A year ago I did a post on how the snakes have come back to Ireland.
By curious coincidence, First Things has an article with almost exactly the same title on the same topic.
The secularization of St. Patrick's feast day is kind of fascinating. I'm seeing all sorts of promotions for corned beef and cabbage, but of course it is a Friday in Lent, which means that meat is forbidden. Yes, there are some jurisdictions where dispensations have been made, but it's plain that the concept of the day is now getting drunk and eating bland food.
This is not by any means unique. Christmas is famously secular these days, mostly pagan myths about a fat old man and flying reindeer. Still the fall of Ireland is sad to behold.
England has also embraced the same empty, soulless materialism that fascinated the United States. The allure is powerful. Who doesn't want to cast aside the restrictive morals of the past to indulge in every form of sin and gratification? It is a tale as old as Sodom and Gomorrah.
On the positive side, I think we are rapidly reaching the limits of what decadence can even permit. This was one of the themes of The Vampires of Michigan - at a certain point, you simply can't debauch yourself any more. There are finite ways of gratifying lust, each carrying progressively greater risk and damage. Just as with drugs, there is a law of diminishing returns, where each new transgression brings less of a high.
We see this with music and entertainment - stuff that was shocking in my youth is boring today. Madonna masturbating with a cross in the late 80s is as distant to us as the Elvis Presley swinging his hips was back then.
J.R.R. Tolkien understood this, that the ultimate end of evil must be nihilism. Evil is all about pulling things down, whether they be moral boundaries or degrading the human spirit. When at last all depravity has been experienced, there is nothing left but the void.
This is why I am hopeful, because darkness ultimately cannot triumph. Clearly it is my task to keep the lamp burning through the night until the dawn inevitably comes. St. Patrick showed us how it was done and we will have to do it again.