Take a new course in life



Almost all professional media critics and pundits put out their top 10 or top 100 list of the best films, TV programs, albums, websites, or books of the year. I note that many people question these lists, especially since some choices may seem highly subjective. Indeed many lists have been controversial since we humans seldom agree upon standards about what best or top means.

However, the lists do serve the purpose of calling our attention to creative works we might otherwise miss. And some lists prompt us to think about what media truly topped our own list, perhaps a list we’d like to share with our friends. We often make such a list informally when we say “did you see …?” Or “you must listen to ….!” Over the year we create our list by promoting our favorites without realizing it.

What if someone created a different type of listing such as “the most inspiring” or “the most spiritual” media of all time? Or what if the list were more modestly identified as “media that matter” or “media that elevate” so they are not tied to the notion that I am somehow uniquely qualified to determine what is best, nor caught up in the  comparison game.

Throughout the year, I’ve given readers examples of works in different media that I and close friends of mine have found uplifting. In this blog I have called them media that matter. So, I’d like to compile a list that includes some of these in case you or your friends are looking for the opposite of a bucket list. My inspiration list is not tied to something to do—since you will eventually die—but rather to further inspire your very reason for living.

In the lists below, I’ll also add some other elevators (media which lift your spirit) and beacons (media which show the way forward) that I’ve not yet mentioned in case you are looking for fresh inspiration and vision. When people are laid up in a hospital for weeks due to an injury or go on vacation or have a date night with a partner, they often ask “what can I (or we) screen, hear, or read which can be a meaningful  use of my time?” Here are some all-time classics mixed with more recent “high-beamers” which may be of interest to you, to your family and friends. No list is ever complete so please feel free to share the titles of works that you would recommend as escalators for the soul.

Amazing Grace (Wilberforce vs. Slavery in England)
Chariots of Fire (Eric Liddle/others at the Olympics)
Cosmic Zoom (where we fit in the universe)
Eddie the Eagle (British skier)
Father, Son, Sister Moon  (St. Francis)
Flatland (geometry points toward spirituality)
Gandhi (biography of the Mahatma)
The Letters (Mother Theresa’s victories)
Life is Beautiful (shining the light during the holocaust)
Lost Horizon (reaching shangri-la)
Panta Rhei (means “all things flow”)
Race (Jesse Owens at the Olympics)
What the Bleep?

A Winter’s Tale
Beauty and the Beast
The Lion King
Man of La Mancha
Our Town
Sound of Music
South Pacific
The Tempest

A Return to Love (Marianne Williamson)
As of a Trumpet  (Martin Exeter)
Beyond Belief (Martin Exeter)
Bhagavad Gita  (Hindu sacred text)
Becoming a Sun (David Karchere, soon to be published)
Conversations with God I, II, and III  (Neal Donald Walsch)
A Course in Miracles (Marianne Williamson)
On Eagle’s Wings (Martin Exeter)
The Purpose Driven Life (Rick Warren)
The Secret  (Rhonda Byrne)
Seven Steps to the Temple of Light  (Uranda)
The Tao Te Ching  (Lao-Tsu)
Walden  (H.D. Thoreau)

In previous blogs, I have also listed music, photographs, websites and other media that matter. And yet, if you are stranded on a dessert island some day, if you bring along only what is above, to my modest view you will be discovering life’s secrets and reconnecting with your/our primal spirituality.

Naturally, I’m interested in your own list and in compiling inventories of catalysts which serve as can-openers to the heart. None of these lists or titles have meaning except as they open us up. Then it is what comes forth which matters most.

Books, plays, and movies are just a sign pointing to the main event—YOU! You are the medium that matters most.  Our primal spirituality comes from a medium far larger than has ever been projected onto a screen or captured in print. Vive le true medium—the light that you are and that powers the universe.

-Tom Cooper


TOM COOPER is currently guest scholar at the East-West Center, University of Hawaii, Stanford and Berkeley and professor at Emerson College (Boston).  Musician, black belt, and playwright, he has written eight books and two hundred published articles, been advisor to the Elders Project (with Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Jimmy Carter and others),  co-nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and is co-publisher of MEDIA ETHICS magazine.





  1. Great lists, Tom.
    Would add A NEW EARTH by Elkhart Tolle. Have three women’s groups working through the book and in that mode, intimacy results…in spades.
    COMING INTO YOUR OWN by Barbara Cecil was something else we worked with. What an intimate experience she worked from, bringing the book together.
    Thank you for your lists. Went to see MOONLIGHT last night. Deep and tender movie. Many in the audience did not get it at all!!! Fascinating insights for me into that world on many levels.

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