I actually thought of Woolf's "To the Lighthouse" too. I remember my professor mentioning the fact that it was a phalic symbol, although at the time I didn't know where she got that idea. As per "Brave New World" I thought it was a bit ironic that he sought refuge in a place that once offered hope to others; but, sadly, he wasn't permitted to find his own hope there.
I also thought about lighthouses giving light to others and "light" being a metaphor for knowledge and understanding in many cultures as it is in the Bible. But the lighthouse was delapidated as if the world didn't want light and knowledge anymore; it just wanted to be in numb happiness. With light brings responsibility and commitment--two things Huxley's society lacked. Huxley did write this book during the Depression Era, so did Huxley want governments to take over full control of society or did he believe in individualism and the ability to pull yourself up out of the muck you created? I guess that's a question we all have to answer for ourselves in our own lives at some point.
Since Huxley wrote when the world was being crushed under spreading economic depression, the lighthouse is symbolic of the failure of America's economic and financial structures to provide safety and security. An analogous situation in modern society is quite similar: Our economic and financial structures have failed us (and failed, as in bank closures) once again and left us looking to a metaphorical lighthouse for safe traverse only to find it an illusion overshadowed by a foreclosure sign.
This question calls to mind Virginia Woolf's novel To the Lighthouse and a motif that joy cannot last as well as the subjective nature of reality with the difference that the New World controls reality and emotional feelings through the servitude of the masses.
In modern times, there is a servitude of many, but it is one which they freely choose with the overpowering advancement of technology. Willingly, many allow propaganda disseminated throughout technical means to direct their thoughts and actions. They do as Huxley himself feared: They embrace their servitude with a smile, a joy that cannot last, for it is ersatz.
I don't think that money can be used as a modern day parallel, except if we take the line that we think having more money will make our lives easier and happier and allow us to live life the way we want it to. If we think about it, those people who have money because of a very demanding job find that their hopes of being able to live their lives as they want to are counfounded because of the demands of that job.
I agree that perhaps we need to turn to religion to find a modern day parallel. John deliberately goes to the lighthouse so that he can achieve isolation and find escape from the values of this "brave new world" compared to his own values. However, he finds that the values of the world follow him in and he cannot escape them. Perhaps those who seek to flee the values of our world today by going into an ashram or a monastery equally find that their flight is futile.
I suppose that you could say that the parallel to this is anything having to do with money. You could argue that we look to money for our salvation but are not saved by it. The one problem I see there is that money is not a refuge from the values of the majority of the society, which the lighthouse is for John.
So... would the parallel need to be something that we think is going to protect us from the values of our society but which fails to do so? I can't think of anything like that unless you want to talk about religion and say that it is supposed to protect us from the competition and materialism of our society but that it fails to do so because most religions today don't like to emphasize poverty and humility and such.
Maybe that would do -- a place where we go and think we are withdrawing from society but society follows us in anyway.
Which makes me think -- maybe it's cell phones and such. We think we are withdrawing from society into our homes and our families, but work follows us in via our cell phones?
What do you think?