Now, I'm not a unix zealot. Far from it. I've been in it long enough to understand its warts, and how inaccurate the purity of its ideology was.
I think you ought to solve _both_ pain points:
- make integrating with external programs _easier_ than using the shell
- embed text processing capabilities that are _easier_ than using sed/awk/grep, so you won't shell out unless absolutely necessary.
This is one of the core tenants of the lang I'm sorta designing.
Perl tried to do this, but looked at the strange syntax of these tools and said "let's make it even stranger".
There's some overlap of "make programs that do one thing, work with text streams, and we'll give you a tool to compose them" and functional programming.
One simple syntax, and terseness accomplished only through the power of composition is the solution.