When God is pushed out, the devil takes over.

Abel Cedeno is said to bisexual and suffering from mental illness.  His instagram handle is "Abel_diviel."  Is the "diviel" mean to be "devil?"  I cannot say for sure, but we must leave the idea open.  The LGBTQ have the highest rates of mental illness when compared with other social groups.  The ideas of gender theory cause a lot of harm to our youth. They grow up confused and are mocked because of it.  Imagine growing up in a world where you are trying to figure yourself out while the world tells you that you can be any gender you want. This causes anxiety and frustration. Children, especially teens, have trouble as is trying to "fit in" a circle, if you will.  Cedeno is one of these kids who is obviously is a victim of the errors of the world. His victims are not far behind.  Unfortunately, African Americans in the inner city are often raised to take on a "thug" demeanor in order to fit in.  They need to have "street credit."  This is just abuse.  African Americans who choose an alternate take are labeled as traitors or "white imitators."  McCree and Laboy were known as the "bad boys" of the school. We must ask why?  Why were this way and why was it not weeded out of them?  There are so many questions and few answers.  No one here won. Cedeno did not win by killing one and injuring another.  McCree and Laboy did not win by allegedly bullying and causing havoc in the school.  We need to do more.  Catholic Churches must have strong youth groups that help shape the consciences of young people in the inner city.  Hopefully, the archdiocese of NY will work on this.

Let us pray for all involved.  The situation is just tragic.  Babies killing babies.  We cannot have this in our world.  Cedeno, McCree, Laboy and others deserve to live good childhoods, get a good education and move on to live productive lives. We cannot have schools where tribalism is the rule of law.  I will continue to update this post as I learn more details.

UPDATE: October 2, 2017:

The surviving victim of Cedeno's rage, Ariane Laboy woke from a two-day coma at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx. He said that he was not really hungry, but asked for an eggroll after his family bought some Chinese takeout.  He asked his dad if he could give the rest to his friend Matthew, apparently, believing Matthew was in another hospital room. Laboy's father then informed him that Matthew was deceased.  Laboy was in shock and became speechless after asking that everyone leave him alone. Laboy's family plans to sue over the incident.  Moreover, cops now say that the two teens did not bully Cedeno over his sexuality.  Cedeno apparently stated that he got the wrong teens and that he did not even know who they were.  This may possibly harm any attempt to present his defense as self-preservation or insanity.  Another knife was found the day after the incident at the same school in the same classroom.  A janitor found the knife under a radiator.  Cops say the knife is unrelated to the attack perpetuated by Abel Cedeno.

UPDATE: November 29, 2017:

Abel Cedeno was just released on a $250,000 bond. The bond was raised by members of the LGBT community as well as Senator Ruben Diaz Jr who was an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage in New York.  Cedeno issued a statement which read:

"I am grateful to the people who donated to my bond fund, which allowed my release, specifically, I thank the many gay men who generously donated. I promise you that your faith in me will never be betrayed. You are, in the words of Shakespeare, 'less than kin but more than kind.' You make me proud to be gay. This nightmare which occurred on 09-27-17 has torn apart three families. Finally, thank you to my two gay attorneys for your hard work, trust and faith."

He had pleaded not guilty to the charges placed against him: manslaughter and assault.  The mother of the victim Matthew McCree who died Louna Dennis was not so happy. She said during a press conference:

"I'm pissed the hell off. I'm pissed. He gets to go home with his family for Christmas. My son is in a fricking cemetery. Fricking in the dirt. And he gets to go home to his family? I'm pissed the hell off, and at this point, I feel like the system is failing me. They have no remorse, none at all"

She was referring to Cedeno and his family here. Cedeno is being represented by two gay attorneys.

Updated Sources:
November 29, 2017

Original Source:

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Buy My Books & Help Harvey Victims

We have all seen the devastation Hurricane Harvey left behind in Texas and Louisiana. People lost everything, some, their own lives. The images on the news is horrific. However, we can all help by donating and volunteering if we are near the affected areas. One way to help is by purchasing my books: Atheism Is Stupid, Atheism Is Silly and Introduction to the Catholic Church.  A portion of sales after the sale of 1,000 books will be donated to charities working to help Harvey victims get back on their feet, so to speak.

Please help raise money with your purchase so that we can help our brothers and sisters in need.  

