After the disastrous events of the Symposium of Ambition in 176YE, it was clear to all that in future the question of which foreign nations to invite should be a matter for judgement of the Synod. Uninvited guests would remain a detail for Symposiarch to rule on, but formal invitations would no longer be sent out without a full consideration of the possible consequences.
A Senate motion forbidding the use of the Senate building for any further symposiums was unfortunate, but not entirely unexpected given the scale of the damage caused to the historic building in the resulting melee.
While the damage was slowly restored, relations with the orcs were damaged for decades afterwards. Those who had organized the invitations accused the survivors of instigating the riot - but their detractors pointed out that it just couldn't have been possible for the visitors to have caused such devastation unless they had come prepared for it.
Possibly as a result of the turmoil, it would be another eighteen years before the final Symposium of the second century would be called.History of the Great Symposia, Volume II, 107YE to 194YE, Arocles of the Swift Sails
At recent summits, the Tideborn Chapter have been advancing the idea that the Imperial Synod should host a symposium, an opportunity for the priests of the Empire to discuss matters of Virtue and the soul. There has not been a symposium in many years - but the timing seems particularly apt now that the Throne is once again occupied.
The civil service have drafted a schedule to a traditional format, to facilitate the decisions the Imperial Synod will need to consider if the symposium is to happen. The proposal is to hold the Symposium at the Autumn summit, but the first decision that the Synod will have to make is whether to authorize the discussion at all.
The civil service are able to help with the organization of a symposium, but they cannot authorize it - that requires a greater majority of the General Assembly. Ultimately there is no purpose to convening a council to discuss matters of faith that does not have the clear support of the entire Synod.
A judgement will be presented to the Imperial Synod that requires a greater majority. The symposium will only go ahead if half or more of the Synod votes present in Anvil at the next summit are cast in support of the motion. As ever with a greater majority, any abstentions are considered to be votes against the judgement. The judgement will be available for voting at the start of the summit until early evening on Saturday.
At present, the proposal is to hold the symposium at the Autumn Equinox, but it could be delayed to allow more time for preparation. The civil service will act on the basis of any successful judgement by the Council of Nine on the timing of the symposium assuming it is approved by the General Assembly.
If the symposium goes ahead then it will need someone to manage many of the issues involved. A well run symposium requires effective planning and decision making of the subjects to be discussed and the roster of speakers. Traditionally, the Council of Nine appoint a Symposiarch - nominating a single citizen to coordinate the council and make the appropriate decisions to to ensure the symposium is well run.
Although the Symposiarch is crucial to the effective running of the meeting they have been appointed to chair, it is not an Imperial title; a citizen who currently holds an Imperial title does not have to resign their position to also act as the Symposiarch.
The civil service wish to stress that the Council of Nine will need to appoint a Symposiarch swiftly, if they wish the meeting to be convened at the Autumn Equinox. The civil service will need to work closely with the appointee to agree key details for the Symposium at this summit if those decisions are to be implemented for the next summit.
Magister Tideborn has proposed that the Symposium be divided in to four ninety-minute "chapters" with half an hour pause between each, but ultimately these decisions will be a matter for the Symposiarch.
Heresy and Blasphemy
The Empire defines heresy as the willful rejection, or perversion of, the Orthodox Doctrines of the Faith as laid down by the Imperial Synod, or actively teaching and promoting false doctrines. However, a Symposium of the Synod is usually seen as an opportunity to discuss doctrine and matters of faith - which can necessitate individuals proposing ideas and values that conflict with current doctrine.
In the past - the Synod has chosen to issue a Statement of Principle indicating anyone who speaks at the Symposium should not be considered to be teaching or promoting false doctrine. While such a decision is not legally binding - it is exceptionally useful to any magistrates ruling on religious crimes. Such a judgement could be passed by the Council of Nine or the General Assembly.
Alternatively, the Synod could choose to remind all citizens of the importance of Imperial doctrine in keeping the Empire together and remind everyone who attends the Symposium that it should not be used as an opportunity to disseminate views or information that conflict with doctrine. Again such a ruling is not legally binding, but is likely to influence the decision of magistrates should anyone decide to ignore the warning.
A Symposium is not just an opportunity for the Empire to examine its own faith - but also an opportunity to discuss matters of belief with representatives of other nations. In the past the Synod has sometimes chosen to invite priests and influential figures from the Sumaah Republic and Faraden - but anyone could be invited. According to legend there was an even an ill-fated invitation extended to the Grendel to speak at the Symposium of Ambition of 176YE. There is also a suggestion that the newly arrived Asavean priests of the Foam and the Black Bull have indicated that they would welcome a chance to speak about their faith openly with the Empire.
Inviting others nations to speak will be considerably more effective if the Synod has chosen to indicate that representatives may speak freely on matters of faith without fear of persecution or prosecution.
In any case, the civil service will extend an invitation to attend the symposium to any nation named in an appropriate successful judgement by an Assembly in the Synod. Any recognised assembly can issue an invitation to any group inviting them to attend.
"The irony is not lost on me. But at least a Symposium is a big meeting, and sometimes good things come of them."
They walked in ruminative silence for a few moments.
"Sometimes absolutely terrible things come of them, mind. But if we all sit on our arses and wring our hands all day long, wolves will eat our sheep."They laughed together then, drawing startled looks from some of the folk nearby, and linked arms companionably as they continued on down toward the Hub.