The Coffee Table Book

The Portraits in Faith book includes 125 black & white portraits with quotes by those interviewed, and reflections by Daniel on faith, spirituality and healing.

The Portraits in Faith Foundation, LLC is a 501c3 non-profit. Donations are tax-deductible to extent allowed by law. Our goal is to promote healing in global society by demonstrating that there is no “Other” and that all of humanity is on a spiritual journey together. We do this through publishing our portraits and interviews, and through training “Sacred Listening” workshops.

Foreword to the book

When I was a little girl, growing up on the farmlands of California, I would look up at the night sky and grow weak at the knees. I was overcome by wonder, an ecstatic kind of wonder that made me feel small and vast at the same time. In my Sikh faith, this experience is called vismaad. My faith teaches me to wonder about other people in the same way—to ‘see no stranger.’ Each person is as infinite as the night sky; as vast and wondrous. We can look upon any face and say, “You are a part of me I do not yet know.”

This is a tall order. Every day we are fed stereotypes that demean and diminish marginalized people and shut down our ability to wonder and understand their struggles. Entire systems of injustice depend on this failure of imagination. As a Sikh American whose people have survived atrocities, I have seen firsthand the costs of this failure. But what if we could approach every encounter with an orientation to wonder? What if we could train our eyes to see no stranger? Might it inspire us to fight for a world where we all belong?

This is what Daniel has attempted in this book. Portraits in Faith is one man’s journey to follow his own innate wonder, camera in hand. On his business travels, he sought out hundreds of people of different faiths and asked them the most profound life questions. He is honest about his own limitations and biases, earnest with his questions, and willing to let each encounter transform him.

As I read through the many diverse stories he collected, several themes strike me. Our relationships are the stuff of life, more valuable than power or money or prestige. There is profound beauty in not knowing and trusting our calling to serve even if we do not know where the path leads. In our darkest hours, we can connect to an energy inside us that summons our deepest bravery. Such revelations take many forms: lightning bolts, instantaneous awakenings, but more often than not, hard-earned wisdom that comes through our faithfulness to the labor.

In these pages, I recognize one face I know: Parker J. Palmer, an author and thinker who has been a mentor to me in art and activism. We are an unlikely match—a young Sikh activist and a Quaker elder. We use a different language for our own struggles and spiritual experiences, but our exchanges open me to the mystery of life, sustain my faith in the journey, and embolden me to stand for justice, risking it all. Since Parker has given me so much, I can imagine what each of the people in this book could teach us when we open our hearts and minds.

May this book feed your own sense of wonder. May it help us to ‘see no stranger.’


Civil Rights Leader, Author of See No Stranger:
a Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love
and Founder of The Revolutionary Love Project

Photo: Amber Castro

I was—we were (as several folks in the office crowded round) — completely blown away. By its power and dignity, its implicit compassion and yet unblinking eye. What a wonderful project and I only wish I hadn't been on the road for the last three-and-a-half months because I would have been able to see this amazing project sooner.
Ken Burns
Emmy Award-winning Documentary Film Producer/Director

