Blogging Tenri Forum 2006: Intro

Well, here we are, nearly three years after Tenri Forum 2006. Since a thick book entitled Tenri Forum 2006: New Frontiers in the Mission — Compiled Speeches & Summaries that has collected “all the speeches, summaries, plenary addresses, slides, and symposium of this historic Tenrikyo event” (from back cover) came out on November 26, 2008, I can finally read the printed versions of the section meetings I was not able to attend and get a better grasp of what was covered during this three-day event.

To describe Tenri Forum 2006 briefly, it was an event held between July 15 and 17, 2006, at Jiba (Tenri, Nara, Japan, where Tenrikyo Church Headquarters is located). I guess it would be best described as an event organized in the style of an academic conference that was held entirely in English.

The Forum as a whole was divided into three thematic “units” on each day. Two of these units — held on the first two days — had two “subunits” comprising the morning and afternoon sessions.

The third and last unit simply comprised the morning session of the third and last day. Each “subunit” or morning and afternoon session on the first two days began with a 45-minute “plenary address” which all participants were encouraged to attend. This was followed by one of several two-hour “section meetings,” which participants chose beforehand when making their applications online.

On the third and last day, participants went to “regional meetings” with a (bento/packaged) lunch after their morning section meetings. (There was no “plenary address” on the last day.) The afternoon of the third and last day was concluded with a “public symposium,” “special lectures,” and a “panel discussion.” My description might sound a little more complicated that it actually was, but here is a link to a visual diagram of the Forum program to help those of you who weren’t there to get a better idea of what it was like.

I am honestly not sure what I am getting myself into by beginning this blogging project. I might get myself into some tangled messes with this new feature blogging the content and expressing my opinions thereof since I personally know many of the people who pontificated at the three-day event (which includes yours truly, who pontificated like no other).

Will my blogging become an entertaining, spectator’s sport? (More tangled messes I get into = More fun, right?) Or, will I even have anything to say at all about certain presentations? We’ll wait and see.

In any case, one of my main motivations on doing this is to get a general sense of where Tenrikyo is at this moment and time, in terms of where those following this faith stand when it comes to certain issues or what concrete problems are on the minds of the English-speaking congregation at large. Since the Forum covered such a large spectrum of topics, I imagine it will be difficult to come to a comprehensive, representative picture of Tenrikyo at the first decade of the 21st century. But I don’t really expect to. I have been waiting for this compilation for some time, and I am just excited about digging into it and finally discovering what I missed out by attending the particular “section meetings” I chose.

My plans are at this time is to read Compiled Speeches & Summaries bit by bit and blog my thoughts as I go along. I honestly am not sure whether or not I will be able to post for this new feature on a regular basis, some of the presentations may require some digesting on my part but I do hope to be comfortable enough to speak my mind on whatever happens to come up.

Before I end this inaugural post for this new feature, I’d like to add an excerpt I posted over two years ago at Tenrikyo Forum (the online community, not the one-time event I have writing about thus far and main subject of this new feature on I know, it’s easy to get them mixed up.)

Posted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 8:23 pm

Post subject: general comments

The Forum was so big in scale that it was difficult to keep track of all the things that were going on. It is going to take a lot of time just to put together a book (currently in the works) with all the presentations and discussion summaries not to mention tons to time to digest all the information. Some of the topics were great, but I think one of the major problems was that there was not enough time for discussion in the different sessions. I hear that one of the goals of the Forum was to arrive at some kind of consensus on some issues, but we’re still trying to find our footing on many of them. Most of the topics themselves seemed to have come top-down instead of considering what all the participants were looking for. I actually walked out in the middle of one because it was not what I thought I signed up for.

I don’t know how many of you saw the questionnaire they circulated in 2003 or 2004 with a long list of potential topics. I only checked the boxes about environmental issues and translating Tenrikyo into English and this second topic wasn’t really represented. But all that said, I really did not know what to expect from this event. I could not have imagined the energy level and the really positive vibe that was constant throughout the three days.

It’s interesting to reread what I wrote about Tenri Forum 2006 more than two years later.

*Note: This post has been revised since its original publication. The Tenrikyo Forum site was, unfortunately, taken down a few years after this post was published. Lastly, I abandoned this Blogging Tenri Forum 2006 project not long after I posting this (for reasons explained here). I have left this post up mainly for archival purposes.

Bibliographic info of quote cited in first paragraph:

  • Tenrikyo Overseas Department. 2008. Tenri Forum 2006: New Frontiers in the Mission — Compiled Speeches & Summaries. Tenri, Japan: Tenrikyo Overseas Department.