Now Featured in the Patheos Book Club
Homage to a Broken Man:
The Life of J. Heinrich Arnold – A true story of faith, forgiveness, sacrifice, and community
by Peter Mommsen
About the Book
Those who knew J. Heinrich Arnold later in life wondered at the way people were drawn to this strange man with a thick accent and easy smile. They sensed that here was someone who understood, someone they could trust. What made him different?
Eager to answer this question, Peter Mommsen set out to uncover his grandfather's past. This is what he found: A boy who faced down Nazis and hunger, growing up on potatoes and radical ideas. The son of a famous intellectual, determined to drop out of school and take to the road. A young lover fleeing his homeland. A new father losing his first child. An unlikely pioneer in the heart of South America.
There, in the jungles of Paraguay, the religious community his parents had founded was twisted by legalism and power-hungry leaders into a cold and lifeless caricature. Arnold was betrayed by those he trusted most, separated from his wife and children, and exiled to a leper colony.
Often his life hung on a knife's edge. But he knew he couldn't die yet, because he hadn't fulfilled his calling, or the promise he had made as a child…
J. Heinrich Arnold was a broken man. Yet those who knew him said they never met another like him. Some spoke of his humility and compassion; others of his frankness and earthy humor. In his presence, complete strangers poured out their darkest secrets and left transformed. Others wanted him dead.
About the Author
Peter Mommsen is the editor of Plough Quarterly magazine. Born in 1976 in Poughkeepsie, New York, he grew up in the Hudson Valley and studied classics as a Harvard undergraduate. After seven years in Germany, he now lives in upstate New York with his wife Wilma and their three children.
Writer Henri Nouwen called him a "prophetic voice" and wrote of how his words "touched me as a double-edged sword, calling me to choose between truth and lies, selflessness and selfishness.… Here was no pious, sentimental guide; every word came from experience."
Who was this extraordinary yet simple man? In this gripping and richly spiritual book, Peter Mommsen tells the dramatic true story of the grandfather he hardly knew. Read it, and you will never look at your own life the same way again.