Revival Fire and Small-Town Traffic Jams: A Photo Essay

Revival Fire and Small-Town Traffic Jams: A Photo Essay February 22, 2023

There is so much to say about the events of the last two weeks here at Asbury University. I imagine we’ll eventually offer some historical and sociological reflections. But we’re too busy, and it’s too soon and too close. After all, it—whatever “it” is (a revival? an outpouring? a reunion? a pilgrimage?)—is still going, and it started just forty feet down the hall from our offices. On the afternoon of Wednesday, February 8, 2023, we heard its sounds before we knew what it was. And so as we begin to process big and complicated feelings and wait for some critical distance, we don’t offer words.

Instead, here are some images taken by Lisa Weaver Swartz, a photographer and a sociologist of religion here at Asbury. Her photographs depict the holy calm that pervaded the first week—and then the outbursts of spiritual ecstasy as visitors arrived during this second week. These images also portray the ordinary dimensions of these revival times. On this liberal arts campus, faculty and students keep practicing their instruments for orchestra, doing laundry, reading Durkheim for their Sociology of Religion class, herping near the Kentucky River, playing Spikeball on the lawn, and staging Valentine’s Day concerts and art exhibitions—all while hosting 50,000 visitors from around the world who have descended on this campus of 1,300 students and this normally sleepy town of 6,000. The transcendent and mundane converge as time seems to stand still.

Unfortunately, Patheos won’t let us upload high-resolution images, so feel free to click here for a better viewing experience.


Days One and Two


Day Three: a Friday

Day Four

Day Five: Super Bowl Sunday

Photo credit: Nathan Miller

Day Six

Day Seven: Valentine’s Day

Day Eight: One week in

Day Nine: a rainy Thursday

Photo credit: Ben Brammell
Photo credit: Ben Brammell

Day Ten: preparing for the weekend

Day Eleven

Day Twelve

Day Thirteen: a Monday

Day Fourteen

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