On the ritual need to hurt each otherDear you
Someone mentioned something interesting to me. Maybe you'd like to think about it. In the book of Matthew, Jesus is asked why he is hanging out with sinners, and he quotes Hosea 6:6: "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."
This makes sense to me, that God should feel that abiding by the form of goodness is worth much less than being good. Given that I am as far as you are concerned the burnt offering, it strikes me quite forcibly that this is true. I have a simple view of morality: I try to deal fairly with the world, to do justice, yet to allow it mercy. I do not have beliefs that force me to hurt others because at heart I agree with the Buddha: we should do no harm.
Still, the bible is also full of people who take great comfort in righteousness, yet God rarely favours them. Jesus is saying that you could not curry favour with him by being righteous, but by loving others. Jesus and I have that in common: we favour love over "principles", and I like him a lot as a moral guide, especially when, as I have had to, I have to deal with grey areas that do not allow easy answers.
One thing Jesus never said, as far as I know, but I believe he would have if he had thought it necessary. That is that we should first show mercy to ourselves. I have had to learn to do that and I am only sad that you believed yourself not worthy of mercy for something that only men, I believe, and no god worth worshipping, would find wrong.