Homage to a Broken Man: The Life of J. Heinrich Arnold - A True Story of Faith, Forgiveness, Sacrifice, and Community

Peter Mommsen (Author) Eugene Peterson (Foreword by)


A dramatic true story of a man refined by fire, a Bruderhof pastor whose spiritual legacy continues to touch thousands.

Can our wounds become our greatest gift? Bruderhof pastor 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 met him with hatred.

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.

Gold Medal Winner, 2016 IPPY Book of the Year Award in Biography, Independent Publishers
Silver Medal Winner, 2016 Benjamin Franklin Award in Religion, Independent Book Publishers Association

Product Details

$22.00  $20.24
Plough Publishing House
Publish Date
July 20, 2015
6.3 X 1.4 X 9.2 inches | 1.5 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Peter Mommsen is the editor of Plough Quarterly magazine. He lives in upstate New York with his wife Wilma and their three children.

Eugene H. Peterson, pastor, scholar, poet, and writer, is the author of more than twenty books, including The Contemplative Pastor. He founded Christ Our King Presbyterian Church in Bel Air, Maryland, and pastored that church for twenty-nine years. He is professor emeritus of spiritual theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, and lives with his wife, Jan, in Montana. They have three children and six grandchildren.


I finished reading the book and was filled with wonder at the life of such a man. What powerful inspiration! --Martin Sheen, actor
One of the most moving books I have read - and one of the most instructive. For all those concerned with living a life of meaning and integrity, it ought to be required reading. --Shira Dicker, founder and president, Shira Dicker Media International
What a tragic, beautiful life, and recounted with such candor and delicacy. I am delighted, and heartened, and moved to tears. --Daniel Berrigan, poet and author
What an extraordinary life. In many ways it's a sad and sorrowful life -- but one lived in the light of the gospel. A truly moving story. --Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University
I loved reading about this great man. This book will become a treasured part of my library. --Tony Campolo
With candor and honesty, Mommsen shares the joy and pathos, suffering and love, deceit and forgiveness of a Christian community. It is a breathtaking story, and reads like a novel. I couldn't put it down. --Donald Kraybill, author of The Upside-Down Kingdom
What a challenging, deeply moving, and honest book! Heinrich Arnold and his wife Annemarie suffered so much...Thank you for bringing their spirit alive to those who did not have the joy of knowing them. --Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
What goes through the hearts and minds of great men? In this wise and sensitive volume, Peter Mommsen brings the life of J. Heinrich Arnold into clear and penetrating focus. It is a book full of vital lessons about leadership, patience, sacrifice and forgiveness. --Ari Goldman, Columbia University, author of Being Jewish
Thank you for this book. I was deeply moved by Heinrich Arnold's life, by the sufferings of the community, and by the resurrection. I will certainly recommend it to many. --Jean Vanier, author, founder, L'Arche communities
This inspiring biography does more than simply recount the story of a fascinating life. It describes an adventure that challenges the reader to ask, "What would my life look like if I lived as if the Gospel were really true?" --Robert Ellsberg, Editor-in-Chief, Orbis Books