My books can be found on Amazon, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble and other book stores online and offline.

See these links with more information:

Atheism Is Stupid

Atheism Is Silly

Introduction to the Catholic Church

Remember, the more books are sold, the more will be donated to Harvey victims.  Let us raise a lot to help our friends in the Harvey affected areas!   God will reward you!  

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

DACA is Deported

The DACA program or "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals" was rescinded today by President Donald J. Trump via Attorney General Jeff Sessions. DACA was introduced via the executive branch in 2012 by former President Obama. The program was meant to prevent the deportation of children of illegal immigrants who were brought here. These people obviously grew up in America and know nothing of their nation of birth.

Many find their stories heartbreaking, and rightfully so. These people did not ask to be brought here at an early age. To better the situation, Obama ordered the DACA program be put into place. Along with preventing deportation, DACA applicants would be allowed to work in the United States, but would then have to renew this permit. They were only allowed to stay in the United States for two years. However, no one wants to be deported so obviously, they all stayed here. This is where the problem begins.

Since these people stayed here, they have become a burden on tax payers. Tax payers have been forced to pay for the education, health and other expenses of these illegal immigrants. This is unjust and immoral. Many conservatives were upset when Obama instituted DACA which was a breach of federal law to begin with. Many "dreamers," or DACA receipients have taken to the streets to protest.

Some in the Catholic Church have even cried foul at President Trump for ending DACA. Cardinal Dolan and many others have joined the cause claiming that Trump's actions are inhumane. The USSCB also issued a statement condeming the action of the president.

I have countered these Catholics leaders by reminding all of what the Catholic Church actually teaches about immigration. See the photo in the tweet below:

The Catholic Church teaches that each nation has a right to protect its sovereignty and borders. Those who come as immigrants must respect the laws of the nation that is housing them. Just because "dreamers" were brought here by their parents does not mean we should reward them. Once they learned that they were illegal and became of age, they should have proceeded to change their status from illegal to legal. Many of them do not do this and want to have their cake and eat it too, so to speak. Some of them have even committed crimes against Americans. Since they are undocumented, it is hard for law enforcement to locate them and prosecute them. This is just wrong. Instead of keeping illegal immigrants legal, The bishops, clergy and religious should advocate that they become legal. They should encourage parishioners who are illegal immigrants to become legal. This is the moral thing to do rather than taking a "Robin Hood" mentality to solving these kinds of problems. We cannot steal from others to help others. It is immoral.

Moreover, I come from NYC which is a very liberal and progressive town. It bothered me greatly in my college and high school years seeing friends of mine who are Puerto Rican get turned away from scholarships and other benefits in favor of illegal immigrants. How can illegal people have it easy in our nation while legal citizens are given such a hard time? This is unjust.

Some have gotten upset with me because of my tweets condemning the "dreamers" and DACA. However, they did not see what I saw in NYC nor experienced the unfairness my friends and others faced due to illegal immigrants. Furthermore, many people have suffered having their identities stolen by illegal immigrants. This is wrong. Imagine working all of your life, doing the right thing, obeying the law and you find out someone was using your social security number to live a lavish life in the shadows of the law. This is what has happened to many people I know. In Puerto Rico, birth certificates had to be reissued because Dominicans and others were stealing the identities of Puerto Ricans. Some were using the certificates and social security numbers of the deceased!

We must not let misguided compassion get the best of us. I as a rational person see black and white, right and wrong. Immigrants are all welcome here, but they must follow the laws. Moreover, the media is painting "dreamers" as kids when in fact they are young adults. Again, they are capable of applying to citizenship. What is stopping them? Do they want freebies? Do they want to live above the law? We cannot have this.

The end of DACA today does not mean lost hope for "dreamers." President Trump tweeted that he wants Congress to find a legal way to keep DACA and gave a six month timeline to do so. If they do not, he tweeted that he will revisit the issue. Clearly, Trump is not this coldhearted man the media is portraying him as. He wants to do things right and legally. While he is not perfect, we must applaud his respect for the executive branch and how it relates to the law.

Let us pray for all. I know it is hard for "dreamers," but there are better options. Living here illegally and not doing anything to change that status is wrong. Taking advantage of welfare and other benefits meant for citizens who are struggling is immoral.  Illegal immigrants need to show sincerity and do the right thing by becoming legal if they really love our nation and want their dreams realized.



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