Jim Richard Wilson discusses the literary and cultural cornerstones and values of Western Civilization, arguing that culture forms the lens through which we view and experience the world. Contemporary society provides a constant barrage of stimuli which by its mass of input, and the expectation of immediate response precludes the time required to weigh and analyze any situation. Forty years after C. Wright Mills recognized this condition in The Sociological Imagination, many people lack the knowledge and awareness of ethical systems, as well as the basic tools needed to extract meaning from experience and information. The very sense of 'cherished values' that is requisite in making decisions and maintaining a sense of community is increasingly scarce.
Wilson considers the recent suggestions that a return to religion and re-enactments of traditional rituals are viable ways of addressing the sense of ennui and alienation that has resulted from this condition, but argues that they are rarely sustaining. the narratives and images that have sustained cultures and are the genesis of our own are reflected in our aesthetic and literary heritage. In studying them, we discover and establish the connection between those who have gone before and ourselves. This approach provides a means of developing tools and vocabulary necessary for analysis and reflection, while detailing the concepts and cherished values which are our inheritance. Empowered by our cultural inheritance, we can maintain our social values amidst of the maelstrom of change.