It is so meaningful to see the sacred process of ‘Order-Disorder- Reorder’ come to life in the human journey across religions and spiritual followings as brought to life in the Portraits in Faith project. I was honored to be included in this wonderful exploration and honoring of the Divine Spirit in all of humanity.
Father Richard Rohr, OFM
Author, and Founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation
Science has shown that hope and faith in something bigger than yourself can promote your overall well being. The Portraits in Faith documentary project is a deeply moving and meaningful exploration of faith across traditions and all walks of life. This beautiful book is a must read for anyone who aspires to honor their fellow human beings.
Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Professor at Columbia University, Author, and TV Personality
The journey of faith is one of the most intimate and profound parts of human life. Portraits in Faith helps discover the diamond that God’s presence is in every person’s life, reflected in a myriad of colors. I am truly honored to be a part of this mosaic of portraits and pray that each person who reads this book may see themselves reflected in it.
Sister Bernadette Reis, FSP
Daughters of St. Paul, Journalist, Coordinating Editor, Vatican News
Portraits in Faith opens the door for us each to let the light of the Divine into our lives...and invites us to be the light for others in their lives. I am so grateful to be a part of this wonderful project and book.
The Most Reverend Andrew Hutchison
Primate Emeritus of the Anglican Church of Canada
It’s not often that a book comes along that changes your view of the world and fills you with new hope. This beautiful work is in itself an act of faith, one that will reward readers every time they open it up and read it again. What a gift!
Jonathan Eig
New York Times best-selling Author of Ali: A Life and Luckiest Man
Portraits in Faith is a masterpiece of our collective humanity. It brings to light and reminds us of many deep and crucial messages: how we must honor each other and our journeys, how holding tight to our own integrity and individual mission helps us to remain whole within ourselves, and, how we must, no matter what, strive to connect with the greater universe and with the Divine Light. My prayer is that the spirit of this beautiful book and project resonates throughout the world and brings each of us just a little bit closer to healing.
Neshama Carlebach
Activist, and Award-winning Singer and Songwriter
Few things inspire as much passion, sacrifice, and hope as does faith. No matter how far the reach into scientific discovery and technology, our souls yearn for the Divine by design. Portraits in Faith is a celebration of this yearning—a window into its beauty—in both doubt and certainty. It is a book about what makes us human, and what connects us to God and to one another.
Dalia Mogahed
Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, Speaker, and Co-Author with John L. Esposito of Who Speaks For Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think
Daniel Epstein’s Portraits in Faith is a deeply moving communal prayer of gratitude to the power that is greater than all of us. He unveils the strength and unity resulting from fully embracing and respecting our differences and similarities. Each page of the journey through the stories of wise and spiritual people of different ages, perspectives, life experiences, religious and non-religious beliefs, countries of origin, and more...leaves the voyager awe-struck.
Janet B. Reid, PH.D.
Author, Lecturer, Thought Leader and Innovator in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, CEO of BRBS World, LLC
When we hear the word ‘faith,’ many of us think of words like ‘theology’ and ‘orthodoxy.’ But thanks to Daniel Epstein’s beautiful new book, perhaps in the future more of us will think of two new words: ‘biography’ and ‘photography.’ Portraits in Faith invites us to see faith embodied in peoples’ stories and faces, and as I go from page to page, I feel reverence, awe, humility, wonder, and joy. A beautiful gift for anyone you love and a masterpiece to grace any coffee table or library.
Brian D. Mclaren
Author, Activist, Former Pastor
I have followed and encouraged Daniel Epstein’s journey over the past 18 years as he so beautifully documented the spiritual journeys of 500 people in 27 countries. Portraits in Faith reveals that there is no ‘Other’ and that all of humanity is connected. In all my years of corporate and government leadership, I have not seen a more meaningful synthesis of all that matters in life.
Robert A. Mcdonald
Eighth Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Retired Chairman, President, and CEO of The Procter & Gamble Company
These portraits in faith illustrate just how rich and consequential the human experience can be when we see ourselves in the context of a larger picture. Thanks, Daniel, for so masterfully blending images and testimonies to reveal the beauty and diversity—and indeed the oneness—of humanity.
Rev. Barron Witherspoon Sr.
Retired Senior Vice President, The Procter & Gamble Company, Author, The Fallacy of Affinity: A Case for Cross-Cultural Worship
Faith is the space where belief and body meet, an exquisite reality beyond definition. But somehow, by drawing out the lived experience of exemplars of faithful living, Portraits in Faith transcends the limits of language and joins witness and participant into a dance of the spirit and reminds us all of what truly a human version of humanity looks like, sounds like, and does in the world.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Scholar in Residence, Jewish Federation of New York
A postmortem of religion—and surgical exploration of faith as experienced by humanity—is exactly what the doctor ordered for better global health!
Mini Pandit, M.D., MBA
Radiologist, Lecturer, Author of G.O.D.: Gracious Omnipresent Divine
Daniel Epstein is, himself, a beautiful gift to the world. The stories from years of his generous listening are shared with us through Portraits in Faith. We get the honor of witnessing a rare depth of open-hearted sharing from hundreds of people from around the world. There are few places you can go to immerse yourself in the glorious diversity of voices sharing so authentically from their lives, religious traditions, and hearts. Reading through the book is a spiritual experience. The questions, repeated to each person, are containers that open people up and draw us all deep down. I’ve used Daniel’s resources in local interfaith sharing, and they are powerful. I found myself sobbing several times. Tears like that are evidence to me of the presence of the Sacred, and a reminder of our deep human interconnection.
Rev. Victoria Loorz
Pastor, Author, and Convener of The Wild Church Network
Portraits in Faith is a revelation in the mystical, spiritual, “OMG” meaning of the word. In a world of spectacle and appearances, Daniel Epstein has magically mixed images and stories of great depth and authenticity. Here are hero journeys of Faith Innovators of the next operating system of our humanity. Portraits in Faith is a contemporary sacred text reminding us that faith is a verb—a current that runs in myriad forms from the same source—and that there are some among us who are Masters of Faith-ing from whom we can learn to transform our world.
Rabbi Irwin Kula
Rabbi and Author, currently serving as President of the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL)
This book is symphonic. It gathers and celebrates a vibrant range of faith experiences, from the deeply-rooted religious to the wildly free. Each person featured here sings a different soul-song, all flowing back into the ocean of the inter-being to which we all belong.